So 2016 begins a bit like 2015 ended – going to the gym and also being attacked by a man wearing rubber gloves who then presents me with a large bill. Yes, its surgery time again. Yahoo!
Today was my first day back with Belinda at the Virgin Gym after a two week break over the Christmas/New Year period. Much has changed. I couldn’t do any of the exercises which was a surprise. We started with walking lunges, but my hamstrings were so tight Belinda was nervous that one of them would tear, so we had to desist. We then tried some two footed jumps onto and off a Bosu ball, one-legged hopping, side stepping and one-legged balancing on a Bosu ball. We then tried some two footed jumps across the gym landing on both feet which replicates a skiing turn – sort of. But through most of it my hamstrings really hurt so at the end I was reduced to doing stretches.
Belinda explained that the tight hamstrings were a product of swimming eight days consecutively and not doing any stretching afterwards. Doing rapid fire muscle exercise like a swim kick, in a weightless environment, just makes the hamstrings stiff and tight. I never stretch. Should do.
As I close in on the one year anniversary of surgery I can do most things except
2. One legged squats on my broken leg
3. One legged hops on my broken leg.
I don’t think my leg is anywhere near strong enough to ski again but the experts don’t agree. We’ll see. Only one way to find out. Montana and Idaho, here I come.
In the afternoon, it was back to see the man with the rubber gloves, my friend Professor Jonathan Stretch, the prominent cancer surgeon. I have known him for some time. He removed the first melanoma that I suffered. As part of that process I asked that I read his thesis. He seemed surprised by this request but he gave it to me anyway. I read it and subsequently wrote a critique of it, which I sent to him. Although he was surprised by both my interest in reading his thesis and my response to it, he called and offered to answer my questions. He very graciously gave me an hour one Friday afternoon, years ago, in his rooms at the Poche Institute to answer the questions raised by my thesis review. He tells people I am one of his most difficult patients.
This time was no different. I noticed that the pathology report on the biopsies taken on my face showed squamous cells on my cheek but also on the tip of my left ear.
It is described with the following weird words:
“L ear.” Hyperplastic Bowen’s disease/in situ squamous cell carcinoma. (Punch)
“R cheek.” Bowen’s disease with moderately differentiated squamous cell carcinoma. (Punch)
I don’t think the words in dermatological surgery are nearly as interesting or full of Greek and Latin pretension as those in orthopaedic surgery. Still they are trying. When you have a biopsy report that says your scalp contains, Eroded Acantholytic Bowenoid Actinic Keratosis, you know they are having a go. The dermatologists are carting the ball up, but I don’t know if they are ready to play State of Origin against the literary giants of orthopaedic surgery.
I knew Jon was going to operate on the cancer on my cheek but not on the top of my ear. I asked why. With a sigh, he pulled out his pen and a bit of paper and we went through it. Plenty of diagrams. Prof Stretch is never stingy with his time. He will always happy keep going through it until I understand. He is a great communicator with patients and many of his peers should learn from him.
Anyway, an hour later, after getting several large horse needles, full of local anaesthetic, stuck in my face, he excised a sliver of me which was packed into an alcohol-filled, specimen jar and sent off for testing. I am basically disappearing bit by bit. At least in another 10 years there will be nothing left for the surgeons to operate on except my shoes. I’m not sure they’ll get much cash from slicing up leather. Mercifully, Jonathan Stretch is very pleasant and engaging company while he is chopping me up.
Long may you live, Professor. I don’t want you to retire as you and Dr Tanya Gilmore are probably keeping me alive. Also I need you to take the stitches out next week and tell me what the prognosis is from the excised skin.