Saturday, July 15, 2006

Head and Shoulders Above the Crowd.

(On my daughter’s life, this is my last skull-centric blog for a while. But I did want to bring you up to speed, what with all of your kindness and well wishes. And to the person who asked after my voice, I am back to my usual husky whining bark)

Friday, I went back to the plastic surgeon’s office. This time, I was prepared to find the doctor waiting in the examining room for me. I was not, however, expecting to find his partner there as well; I had the total combined surgical knowledge in that office standing in one room. For twenty minutes, some poor woman’s breasts were going to remain unaugmented while they took turns staring at my scalp.

Primary Doctor wasted no time.

“The MRI results show no indication of any infection at all, which is pretty amazing, considering.”

I was thrilled, in the way only a person who just found out she won't be spending the next six weeks attached to an IV tube can be.

“So, the surgery is on?”

“Yeah, we’ll open you up, burr down the bone, and put bone wax on any area which bleeds excessively.”

I was slightly less thrilled. Surprisingly, it wasn’t about the part where they use a power sander on my head, as I knew that was inevitable. It wasn’t even about this new substance called bone wax, which sounded to me like something teenage boys would attempt to purchase while in Tijuana.

I asked suspiciously, “Why would any area of bone bleed excessively? Since when did bone become excessively vascular?”

Side note: I have spent more time than is ladylike in emergency rooms, waiting to have something looked at. I am also a frustrated doctor who has been known to read medical texts for pleasure. I use words like vascular freely. This is not something which pleases most doctors, as I am the worst combination of knowledgeable and ignorant.

“Well,” the doctor said slowly, “I like to describe bone as being kind of like an ice-cream sandwich. The sandwich part, well, that’s bone, and the ice-cream part is-“

“Bone marrow,” I interrupted, “but what does that have to do with excessive bleeding? Are you expecting the bone marrow to be thicker there? Because I’ve told you, my new slogan for anything to do with this bump is NO MORE SURPRISES.”

He sighed.

“I know. You’ve told me. I’m just saying that we can’t see what’s going on inside the bone until we get in there.”

I digested this.

“Now, let’s take a look at that head.”

I undid my hair. Doctors crowded around and murmured to each other and to my bump.

The Secondary Doctor spoke up. ”You’ve healed.”

“I know.”

“You’ve healed an incredible amount since last week.”

Primary Doctor measured the bump with something. Numbers were discussed in hushed tones.

Primary Doctor said, “I wasn’t expecting anything like this kind of healing.”

He sounded as if, as a medical student, he had been privy to some plastic surgeons’ bible which said And yea, when the one who carries the growth up her head comes upon your office and demands of the excision, and grows of the epidermis in immoderate ways before her follow-up appointment, know that end of days are upon thee.

I’m used to be a medical oddity; I forget that medical types look at me, think “Human being” and become unsettled when I don’t behave like one.

More head murmuring. Then the doctors leaned over and talked to my actual face.

Primary doctor said, “Since you don’t have an infection, the immediate need to close the spot has diminished a bit. I mean, I still need to close it, but it would be easier to do it with more skin. You’re making new skin much more quickly than we anticipated. I could do the operation next week, but stitching through your new skin right now would be like stitching through hamburger and then trying to throw it around the room; it wouldn’t stay together. If we wait a while, it will be like stitching through steak. You could throw that around the room all day.”

First the ice-cream sandwich bone, and now the heretofore unknown game of sutured meat-flinging. It was medicine as practiced on the Food Channel. I will awake in the outpatient surgery center with a reduction of pomegranates drizzled on my forehead.

And using these metaphors with most of his clients would have been nearly useless; these women don’t eat. Use a metaphor about how a tummy-tuck is like the dressing room at Fred Segal’s. That, they would understand.

The Secondary doctor continued to stare at my head.

“I’m just shocked at how much it’s healed.”

I was going to explain how I could have told him that last week, because my chin had started to itch, and that always presages a growth spurt over the bone, but I felt they considered me odd enough. No sense in having them call Security.

We made plans. I am to come in every week so either one of them can stare at my head, and continue to monitor the freakish skin growth and the lack of infection. When there is enough steak, I will come in and have the surgery; soon after that, I imagine, I can be thrown around the room.

I asked, “Another question. Is this going to affect my appearance? I mean, you do lovely work, but I kind of like my eyebrows where they are.”

Both doctors snorted in unison. The Primary doctor said, “I wish a forehead lift was so simple. No, it won’t change your appearance. But,” he said, looking down from my bump to my face,”you could certainly benefit from a light brow lift.”

There are moments when I am grateful for small things. He didn’t use a food metaphor to explain my decay. I wasn’t really ready to hear about fallen soufflés or wizened apples.

“Thanks,” I said as evenly as I could, “but I’ll just bask in having a round head for a while. Too many improvements at once might make me giddy.”

So, here’s where I am: once a week, the inspection; at some point soon, the burring and the waxing. I am still actively encouraged not to climb Whitney, as I was given vivid anecdotes about what even a small fall could do to exposed bone; Consort suggested I wear a bicycle helmet for the entire hike, but I think enough people fear and pity me without benefit of accessories.

And with that, Gentle Reader, I am going to stuff my bump back into its hiding place for a while. The god of osteomas willing, the next time you hear about it will be me crowing about how it’s done, and nothing went wrong, and nothing was weird, and how I can wear my hair down again.

Because when it comes to this thing, I don’t ask for beauty, or youth, or a smooth forehead and aviating eyebrows; all I want is NO MORE SURPRISES.

7 Comments:

Anonymous chele said...

Oh, I love your bump stories! Glad its healing up though.

6:40 AM  
Blogger houseband00 said...

All the best on your operation, Quinn.

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second that---no more surprises!

Glad to hear you are healing so well.

3:20 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

"I will awake in the outpatient surgery center with a reduction of pomegranates drizzled on my forehead."

Quinn Cummings, you made me SNORT! How unladylike is THAT?

Too funny. You are too funny.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Karen said...

At least the doctors didn't equate bone marrow to Heinz 57 sauce, that's a good thing.

6:21 AM  
Blogger Karen of TX said...

In vet school we called it pathology cuisine. The lump was the size of a peach pit. Or the liver was meaty and (not surprisingly) liver-colored.
So they were doing the steak-flinging analogies. You're just fortunate that it stopped there!

Happy Healing!

6:01 PM  
Anonymous Rachelanne said...

Oh my sweet...i love you so. We are all very relieved, and yes...this was somewhat amusing in a "Quinn and Rachelanne way" as you said...as I twitch nervously. Dr. Chef Prudomme may also have mentioned that bone marrow is where RBCs are stored/made. That may have cleared things up a skoche....he could have said "The marrow is like the pantry for the tupperware cartons of platelets..." Or something of the like. Love you.

1:14 PM  

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