Friday, March 03, 2006

Do the Bump.

(This exercise in world-class self-absorption began yesterday. If you have any desire to understand what I am rattling on about, you might wish to start there)

The appointment was made for two weeks hence, at five-thirty in the morning, which is when he did outpatient procedures. It is a statement about my loathing of the bump that my only response to having to get up at four-thirty in the morning was “Whee! I’ll have breakfast with a round head!” I would have picked up the dermatologist’s dry-cleaning on the way, if he had only asked.

Consort fretted; there was no way I should be driving myself home from an operation. I tut-tutted him; it wasn’t an operation, it was an outpatient procedure. I didn’t even have to stop eating before midnight, that’s how simple it was.

“Yes,” he insisted, “but how does he get rid of it?”

“I think they suck it out,” I said, slightly irritated “like liposuction”. I had absolutely no idea whether this was true; while the doctor had mentioned what would be done, I had been celebrating inside my own bumpy head, and I find listening interferes with cerebral celebrating. I would arrive at five-thirty, I would lie down, they would do…something I hadn’t bothered to ask about, and within minutes, I would be on my way, shorter but well-formed. Why did I need to trouble myself with information?


“In twenty-eight years as a Dermatologist, I’ve never seen one like that. Did we do an x-ray on you?”

Is there a less auspicious phrase to hear when someone has opened up your head?

Already, this was less low-key than I had hoped. The doctor had walked in, smiled at me, walked behind me, and started cutting something. I saw bits of my hair wafting around the room.

“Um, Doctor, you’re cutting my hair”



“Are you cutting a lot of my hair?”

“Just the part on the skin I’m going to remove”


“You’re removing skin?”

Guess what? This wasn’t liposuction. This was removing the skin which contained the bump. The second surprise came when I learned that, because head incisions bleed so much, he was giving me a shot of vasoconstrictor along with the Novocain. The vasoconstrictor would, you guessed it, constrict the blood vessels surrounding the incision, leading to much less blood loss, but it would also constrict most of the blood vessels in my head, leading to a headache of such magnitude that I almost didn’t notice the phrase about how my bump was a first after twenty-eight years in the skin trade.

I tried to play along, though.

“Really, my Pyroclastic flow is new?”

“Oh yeah, a lot of it is bone. See?”

And with that, Gentle Readers, he tapped my exposed skull.

May you never feel someone tapping your exposed skull. I can’t decide whether it’s weirdly awful, or awfully weird, but every cell in your being screams “THIS WAS NEVER MEANT TO USED AS A PERCUSSION INSTRUMENT”

The doctor must have sensed my mitochondrial-deep shudder, because he asked kindly, “I’m sorry. Did that feel strange?”

I whispered, “Just a bit”

After a few seconds, once the shrieking in my DNA quieted a bit, I asked “Is it possible that this is the result of an injury when I was a teenager? Like, for example, pulling something heavy down on my head?”

The doctor, distracted by doing something procedural which involved touching my skull, answered “I don’t see why not.”

Vindication is a lovely feeling, but it was tempered slightly by the desire to run from the room, my hands over the open spot in my scalp.

But the real fun was to come. Having removed a strip of skin about an inch wide and a little over an inch long, he had to close my scalp. This involved him and the rather brawny male nurse doing something behind my head which involved a lot of tugging and some softly muttered oaths.

“You have tight skin,” the doctor observed after one round of tugging and swearing, “You’ll age well”.

It sounded as if he kind of wished I had made less skin-friendly choices in my youth. They went back to tugging. I felt as if I was hanging by my ponytail, several stories above the ground. Something occurred to me.

“Is this like a brow lift?”

The doctor answered, “This is a brow lift, just a very small one. You’re the only person in Beverly Hills this year getting a brow lift which will be covered by insurance”

He went back to tugging, and my heart sang a small song.

Here’s something you don’t know about me; I am shallow in the strangest places. I mean, my wardrobe is appalling, my make-up is sporadic, I am a wreck at all things feminine. And yet, when having my c-section, my doctor observed “You have really strong abdominal muscles”, and I was thrilled. Sure, getting to finally meet my daughter was the absolute highlight of the day, but for quite a while afterwards, I would look in the mirror and think “My doctor, who sees abdominal muscles all the time, commented favorably on mine. I’m just neat!” I would then put on stained pants and again leave the house without remembering to put on lipstick.

I have always had a bit of a complex about plastic surgery for me. For others, I think it’s grand, but for me, it seemed like…cheating. As if I was taking the answers from someone else’s aesthetic final exam. Having said that, I have noticed in the last year or so that the tired morning look around my eyes was taking longer and longer to correct itself; sometimes, I would go to bed that night still wearing it. And here was someone who was going to do something about it, and I could rest comfortably in the knowledge that not only had I not asked for it, I hadn’t even known it was coming!

See, there’s something to be said for not listening.

Next: I go home. Stuff happens.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


I can just picture it:

"Concerto for Skull and Orchestra, performed by Quinn Cummings and the United Dermatologists Percussion Band...


10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quinn, your writing just keeps getting better and better! Fabulous!

Okay, I also have a very rubberneck question--what exactly *is* the bump on your head. I kind of want to look it up.

I know, color me gross.

1:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One question~ exactly how hard would I have to hit my head with something to get a bump that would need to be removed with the benefit of not waking up each morning with my eyebrows below my eyes?

ps~hope he gave you some pain pills...for some reason I don't think Tylenol will cut it :(


6:36 AM  

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