My first basal cell carcinoma was a bleeding mole I discovered about 30 years ago. I had taken the young people to a beach party during which I reverted to my teen years, finding sets appropriate for body surfing. But I spent far too much time under the sun. That night, when my shoulder stung under the assault of the shower's tiny streams, and then bled when I toweled off, I knew I had a problem. The surprise for me was how much tissue the surgeon removed. It reminded me of the old days when the grocer would "plug" a watermelon to show how ripe it was.
Since that time I have had a few more relatively minor basal cell's removed. Now my wife herds me to the dermatologist with regularity. He sides with her, saying that married men live longer than singles because their wives keep monitoring their health. So he touches up my face with liquid nitrogen here and there, leaving temporary but painful scars where the potential cancer cells were found. One of these locations was found on my right ear. The last time he checked my ear he decided to send me to the surgeon instead. Though the dermatologist explained what was going to happen, he has a way of making it sound so casual as to be boring. I was led to believe the greatest problem would be the need to have some reading material.
Well, yesterday I had that appointment with the surgeon. As I expected he shot me with some numbing fluid (zylocain?) and did a little cutting and scraping. He left me on the table and went to his lab to analyze the cells removed. A half hour later he interrupted my reading of Calvin's Institutes to take a second bite of the ear tissue. (Yes, I actually was reading the Institutes. I had brought my Kindle with it's whole library available.) "Ouch, that one hurt!" I reported. The doctor apologized and gave me another shot of the numb stuff.
During the next half hour pause I switched to a light novel on my Kindle. I guess I was building a concern that made it more difficult to read heavy theology. It only increased when he came back for another whack at my ear. As he took the third snip out of my ear the doctor casually mentioned that I might want him to make a referral to the plastic surgeon to rebuild my ear. Now I became concerned! I had visions of my cat, Pernicious, who contracted some sort of tissue rot on her ear that slowly ate away the ear until there was only a stub on one side of her head. Because of the location of his work I couldn't actually see what he was doing, so my imagination began to run rampant.
By the time it was necessary to make a fourth cut from my ear I was certain that I was hideously deformed. I could imagine myself with a plastic approximation of a human ear. I was wondering if the congregation would gasp when I mounted the pulpit to preach this Sunday. I need to conduct a funeral on Saturday, and I thought about the monster bandage that would no doubt be distracting from what I had to say.
At last he was finished. His lab work indicated that all the affected tissue had been excised. Now I was given a mirror, and together with the mirror held by the nurse behind my head I could see both the front and rear view of my hacked ear. I was quite relieved to find that my imagination had so exaggerated the anticipation, that the half inch of missing flesh seemed minuscule.
It's quite unlikely that I will get any mileage of sympathy from anyone. The fact is, I will be surprised if anyone even notices. Well, at least my sweet wife gives me strokes.