(Author’s note: Five years ago I had to get a skin cancer cut out of my ear thus spawning this story.  Someone must have thought it was funny and wanted to read it again so here it is.)

I have to visit the doc pretty regularly these days because there’s lots of parts that seem to be wearing out on me.  My body is kind of like a ’55 Chevy – it needs plenty of TLC to stay in running order. The latest episode involved a mad skin doctor (aka dermatologist), a sympathetic nurse, loud power tools, a carving knife, and a bunch of blood.  The end result was not what one would refer to as a cosmetic miracle or a walk on the playground.  The aggravation factor was akin to a close encounter with a four-pronged cattle prod.  The ensuing outcome was that I now have what might be referred to as a doozy of a gremlin ear (an appendage that is commonly found on Halloween hobgoblins.)

The mad doctor himself warned me a couple of months ago that there was a thing in my ear that would just continue to grow unless it was surgically removed.  He said it would be “minimally invasive” which is mad doctor talk for “I’m gonna take a chunk out of your ear as big as a silver dollar” followed by a maniacal laugh.  He didn’t fool me with that optimistic outlook.  Nonetheless it had to be done or that thing would probably grow right on into my brain and turn me into a lunatic.

The first step in the procedure was to put a needle in my ear with some numbing medicine.  That taught me two things.  One was that the ear is a really tender unit and two that screaming at a mad doctor does no good at all – he just laughs manically and continues inflicting pain.

Stage two involves the mad doc and his first assistant discussing strategy for their forthcoming project. It is unsettling to hear them say things like, “You know, I think we can save the lobe and the ear hole.”  Right after that you hear what sounds like someone cranking up a chain saw and that is disconcerting as well.  At that point I looked around for an escape hatch but a pretty nurse was guarding the only exit so we plowed onward.

In the third stage that power tool was close to my ear and I could hear it grinding away.  My mind suddenly had visions of ear chips flying all over the operating room.  They then scaled back to some kind of manual carving knife and that felt like someone was cutting up a Christmas turkey.  

Then there was the blood.  I’m not a big fan of blood especially the sight of my own dripping down on the floor.  They brought in a mop to remedy that situation and just kept on slicing.

Step four was the stitching process and my mad doctor must have changed his mind several times during that stage.  I say that because it took a long time and later on when I looked at my gremlin ear the stitches were patterned like a county roadmap with lines going every which ‘a way.  They also said very small stitches were to be used for this operation but that was a falsehood. Those stitches looked like they could have been used to sew up a horse after a major surgical incursion.

The good doctor then handed off my gremlin ear to the nurse.  She took one look at it and had to go get a drink of bourbon and water before bandaging it up.  She then hermetically sealed it off from the outside air, gave me some instructions on how to care for it and sent me on my way.

My wife and I had the unveiling a couple of days later and she did not give it a favorable evaluation.  Anyway here’s what the scorecard looked like:  Forty seven stitches placed in random order, three square inches of some kind of foam cushioning in every available nook and cranny, one closed off ear hole, a wafer-thin outer ear and a crooked ear outline.  That outer ear part was actually letting enough sunlight through to grow vegetables and the outline of my ear is shaped kind of like the coastline of Southern California.  Like I said before, a gremlin ear.

There are always some positive outcomes from even the most unpleasant of events and that’s true for me in this situation.  One good thing is that because my ear is so thin no one can sneak up on me because I essentially have two ear holes.  The other is that I no longer will have to dress up for Halloween – that gremlin ear will work just fine all by itself.

Perhaps there is a moral to today’s narrative.  Even though those old doctors might make some of your body parts hurt temporarily, they will probably save you from even worse stuff, like say death.  

Hey, I’d rather have a gremlin ear than a big lump of stuff growing rampant in my head so here’s some advice; always do what that mad doctor tells you.  I figured out a long time ago that they are a pretty smart bunch – even if they laugh maniacally when they work.

(E-mail dar8589@bellsouth.net with your surgical stories)

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