Skin cancer

Ljucker Member Posts: 1 Member
edited October 2022 in Skin Cancer #1

Hello I am new to this page . I have a squamous cancer on scalp . My primary diagnosised as fungal. A head neck doctor wants to do a wide excision...remove it to bone. Scrape bone ..pack with collegen. Sew a gause on it . Leave on for a week then let it granulate in and heal. Ivwill be under general anthesia. I am freaking out. I have never had any type of surgery nor stitches. I have zero tolerance for pain. I am so scared this going to be so painful.


  • dbl1965
    dbl1965 Member Posts: 3 Member


    Hello! I'm also new. In fact, I just joined last night so please bear with me if I sound like I have no idea about what I'm doing. You're the first person I've written to. I've been reading a lot of comments, questions, and responses from people who also joined "this club," which a lot of people say no one wants to join. It was a nice to discover that every person has been kind, sympathetic, worried --- and often scared. Many times, they'll say that just having someone to vent to that understands makes all the difference in the world. Guess you noticed that also.

    Having surgery with general anesthesia for the first time is scary, especially if you don't know what to expect. I remember my first experience, even though it was decades ago. That was when they knocked you out with sodium pentathol that was somehow coming through a big black rubber mask over your mouth and nose. You had to take deep breaths, while counting backwards from 100. When I got down to 74, I started getting nervous, but the next thing I knew I heard people talking about a baseball game that happened the night before. I thought I was dreaming that until a nurse removed the mask and I realized I was awake. Thankfully, it's not that primitive these days.

    After you've registered with the admissions people, they'll either show you where you need to go, or have someone bring you by wheelchair. When you get to the pre-op area, a nurse will show you where to change into a hospital gown and socks that have rubber dots on the soles, so you don't slip on the floor when you're walking around before they have you lie down on the hospital bed. Once you're settled in, they take your blood pressure and other vital signs and ask a lot of questions about allergies, etc., and put your IV in. At some point, they'll either give you a pill to take with just a sip or two of water or else add medication to your IV that will help you relax. Your doctor will come in, then a nurse or two and probably the anesthesiologist or anesthesiology nurse will come in and introduce themselves and ask if you have any questions. Before they wheel you down the hall, you'll be given a much stronger anesthesia and you'll probably be half asleep by the time you get to the OR. Most times, I've still been awake enough that I was able to scoot from the stretcher to the OR table with a little help from the nurses. Other times, I barely remember the trip down the hall. I have found that just before everything goes dark, I'll hear a hissing sound and feel, as Pink Floyd says, "comfortably numb." Either way, the anesthesiologist will NOT let them do anything until he or she knows that you're completely unconscious. Not only that, but to make sure that you don't move around in your sleep, they'll add a very strong muscle relaxer. They will be monitoring you the entire time.

    After your surgery, you'll be in the recovery room and the anethesiologist or his nurse will add something to the IV that automatically reverses what they gave you to sleep, so you'll gradually wake up. Nurses will check in on you every minute or so to see if you're feeling okay, and then they'll contact your doctor so he can come to let you know how everything went. I'm only going by my experiences, but after talking to friends who've had surgery, although the procedures/surgeries may have been different, the principles (gowns, booties, IV, blood pressure, vital signs, and feeling groggy just before you fall asleep are basically the same.

    Since you mentioned stitches, you should find comfort in knowing that you'll still be sleeping when yours are put in. And since your procedure involves a lot of different steps, you'll probably have some that dissolve on their own, and the regular kind where they use what I call thread. Your doctor will explain all that to you. They'll use tiny scissors to remove the "thread" stitches. It may be uncomfortable, but once they've finished, you'll no longer feel a "pulling" or tightness sensation where the stitches were. That doesn't mean your head won't hurt anymore.

    It was my intention to try to give you some comfort, but I may have gotten carried away. I understand how you feel about the first doctor giving you the wrong diagnosis. It's happened to me as well as quite a few in this chatroom. I'm just relieved that you found a competent head and neck specialist who discovered what's been going on. I'm also impressed that this doctor has explained exactly what will be done and what to expect, so you can mentally prepare yourself. That in itself should help avoid your having a lot of surprises afterwards.

    Meanwhile, it might not be a bad idea to keep a small notebook or some paper stapled together to write down questions or anything you're concerned or worried about regarding your surgery, no matter if it seems foolish, because I can guarantee it's not the first time those things were asked. Also, questions about something he may have said but you didn't quite understand at the time. However, based on what you've described here, I think you grasped more than I could have.

    You mentioned that you have zero tolerance for pain. You are not alone with this! In fact, if you were to ask most of the people in these chatrooms, they'll say the same thing! Trust me, your medical team (doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, etc.) will help control your pain. One thing I learned over the years is to let them know whenever your pain starts coming back, especially after you're in your room.

    I can't promise that you're going to feel 100% better the minute you get back home, because your surgery involves a lot of different steps. Just take it easy and stay in touch with your doctor and his nurses. Let them know if you need anything. Do you have people living with you or nearby who can check in on you and run errands and stuff for you?

    I almost forgot to ask. When is your surgery? Meanwhile, I'll be thinking about you and praying that everything goes well. Take care and let all of us know how you're doing.

  • LarryW
    LarryW Member Posts: 1 *

    I came through scalp surgery and 5 weeks of radiation for squamous cell cancer at the end of '22. It started as a very small bump on the right side of my scalp and travelled to a lymph node in my right jaw area. There were so many delays getting into surgery on the little scalp bump, the continual delays gave it time to grow and travel. I pray that you get (or have gotten) your surgery in a much more timely manner and that there's as little pain for you as there was for me! They numb the areas so well! With my surgery, I also lost most feeling in my right scalp and ear area, so there's really been almost no pain afterward during the healing process, either! And the loss of sensitivity in that area doesn't seem to bother me much at all! The incision for the lymph node is very long, running down behind my right ear and across the bottom of my chin, but the scar is almost invisible. The worst part for me, so far, is this bulge beneath my chin which feels like fluid, possibly from drainage during surgery... maybe? That combined with the loss of most of my beard hair which could have helped me hide this ugly pouch under my chin! I think the beard loss came from the radiation. The extra chin and the beard loss has really left me looking totally different to myself (and to many others, I'm sure). I kept a beard of some description (usually a mustache & goatee) for the last 58 of my 75 years! I hope this ugly growth can be drained or otherwise removed or at least my beard regrown to help hide it, eventually! If not, at least I'm alive! Just wish I recognized myself when I look in the mirror! Those unnecessary scheduling delays really cost me, dearly.

  • dbl1965
    dbl1965 Member Posts: 3 Member

    Larry, thanks for sharing your story. Hope you're well on your way to feeling much better. When you're 75 like we are, doctors don't always take you seriously, or else they assume you're just fussing because people our age have a lot of aches and pains. It's unfortunate that they kept delaying the surgery, and that makes me angry!

    Thank you for asking about my surgery. It was done on the scheduled date, but this doctor has no bedside manner. He partnered with my NICE dermatologist, who retired a few years ago. Since then, I was only allowed to see their nurse practitioner, who would always give me the "it's nothing to worry about, let me get my jug (liquid nitrogen) and you'll be fine" routine, which is what she kept doing with my right leg. The doctor only sees patients after the nurse finds something suspicious, and even then, he spends four out of five days each week doing "cosmetic" surgery like face lifts, tummy tucks, etc., so follow-ups take a long time.

    He made a DEEP incision and then explained what I could and couldn't do for 10 days, so I spent most of the time changing bandages. When he called to confirm the diagnosis, he said I could just use big bandaids until I get to see him. A few days later, the entire site was red and the skin around it was hot. It was a Sunday so I had to wait until the next day to have the nurse do a culture. It turned out to be a really bad infection that thrives on moisture (I was still using the antibiotic ointment under the bandaid). I told her I wanted to talk to him, so he called me that night. I explained my concerns about infections because it was only about two inches from my knee replacement scar and reminded him how dangerous it is for me to get infections because of the knee, especially being so close.

    Larry, sounds like our doctors are related! Before he hung up, he said "We didn't get ALL of the cancer cells, but that won't matter because [get ready] the infection will KILL those cells." He took me off the ointment and I had to buy a blow dryer (never had one before) to keep it dry. Two weeks later, it was still looking icky so I called and he told me he wouldn't prescribe any oral antibiotics because of all my heart meds. So now, I don't get to see him at all, just waiting until May to see the nurse! The scar is concave, and greyish-pink, which I'm not happy about. I don't think it should be that color. I'm not vain by any stretch of the imagination, which is a good thing!

    I'm so sorry you had to go through so much more than I did. I have no right to whine and complain about, given your situation. Did he say whether your hair in that area will grow back? Keeping my fingers crossed for you. I did NOT mean to ramble, especially since you were so nice. I'll say some prayers that you're completely over this nightmare very soon!

    Take care, and have a good day! Thanks again for your concerns. Meanwhile, I'm seriously looking for a new doctor but most don't take Medicare, or aren't taking new patients.