Monday, August 10, 2009

Take Your Clothes Off

"When you take your clothes off, get in the chair." I'm pretty used to hearing that by now. But when it's you skin cancer Doctor that says that, it makes you wonder.

I had the full body scan today, every mole checked, every uneven patch of skin and every red spot looked at very closely. They even checked my head. And that's where they found it––right above my right eyebrow. A "cancer forming spot", said the Doc. "So I'm just going to freeze it. Keep your head still and WHAM!" (Well, he didn't go WHAM. This isn't Emril, this is my Doctor.) He shot it with liquid nitrogen. At about -350ยบ. Yes, that's MINUS. (What's with all the shouting today?). It's called Cryotherapy. Isn't that what they used on Walt Disney?

Man, talk about a brain freeze. Imagine the worst brain freeze you've ever had. Now add an ice pick and a nail––and double it. Felt like a hockey puck hit me. Felt like my eyeball was frozen. Felt like that for about 15 minutes. Then it only hurt when I opened my right eye. It's been almost three hours since, and I'm now thawing out. Having some visual adjustment problems––fancy words for blurred vision for a second when I turn my head. 

Now the people at the Skin Cancer Center of Northern Virginia are great, but I'm glad they didn't give me the purple sheet of paper before I got the brain freeze.  The purple paper said, "When you leave our office, the freezing site will probably be red and swollen, and it may sting and itch as it thaws. Expect the site to look worse over the next few days before it gets better. Swelling and/or blistering often develop within a couple of hours after the treatment. 2-3 days after treatment a scab will probably form which will then take 7-10 days to fall off, leaving a pink smooth area." All I could think of was those ED commercials, "if you have an erection for more than 4 hours, seek medical help immediately." LMFAO.

So there I was, with a gown on and in my underwear and a quick shot in the head with liquid nitrogen. And if that weren't enough they were training someone, so I had an audience as they were telling me everything that was on the purple paper. Happy Monday! And I had to take my clothes off for this? At least next week, they'll shoot me with sugar water and other stuff so they can do a PET Scan and see if the cancer is still gone inside my body. 

I'll have to take my clothes off, again. But I'm pretty sure they won't shoot me in the head with liquid nitrogen.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Time Flies When You're Living

It has been two years since I first heard, "I wish I had better news", and my life changed forever. August 7, 2007. The day cancer came knocking on my door and said "tag, you're it".

The fact that I'm even writing this is a minor miracle in itself. Well, it's probably not a miracle. I didn't see a burning bush or Mother Mary in a dirty screen in a window. But it is spectacular on some level, right? The first time you hear that you have cancer, it seems like time gets all jacked-up. It speeds up. It slows down. It doesn't exist while you try to. Time gets in this place of not being important and at the same time being the most important thing in your life.

How many times have you said to yourself, "if I only had more time". "I don't have the time." "That's a waste of time." "Next time." Now I don't want this to sound like some mushy every-second-of-life-is-precious spew. It's just that these days I'm giving myself more time. More time with my Wife. More time with my kids. More time with family. More time to stop and really smell the roses and flowers on my pathway that greets me and sends me off into the world every day. I just have to remind myself sometimes to slow down.

After two years, I'm still getting scanned, poked, tubes up my nose and neck squeezes. Which I say, sure beats the alternative. I'm starting the next round of Greg Gets Checked For cancer tomorrow and for the next two weeks. If I get through cancer-free, then the scans go from 6 months to a year.

What a way to live.