Monday, September 19, 2011

The Procedure

On this, the morning before I go under general anesthesia for the second time in as many weeks, I would offer these words of kindly advice to my oral surgeon's assistant, Belinda:

"Your bedside manner needs work, dear."

If you or someone you know works in a situation where you routinely administer general anesthesia to patients, never forget that for the vast majority of us, "going under" still has a definite element of fear to it, and this is coming from a dude who spent the first decade of the new millennium experiencing a bevy of chemical pleasures. Although it might be standard daily practice for you to wind plastic tubing around my head and to announce blithely, "Okay, we're going to give you a little nitrous to help calm you down," it is not standard practice for me to be knocked the fuck out. Remember, the main appeal of drugs to most people, I think, has to do with the alteration of perception, not the obliteration of it. So, with all do respect, find your empathy and always remember that the person in the chair is counting on you to be present, and not just physically so.

Luckily for me, I don't think she'll be there today and I've been told the people at St. John's Mercy are really quite adept at what they do. If the gentleman with whom I pre-registered this morning is any indication, this seems to be true. His voice was not just calm but calming and, as someone who knows a thing or two about conducting yourself on the phone, his skills therein were quite impressive and I told him so. I'm ready for The Procedure.

First, let me reveal The Discovery.

Two weeks ago, while I was having my last two wisdom teeth removed by an oral surgeon, a biopsy was done on a suspect area on the underside of my tongue. The biopsy came back showing "mild to moderate dysplacia," or a fancy description for pre-cancerous cells. As I understand it, they are pre-cancerous only in the sense that they are irregular; not in the sense that, if left unchecked, they would eventually develop into cancer. This may...or may not...happen. In any case, the course of action decided upon is to remove the offending tissue.

And that leads us to The Procedure.

This afternoon, I will again go under general anesthesia and my oral surgeon will remove tissue from the soft area under the right-side of my tongue, as a preventative measure. There's a pathologist involved, who will conduct analysis in real-time on the samples to determine if the margins are clear of irregularities. Once determined they've gotten it all, I'll be stitched up, smacked on the ass and sent home with more pain meds and a week off work to recuperate.

And yes, I am a little scared...not just for the procedure or the recuperation but really about the whole thing. Any time anything is prefaced with "pre-cancerous," you have to count on having a PR problem right out of the gate. And this is particularly poignant given the recent death of my Gram from lung cancer. It runs in my family, or, at least, my Dad's side, it seems. Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Dale, Aunt Jean, Uncle Huey...

In any case, I'm being told by the medical professionals that this is not a big deal, a little out-patient procedure, I'll be home by mid-afternoon. The refrigerator is stocked with yogurt, applesauce, pudding and cottage cheese. I also bought a dozen eggs for when more advanced food (i.e. scrambled) is permitted. And I've got enough knitting projects in the works that I should have no trouble staying occupied (and non-vocal) while I heal.

A great big thank you to Mama Mary, Daniel's mom, who has graciously offered to be my driver to and from the hospital. Also, much love and thanks to my friends and co-workers who have all offered such support. Kisses and locked pinkies to BK, who can't be here but will be in spirit.

In a sense, this is the "broken foot" all knitter's secretly hope for: that terribly unfortunate happening that keeps you in bed or, at least, around the house such that really all you can do...is knit. This week is dedicated to healing...and to making serious progress on BK's birthday "Bitterroot" (now 2 birthdays in the works)...

...and a "reglier" scarf for my lil' dude, LoLo. I may even get to finally finish "The Tudors."

Here we go...time to get cleaned up and ready to roll.

UPDATE: I'm home, in some pain though on meds. Also, as expected, I can't really talk very well. All in all, though...I'm okay. :-)