Monday, March 06, 2006

Bumped Off.

(This is the last in a three-part blog about having something removed. If you want it to make sense, please start from Bump in the Night. If medical stuff makes you light-headed, I promise to be on to something new in the next QC Report)

Finally, I was put back together. The doctor started to write out a prescription for Vicodin, but I stopped him. Vicodin, I explained, while effective in pain management, made me feel as if I was sailing alone in my own little Perfect Storm. “Besides,” I said brightly, “I can get through this with over-the-counter stuff, I’m sure.”

The doctor looked at me a little blankly.

“You’re going to want drugs.”

Doctor Killjoy clearly had a patient list consisting of weaklings who would say anything to feed their prescription drug habit. I came from farm stock on one side and peasant stock on the other; we have to lose both arms in the combine before we take the rest of the day off.

I reluctantly took the Darvon prescription. I also listened to his proscriptions against exercise, hair-washing or bending over from the waist.

“For how long?”

“Let’s just see how it goes.”

Oh, what did he know. I’d be dragging the dog up and down hills before the day was out.

I made a follow-up appointment, and drove home, whistling a happy tune. Sure, the bit of the bump which was bone was still there, but I was significantly less pointy-headed than before. And I felt so good. Once they stopped tugging, I felt perfectly fine. I walked in the door just as Consort and Daughter were getting up. I showed them my two inch-long incision. Daughter shrieked in appalled delight. Consort’s response was more measured.

“Are they doing a biopsy on that?”

“Yes…no. I think.”

“If he’s never seen one like this, wouldn’t that be the prudent response?”

“Sure. I think my eyelids are less puffy!”

“You need to lie down, where’s your prescription for pain meds?”

“It’s in my purse. I could wear my hair in a French Twist now!”

Consort was reading the lines from an episode of House; I was the star of my own personal episode of The Swan.

Consort insisted I go to bed while he went and got my pain meds. I grudgingly agreed, as my head was starting to throb a touch. I must admit, by the time he got back, I was pretty relieved to see Hope in a Bottle; turns out, my body liked that part of my scalp, had plans for that part of my scalp, was a little sniffy about having to give up that part of my scalp. I gratefully took my little pink pill.

Here’s a funny new fact I now know about myself; Darvon makes me just as nauseated as Vicodin, and gives me no pain relief whatsoever.

I spent the next two hours lying in bed, under the covers, breathing shallowly through my mouth and not moving at all. I have this adorably misguided notion that if I can make myself completely inert then the pain can’t find me. Pain will come flying in the window, bent on mischief, and will look around the room and think, “Well, there’s nothing but a lump under the covers, breathing shallowly. That can’t be Quinn. I’ll go bother someone who is sitting up.”

I hold this belief dearly despite the fact that it has never actually worked.

Since I wasn’t doing anything better, I decided to obsess. The doctor had said to call him if the pain became unreasonable, but who was I to say what was unreasonable? Maybe the degree of pain I was in was completely reasonable, seeing as he used what had felt like needlepoint scissors to remove a strip of my scalp. After all, I reasoned, as I sweated and hid, what I was mostly was nauseated and dizzy; really, when stripped of the other two horsemen of the Apocalypse, the pain was hardly anything at all! I might even say the pain was totally within reason!

Some people collect stamps; I find ways to measure the immeasurable.

Slowly, the sensation of riding a hellish Tilt-a-Whirl subsided a bit. I could actually contemplate my next activity, which was picking Daughter up from school.

Slowly, tentatively, I made my way to school to pick up Daughter. As long as nothing changed, I could make it. Of course, what I meant by “Nothing changed” was “The streets must be completely free of potholes and ruts” and “I must never have to make a turn or stop”. I would stop every few blocks to dab the sweat off my face and try to bring the nausea back down to a manageable level. Somehow, I made it to school.

I settled into the driver’s seat gingerly and prayed for the strength to get home. Daughter fussed with her seat belt. Minutes passed, she was still fussing, and I was starting to sweat again.

QUINN: (Through gritted teeth) Sweetie, please put your seat belt on.

DAUGHTER: Mommy, it’s stuck!

I simultaneously turned around and leaned back to help her, and clocked my incision on the light fixture on the ceiling of the car. The pain brought the nausea back in a flooding rush, and I frantically opened my door, so as not to throw up in the car. I leaned over, and learned quickly why the doctor had specifically proscribed leaning over; apparently, I didn’t have enough skin on my head to do that anymore.

I think Daughter’s later comment to Consort sums up the moment nicely:

“I sat and waited very patiently while Mommy cried”

The good news was that the blinding pain trumped the nausea; on a digestive level, I felt very nearly fine. The only thing which might have affected my drive home was how I kept touching my scalp to see if it had split apart like a Pillsbury biscuit canister.

The stitches held, but the bruise which followed led to swelling, which led to the doctor needing to see my swollen-headed self every day because he was concerned about lack of circulation around the incision leading to tissue necrosis. Necrosis would mean the flesh turned black and died; there was now a chance that my scalp was going to start falling off.

It’s like that old saying: I cried because I had a bump, and then I became a woman who had no scalp.

But, as it turned out, we managed to avoid a scalp-free lifestyle. Why, all I had to do was keep a pad soaked with hydrogen peroxide, covered by a wet washcloth, covered by an ice bag, on my head for twenty minutes at a time, every hour, followed by a liberal dose of Neosporin!

Consort, seeing me trying to blot the rivulets of peroxide which were running away from the pad and down my hair, suggested that a tampon, soaked in peroxide and put on the incision, would keep the dripping to a minimum.

I thanked him for his suggestion, but politely declined. If I walked around with a tampon stuck to my head, the wound might improve, but I would die from a secondary lack of dignity.

[Somewhere during this time, the Doctor told me that the biopsy had come back; it was a lipoma, a tumor which is always benign. That sounds familiar, I thought. Did I have one before? Did someone I know have one? Being as I was befuddled by pain and peroxide, it took me a day or so to remember; the dog has one. I share a medical condition with a life form stupid enough to try to eat a light bulb]

Each day, it improves slightly. The swelling has come down, but the stitches have tightened. This means I have gone from feeling as if I am being held off the Golden Gate Bridge by only my ponytail, to feeling as if an especially stubborn eagle is holding my head in its talons.

My appearance, however, has yet to recover. All I need is a bell and a ragged tunic, and I could make steady money as a leper. Last night, the pain woke me up, and I stumbled into the bathroom to get my precious Tylenol P.M. I made the mistake of taking a look in the mirror. Here’s what I saw:

1. Skin, grey with the fatigue that comes from waking up every time my stitches touch anything;

2. Aforementioned stitches forming a medical tiara on the top of my hair;

3. Hair forming Medusa-like coils from not having been washed and being bathed in a constant syrup of hydrogen peroxide and Neosporin;

4. Hair also having bleached in the places where the hydrogen peroxide dripped, leaving me with a look best described as “Feral Calico cat”;

But you know what really affected me? My eyelids looked exactly as droopy as before.

Before I could slide too far into self-pity, a little voice said crisply, “Oh hush, you big whiner. The stitches will come out, we’ll dye the orange spots, a strong enough shampoo should take out the Neosporin, the eyelids are no worse than before and that skin color is nothing a little blush won’t cure. But, never forget, this is all going on over a nearly round head

I touched my skull. I went back to bed.

7 Comments:

Anonymous janiezip said...

Oh MY..What an ordeal. I hope you feel better fast and heal up nicely.

6:36 PM  
Anonymous michele said...

I read your blog because you are an amazing writer. Not being hetero or a mother, however, I seldom relate to any of your topics and I disconnect very easily. This entry, however, has me laughing my ass off. And it is precisely why I keep coming back. Heal well.

7:27 PM  
Blogger houseband00 said...

Hi Quinn,

I hope you get back to tip-top shape. Well, at least the writing never wavered. That must be a good sign.

12:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the Doctor obviously didn't remove your brilliant sense of humor!

LJ

10:10 AM  
Blogger Quinn Cummings said...

(Blushing all the way to my incision)

Thank you, LJ, you are too kind.

12:14 PM  
Blogger Yvonne said...

ooooooooo!!!- I actually cringed when you hit your head on the light in the car - felt your pain. Glad you're feeling better, and that it was nothing serious. You have such a way with words - i'm laughing one minute and almost crying with you the next. Love your blog. I'll be a repeat "offender" or stalker, or whatever you call it - but I'll be back!

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Quinn,
At first my two eyebrows were like having a race while reading the first five sentences in your blog. Sorry for that. But eventually, i noticed, i was already smiling. Hehehehe!!! This must be serious thing but it appears funny at the same time. Oh I love this blog! Keep it up. By the way, hope you're alright now. (winks)

My best regards,
Darvocet Lawsuit

2:43 PM  

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