Unmasked & Under the Knife!

Like others, I woke up on Feb. 24th to war, maybe the leading edge of World War Three. Big bummer; but there will be more to say about that later.

So instead, I got up, and went off to have a nose job.

Another one; in time for spring.

Neither event was my idea. A few weeks back, my annual visit to the dermatologist went well at first: She peeked, poked and prodded, and asked me what I was up to. I rattled on about the new book of Bill Kreidler’s wonderful Quaker speeches.

She acted interested, and I was just getting warmed up, when she focused on my nose and said, “Oh, what’s this?”

I recognized the tone: it was not book-oriented.

Out came a weird little flashlight thing, for a squinting closeup of my right nostril, and then another implement, which had a needle, and stuck me a couple times. I knew it was the dreaded B-word:


And with that, the C-word was back.

The Little-C , I hasten to add: skin cancer comes in a few varieties, and my information is that only one — melanoma — is likely to kill you; or me. Two other varieties are much more common, basal cell & squamous cell. If they aren’t fatal, they can still be disfiguring, if the case photo I found online later (but won’t include here) is any indication.

This wasn’t my first rodeo, or nose job. (Or new war in the morning, for that matter.) The third, in fact. Same nose, same nostril.

Same basal? I asked Dr. Cook, the Mohs maven.  He shook his head, shrugged; happenstance, he said: the luck of the schnozz.

But it was the first one I was moved to write a poem about.

A Brief Ode on A Brief Surgery:

My basal
Was nasal,
And squamous
Is famous.

When Basal it shows up,
I don’t turn my nose up,
I don’t try to hose it,
I gotta go “Mohs” it.

The Mohs doc** just whips ‘em,
And off quickly snips ‘em.

But with mean melanoma,
Despite my aplomb, uh,
It could end up so much worse,
With me in a  big hearse.

**What? I can hear you ask. What’s a “Mohs Doc”?

Good question. Frederic  Mohs was a doc at the University of Wisconsin, who developed a skin cancer surgical technique in 1936 which had two big advantages: 1. A very high cure rate, like 95-plus per cent; and 2. It could be done quick.

Frederic Mohs M.D. (1910-2002)

Quick like yesterday morning: I showed up at the Duke Mohs clinic at 7:30 AM (as instructed), prepared to stay all day (as also instructed), bearing a tote bag stuffed with sandwiches, other munchies, a book, the Ipad and a charger.

But it was a slow day in Mohs-ville, and the doc was very quick; I was sliced, diced, certified cancer-free, and free to go home with my new nose cap in two hours time.

Here’s an ear (not mine), post-Mohs: they took a basal cell off the outer lobe near the top left, leaving only a little bump that’s hardly noticeable.

I appreciated the despatch with which the cancer was removed. The only downside was that it hardly distracted me from worrying over the new war and its rush of scare headlines. Like the one below.

Worrying. (See also: fretting.) That’s pretty much my role these days, along with shouting solidarity to the Russian war protesters and the Ukrainians preparing to survive and resist the impending occupation.  But we in the geezer brigades also serve in our retiring way.

And tomorrow is another day. More war, but one less cancer. It could have been worse: like, if the Mohs Doc was in Kyiv. So I’ll work at being grateful for the one; and work on the other.




9 thoughts on “Unmasked & Under the Knife!”

  1. Wow, Chuck, I’m glad your little meanie was caught quick and removed quick. Best wishes on the healing.

    Did you know that Canada has the third-largest Ukrainian population of all the world’s countries (around 1,400,000)? First and second are — you guessed it — Ukraine and Russia. So if you live in Canada chances are you have neighbours of Ukrainian descent. And they have relatives in Ukraine. It feels very close to home here. I’m cheering on the protesters everywhere (including numerous cities in Canada) but especially in Russia — that’s courage, daring to defy a madman.

  2. Glad it went well. Husband played tennis under African sun for too many years and has these removed all the time.
    I got your book on Bill Kreidler and hardly slept last night as I was so engaged in his storytelling (and your helpful introduction.) I wish I had known him. I appreciate getting to know him now.

  3. Been there, done that. Mostly a product of our age Chuck, and running bare skinned in our youth. That and the absence of sun screen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.