The Sum of All Parts

I have heard that if you strip down an expensive car and sold it piece by piece it is worth more than the whole car. This sounds fishy to me.

My body parts are competing for the title of “Most Annoying.” This competition occurs daily. I wake up and thank God I am sober, and pray for strength to make it through the day and get things accomplished.

I know before I get out of bed which body parts are competing. Even sleeping on a Sleep Number bed, my hip joints and my spine are already paining me. Getting out of bed will be painful but I learned that if I take it slow, stretch (very slow), and walk around a little while my muscles relax and I start to move less like Walter Brennen and more like a girl.

The older I become, the more I can’t sit still. Too long in one position and my joints “freeze.” I need to be oiled. There are OTC meds for joint loosening and I believe I should try one of them. I need to put them on my grocery list. It is a long walk to the refrigerator where the list hangs. It’s not that I am lazy, I just forget what I was going to write when I get there.

I will address the issues with my memory in some other blog post.

I don’t know how the body parts feel, but in my reasoning, the Jaw wins. TMJ – Its medical name is: ‘Temporal-Mandibular Joint’. I prefer to call it the ThermoNuclear Joint. This joint is very small, and it has the big job of keeping your jaw in alignment.

The tiniest joint has the most power. The best (and most accurate) description of TMJ pain I ever heard is, “Take an icepick and put it on your eardrum. Now hit it with a hammer.”

Have you ever dislocated a disc in your neck by sneezing? Give yourself a concussion with a cupboard door? I mean, really! Can’t we all just get along?


Eyes Wide Open

Remember the joke that went around some years ago where you grabbed your face along your scalp and pulled it back until your eyes squinted – and said, “Mommy, mommy my ponytail is too tight!”  It wasn’t that funny then, and it is certainly not funny to me now.  Life is like that.  It alters one’s outlook on things, it turns funny remarks and asides into un-funny comments.

Those who have “been” to my place often are familiar with my sense of humor and how I use humor to express things going on with me.  Humor also helps me sort out things and helps me to adjust.  A good example of this is when the biopsy of the lump on top of my head came back positive for cancer.  Of course, I was stunned and dismayed that I had to have surgery.  I did not want to meet hubby back at the car crying and being upset, so I told him I needed a lobotomy. “Not to worry, hon,  it’s only a partial one, I told him, so I will still have half a brain.”

“Cancer, huh?” he asked.  I can’t fool him. I honestly was not too worried about it because skin cancer treatments are common. Everyone I knew who had that type of cancer, got it removed and that was that.  Easy peasy, right?

Well…, not so much.  The removal goes in stages. The surgeon cuts some out and you are temporarily bandaged and sent out to the waiting room for a while.  If there is more they need to take off – this translates ‘to dig out’ – you are called back in and you get more pokes with syringes full of nasty burning numbing stuff and deja vu back to the waiting room.  

Four times of deja vu as it turned out, but the doctor is 99% confident they got it all.

Next came the hard part.

If a doctor ever asks you, “do you want to see the hole in your head?”  Say no.  I can’t get that awful sight out of my mind.  Good thing I have a fairly strong stomach.  There was a perfectly round, quarter-sized hole that was over one inch deep.  Yuk.  Bruce was in the room with me, so he saw everything happen.  I had a cloth draped over my head 

The stitching up process was horrifying.  The doc and his assistant surrounded me and both were attaching sutures. They must have woven them together, because when they completed a layer of stitches, they pulled them, causing them to stretch the layers of skin together.  This hurts like a Mother, BTW.  The topical numbing stuff was long worn off at this point of the surgery.  As they pulled together layers of my scalp, they needed to lean on me to get the leverage needed for pulling everything in place. Then they “put a ‘million’ little staples” on the outside,, according to Hubby.

I think I was in shock when they handed me post-surgery instructions and a baggie with 6 Tylenol in it.  After our 2-hour drive home I was in agony.  All layers of stitches were still pulling and tweaking the nerves in my head.  After a night of no sleep and lots of tears, I called the surgeon’s office the next morning asking for something stronger for the pain. When I did not hear anything back, I called and left another message that afternoon.  No one ever got back to me.  I was told by the receptionist that the doctor never prescribed anything but Tylenol.  Frankly, I don’t think they ever gave him the message.

I felt myself becoming homicidal.

A friend gave me 2 of her Tylenol with codeine she had left from her dental surgery.  I took one at bedtime and I got a decent sleep (for 2 nights anyway). – Thank you, Kandy!  My friend Christina brought me a box of homemade truffles to cheer me up.  They did and I  rationed them as best I could, but alas they are all gone.

Today is day nine, post-surgery.  The stitches are still constantly pulling. Since the hole in my head was more on the right side, I have one half of a facelift.  This caused my hubby to inform me that the lines in my forehead were not even anymore.  He is one to notice things like that.  


My follow-up appointment was Friday, 10 days post-surgery, and the bandage was removed. The surgeon’s assistant Cindy removed it and told me, “it looks perfect!”  I politely declined the need for a mirror.  However, since she did not bandage me up again I saw it as soon as I was in the car.  I nearly fainted and I never faint.  Bruce knew how huge the wound was because he watched them open up the hole in my head to get all the pulling and tweaking sutures in.  Instead of a dainty round dot, there was a HUGE “L” shaped wound on top of my head. 

L is for lobotomy, right? –> 

My friend, Diane, is making hats to hide my head.  They are the cutest hats ever.  I will have to model them once the swelling goes down and my black eyes go away.  Maybe I should have asked her to make me a ski-mask…  Sigh. 

March 3rd is when the assistant removed the staples.  No anesthetic, she just started pulling them out with tweezers.  This burned like fire and I really wanted to smack her, but somehow  I managed to control myself.

 ♥  TTFN  ♥  

35 Years Ago Today…

Birthday Cake

I know it’s Thursday and I’m supposed to be writing giggles & bits, not major life changing events. However, now that it has been 35 years, I can actually see some humor in the events that transpired the day before my daughter was born.

At the time I was 22 years old, very naïve and nervous as Hell. My mother-in-law (a former OB-GYN nurse) suspected my water would break any second and whisked me to the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland, CA. They did a test that determined I had a “slow leak” (what am I, an old tire?), so they admitted me to Labor and Delivery.

I felt like an idiot. I wasn’t even in labor yet, and here I am in a busy labor room, eavesdropping on the other women as they’re going through labor. A few hours dragged by and no action.

Because the doctor was afraid of infection because my amniotic fluid was exposed to the elements, he induced my labor using a drug called Oxytocin. The drug brought on contractions right away. If the drug had helped the dilation process, baby and I would have gotten to skip all the drama following and get some sleep.

I dilated 2 cm then stopped. Not the contractions – they were increasing in strength and my poor baby was being slammed into the brick wall that was my cervix. Next they put an electrode on her scalp so they could watch her vitals. It would fall off after a contraction and they had to re-attach the thing several times.

I was given a pain medication into my IV. “To take the edge off the pain” I was told. It was a really, really small edge. I, of course, begged for more, like some junkie in the street. I suppose the nearly useless S$%#@!  kept me from killing someone, or screaming too loud. I was so exhausted after a contraction that I zoned out and tried to close my eyes and breathe slow to calm myself down.

One time when I opened my eyes, I saw five doctor’s staring down at my hoo-hah like it was new to this planet. My assigned doctor was getting more opinions, for what? I knew that something was going wrong when I looked at my parents – both had turned white as a sheet.

Then they took me for a ride. First they turned me over and put me on my hands and knees “because it’s better for the baby”. It would have been a lot easier to hang on to the gurney right-side up. They began running, full-out, down the long hallway. Each brass carpet strip we went over bumped me a foot above the gurney. No one seemed to care about that except me.

Next, I found myself inside a large elevator headed up for surgery. The people who were already in the elevator were crowded against the paneled walls. I’m pretty sure I mooned them because the back of my gown was drafty. I would have been embarrassed, but terror and pain will shift a person’s priorities.

The surgical nurses put warm soft towels over my bursting belly “to calm the baby”. It worked on me too, until the next contraction. All I knew was that someone had given me their hand to squeeze. I heard a faint scream, then swearing. Apparently, my nails ripped open the anestheologist’s glove and he had to re-scrub. He did not mess around when he came back – I was out before the next contraction.

When I woke up I was in a dark empty room. Two people in surgical scrubs were looking down at me, smiling like idiots.   “You have a beautiful baby girl!”

“Girl?!?”  They made a mistake. I was having a boy – everyone said so. I had already named the baby Jeffery. This confused the Hell out of me, anesthesia, of course, did not help.  Remember, this is 1981 and they did not use ultrasound equipment to tell you the sex in advance – not in the military hospitals.

I was wheeled (gently this time) up to my room. They put me right across the hall from the nurse’s station. After listening to the happy grandparents describe my baby to me, I feigned exhaustion and they went home.  Now, I was really depressed. Tears were falling from my cheeks when a large-boned, no-nonsense, nurse walked purposely into the room, carrying a white football.

“Now, you girls always want to see your baby to check the fingers & toes, so here she is -”

I was handed my unwrapped baby girl to hold for the first time. She had gorgeous golden curls that peeked out from under her little knitted cap! Once cradled in my arms, she opened her eyes and gave me this look that said – Where the Hell have YOU been?

♥  TTFN  ♥