Old folk at lunch

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


For some years now I have not bothered to note here anything about the various surgical procedures that I undergo with some regularity.  None of them are pleasant but a lot about them has become routine.

The procedure I had today does however warrant a small mention, I think.  I had a large red and intermittently bleeding cancerous spot on my nose.  It was most unsightly and must have made it a little difficult for people to look at me on occasions.  I thank those who put up with it.

As the lesion was shallow, I had thought that freezing with nitrogen would always get it -- and it did.  But then it came back bigger than ever.  So my dermatological surgeon persuaded me that it was time for an excision.  The only trouble with that was the difficult position of the lesion.  There is not much loose skin on my nose so where was the skin to come from that would cover up the bit that had been cut out?

It was a difficult problem but dermatological surgeons often have to deal with cancers on noses so there was experience to call upon.  So when I was finally on the operating table I asked the surgeon if he was sure he could get a closure.  He was not sure at first but after moving the skin on my nose around in various directions with his fingers he simply said:  Right!  -- and got on with it.  He had seen in his mind how he was going to do it.  And he did it!  Even his nurses were impressed with how he got it all back together.

So that was my major fear put at rest:  Was the job actually possible?  If not a graft would be needed and I did once "lose" a graft so I was not keen on that.

My next fear was infection.  I seem to have some rather pesky skin bacteria that survive all aseptic procedures and so get into a surgical wound occasionally.  In a previous job on my face they got so out of hand that my face swelled up almost to the point of blinding me.

Clindomycin seems to beat the bugs concerned, however, so I took some of that shortly after I emerged from surgery. It is now 9 hours later and there is no swelling so I am fairly optimistic at this stage.

Because of the fear that I might be temporarily blinded, I got  Jenny to come over and stay the night at my place.  Anne would normally be able to help in that way but she is out of action at the moment, being in the Wesley rehab unit after a knee replacement.  I called in on her briefly on the way home as my procedure was on the same campus.  I took Jenny to an Indian restaurant for dinner.

The procedure cost me well over a thousand dollars, which is a lot in an Australian context (but chickenfeed in an American context) but it was well worth it to get such outstanding skill deployed on my behalf.  I believe that health insurance gives me some of that back but not much.

Instead of spending all my money on beer and cigarettes in my youth, I saved and invested.  So in my declining years I can afford any medical care I need.  And the declining years are certainly when you need it!  I am also in a position to pay for some others to get private medical care, which I have done on some occasions.

The standard of medical care in government hospitals is so poor in Queensland that there are private hospitals all over the place in Brisbane.  Where I normally go -- the Wesley -- the service is impeccable.  And I can usually get an appointment with my surgeon with only a week's notice.  It can be months and years in the government system

UPDATE: 24 hours later and all is well.  I think I am out of the woods now.

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