The nose surgery thing was a whole different animal than the back surgery thing.
Atmosphere-wise, that is.
When I had the back done they dialed da blues up on Pandora for me. We talked about the blues as Dr. Feelgood was cutting on me. Joked around a bit.
The atmosphere was light. I was in and out in an hour.
The waiting room for the nose thing was a bit darker. The walking wounded.
When Carol and I got there, there were three people who had already been dealt with. One guy had a bandage on his nose, another on his ear and an older woman had a bandage on her ear, and her head wrapped from top to bottom, exactly like Jacob Marley in the 1984 George C.Scott version of "A Christmas Carol."
The way MOHS surgery works is the doc shaves a bit of the cancerous area off and sends it to the on-site lab to see if they got it all. Meanwhile, the patient gets wrapped up and returned to the waiting room to wait.
They tell you the wait can be up to forty minutes. I waited an hour. But they got it all on the first pass.
Anyway, if you are lucky they get it all on the first pass. If not, you go back under the knife and a little more is shaved off. And you return to the reception area. Rinse and repeat.
There are three doctors in that office all doing the same thing so victims rotate from the waiting room to surgery and back like clockwork.
It is exactly like an assembly line.
Very, very odd.
When I first arrived there were some awkward hellos.
When I walked back into the room, bandaged up after Pass #1 there was instantaneous camaraderie.
And it was genuine.
Typical comments - "If you think I look bad you should see the other guy." But the emotion was real.
We sat there looking like mutant freaks on display, which I'm sure is how we looked to our handlers - the people who drove us there.
But between us there was an honest connection; even unspoken, you could feel it. It was palpable.
After an hour wait, they called me back in to tell me the doc had gotten all the cancer and that I was done.
The feeling of relief that washed over me buckled my knees.
Checked out at the reception area and walked back into the waiting area. My friends asked how it went and I told them I was done. One and done.
They congratulated me. Sincerely.
Carol and I were there for 2 and 1/2 hours that morning. In that time frame there were five of us getting sliced up. Two of us were one and done; the other three were repeat performers - I'll never know how many more indignities they had to endure.
I felt guilty as I was leaving. Genuinely guilty. The other one and done had already left.
I said good bye and good luck to each of the remaining three, they did the same to me. A little conversation. Smiles all around.
Smiles. Shared between people diagnosed with and operated on because of cancer. Smiles between people bandaged up like we had been to war or in a fight.
I will never forget that experience. To make such an intense connection with complete strangers, vulnerable humans all, in such a short time.
I wish them all well.