Sorry, can’t hear you, I’ve got a bannana in my ear…

Well, actually a cancer, but it’s the same principle. And the cancer is now sliced into 10 micron slices and arrayed like purple Proscuitto on slides in my doctors office. Now I can’t hear you because my ear is full of at least ten pounds of gauze.

Before anyone freaks, it’s just Basal Cell, about the least scary of the whacky things our cells do when they get bored and decide to try uncontrolled growth as a hobby. The most unpleasant thing about it is the hole the size of a jumbo martini olive in what used to be a very shapely ear. There’s very nice skin graft on it, but if it starts growing hair I’m going to have a tough time mowing it. The doc says that won’t happen, but he seems to have a puckish sense of humor.

This all started when I got back from Maui and started getting serious about having my racing physical. When you become a geezer like me you have to have one every year. While I was at it I decided to see a dermatologist (okay, Diane flogged me into it) and have him look at my vast collection of moles. I’ve been having a spot in the bowl of my ear that bleeds a little, then heals, then bleeds. The dermatologist did a punch biopsy of the site and said it might be nothing, or it might be Basal Cell Carcinoma, but not to freak–the cure rate for Basal Cell is super high.

Incidentally, if you have one of those little spots that bleed, or some white, flaky crusty spots on your nose, chest or back, or a pearly-looking pimple that never goes away, don’t regard it with suspicion for a year like I did. The hole they have to gouge will be smaller if you go see someone right away.

So after I flew home a few days ago for my nephew’s graduation I received the biopsy results. Bingo, Basal Cell. If you’re going to get skin cancer it’s the one to get. The surgeon found me a spot on his calendar for a consultation today, but when he looked at it, found out I had been ignoring it for a year and found out I was headed off to go racing for four months he decided to do the surgery right then. I didn’t even get up off the exam table.

He didn’t want to wait until October when I got back. Good thing–it turned out to be wandering toward the ear canal. That would have been messy.

Had to remove quite a bit more than expected, I probably had it for some time. He grafted in some skin from my neck right behind the ear, so all the pain is in one general area of my head. Not bad, just irritating. I’m supposed to spend the next few days being a couch potato, so I can’t finish cleaning my shop like I planned. I’m about a third done. Place looks like someone ransacked it. Nice to have a medical reason to screw off. I swear Diane thinks I slipped the Doc fifty bucks. That’s just simply wrong, and an insult to the medical ethics of Doctor Pokorny. It was a hundred.

Pretty interesting surgery–he took a circle out about the diameter of a good cigar, right in the cup of my ear. Since he had to excise to bare cartilage and there’s no blood supply in the cartilage to feed the graft, he removed the cartilage under the excision. I should get something cool stuck in there, like maybe a pencil holder or a flashlight. Could be very handy.

The surgical method is called Mohs–they section and microscopically inspect the tissue they remove to ensure they have it all. He had to extend the margin twice. Then after he had the graft in place he was showing Diane the slides and said “whoa, what’s that?” He spotted a tendril of growth that had escaped him. Back in he went, and cut out another little moon-shaped section, and pronounced it perfect. Had to harvest another chunk of skin to patch the new spot so now I have two graft areas.

This surgery has about a 99 percent cure rate. If he hadn’t been showing off the slides to Diane I might have been one of the one percent-ers. It’s very worthwhile to have a really cute wife.

We’ll check in with the doc on Sunday morning (what a cool guy!), and if everything looks fine, we hop in Diane’s Bentley and head for VIR. I’m racing at the Gold Cup there June 8-10, then it’s off to Watkins Glen. Hope to see you sometime on the tour. But if I don’t respond when you talk to me, I’m not ignoring you, it’s probably just a banana.

Posted in:

8 thoughts on “Sorry, can’t hear you, I’ve got a bannana in my ear…”

  1. So I forgot to tell my Daughter(s), so shoot me. Actually I hate telling people stuff like this on the phone. In person or writing about it is fine, but I really hate talking on the phone about self-centered stuff. I can listen to someone talk about their interests for a reasonable length of time, but I have this funny mental tic against talking about myself on the phone.

    My brother Bob called and took me to task for “learning I had cancer in my blog”. It’s really not that big of a deal, and he was laughing about it, but I called my Mom, and my other daughter Elvis, and squirmed through telling them that I had this thing done.

    I don’t know why that’s so uncomfortable.

  2. Got a nice email note from Howie Wold. Howie has just had major, major surgery and is recovering well, to the great relief of all the folks he has befriended and given his time and knowledge so generously to. It’s too pleasant a note not to share it here. My clarifications are in brackets <>::

    Bill – So you can stick a banana in your ear!

    Get back to the important stuff –

    Can you drink yet?

    I’m enjoying the blogs – ‘specially now when I feel like I’ve been T-boned by a Hummer.

    Shared a bit of the blog info w/ Scotty Beckett (OLC ). He suspects we’ll have a pretty good chance of getting “farmer” Drude to OLC when Peyote shows up. Scotty was impressed w/ your 2:44 – and is well acquainted w/ Jahamiak’s car & skills. I’m sure Pat was pleased to meet you. Did he have any recollection of what lap times he managed w/Peyote @ RA ? Pat has skills of his own, too – I always remember his typically being able to beat all but one of the B Mods w/ his Morgan in mid-80’s vintage racing at BIR.

    Yes – my goal is to get to the Kohler weekend – & we’ll go from there re what I might ride in. Ernie N. has promised me a ride in OYII , as well! He blew me away this week – sent me an Original! art piece – a black/grey/white “To Howie – From Ernie” watercolor (12″ square) of a wire wheel w/ inspirational words about it’s perimeter. Seems Ernie was an art major before going the DDS route. Having fun figuring out how to frame this up – along with the Shelby signed photo-card (Shel & OYII @ RA, 7/’60) & shot of Ernie & OYII as well. I was obviously flabergasted!

    Glad to see you’re monitoring email, as well as blogs – so I’ll stick to the emails. Your Montana shot looked like Venice w/o water! Might have to re-think getting a cellphone w/ camera.

    Here’s a “must stop” to add to summer’s itinerary. At some point you’ll likely end up heading west on Wisc 23 from near RA. About 35 miles west of Fond du Lac is the town of Princeton. As you’re about to leave Princeton, heading west, #23 takes a 90 degree left. Catch the “country store” type place in the SW corner of the intersection – for –

    – a great ice cream cone

    – & search out on the shelves a unique “racing” type item I’ve seen there the last 2 yrs at least – $90. A fun ceramic sculpture perhaps 12″ long – Driving an open-wheeled car, is a “red-nosed”, aviator-helmet equipped racer that epitomizes the vintage racer type. I think its a great piece – that would be fun to Velcro down in Nero somewhere as a conversation piece!

    – Did I mention the ice cream?

    Looking forward to meeting you & Diane – and punching out that damned Hummer’s driver!



  3. B:

    Sorry to read your Health Report Card but it seems you on in pretty good shape and really good humor about it.

    Look forward to seeing you at Watkins Glenn and I’ll make sure I bring enough sunblock so you don’t have to scold me.

    Talk to you soon buddy…


  4. Well Brother,
    Other than your ear, it certainly reads like your having fun. It will be good to see you once again when you get to the great Northeast.

    I don’t know if they’ll open all of the Glen for you, but I always thought the often bypassed boot section was the best part of the track. Gilles Villeneuve doing a four wheel drift on the uphill right hander in a 600HP Can Am Lola comes vividly to mind.

    We’ll see you soon.

  5. Oh by the way…….you can keep those Craftsman deep sockets!! I only use Snap On now.

  6. Hi Uncle Bill, Glad hear your doing well and that things aren’t to serious. Can’t wait to see you this summer it’s been quite a while. John and I are planning on coming down to Connecticut to watch you race at the end of the summer.. See when you roll into Mass…

Leave a Reply