Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Face Like Forty Miles of Bad Road

Thank you AOL for crashing every time I tried to post this Blog. It was much appreciated and a valuable use of my time.

As I look in the mirror and survey the landscape that was once my face, it is hard to gauge whether I look more like a particularly ravaged bit of roadkill or a piece of badly grilled baby beef liver.

It ain't pretty. My face that is. I am the proud possesor of a face that looks like forty miles of bad country road...

I went to my dermatologist and he was aghast by what he saw. Of course I have to clarify that. Doc Otto had filled out my Efudex prescription and left me on my own with a Costco-size tube of Efudex for 21 days. That's probably a little like leaving a flame-thrower in the hands of a demented Pyromaniacs Junior Leaguer. In his defense, Doc Otto had instructed me to treat my forehead and cheekbone. Period.

I had of course gone online and spent a considerable amount of time and effort researching Efudex and Actinic Keratosis as is my wont on occasions like these. In the first few days of applying said drug on my mug, I had noticed all kinds of activity along the skirmish line. Little bits of red skin and little lesions popping out here and there at the edge of where I was applying the Fluorouracil. So I kept extending the perimeter. And extending it. And extending it. At the end of five days I was applying Efudex to my entire face. I was battling for my face and I wasn't taking any prisoners, baby. The best defense is always a good offense in my books.

Which was what Doc Otto saw when I went for my check-up...

His response went something like this;

How are you doing? How are you feeling? Wincing as he asked. And he kept shaking his head.

I think how I feel is pretty self-evident...

I never agreed to treat your whole face! You were just supposed to do your forehead! More head shaking.

I agree, it looks like hell. But all this crap kept popping up as I spread the Efudex on. So I decided to just apply it to my entire face.

In forty years I've never had a patient do their entire face, Vince. You haven't seen what I've seen. A few have tried but they can't finish.

Can't finish what?

The treatment! It's too much for people, their appearance and the questions people ask, the pain, the length of the treatment, they can't work. People have trouble just doing small patches. I can't even get some patients to do an area the size of a quarter. They stop part way through.

For the first time I had a small inkling of what I had gotten myself into. And then I came up with a thoroughly ludicrous line of reasoning, but one of which I have often fallen back on when I have made a spectacularly miscalculated move.

Doc, I'm descended from Vikings and Highlanders. I run marathons and ultramarathons, this treatment - Hah! - it's nothing. I know about pain.

The Doctor was still shaking his head.

I had a woman who wouldn't leave her house. And another who had a nervous break-down because of this treatment. She had to be hospitalized and confined. This is serious stuff.

Honestly, Doc. I don't give a damn about my appearance. If these lesions are all over my face, aren't they going to have to be treated sooner or later?

Yes! But not all at once!

And truth be told, I hadn't slept through the night for the better part of a week, the pain is - well, imagine if someone had taken a blowtorch to your face - but having literally painted my face into a corner I was hardly in a position to snivel and whine.

So my Doctor is convinced of my lunacy and I'm half inclined to side with him. But in for a penny, in for a pound. The sooner I do this, the sooner it's over with.

And Doc Otto, while shaking his head, could see I was serious about continuing the course of action.

Let's see how far you get on this marathon. You do still have a couple of options. You can stop and let your skin heal and then start again on a less aggressive treatment scale.

Yeah, well, aggressive is sort of my style.

Or, we can keep going. But no complaining! Never in forty years!

I agreed to his terms - I mean, what else was I going to say? - got another prescription for Efudex and went on my merry way.

But no patient in forty years? Hell, this is just a challenge now.

So I left, struggling between feeling like I was going to War - and girding my loins for the coming Battle, and feeling like I was as dumb as a sack of hammers.

Of course, I have been in this place before a few times...



Blogger Scooter said...

Gee, and I thought the expression was "a face for radio." It might work better if you actually posted a picture!

1:06:00 PM  
Blogger Scooter said...

And the story being there helps it to make sense, too!

7:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hang in there. Efudex is excellent stuff, cure rate well above 90%.

I've used it for 12 years tho I've never had the guts to do my whole face at once...just in sections: My nose (several times), around my lips, etc. You'd have awful scars if you were using liquid nitrogen.

I have maybe one or two pale scars from using Efudex...usually from spots I didn't even know were there but turned out to be very deep.

8:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't even imagine doing my entire face.

Good luck!

And I hope you don't need it!

8:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

If anybody is tough enough, it's you Vinnie.

No prisoners!

9:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hard to have much sympathy for someone who doesn't listen to their doctor.

5:36:00 PM  

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