Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

Sunday was designated stuff-your-face day, Matt woke me up by bringing me a Coldstone Creamery chocolate raspberry ice cream cake in bed. With candles that look like crayons! My initial plan was to have icecream cake and a bottle of zinfandel for breakfast, but since I wanted to go to yoga we saved the wine for AFTER the workout. We also had steak for dinner, followed by more cake. Yum.

Today we are "celebrating" by having the pre-operative consultation with the surgeon, getting the stitches taken out of my leg, then going home for leftover london broil steak and the last bit of cake. with super yummy framboise lambic to wash it down.

Oh, and Tali's getting checked out by the vet today, poor little bugger has been acting strange, like he might be about to scent-mark stuff, even though he's never been a spraying kinda guy. So he gets to have his nethers probed by a stranger. Being away from his sister will probably be the worst part of the day. They do much better going to the vet as a pair, so they can cower in their carrier together.

Monday, January 23, 2006

All Is Vanity

While faffing about attempting to resize a photograph to send in for a passport I was seduced by the sparkly lure of airbrushing. First I used it to conceal the incision that will soon be replaced by a much larger one, then I dotted out a couple of obvious pimples. By that point I was far too mad with the new power to make up for my inexpert application of concealer and powder, and I zapped away the under-eye shadows too!

I'm officialy a Californian. Or maybe it's just reaching 26.

If you go to the flickr page and flip back and forth between the two photos it's pretty cool, just like one of those "debunking the beauty myth" websites showing magazine covers.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Don't ask

Originally uploaded by Rosemary Grace.
for some reason I felt compelled to make this in word just now.

I think it's pretty self explanatory.

Status Report

OK, the melanoma on my leg was teeny-tiny (less than 1 mm) so they only needed to take out a 5 mm margin, which was done on Tuesday, leaving an incision about 4-5 cm long, with five stitches in it. Just like the first "big" incision I had on my face, which has now faded to a 4cm line that only shows if the light catches it right.

The one on my face was 1.6 mm thick, which makes it on the small side of "intermediate", since I'm on the young side for such things they are going to do a sentinel lymph node biopsy [>] to check for signs of spreading through my lymph system. The margins of this tumor also have to be removed, with a 10 mm margin (eek), which means a circle about the size of a US quarter, or a UK 10p piece, this will be done using the MOHS technique [>]. The Mohs is done with a local anesthetic, which would be kind of disconcerting apart from the fact that I've done this before, and now I won't be lying on the table freaking out about massive scarring, because the first big incision has healed pretty damn well. I bet you couldn't even look at my flickr account and tell me where that first big incision was. Unless you find the photo of me with a pressure bandage on my face.

OK, maybe I will be freaking out a little, but not as much as the first time. I know there's not much I can do but trust the surgeon's skill and take good care of it while it heals. That, and start a fund for laser resurfacing and/or chemical peels.

The lymph biopsy will be done under general anesthetic, which scares me: complete helplessness = baaaaaaaaad. Complete helplessness while somebody works at my throat with a scalpel = fucking scary. I have to keep reminding myself that this is not heart surgery, and that lots of people have general anesthetics for mundane things like wisdom tooth extraction.

Now we get to the part that will probably make everyone think I'm insane.

While I'm "out" under general anesthetic, the surgeon is going to remove five other moles from my face. Yes I have that many, no I don't look like a leopard. They all look pretty much like the innocuous moley that turned out to be harbouring 1.6 mm of cancer. My moles all look pretty normal: even colour, symmetrical shape, not too big, and most of them have been abnormal. Now two have been cancerous. My dermatologist, myself, and the head and neck surgeon all reckon it's a good idea to remove and biopsy the significant moles. If they're normal, we can be relieved, if they're not normal it's better to know now, and deal with it pronto. I am going to feel like the Bride of Frankenstein for a while, with stitches on my leg and on 5 small and one sizeable incision on my face.

I'm all calm right now. Listing off how many chunks of my face are going to be removed, and they might have to go back for more later. The thing with this whole experience is that when I'm freaking out, I'm freaking out WAY too much to type or write coherantly. I've been crying in my car a fair bit, unfortunately my long commute gives my brain plenty of time to run through worst case scenarios to itself. I'm either wailing inside and wanting to run far far away or hide under my bed with a cat, or I'm dealing with life. Dealing pretty well I think. I'm trying to make sure I let myself say I'm scared, and cry a bit, trying to let some of it out so that I can hold it all together enough to feel proud of myself.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Sod's Law

I didn't mention this before, because it's become kind of routine for me to have a dodgy mole removed when I go to the dermatologist for a mole-patrol checkup, but I had another two dodgy moles removed right before Christmas. The incision in my left shin healed wonderfully. By Sod's Law, the incision on my left cheek, right next to my nose was the one that didn't heal well. It wasn't an infection, the culture they took came back negative, but it was inflamed and didn't want to close. So I've been keeping it ointmented and covered to try to minimize scarring.

Waste of time.

Most of the moles I've had removed (3 out of 5 until this crop) have turned out to be "abnormal" in a benign way, and have required further margin to be surgically taken out. Sod's Law made sure that 2 of those were on my face (the other abnormal one was on my scalp).

Sod's Law has really outdone itself this time though. Both biopsies came back as melanoma. Very SMALL melanomas, but melanomas nonetheless. That's cancer, the BIG C. It's the nastiest skin cancer, most likely to spread to other tissues, most likely to recur. It's actually the best cancer to have if you're going to have a nasty spreading type cancer: at least it's highly detectable, and early detection means the only treatment required is excision and vigilance. No chemo. Thankfully.

So, back to my lovely dermatologist on Tuesday, to remove margins from my shin. She looks like a prettier version of Janice, Chandler's irritating recurring girlfriend on Friends, so I will call her Dr Janice. Then I will see a specialist in head and neck dermatology and surgery on Wednesday to discuss the offending site on my left cheek, and the possibility of doing a lymph node biopsy. I want the biopsy, I want to KNOW that it's clear, not assume.

Of course, I'm sure I'm sounding (reading?) much too calm. This is because I got the phone call around noon, and have already quietly freaked out about it by myself, then told a friendly coworker, and freaked out a bit more, then told my friendly boss, been sent home, and bought a fancy shower curtain and fuzzy bath mat as retail therapy. I've had 5-1/2 hours to digest this. There will be further freakouts, I may even post during one, they make good reading (if you want to see what I look like freaking out and questioning my existance and role in life etc., just check out 2001-2002 in the archives).

Matt just came home, and I told him right away. He takes my word for medical detail, so hopefully he won't be *too* worried, not constantly at any rate. I'm not going to tell my parents, not until I've had the margins cleared and (hopefully) get the all clear from a lymph node biopsy. My mother's brother died of internal melanoma, it would be such a nightmare to put her through the waiting and worrying again, so I will tell them when it's done and we're in vigilance mode, not treatment mode.

It's freakish and frightening, but it's not the threat-of-death diagnosis a lot of cancers are. More the threat of fear of recurrance and definite need for more bits of my face to get chopped out. I'd been wondering if I should have the remaining moles removed prophylactically, now I'm sure I will.

Shallow though this sounds I'm just REALLY glad this diagnosis came after the wedding. I think I'm going to be looking at a couple of years at least of babying incisions, and then saving up for a laser resurfacing or something. On some level I've been expecting this, you don't have 5 moles removed in 3 years, and have 3 of them turn out ot be abnormal, without something being a bit fishy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Strike that

Bugger the giving up sweets. Some Januaries it works for me, some it doesn't. A week of sleeping like crap and weird hormone-withdrawal weeping/depression completely killed that. Forbidding myself from eating sweets of any kind was depriving me of much needed serotonin. So I ate a lemon poppyseed muffin. Best muffin I've had in ages.

Still haven't used the workout DVDs either.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

My name is Cliche, I'll be your sporadic blogger for the evening

I bought a set of workout DVDs. In the first week of January.

And I'm cutting out sweets. For January.

Sunday, January 01, 2006


My computer tells me it's 4am, therefore it is time to call an end to Hogmanay revelries, involving random 20 yr old finnish girls asking for the recipe for pimento cheese, old Scottish flatmates talking politics with new (ish) mexican friends...it has been a goood one for the books signifying life coming together and making an odd kind of sense of past and present. My husband is snoring. Time to go join him. Since So Cal is behind most countries in ushering in the new year.