Tuesday, August 13, 2013

skin cancer blues.

Sometimes I blog for the sheer pleasure of it.  Sometimes I blog for my sanity.  Sometimes I blog hoping that somebody out there will learn something helpful from something we have been through.

It continues to be a bit of a mystery to me why this skin cancer trail ride has been so distressing for me. But in the process I have learned a few things.

1. It is important for me to use a doctor that has good communication skills.
If I had done my research a little more carefully I would have discovered that Dr. Mark Heibel does not score high on communicating procedures and expectations with patients.  If I would have known that there was even a remote chance of an incision longer than a quarter of an inch, I would have aligned my expectations accordingly and I would have secured plastic surgeon closure options. 

This skin cancer scare with Mike prompted me to make a visit to my own dermatologist, Dr. Peter Hino in Dallas.  And guess what?  I learned more about Mike's procedure from Dr. Hino than I heard from Dr. Heibel's mouth.  I learned that 90% of the time, basal cell carcinomas don't need a MOHS extraction.  I learned that the kind that Mike had was called Sclerosing Basal Cell, which is the kind that has tendrils, and thus needs a deeper incision for a clean margin.  I learned that most dermatologists do their own closures, but most have plastic surgeons that they work with.

I realized that I prefer a doctor who is not so arrogant that they cannot discuss pro's and con's of using a plastic surgeon for closure.  It is never wrong to do your own research, to ask thoughtful questions, and to expect a respectful dialog.

2. Stick to your guns and pursue a plastic surgeon if you require stitches on your face or hands.
If there is anything I have learned over the past ten years it is that you must be your own advocate - or your patent's advocate - in the medical community.  Always follow gut.  Always take extensive notes.  And never leave a loved one in a hospital alone.

And if you need stitches on your face or hands, insist on a plastic surgeon for the closure.  You might have to wait a bit and you might even have to go to another hospital emergency room, but you won't be sorry. 

On Monday, August 19 Mike and I will be going to see Dr. Jason Miller, a plastic surgeon in Omaha, to get his thoughts on the power "T" on Mike's forehead.  I am looking forward to hearing what he has to say.

This is a good time to remember "If money can fix it, it is not a real problem."

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