Take My Cancer Cells, Please

Tomorrow I wake at the normal time, shower like every other day, and eat the bowl of Cheerios I enjoy almost every morning, but instead of shuttling or biking into Yahoo afterwards, Dave is going to drive me to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) dermatology department for my Mohs surgery.

That is, of course, assuming the surgery is a go tomorrow. I did manage to break one itty bitty rule. When I was instructed to avoid ibuprofen for three days beforehand I was concerned, but ignorantly thought, “nooooo, everything will be fiiiiine”, most likely because I didn’t want to think about what I was going to do if I found myself with a splitting headache and unable to take ibuprofen after I’ve been dependent on it for years. I did wisen up before the consultation was over and mentioned to my surgeon that I do take ibuprofen A LOT and asked what she would suggest instead.

Unfortunately, she mentioned acetaminophen and as predicted it did absolutely nothing when I was, in fact, confronted with the day-long implosion of my brain on Friday. I swear I remember Dr. Miller telling me, as a quick afterthought, that if I *really* needed to take the ibuprofen I could, but doubt started to set in and I found myself unable to make a decision.

Dave played the hero once again and called the nurse line where they told him they could not answer for the surgeon. He then tried the dermatology department where they paged the dr. on call who then called back four hours later at 2:30am while we were sleeping. At 11pm I had decided the options before me were to risk taking my drug of choice or making a trip to the emergency room. Dave handed me the bottle and said, “take them”.

The next morning I tried calling dermatology again because I had heard that they were open on Saturday and I felt the responsible thing to do was to make sure I could still have the surgery or cancel in advance if I found out I could not. When I called, at about 10 minutes before noon I was told that all the drs. were gone for the day, that she could page the dr. on call, but that I should just call urgent care because they have drs. there on site.

A quick call to urgent care informed me that they do not give medical advice over the phone and what I really should do is call dermatology. “No” I thought, “I’m done.” I tried to do the right thing, I tried to give them notice, I explained to the receptionist in dermatology that I really just wanted to be sure my dr. had notice in case I had to cancel. I did what I could.

Later that day I was at an ambient music event in the city and missed a call from my dermatologist (my regular dr., not my surgeon) who told me on my voicemail that she’d seen a note that I’d called and wanted to make sure my question was answered. My dr. is awesome, the system is not. With a tinge of guilt I decided not to call back knowing that I would simply be tossed about between voicemails, receptionists, and promises of paging faceless drs. who have no idea why they’re calling me.

So here I am, ready to go, not sure if it’s a go, pretty sure it will be a go, but mentally preparing myself for a no go. As is usually the case, I don’t feel nervous and haven’t been thinking about it much beyond the ibuprofen issue. I only freak out about the small things, things that don’t seem to matter much to other people. On the contrary, major life events don’t seem to phase me much. They’re simply things we all must endure that we can’t predict; the easiest way through is just to ride the wave and go where it takes you.

Tomorrow I ride the wave knowing that I might come out missing a large chunk of my nose or with news that, although it’s extremely rare with basal cells, the cancer has metastasized. Most likely, I’ll come out with a small bandage covering a little scar that will be barely noticeable in a years time. Any way it works out, I’ll shrug my shoulders and press on, preparing silently for my next obstacle.


8 thoughts on “Take My Cancer Cells, Please

  1. Thanks y’all! Everything went well, I was able to go home faster than I thought and I’ll be back at work tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll be able to make a follow-up post soon.

  2. So, two weeks from now, I, too, enter the wide company of the Mohs participants. I was too involved with my so very ill husband, and his death, to pay attention to that pesky little pimple on my cheek that wouldn’t heal…I hope, with the year almost up for you, that you are out and kicking and getting on with much more interesting things than your nose. Me, too, in a year. And I just bought a kayak–so I will wait till I can lift it. Here we come!

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