Cafe Hitch-hike


The type of wounds we can’t see

In early October, the dermatologist removed what looked like a burn mark toward the top of my forehead. It turned out to be carcinoma or skin cancer. I was asked to return to do an exploratory drop-in procedure with a surgeon. It took a couple hours, mainly because we had to wait on the local anesthesia to work and so the surgeon could examine the bits of skin he removed in addition to what the dermatologist initially removed.

Dr. Levin, a Latino Jew from Miami, was cheerful and a good conversationalist. He just got a little dog for his family and we talked about traveling with pets. I felt very little pain while he worked, but I could feel a slight poke as he used scalpels and small scissors. He put bits of what he cut onto a slides to examine them under a microscope; he did this to confirm he removed all the carcinoma. After 10 minutes of work, he and the young nurse from Poland left to examine the specimens and returned 2 more times. I waited longer than the time Dr. L. spent on my skin. After the third time, I smelled my skin burn after hearing a zap. Thankfully, I didn’t feel anything and the doc and nurse kept me at ease.

I received 7 stitches to seal the inch-long wound and covered it for almost 3 weeks. On the day of and after the surgery, I reached for an item from a cabinet above me while at the store. A women nearby said, “oh, no! Let me get that for you.” I was surprised at her reaction.

“I know head injuries, and you shouldn’t be reaching like that,” she said.

Before I could say anything, she handed over the item and I thanked her although I felt fine.

Some people were somewhat alarmed when they saw me in video meetings. When I saw my sister about 3 weeks after the surgery, she and her friends were very concerned. Even my mother reacted that way.

I didn’t think it was an awful procedure. The dermatologist and surgeon only suggested I return for annual visits. After a while, I told others I had a growth removed and didn’t mention the c-word to not frighten people further.

I don’t wear a bandage over the surgical wound and the stitches are gone, but i now have 2 slight gashes on a corner of my forehead. It is actually still healing although the outpatient surgery was almost 7 weeks ago. Sometimes the gashes are a dark pink and sometimes they are salmon. When the stitches were off, I was a bit surprised because the wound still didn’t seem fully healed although it was within the time the doc said the stitches could come off.

The wound at least looks more healed than when I took off the stitches, but it still has a little way to go. My skin usually heals fast; when I described this to the doctor last week, she said I didn’t need to worry. The cutting and lancing from the procedure actually went deep into the skin’s layer.

I look at the wound and it’s gradual healing. Maybe certain other wounds heal the same— if they were treated correctly. I also never thought that Dr. L. went deep. Maybe the deepest layers needed to heal fully before I could see a difference with the surface. Maybe certain wounds just can’t heal quickly because of the nature of their injury. The guy actually burned some of my skin, and I have an additional gash that crosses the long one. He actually cut me twice!

It made me think of the times I felt impatient with myself. Maybe some things I’ve tried or even faced really were that complicated or deep. A quick fix was impossible or only partially addressed something! Some things are complicated and need multiple stages of— progress, healing, processing, or attention!

I sometimes notice the little gashes and sigh. A wound can be mysterious. Now I see why people often don’t talk about their scars or marks. I don’t want to tell the world it was skin cancer that was most likely from the first 25 years of life, and I sure wouldn’t want anyone to make assumptions about me or my life (oh yeah, I have this because I was drunk and passed out). There’s some mornings I hardly notice it. I’m not even sure if the guy I met over the weekend noticed it; he never asked or didn’t seem to notice.

But, the little wound assures me that sometimes, healing isn’t always visible but is so necessary for wounds that deep. That certainly can apply to the type of wounds we can’t see.

downwind | upstream