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    When I was a little girl, my Father didn’t earn enough money for many extras, but occasionally he did treat Mother and me to an afternoon movie matinee. In those days, going to the movies meant seeing a double feature. The first movie was family fare such as Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney dancing and singing their way across the screen. However, the second feature was invariably a shoot-em-up Western or a Gangster movie.

    One afternoon, the second show was LADY SCARFACE. I took one look at the woman’s face, climbed into my Father’s lap, and spent the rest of the movie staring at the people sitting behind us. I had forgotten the movie until I was recently confronted with Basal and Mohs. No, it’s not a law firm. Neither is Basal, Curly and Mohs a famous comedy team.

    But let me back up——

    Tucson has 350 days of sunshine a year. Thus, it is important to lather oneself with sunscreen and wear a big hat (unless you are in the house). It is also a must do to visit a dermatologist once a year, because being overly sun-kissed can become problematic. All went well as my dermatologist perused my aging skin, until she put her nose on my nose and said, “You have two basal cells on your cheek under your left eye.” Then, holding up a mirror she said, “See!” Nope, I didn’t see anything, but then I never went to medical school either.

    Before I could say, “How in the world did you spot those things?” she had taken samples for a biopsy and sent me on my way—cheerfully saying—“I think they are malignant, but because they are on your face, under your eye, I will refer you to a Dermatologic Surgeon who specializes in Mohs.” I found out that is not a dance team either.

    Her diagnosis was correct, but when the Surgeon heard that I was coming, she left for an extended vacation. Three weeks later, I met the doctor, and she scheduled me for early morning surgery the following week. Her assistant told me that the surgery could take from 2 to 5 hours. I said, “What is she going to do—pull them out of my ears?” (I didn’t say ears). “No, No,” the nurse said, “The surgery takes around 15 minutes, but the analysis of the tissue takes 45 minutes, and the procedure may need to be repeated until only healthy tissue remains.” Then she added, “You might want to bring lunch.”

    The day of surgery, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. with a back spasm, that took my mind off of my face altogether. I arrived at 7:45 a.m. and was immediately ushered into the operating room, placed into a reclining chair, with pillows under my back and knees (Yes, I did whine a bit about my back) and then my eyes were taped shut and covered. To this day, I don’t know who did the surgery, but she sounded very nice. After, the procedure was repeated for the third time, only healthy tissue remained, and I was free to drive home with a compression bandage on my 15 tiny stitches.

    The next day,  I changed the dressing, looked into the mirror and realized that my handiwork covered too much of my face. I now resembled an Egyptian mummy, and I wasn’t sure I had covered the scar. So, I went back to the doctor’s office for a tutorial on how to change a dressing. I was told that the surgery was successful and that the scar will fade.

    That is a relief, because  the actress, Judith  Anderson got paid to scare little children. I certainly don’t want to do it for free.

     And, Yes, my back is all better, but that’s another story.

    Esther Blumenfeld (Dedicated to Dr. Frederic Edward Mohs)

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