does it look?" David asks, as I begin peeling off the first bandage.
are sitting on the bed, side-by-side: I've got his face turned towards the
headboard lamp so I can see what I'm doing. The post-op instructions,
which I have already committed to memory -- along with the surgeon's
phone number, the differences between electrocautery and liquid
nitrogen, and the full medical definition of sebbhoreic keratoses --
are politely euphemistic. "Wounds treated by electrocautery
tend not to look nice during the first 7-14 days," it warns.
with great tenderness and care, I finish removing the surgical dressing
from David's face. Where the big mole used to be -- the one on the
right side of his face, next to his mouth -- there is now a deep,
oozing, bloody crater the size of a Milk Dud. It's like looking at an
aerial view of Vesuvius, a day or two after The Big One.
looks a little raw," I calmly reply.
wound will have a yellowish discharge that looks like pus, but is not.
The wound is often surrounded by redness. The wounds will heal faster
if a warm-water compress is applied for 5-10 minutes, twice a day,
followed by application of an antibiotic ointment.
drop the soggy bandage into the wastebasket and hand him a warm wet
washcloth, folded into quarters. "Hold this against the wound for ten
minutes," I instruct him. He takes the compress and presses it against
his cheek. I am seized with a sudden desire to kiss him -- he looks so
sweet and so vulnerable, sitting there on the bed holding his compress
to his face -- but kissing is strictly prohibited tonight. (Along with
crunchy food, exaggerated facial gestures, sneezing, laughing,
whistling, shaving, bird calls, clown makeup ... anything that might
compromise the incision, basically.)
I look at it?" he asks me.
wound may be covered or left open. If a crust forms, it will fall off
in 10-24 days. If the wound bleeds, firm gentle continuous pressure
should be applied for 20 minutes.
thinking maybe not quite yet," I tell him honestly. This is a man who
a plastic surgeon's office. He is notoriously squeamish when it
comes to blood and gore, especially his own. Perhaps it would be
best if he waits a day or two before he looks under any of the
bandages; at least until the worst of the swelling and oozing have
off. He's waited a long time to have this surgery. I want him to be
happy when he finally looks in the mirror.
nods, trusting my judgement on this one. "But it looks like they did a
good job, right?" he asks. "I'm going to be even more devastatingly
handsome than I was before, right?"
crusts may blacken, scab and fall off repeatedly for 7-28 days. If the
wound is very tender, red or swollen, contact the office immediately.
You may have an infection. For pain, you may take aspirin, Tylenol,
Datril, Bufferin, etc. Use Polysporin 2X, cover with Band-Aid as it
squeeze a dollop of ointment onto the little round bandage and gently
ease it over the wound, as carefully as a new mother tending to her
infant's umbilical scab. When the Band-Aid feels securely attached to
his face, I dab at the leftover pus and blood and ointment with the
I say, "as far as I'm concerned, you couldn't BE
any more 'devastatingly handsome' than you are already."
precisely the sort of blandly-reassuring/mildly flirtatious wifespeak
he needs to hear right now. But there is more than a *molecule* of
truth in it. I didn't fall in love with his mole, any more than I
fell in love with his broad shoulders, his translucent blue eyes, his
pretty blond hair, his elegant index toes. I fell in love with him from
the inside-out. The fact that the outside of him
turned out to be every bit as attractive as the inside
of him was an accident of Internet romance, frankly. What matters now
is the fact that he got through his surgery in one piece ... that
nothing was cancerous, including the big dark scary mole on his back
(which turned out to not be a mole at all, but something perfectly
benign called sebbhoreic keratoses) ... that HE is
happy with the results ... and that I love him very, very much, no
matter what he looks like (and no matter if he IS a
little oozy for the next 7-28 days). To prove it, as soon as I've
finished dressing his wound, I lean over and give him a long, tender,
on the tip of his nose.