Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Hole Story.

Last Monday, my hiking partner Jill picked me up at 5am and we drove to Mount Baldy, which is about an hour east of Los Angeles. In case you have ever thought of testing a friendship, I recommend driving together towards into the rising sun with an eleven-mile hike waiting for you at the other side. I was in especially fine form, considering as how I had been up until 1:30 am cleaning the entire house; one of the kittens had done something smelly in Daughter’s room, which led to a thorough cleaning of her room, which led to a “Well, as long as I’m wet-mopping the hallway, I might as well polish all the wood furniture” manic attack.

That morning, I smelt of beeswax and fear. Jill had done this hike, I had not, but I had read about it. Baldy Bowl is a dauntingly steep rocky climb, which leaves you at a little over 10,000 feet, which is where Whitney starts, making it a great training hike. I’ll spare you the details of the hike; suffice to say, three hours after we started, Jill and I were standing on the very top, gazing meditatively down at the world below us and admiring the lack of bees, which finally stopped stalking us with about a quarter mile to go. I can’t say as I felt great, but I didn’t feel bad, and there was no indication of altitude sickness, so that bode well for Whitney.

We made our way back down, with only a couple of sliding falls for me where I learned, yet again, how a hiker cannot simultaneously adjust her IPod, drink from her canteen, and step confidently across a narrow scrabble-stone path. Luckily, the IPod remained unscathed, as did the canteen. We got back to town, bid our farewells, and I began the delicate process of removing hiking boots from puffy and sweaty feet, followed by the excitement of removing a dozen sharp pebbles from my kneecap.

I continued to feel fine. While I certainly would be taking the altitude-sickness pills up to Whitney, there seemed every likelihood I wouldn’t need them. I was a warrior! I was made of the blood of adventurers and leaders!

I awoke the next morning unable to speak.

Literally, not a word. I was reduced to pointing at objects and squeaking. Daughter and Consort found this so entertaining that I believe they made up reasons to ask me questions.

Being as I am me, this happened on Fourth of July, thereby assuring me of no possible medical intervention unless I wanted to go the ER, sit in the waiting room and see with my own eyes the tragic consequences of jamming a sparkler down your brother’s pants. I squeaked and pointed through our day of national liberty. The next day, I went to see my ENT specialist -- a statement I make with disheartening regularity as my respitory system would not work any less efficiently had it been installed upside-down.

I approached the examination assuming this would be some strange form of altitude sickness, some variant that heretofore was only seen in Bonobo monkeys, because that’s the kind of karmic path I walk. But I was mistaken. I had a sinus infection. A sinus infection which had gone into my throat and ears, and I also had asthmatic bronchitis. I thought, but didn’t bother to mention, how the asthma might possibly have been exacerbated by crawling under the cat cage with a vacuum cleaner and Swiffering the entire laundry room the night before I hiked. I don’t like telling the doctor things like that; he just gets this pained look. He prescribed the usual assortment of meds, and included a steroid-based inhaler for my voice.

I squeaked, “Steroids affect healing, right?”

He said, “They can.”

“Because I have this…thing. And it’s healing. And I don’t want to risk...”

“Let me see," he interrupted, kindly.

I undid my hair and pointed to the slowly healing hole in my head. He looked at it. The silence was damning.

Finally, he said, “I’m making an appointment for you to see a plastic surgeon tomorrow.”

“But, the skin is healing!”

“Quinn, I’m looking at your skull.”

Really, one couldn’t argue with that. Especially when one was squeaking.

He gave me three choices of plastic surgeons I could see. I picked the one he recommended most strongly. He called the surgeon's office, there were a few murmured words, those of which I overheard were along the lines of “No, Jack, you have to see this” and the next thing I knew, I had an appointment for the following morning.

Clearly, this was a posh doctor.

To begin with, I was in Beverly Hills, on one of the major streets. Also, decorating the walls were framed pages from W magazine, indicating my new doctor is one of the surgeons people in the know use in order to look mildly surprised on a permanant basis. And finally, all of his nurses and receptionists were attractively sporting one of the three options of nose and two variations of upper lip he is best known for. I was whisked in to find the doctor waiting for me in an examining room. This was a first. I had already purloined four months worth of Town and Country magazines from the waiting room to help endure the wait for his arrival. But here he was waiting for me. Clearly, my ENT doctor had built my head bump up, as it were.

I sat in a chair and undid my ponytail. The doctor stared. The doctor poked. The doctor stared a little more.

“You’re going into the operating room next week.”

Next time, things get complicated and plans change.


Blogger houseband00 said...

I hope for all the best, Quinn.
Hang in there.

1:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quinn, I really enjoy your blog! The aggregate portrait your entries create of you as a loving, human, wonderful person is completing engaging. Thanks for sharing your writing with us.

4:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. I hate it when doctors get all excited. Soooo glad you showed doc #1 your non healing head. Better to be safe than sorry. Good luck and keep us posted. Christine

7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good grief!! I would've thought that thing would be healed by now! Good luck!

8:53 AM  

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