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Debbie’s and my 3½ hour trip from Bend, Oregon, to Portland was through the beautiful Cascade mountains and the Willamette Valley, and the morning drive was very pleasant. I didn’t think much about our destination and the purpose of the trip, because there wasn’t anything constructive to do except arrive at the right place at the right time. We got to the Veterans Administration (VA) hospital forty-five minutes early, checked in, dawdled around reading and looking out the windows. The view is spectacular, as the hospital is on a hill a couple of hundred feet above downtown Portland; also visible were the snow-capped volcanic mountains which were stark in their pointed beauty. The nurse admitted me into the surgery room right on schedule, and I was back out an hour later. In between those two swingings of that door I lost a few layers of skin on my right anterior shin to electrodessication & curettage.

Everyone was polite, and the nurses who were amiable to conversations and jokes were fun for me to vent my anxieties upon. My medical resident doctor and his supervisor were friendly and very professional in their behavior. After I was lying down and the needling to numb the skin was finished, the scraping began, and after a couple of minutes of missing out on all the fun that was going on below, I asked if I could sit up and watch. I’m glad I did because for me it was fascinating.

I had asked if he was going to use sand paper or a potato peeler to scrape off my sarcoma, but what he was using was a little loop of an instrument that could be used by a sculptor when shaving clay. He did this procedure of shaving, and then painted the shaved area with a pin-pointed pen that exuded a short electrical spark. That electrocuted and killed the remaining carcinoma cells in the area he had just shaved.

I never felt a thing, zero pain, and not the slightest discomfort from anything. The room was just a bit chilly and my nurse asked if I would like a warm blanket. That was very nice, and it made me feel warm and comfortable, emotionally as well as physically. I asked for a Teddy bear, … but he was home for the day. Everything apparently went perfectly, and soon I was out the door having a debriefing from my head nurse.

Debbie was waiting for me and reading in the waiting area with the beautiful view. We decided to have lunch in the University cafeteria, which was quite good, nothing fancy, but good. Then we took a short tour of the campus and over to the sky tram. We decided not to take it down and back, but to get back home to Bend before rush hour traffic began. Unfortunately, Portland rush hour begins on Highway 5 South at 3 pm, so it was a crawl for the first half hour, very much to my chagrin, but as we neared Salem it was up to normal highway speed, and we made it back in time for the Bend First Friday downtown party. We hung out there for an hour and then went home … tired, almost exhausted but hopefully fully repaired.

I hope this carcinoma removal was a happy day for me, but I won’t know for a year.

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