there, that wasn’t so bad, now was it?

So I went to my first of several appointments leading up to the Horrible Oral Surgery. This first visit was a long-overdue check-up with my regular, wonderful dentist and his staff… and to my astonishment, nothing much happened.

Oh, some things happened: x-rays and an exam, a referral to an oral surgeon, advice on dealing with dental anxiety before the surgery, another visit scheduled. But you know what I mean when I say “nothing much happened.” I mean that nothing happened that was painful or humiliating or even out of the ordinary.

No red light started flashing, no klaxons went AWOOOOOOGA, no oral surgery strike team arrived via helicopter to scoop me up and medevac me to the nearest maxillofacial unit. No one even gasped or clutched their pearls in horror or took away my official grown-up badge.

Indeed, both the dentist and the hygienist shrugged a little when I asked which should come first, my follow-up cleaning or my Horrible Oral Surgery. I somehow imagined the gaping pulpy painful HOLE IN MY JAW might constitute an emergency, but the dental professionals think otherwise… which is a-okay with me.

After my uneventful appointment I went home, where The Fella fed me my favorite non-crunchy take-out (asparagus tempura salad with spicy peanut dressing) and ice cream, stroked my hair, and told me I was soooooooo braaaaaaaave.

Whatever you’ve been putting off for too long, just brace yourself and do it. Do it now, do it soon. Forgive yourself for putting it off, give yourself permission to feel fear or anxiety, don’t shame yourself for it. Just do the thing. And when you do it, I’ll tell you the truth: you are sooooooo braaaaaaave.

Elli, lately

Instead of composing an entry, I’ll just post the latest e-mail to Elsa because that usually says it all. I’m writing about my latest experience with skin cancer, the third one, that showed up on my forehead and was removed last week:

It’s good to be silly right now–it helps more than anything. I don’t look at myself too long in the mirror except to have a good giggle. The bandages are still on and the stitches come out tomorrow, which feels way too early. The wound is still fresh and painful, but the doctor said the sooner the better in terms of scarring. I trust him even though I’m pretty sure I’ll want to throw up during the stitch removal. I think I’ll take some xanax before my appointment–I got a prescription a few months ago before my parathyroid surgery in case the panic attacks came back and I really could have used them last week. The nurse reasoned that my twitchy, tear-filled reaction was due to all the adrenaline they used on the area in order to reduce the blood flow (in addition to numbing.) During the procedure, the doctor and nurse both kept urging me to talk about our upcoming trip as JM held my hand, but that didn’t work and the nurse and JM tag-teamed me with cold, wet cloths in order to keep the clammy, flop-sweat at bay. It wasn’t pretty and I apologized profusely thereafter even though my doctor insisted I did quite well. JM said the doc worked incredibly fast, but I suppose anyone would under threat of projectile vomit.

So here we are. Tomorrow I’ll see my new face without all the bandages. In just a tiny way I’m sad. I got used to the old one and even admired her awkward beauty from time to time. I think I might like this new one even better though. It reminds me of the time when I dyed my hair bright blue way back in ’88. Whenever someone looked at me, she or he would immediately look away in any other direction, la la la, acting oblivious which made me laugh. I think that experience can help me now. My face isn’t that different–the change is subtle. I still wouldn’t get cast as that odd extra in a Woody Allen film, but I’m exactly who I want to be inside and out. Life has been good to me…

Still here

So I had surgery for my parathyroids. Three are gone for good and the one remaining is slowly getting up to speed remembering it’s function. While everything is normalising, I need weekly blood tests to measure calcium levels and take a supplement from which they will gradually wean me. The problem is that I’ve got tingles that are driving me batty and the doctors just shrug because my numbers look good. I basically feel electrically charged, vibrational, and then my arm or leg will suddenly be overcome with that sensation like it’s about to fall asleep, intensely so. It’s not painful, it’s just, well, disrupting. And the last two days it’s been particularly active.

This afternoon I started going a bit stir crazy. I needed to literally make some sweeping gestures, larger than my Wacom tablet would afford. I needed to move and I needed to MAKE SOMETHING. There was no paper in the house large enough to do this on, so I took A3 sheets and taped them together for my palette. I discovered I have no charcoal, only a piece of white chalk, but then found a tube of black paint and some brushes. It didn’t have to be pretty, it just had to be the act of putting brush to paper and moving my arm. It didn’t help in the physical sense, but it still felt really good.


The tiny sniffles that The Fella and I both developed this week have blossomed into full-blown winter colds, giving me a chance to consider the little things that I believe (with a breezy disregard for rational thought) to have actual curative powers:

– hot soup, especially scalding-hot broth with chiles
– ginger ale and its blustery cousin, ginger beer
– buttered toast cut into triangular quarters
– anything eaten in bed from a tray
– NPR, especially “This American Life”
– curling up on the sofa with a fluffy blanket
– rosemary oil
– uncomfortably hot baths
– ghost stories

bacon bandage

bacon bandageFrom the Historic American Cookbook Project at Michigan State University Libraries, here’s an excerpt from Aunt Babette’s Cook Book: Foreign and domestic receipts for the household (published c. 1889) instructing the reader how to fashion a bacon bandage as a treatment for sore throat:

Cut the bacon in strips one quarter of an inch in thickness and two or three inches in width and long enough to pass entirely around the throat. Remove the bacon rind and any lean meat there may be in it to prevent blistering of the throat or neck. Sew the bacon to a strip of flannel so as to hold it into position and prevent its slipping and then apply the bacon to the throat and neck. Pin it around the neck, so that it will not be uncomfortably tight. The throat and neck should be completely swathed with the bacon. If after an application of eight hours the patient is not better apply a new bandage in the same manner.

I particularly like “the throat and neck should be completely swathed with bacon.” This seems more like a sound brunch-time policy rather than a health concern, though.

Future medical mystery solved

At the endocrinologist’s office while he studies a bone density report on me:

Dr F: Do you have any shooting pains down your legs?
Me: No.
Dr F: Maybe down the back. They would be strong, shooting pains.
Me: Um, no.
Dr F: Well, if you ever do, give this to your GP and he’ll know why.
Me: Great.
Dr F: But it’s completely unrelated to your condition.
Me: Ah.

Run, Elli, Run

I admit it, I love exercising. You wouldn’t be able to tell this by looking at me, but… Wait, actually I don’t like exercising at all and often want to quit while I’m doing it, but I feel so good afterwards that it makes the exertion worthwhile. About 12 years ago I started running in a group and loved it. We ran a long, hilly loop and the faster runners would encourage the slower (me) as they passed time and time again. And when I actually passed someone else, wow, what a feeling. So here I am about to embark on a solo campaign. Over the last 25 years I’ve attempted to start running on multiple occasions and failed miserably. Now I have an iPhone, so I’m totally certain I’ll succeed. The only problem I foresee is wanting to stop to take photos.

Last year JM bought one of those Nike+ sensors that goes into a running shoe to track runs. He had started a program only to be waylaid by injury. Too much, too soon. Earlier this week I decided to do the Couch Potato to 5k and even downloaded a handy application for the iPhone which gives me voice prompts when to walk and when to run. The first day went great. Yes, I was tired and ready to be done after 30, no, 15 minutes, but I stuck it out the entire time. Then I went home and uploaded my run to the Nike site with the ease of my iTunes account. It even showed me a little graph of how tired I got at minute 15 and how my workout declined thereafter. Joy.

Today was my second excursion and, hello, suddenly it’s summer in Perth and I was miserable. I rallied around the 15 minute mark again and then it all went downhill, figuratively mind you. I would like to add blame to the music because who can run to the Dave Matthews Band? Certainly not I. Or me. Whatever.

I came home all aflutter to upload my workout again and see the graph showing my steady decline, but lo and behold, the whole Nike+ site had changed (but, yes, the graph was there as well). Now they offered me their own 12 week ‘walk to run’ training program which really pleased the couch potato in me. I’m ditching the 9 week Couch to 5k program for Nike’s even though I don’t have voice prompts. Hmm, I may reconsider this in the morning. That’s the one drawback to Nike’s program–they haven’t updated the iPhone software to include these new coaching programs which means I’ll have to keep pulling the iPhone out of my bra to look at what time it is. This may not work for me at all, however at the moment I am undeterred. Check back in another week…