After a two-hour session in the OR yesterday, I look like I was in a nasty knife fight—and the other guy got the better of me. The scar on my neck is especially gnarly, presumably because the met was lodged near a vein and some sort of side maneuver was needed to get at it. The largest of the five mets (about 1 cm) was on my right thigh. I directed Dr. V to close up everything as tightly as possible and not worry about the cosmetic effect. He apparently took me at my word; it looks like he used a rivet gun. I trust his work enough to be back running tomorrow.
I’ve now had 10 metastases removed over the last 15 months. I feel greatly relieved at having this so-called “tumor burden” reduced. This gives my immune system a fighting chance to defeat cancer cells elsewhere in my body. One of the oddities of my melanoma is that I get to watch it appear and grow. That poses a certain psychological challenge, but I figure it’s better to be able to monitor the little bastards myself than have them multiplying unseen in my liver or lungs. Not everyone progresses from subcutaneous to internal mets, so my earnest prayer is that I won't. At this point, surgery remains my best treatment option.
I was hoping to take advantage of my date with Dr. V yesterday to pester him with questions about new drug development in melanoma, so requested only mild sedation and not general anesthesia. I was prone while he worked on the first two sites, and took oxygen through a mask that kept me quiet. After I turned over on my back, the anesthesia nurse removed the mask and inserted a nasal cannula, which allowed me to speak. I had just started asking some questions when I lost consciousness. I suspect Dr. V signaled the nurse to turn up the gas to shut me up. Perhaps it’s just as well since he was holding a very sharp instrument at my throat at that particular moment. I awoke an hour later in recovery wondering what the hell had happened. When I asked a nurse who had been assisting she said something about patients responding differently to sedation and that I was obviously a “sleeper.” I don’t think so. I think they wanted me in la-la land.
So for now the slate is wiped clean—more or less. I have no reason to think the mets are gone for good, but hope springs eternal. Ellen was wonderful, as usual, in watching out for me yesterday and making sure I understood what was going on after the surgery. I feel great today. Let me know if you’d like to see the scar on my neck. It makes me look tougher than Mickey Rourke.