Friday, April 08, 2011

Avert Your Gaze. I'm Hideous

I have what I hope is a healthy awareness of the potential problems with skin cancer. I’ve noticed recently a couple of places on the aging skin that seem to be changing. So, I made an appointment with a physician of my acquaintance and asked him to look things over. When I got to his office, he put on some funny-looking glasses, checked things out and quickly went into “better safe than sorry” mode. Moments later, I was leaning back in a procedure room, covered in sterile draping as a variety of violations of my personal surface were committed. There was scraping, freezing, slicing and stitching. And now there are black sutures front and center on my face. Antibiotic ointment has been applied and band-aids have been affixed. It looks like I got into a fight.

My scalp long ago surrendered its grip on my once-legendary head of hair. This means my noggin isn’t protected from evil sun rays. So, guess what? The top of my head was assaulted, too. I’m not sure what it was that he applied to my crown, but as it approached there was some kind of steam being emitted from it.

Here’s a sentence I had hoped would never be spoken in reference to me, but was uttered by my loving wife a couple of hours after the procedures: “Your head is oozing.” I can wear a cap for a few days to cover up the ooze, but short of a wrestling mask there’s not much to do about the face except proudly don the fabric bandages.

People aren’t running in fear from me. A younger female co-worker said, “Places on your face? That’s your cover story for having work done?” Look, if I had had “work” (code for cosmetic surgery) done, It would be in different areas; you can take that to the bank.

I am a little concerned about the way I look, especially since I’m on the schedule at the church for Sunday. I will be a Eucharistic minister, and I have no desire to frighten people who come to the communion rail. I sent a text message to my kind, compassionate priest to let him know about the way things are. I even sent a photo. He said not to worry about it and added, pastorally, “See if you can work in a couple of neck bolts.” Everybody’s a comedian.

One person seems to be enjoying all this. My wife, a registered nurse by education but a high-level healthcare manager by position, seems to be reveling in the opportunity to provide intensive care to a patient. Trust me, she wants to clean the ooze and dress the incisions. This will be a happy weekend for her. She will be humming and doting, so who am I to complain?

I have to admit I struggled a little during all the injecting, incising and excising. I got light headed and broke out into a cold sweat. When it was all said and done, I told the doctor and the lady who assisted him that I considered it a great victory that there was no vomit. I don’t do well with needle sticks. Slicing and stitching? That’s a whole new level.

My wife stayed in the room the whole time. It was like a vacation for her or something. As I sat up, trying to towel off a little, she was giving me a good once-over. I said, “Stop looking at me clinically. You’re my wife, not my nurse.” But, she couldn’t help herself and that’s one of the countless things I admire about her.

I hadn’t looked in a mirror, but I had a sense of how ridiculous I must have looked, pre-Band-Aid with betadine smeared all over my cheeks and dripping down the back of my head. As she stared, I said “Oh, yeah. I’m getting sweet, sweet love tonight.” I guess that’s when the doctor and his people decided I was okay. They laughed and left the room. I will not go into seclusion, but I plan to lie low a little. But, who knows? If these things heal well, I might go back and have some work done.

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