After three misbegotten attempts, I now had an IV in my arm and thanks to some lovely drugs, a song in my heart. My plastic surgeon leaned over me and I attempted to focus my eyes somewhere on his forehead.
“Quinn,” he said, “if there is any bleeding when we burr down the bone, I’m going to need some filler. I was going to use bone wax, but it’s a petroleum-based product and the skin might not grow well over it. I’m going to harvest some fat from you.”
I cannot tell you how funny that whole statement is when you’re high.
Before I continue, I must add this: I will not be on the cover of the SI swimsuit issue anytime soon. The model booker for Victoria’s Secret has not been trying to get in touch with me. I would pay an exorbitant amount of money to have a build which could be described as “Lanky”, “Leggy” or “Balletic”. Even when I was taking ten hours of dance a week and traveled everywhere with my hair in a bun and a dance bag over my shoulder, I was never identified as a dancer. Instead, I am described as “in good shape”, “athletic” or “sporty”. I was born with a naturally muscular build and my a father died of heart disease before he was sixty -- two facts which keep me fairly vigilant about working out and sticking to a vegetarian diet. No one will ever hand a picture of me to a plastic surgeon and say “Give me that”, and I don’t stand in front of the mirror and gaze in respectful awe at my body, but I am in the pleasing position of rarely thinking about the diet book of the year.
Summary: it’s a flawed body, but I work with what I have so the following information should in no way be perceived as bragging.
Back in pre-op, the doctor started poking at my abdomen. After a second he said unhappily “You don’t have fat for me to harvest here”.
Remember, I was drugged.
I started visualizing my body as a series of rolling fields of fat; my doctor with farmer’s overalls pulled up over his surgical scrubs and a stalk of wheat projecting out of his mouth is saying things like, “Yep, them fat locusts stripped this here field bare”.
I can only assume my giggling was distracting; or my saying things like, “Oh, try the back forty! Plenty of fat to harvest back there", which might be why the doctor told Princess Anesthesiologist “You can increase the IV now”. Had I died on the operating table, my last thought on earth would have been: “You want fat? Give me some Haagen Dazs Dulce de Leche and come back in two days! The fat will be as high as an elephant’s eye! Heehee!”
“WHAT TIME IS IT?”
I blinked at the bright light above me. I was alive and someone was very interested in what time it was. The voice sounded familiar. I played it back in my head. Oh, it was my voice. Apparently, I wanted to know what time it was.
“WHAT TIME IS IT?”
The nurse leaned over me.
“It’s ten-thirty, Quinn.”
I don’t know why, but every time I have had general anesthetic, I come out in a frenzy to prove how not under anesthetic I am. When I had my molars removed, I couldn’t rest until I could account for my purse. Of course, having just had my molars removed and a mouth full of cotton gauze, it came out “Ere eh I urse (spit)?” This time, I would vanquish unconsciousness by knowing how long it was until Oprah was on.
I touched my head. It was covered in something stretchy but tight. I tentatively touched the top of my skull; my fingers moved from ear to ear laterally in a near-perfect semi-circle. The bump was gone.
I said softly, “Whee!”
I then asked loudly, “WHAT TIME IS IT?” because my desire to be not stupid after anesthetic is compromised by how stupid I am after anesthetic.
I slept some more.
The next time I awoke, my mother was standing next to my bed; I was to stay at her house until Consort could come home and make sure I didn’t fall over or starting wandering down busy streets, asking strangers what time it was.
She and the nurse helped me get up and changed. I shuffled towards the exit, bestowing “Thank you” and “What time is it?” on anybody I passed. At some point along the way, I caught a look at myself in the mirror. The stretchy and tight thing I had felt was a bandage of some kind which covered the top third of my head, and then went around my chin and neck. It resembled this, only blinding white and very, very tight. It is a credit to the plastic surgery industry in Beverly Hills that my modified noose drew absolutely no notice on the way down to the car. I imagine I could have had a gecko riding a surfboard on the top of my newly-rounded head, singing “Un bel di" from Madame Butterfly, and anyone in the elevator would have thought “Oh, the gecko treatment. Where is my parking pass?”
We got to my mother’s house and I learned several new facts about Quinn:
1) I was starving.
2) All food sounded disgusting.
3) I was incredibly thirsty.
4) My noose was pressing on my esophagus, thereby rendering me incapable of swallowing.
This led to a delicious snack of Saltines and water, most of which ended up down the front of my shirt. I went into the bathroom to blot and caught another glimpse of Pretty Girl Quinn. My face wasn’t so much puffy as resembling the top of a muffin, blurrily running over the sides of the head-sleeve. My forehead appeared to be ready to give birth to another forehead. The thigh where the doctor had found his fat had a bruise the size of a giant starfish, which struck me as supremely unfair considering as how the doctor said he needed less than a thumbnails’ worth of fat.
The doctor called a few hours later and asked how I felt; I complained about everything I could attribute to the surgery and a few things which might have just been a coincidence.
“My head aches.
“Well, since I had to undermine you all the way down to your jaw in order to get enough skin to pull over the hole, I imagine it would.”
My Darvocet-addled brain puzzled over that one. Undermine? That’s what people in marital counseling accuse one another of doing (“You consistently undermine me in front of the gardener” “I’m not the one who calls the lawn mower a ‘grass thingy’”). My brain worked for a few seconds and suddenly recalled a fact from an article about plastic surgery. Undermining in plastic surgery means separating the skin from bone; the doctor was saying he had done to my face what you do to a turkey when you’re cooking it and want to feel fancy. I checked the mirror to make sure he hadn’t left sage leaves under my skin, to flavor me.
“My thigh hurts.”
“That would make sense. I accidentally hit your muscle when I was harvesting the fat. If you had more fat, this wouldn’t have happened.”
That’s right; I now lived in Bizarro world, where my low body fat made me a bad patient. I choked back the urge to holler “Had you given me a week’s notice, I would have had what amounted to a stick of butter on each thigh. A month’s notice and I would have been a stick of butter.”
But I needed some dignity and kept my affinity for butter to myself.
“The head-thingy is tight.”
“It has to be, it’s keeping the swelling down. Is it too tight?”
“How tight is too tight?”
“Are you uncomfortable?”
“Yes, but then again, you did unzip my skin from my skull.”
“You’re talking, so you’re breathing. I’m sure it’s fine.”
[He was gracious enough to say “talking”, not “bitching and moaning”.]
I asked, “What about the dizziness?”
“Not enough painkillers.”
Nearly two weeks have passed. The swelling on my face is gone, as is the head-sleeve (The doctor removed it and looked at the red welt on my neck and said in a somewhat accusing tone, “You should have told me bandage was much too tight”.). The bruise on my thigh has faded to a festive lemon-yellow. I am still on pain pills in the evening, but they are the kind where I am allowed to operate heavy machinery, so how fun can they be?
But how’s my head?
It’s just like a regular person’s head, thanks for asking.