I Did Not Escape So Easily

My follow-up appointment to my surgery was yesterday. I was SO excited about it because it meant finally getting the plaster splint removed, letting the surgical site heal, and just moving on. Bye-bye, Cancer! Pfffft!!

I was excited about finally getting to take a shower. Shaving my legs that were resembling a tarantula’s. Washing away the week of bed-ridden stink. Wearing shoes; REAL shoes, not Crocs (actually just Croc, since I could only wear one shoe). Returning the walker and the crutches.

What did I say earlier? Bye-bye, Cancer? Pffffft?

I wasn’t prepared – at all – for my appointment yesterday, which was a follow-up with the plastic surgeon. I guess what I saw on the bottom of my other foot was what I thought I would see on my leg. I was thrilled when the nurse started removing the splint without the doctor even there. She unwrapped the compression bandages and then carefully cut away the padding from my shin and eased the plaster cast from the back of my leg, pausing briefly when the gauze seemed to have stuck to the site.

She picked it away from what was holding the gauze: a staple. A staple that was connecting my skin to a sponge. There was a sponge stapled to the back of my leg. A round sponge. The staples pulled on my skin to create unnatural and gruesome wrinkles. I was shocked but fascinated. I took a picture and sent it quickly to Sparring Partner who was in the lobby with the kids.

The surgeon came in shortly and picked up the staple-removing pliers and lifted my foot to his lap. I awkwardly turned my leg so he could reach first one side and then the other, plucking at the staples as I bit my lip in pain. One of the staples was stubborn, he picked at it and I yelled OUCH! and quickly apologized as he halted the torture briefly to almost glare at me.

Finally the staples were out and I fanned my face with my hand. He asked if I was going to faint. I said no, that I had just gotten really hot. I wish I had fainted. The pinching of the pliers and the quiet “click” against the staples was sickening. He pulled the sponge away and a wadded mess of bloody gauze lay underneath. I turned my head away as he removed it. I’ve never shied away from gore, but this was too much.

When I looked again, he was examining his work and I gasped and said, “That looks terrible! ….no offense…” He ignored me and picked up a tiny pair of scissors and snipped an overhang of graft skin. I felt nothing. I said it looks like a shark bite. He replied he’s seen one and yes, the site does look like a shark bite; a very small one, he amended. Small. The size of my palm. I took another picture with my phone. And then I said, “So. This is what malignant melanoma can do…” He nodded sagely.

He cleaned the wound, added some ointment, which because of the depth of the wound, most nerves were gone and I never even felt, covered it with a pad, packed it again with gauze and wrapped it all back up again in a compression bandage. He told me I could shower. I asked what’s the best way to cover it during the shower. Oh, no, he said, you will change this every day and can leave it uncovered for your shower (!!!!). I’ll see you in another week, he said, and walked out.

I have pictures, but quite frankly, they are awful. I will post them, but not today. I am still trying to wrap my head around everything. I wasn’t prepared for being incapacitated for a week. But mostly, I wasn’t prepared to see what I have seen. I guess that’s what I get for thinking this whole MM went too smoothly for me: diagnosed and removed with negative secondary biopsy results. Smooth sailing…I knew I would have a scar. I expected something similar to what was on my foot. A vertical line or something less invasive. But to see that hole in my leg. Well, it upsets me even now to think about it so that’s why I’ll wait to show you another time.

9 thoughts on “I Did Not Escape So Easily

  1. This experience sounds awful! Please don’t hate me for saying, that I will probably skip the pictures if you ever post them.

    Wish they could have warned you about the scar that would result! I know it would have hit me just as hard to find out the way you did.

  2. Yeah, the only thing worse than a healing skin graft…is a failed skin graft. (My dad had one of those. It sucked.) And we certainly don’t recover at 40 as quickly as we did at 20. I’m wincing here for you – hope you soon only have a pinkish spot to remind you.

    On the plus side, (if there is one?) the scarred area probably does not have tarantula hair. :)

  3. So, the secondary biopsy results were negative? As in cancer free? Oh, I do hope so. I am so sorry about the missing part of your leg, but I am so glad you caught it before… you know.

    I would appreciate seeing the photos when you’re up to it, from a professional standpoint, although I would understand if you just want to delete them. I’m wishing you quick healing. Be well and hang in there. Please keep us posted. :)

  4. I will admit that I had my hand over my mouth, preparing myself (how does a hand over the mouth prepare a person?) for the picture. The words alone were enough to paint a mental image.

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