Everyone Is Out To Get Me

by Marinka on May 30, 2011

Well, since it’s been exactly twelve seconds since I mentioned my skin cancer, I thought I would update you.

I’m having the surgery to remove it this week, and to add insult to injury when the doctor’s office called, they said “we’re calling to confirm your procedure.”

“You mean my surgery?” I asked. Because surgery is more milkable than procedure. A pedicure is a procedure. How dare they.

“Yes, on Wednesday.”

“I will be there for my surgery on Wednesday,” I repeated in an off-stage whisper, making sure everyone without military grade ear plugs heard me.

“Great, see you then!” the surgical receptionist said.

This was our second conversation.

The first was when I called to make an appointment a few weeks ago. I was a bit shaken up, because I received referrals to several doctors, I mean, surgeons.

The first one I called had me on hold for a good five minutes listening to a recording of all the services that the dermatologist had to offer, including a hair removal system, called, alarmingly “The Soprano”.

“So what are you coming in for?” the Soprano procurer asked when she finally took me off hold.

“I’m getting the Mohs surgery,” I announced. And may have sighed for emphasis.

“Mohs, ok,” she said. “Have you already had a biopsy?”

“I certainly have had the biopsy,” I reassured her . “Unfortunately I have skin cancer on my nose.”

Were there a lot of people out there who chose elective Mohs surgery without the benefit of a cancer diagnosis? And was it possible that this person didn’t read my blog? I’m not sure how comfortable I felt entering an environment like that.

But what she said after this convinced me that I wasn’t comfortable.

“Let me explain to you how we do this here,” she began, and I prepared to take notes.

“You’re going to come in with six other people,” she said.

I became alarmed. I knew that some surgical procedures required the patient to come in with a friend, preferably bearing a medium-size gift, who would them escort the patient home, but six! Wow! That was a whole team of assistants that I would need!

Could this surgery be more involved than I thought?

Is it possible that in my bravery, I’d actually downplayed the risk and danger that I was facing?!

“The seven of you will all go in together and the doctor will remove the first layer of skin from each of you and send it to the lab for processing,” the monotone continued.

Hmm. This could be a problem. I have very considerate and wonderful friends, but I wasn’t sure that I could convenience six of them to undergo the surgery with me. Obviously this was needed in case of an emergency skin graft or nose transplant. In other words, my life was at stake, and these so-called “friends” would be waffling.

Yes, I know I hadn’t asked them yet at this point, but I knew if they asked me to go to surgery with them, I’d be reluctant, so I assume that they wouldn’t be eager either. In my defense, though, I have a very low pain threshold. And a very full TV-viewing schedule.

But enough about me. These “friends” have some nerve. In my mind, but still.

Don’t think that I won’t remember this at Christmas.

“And those people who have a “clear” layer will be discharged and the rest of you will stay for a second layer, and so on,” the receptionist was still babbling.

Suddenly I realized that the six other people wouldn’t be friends (yet!) but rather other patients undergoing the same Mohs surgery as I would be facing.

“So we’d all be in some kind of a reverse-assembly line?” I asked. Not that there’s anything wrong with mass surgery, or mass weddings, for that matter, but my personal preference is a lower patient to surgeon ratio.

I decided not to schedule an appointment there.

The next doctor’s office I called did not place me on hold and scheduled an appointment promptly.

I was reassured that I wouldn’t be part of a surgical magical chairs ensemble. Everything seemed to be going well.

So I’m sure you can understand how this downgrading from surgery to procedure has been a slap in the face.

The same face that will be surgically operated on, to boot.

One year ago ...

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Fairly Odd Mother
May 30, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I hope your procedure—I mean surgery, very, verrrrry serious surgery— goes well. And wow, they really do an assembly line at some doctors? I can just hear it, “Seat Number Three, Come on down!” I’d go for the one:one ratio myself as well.


Marinka May 31, 2011 at 9:12 am

Thank you for your wishes and for adding some extra “r” to the “very”. I hope you didn’t exhaust yourrrrself.


May 30, 2011 at 6:43 pm

That assembly line surgery is crazy. I’ve never heard of such a thing.

Good luck with your surgery. Shall I hire a night nurse for you?


May 30, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Good luck on your procee . . . uhm, surgery. Good luck on your SURGERY.

Thank goodness for humor, yes? Without it how the hell would we cope?
Hugs. I am sure everything will be more than okay!


Corine May 30, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Mass assembly line?!? That is crazy talk.

I wish you all the best with your surgery.


May 30, 2011 at 6:58 pm

I’m totally laughing–can you imagine if she *hadn’t* told you and you’d just shown up and been shown into a room with six other people? Um, no, thank you. For Pete’s sake! Good luck on your very, very serious surgery… would you like us to start a prayer chain?


Maggie May May 30, 2011 at 6:58 pm

this made me laugh out loud. twice! so we can surmise:

cancer is hilarious!


May 30, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Good luck! I think you made the right choice avoiding the assembly line. That sounds creepy. I look forward to the after story. Pictures of the bandage are good for sympathy.


pam May 30, 2011 at 7:36 pm

I thought I might volunteer to be one of your six should you need to resort to such butchery as that but then I asked Dr. Google about Moh’s surgery and when he brought up this graphic: http://twitpic.com/54t992, I decided if Pacman was involved I’d just stay home and play at my house.


May 30, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Okay, first: I thought you were *kidding* about the goddamn CANCER. I can’t believe you’re not making a bigger deal about this. I would have jokingly suggested someone start a Twibbon campaign in my honor, and then when no one did, I’d do it myself and give you all the credit. Because that’s what friends with cancer are for. (I will be one of those six friends for you. Even if you don’t need them anymore. Cancer demands an entourage.)

And second: My husband had one of those assembly-line surgeries. On his eyeballs. And I watched on closed-circuit television. Everyone met in a conference room beforehand to get debriefed. I tried to make jokes about the absurdity of the situation, but no one laughed.

I’m still not convinced that my husband is actually some sort of spy and got an eyeball transplant for reasons related to retina scanning and the future of our planet.

(Will you be live-tweeting the procedure?)


May 30, 2011 at 8:02 pm

(And I know you’re a cancer patient and everything, but please don’t use that as an excuse to point out all the typos in my previous comment.)


beyond May 30, 2011 at 8:11 pm

i had mohs surgery (it is not a procedure!) on my eyelid and am very happy. no one can see the teeny scar but me. because i know exactly where it should be. there was no assembly line where i went. geez that’s creepy. (also, my surgeon was very handsome, which helped a lot.)
good luck!


May 30, 2011 at 8:19 pm

This week on “Skin-vivor”: Seven contestants! All with cancer! Who will be this week’s champion?! With each elimination round, new secrets exposed as each skin layer get peeled away! The season’s most revealing episode yet! Don’t miss it – following Real Housewives of Sloan Kettering!


Stephanie Smirnov
May 30, 2011 at 8:24 pm

You should’ve stuck with the first option. Imagine the possibilities — Musical Mohs Chairs, where the six of you have to circle around the chairs and whoever’s left standing when the music stops gets kicked out and doesn’t get their layer removed.


marathonmom May 30, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Well hail are they gonna let you pick your music??? What if you have to listen to Michael Jackson the whole time?

Best Wishes on your surgical event. I will be praying to Saint Moh for your speedy recovery!!!!! xoxoxoxo

And to the rest of y’all – I call first dibs on her blog……I’m just sayin…….


May 30, 2011 at 8:55 pm

I hope the gynecological offices don’t get wind of this assembly line method!


K-Line May 30, 2011 at 9:15 pm

My friend’s mother went through this about 25 years ago – she’s still very well (though obsessed with hats and sunblock – as am I for that matter) and gorgeous. And she’s, like 75. Seriously, not to change the topic but she’s the most chic woman ever. And this little tiny little divet on her nose somehow manages to be the chicest thing. Point is, she had this done practically at the dawn of time and she’s totally fine. But in her world, it was a procedure. One of the many 🙂


neena May 30, 2011 at 10:12 pm

keep saying surgery – and milk it for all you can!!


May 30, 2011 at 10:45 pm

So how much cheaper was the assembly line option? I bet they had a Groupon.


May 30, 2011 at 11:02 pm

I know I saw a Living Social deal for that somewhere. 🙂 Seriously though, assembly line? GIMME A BREAK! It’s not a procedure, it’s SURGERY! You milk it babe, get all you can. Meals lined up? Maid service? Someone to bring you your favorite coffee in recovery? Man, I’m so glad you didn’t do the assembly line! My dad had that same surgery and it is SURGERY! Six other people my butt. 🙁


dusty earth mother May 30, 2011 at 11:11 pm

Very happy you decided against the mass surgery. But I would gladly have had a layer removed for you, my friend.


the mama bird diaries
May 30, 2011 at 11:17 pm

I would not be up for that assembly line thing either. Unless they give everyone who gets to stay for another layer removal a rose.


anymommy May 30, 2011 at 11:26 pm

It’s definitely surgery. If there are sharp instruments involved, it’s surgery. But, personally, I’d stick with the doctor that is so busy, he has to operate on seven people at a time. I mean, who IS this yahoo that can make an appointment immediately and calls it a procedure? Hmmmm.


May 31, 2011 at 1:42 am

What’s next, drive-thru rhinoplasty?! I would have run away fast from that first surgeon too, so I am glad you did the right thing and booked an appointment with a doctor who will actually be able to remember your name throughout the entire pro- I mean, surgery.


May 31, 2011 at 4:09 am

Well, at least it wasn’t a slap on the nose, that would have been cruel. Clearly these people are amongst the infinitesimal few who don’t read your blog and realise you are a person of some importance with a Very Serious Condition.

Procedure my whatsit.

Interestingly, this reminded me of when Hub went to be doctored, there were four or five others then and the surgeon went from one to the next chopping at the crown jewels and rendering them jaffas.

Completely true.


Erin@MommyontheSpot May 31, 2011 at 6:51 am

A surgery assembly line?! That is nuts! Good luck with your surgery in which the doctor will perform surgery on your nose.


From Belgium May 31, 2011 at 7:38 am

Assembly line surgery?! Glad I live in Belgium (yup sorry but I’m pulling the ‘Better healthcare card’)


May 31, 2011 at 7:58 am

I’m just so happy you are going with the 2nd doctor and that you’re going with the Mohs.

So happy.

Now, you will become obsessed if you even venture outside without sunblock over every cm of your face and a hat on.

It’ll be worse than Twilight.


May 31, 2011 at 9:24 am

Good look with your surgery! You should make sure the doctors er surgeons let you go with a sticker that says “I had surgery” similar to those red “I voted” stickers.

Also, 6 people at the same time? Creepy. You should have told them 5 people, max 🙂


May 31, 2011 at 9:27 am

I shall be shrouded in black (or at least muted colors…I look better in earth tones anyway) and holding a prayer vigil throughout your very serious surgery. I shall also hold my breath until I receive news of your having survived the surgery, or until I turn blue and pass out – whichever comes first!


May 31, 2011 at 9:31 am

Oh, skin cancer. I’ve had it but unfortunately I didn’t get that option of a mass medical procedure. Probably would’ve opted for it since I was in college and wasn’t everything done in mass back then: drinking, sleeping, eating, kissing, etc. Plus we would’ve made it a drinking game: “Oh, Elise is crying again: drink!” “He said scalpel: drink!”

Anywho, the hear and now situation of your non-mass medical surgery… You’ll be fine. You’ve got those survival genes in you and, not for nothing, I’m sure if you give your surgeon the one-eye when you arrive as well as refer to your “family”, he’s going to do everything in his power to ensure you come out better than new! Therefore, you will be in the BEST of hands.


May 31, 2011 at 10:17 am

Quick tip: Before surgery, slip the doctor a twenty and he’ll happily take a layer of skin off your “trouble spots,” too. (“Trouble spots” means butt and thighs.) (But you already knew that.)


May 31, 2011 at 10:19 am

I would just like to prepare you for the worst, Marinka. There is an incredibly large possibility that your surgery will be done in a chair as opposed to a bed. I know. THE HORROR. And you probably won’t require a gown but will be allowed to stay fully dressed. However— feel free to request a gown to bring home for visitor-welcoming attire.

Good luck!


Megan May 31, 2011 at 10:36 am

Assembly-line Mohs? That’s a new one. I wouldn’t have gone for it either. One of the nice things about “procedures” is all the attention you get. Because otherwise what’s the point?


May 31, 2011 at 10:48 am

I hope your surgery goes well! I’m still quite dumbstruck by the assembly line surgery! Seriously??? WTF???


Lynn MacDonald (All Fooked Up)
May 31, 2011 at 10:54 am

I was completely visualizing you with six friends who would have the surgery (or procedure as it were) voluntarily just to be supportive.

hahaha…good luck and hopefully they won’t remove the layer your sense of humor is in.


DawnA May 31, 2011 at 11:13 am

After your SURGERY (should always be referred to in all caps) make sure you get the “no housework (cooking/laundry/bathing kids, etc) clause” in your discharge papers! Very important part of the healing process.


christy May 31, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Ugh, assembly line surgery?! People actually AGREE to that?! Weirdos.

I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow during your surgery – please have someone update us when it’s over and you’re recovering at home – hopefully eating bon bons on the couch and being waited on hand (nose) and foot.


annie May 31, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Any event that involves the ‘C’ word – no not THAT ‘C’ word, the other one – and removal of, or cutting into, of body parts is surgery dammit! Curse anyone who suggests otherwise. Glad you’re going with door, I mean doctor, #2.

By the way, I’d be one of your six if you really needed one!


Loukia May 31, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Good Luck with your surgery! I hope it goes really well. And then you should go for some ice cream after, order pizza for dinner, and eat Doritos. That’s what I would do.


A Mommy in the City
May 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Good luck! Make sure you milk the recovery with your husband and kids as much as you can!!!!


May 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm

This isn’t Suzuki after all it’s surgery. Give a nose a little privacy.


Becky Rice
May 31, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Was some sort of group discount available for the assembly line version of the surgery? Or was the doctor’s tee time early that day?


Kara May 31, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Dammit NYC Mom! I just found you. I’m not about to lose you now. From someone who has had this major procesurgery, the key is to A) Fain wooziness when it’s time to go so you’ll get a few extra minutes of pampering and juice, B) Gather everyone you know to witness the removal of the gauze and as you look in the mirror during the reveal, fall to your knees and yell, “look away dear friends, just look away!”, and C) Wear clear clicky “slippers” with white fuzzies on top during your healing – it makes you appear more fragile and elicits lots of empathy. These are just things I’ve read.


Stacey May 31, 2011 at 9:16 pm

What is it with those people? Today I went to have pre-op bloodwork done and the receptionist said, “So you have a procedure here on Thursday?” Excuse me? A procedure? Someone will be cutting into my face with a bone saw and I have to stay in the hospital overnight. That is not a “procedure.”

Good luck with your surgery.


June 1, 2011 at 9:18 pm

I feel ridiculously guilty for laughing so much about your procedure…I mean surgery. I’m not sure why I feel guilty though, as it’s completely your fault.


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