My Gynecologist Appointment With Doogie Howser

I went to the gynecologist recently for my yearly checkup. I’m usually a procrastinator in general, but making this appointment is rarely high on my list of priorities. I know that going to the gynecologist is for preventative maintenance, just like making sure you change the oil in your car every 3,000 miles but don’t most people try to make it to 5,000 miles before changing the oil?

Everyone knows it needs to be done, but nobody I know ever wakes up and goes “Yayyyyy! It’s gynecologist appointment day!”

I get to the doctor’s office and sign in, then head over to the waiting room that is currently hosting several pregnant women and now me. I feel like the new kid in school that everyone stares at because she’s different.

After 40 minutes or so (who’s counting?) the nurse calls me back.

We go through the typical steps. She checks my blood pressure. Normal. Pulse? Normal. Then I get on the scales. I drop my purse, jacket, and take off my shoes. I even remove my Pandora bracelet in fear that it will add another few ounces. I let out all the air in my lungs and lightly step on the scales, like it will take a pound or two off the final result.

“Oh, you’ve gained a few pounds since you were here last year.”

Seriously? Does she not realize that I don’t know my pants are tighter this year than last? Do I need the nurse at my gynecologist’s office bringing that to my attention? This appointment is getting off to a bad start.

I’m already in a bad mood lady just because I have to be here. Don’t push it.

I am led into a little room with all kinds of posters on the walls with pictures of vaginas, birth control, babies in the womb, etc. Wow. This is not helping.

The nurse lays out a gown and sheet and I’m told I’m supposed to strip down to my birthday suit and put on the gown.

After a while, my doctor and his nurse come into the room. He’s new to the practice so I have never met him before. He looks like he just graduated from middle school. And he’s so cheerful that it makes me want to slap him. I’m thinking, “Please don’t be this happy while you are looking up my vajayjay because it will make this experience even more uncomfortable.”

He asks me tons of questions.

How many children have I had? Am I married? What do I do for a living?

Sounds like I’m being picked up at a bar. I squeeze my eyes shut. Please stop the small talk and get this show on the road.

He checks my tiny boobies out to make sure there aren’t any lumps in there. My chest is flatter than the table I’m lying on, and all the while he asks me if I have dogs, isn’t the weather nice today, and whether or not I watch football.

What?

I lay back and he does the “other” part of the exam. My knees are like magnets. They instinctively keep closing back together. It is clear that I am not enjoying this experience.

Then he does an ultrasound to see what my baby makers look like. They are 47 years old so they are probably starting to look like shriveled up raisins, but he says that everything looks good.

“Just please don’t see a heartbeat in there”, I say.

“Oh, nothing to worry about. You’re getting up there in age so unless you are trying to get pregnant, you probably won’t.”

W.T.H???

The humiliating part of the exam is over. I can only compare a gynecologist exam to prostate exam. In theory of course, since I don’t have a prostate. You just had someone poking around in your no-no spots and he hasn’t even bought you dinner.

I sit up on the exam table and he asks me more questions.

“How old are you?’

“Just turned 47.”

“Ahh. Are you experiencing hot flashes? Weight gain? Mood swings?”

“Yes. Oh my God, am I dying? What do I have?”

“Oh it’s nothing. You’re probably just experiencing early menopause.”

Early menopause? Seriously? I’m 47! Not 107! Didn’t my grandmother just go through menopause? She’s 96. I’m too young to be going through menopause. Here I was worried he was going to tell me I’m pregnant, and instead he tells me my girly parts are antiquated.

I sit there, stunned, as he goes over other symptoms. These are just some of the fun features of menopause: Hair loss, loss of libido, brittle nails, anxiety, paranoia.

“Oh great”, I think. I’m going to turn into a bitchy, bald, edgy, sweaty, freaked out sex-hater. Sounds like my husband is just going to LOVE the new me.

He asks if I have any more questions. I mumble “no” as I’m still trying to process the fact that he not only insinuated that I’m getting old, but he also just had his hand up my hoo-ha. I sort of feel used.
I could use some chocolate.

And as I’m leaving, Doogie Howser hands me a slip of paper, smiles at me and tells me to have a nice day.

I leave the office and go sit in my car. I look down at the piece of paper.

That little bastard. It’s a prescription for my annual mammogram.

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My Fatherless Father’s Day

This Father’s Day is going to be different for me. It’s the first time in 46 years that I haven’t had a Daddy here to celebrate.

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Daddy, me and my sister. Summer 1974

My father passed away after a three year battle with cancer, on January 27, 2015, but it feels like only yesterday that he was still here. How is it possible that five months have passed when I think of him every day?

The reality of his passing hits in the most unexpected places. Just heating up the grill automatically brings me back to my dad. We always grilled out for Father’s Day, because his favorite food in the world was a “nice, juicy hamburger, hot off the grill.” I think of him the moment I smell the smoky scent of charcoal in the air and hear the sizzle of the burgers as they’re cooking. (And I’ll always think of him as I load my plate with more French fries than I should.)

I think of him whenever I get a funny or a political e-mail, and then my first thought is always, “Daddy will get such a kick out of this.” Then I’m crushed when I realize that he’s not here to get my messages any more.

I want to call him whenever I have good news, and I always have to think twice about calling him to let him know I got home safely. But I guess my guardian angel already knows that I’m safe.

I thought of him last month as my son graduated from the Fire Academy, and as my nephew graduated from high school. “Papa” was always encouraging them to do their best and to “Study hard!” Education was always so important to him, so it was hard on us for him to not be there to see how his guidance and support had led his grandsons to accomplish their goals.

I felt him last week when my husband and I went to the Georgia coast.  Daddy had a little fish camp there.  It’s nothing fancy, just a place where he could go and relax. As much as I love it, I was filled with dread at the thought of being there for the first time without him, knowing that there would be reminders of him everywhere.  Even something as simple as finding his old sneakers sitting on the floor by the bed drove me to tears. One time, I asked him why he loved it so much, and he replied, “Because I fit in here.”

But, amazingly, this time something else happened there.

I found my peace.

My favorite picture of my dad.  Summer 1970

My favorite picture of my dad. Summer 1970

To me, Daddy was everywhere because it was HIS favorite place. Sitting out on the dock at night, I could feel his kisses from heaven brushing against my cheek as the wind blew the salt air on my face.

And I smiled. Finally, I knew I was Daddy’s girl again.

Living without my dad has been a work in progress. I’m a work in progress, and being without him has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But I’m learning how to do it, because as he would say, “Life goes on. We’re only here for a little while, so make the most of it. Be a good person, and live your life well.”

This year, I will be spending Father’s Day without my dad.

But I know that my dad will be spending Father’s Day with his dad, and his Heavenly Father.

And as much as I miss him, I can’t be sad about that.

More Stuffed Than The Thanksgiving Turkey

Ahh the holidays. I love them for so many reasons but especially for the food. I love to eat, and holiday food is the best. Turkey and dressing, mac and cheese, desserts, and breakfasts with bacon and eggs.

Me looking at the scale after Christmas.

Me looking at the scale after Christmas.

From this past Thanksgiving through Christmas I ate like I was on death row and every meal was going to be my last.

Which is also why my pants began cutting off my circulation and my Spanx went on strike by the time New Year’s Day rolled around.

I had taken a hiatus from my dread mill, partly because of surgery to my leg last March but mostly because I was just about as productive as a slug.

So right after Christmas, when I put on a pair of jeans from my closet only to realize they were my husbands jeans – AND THEY FIT – did I decide I’d better actually honor my New Years resolution and start working out again as well as eating healthier.

Low-fat, low-carb…I cut down on bacon and other fatty foods. I’ve started eating so many nuts for snacks that I will probably grow a tail and climb a tree soon.

My new friends K and L talked me into going to the gym to do a “step” class. I don’t know if you have ever done a step class before, but it’s where an instructor has you stepping on and off a 6″ high platform while blaring music is pumped out of the speakers overhead and girls with stick-figure bodies in tight little workout clothes surround you.

I had taken step before a few years ago but I was not prepared for this one. Maybe I’m just getting old, but the moves were so fast that I’m pretty sure that I looked like I was doing “the Elaine” dance from Seinfeld while K and L were gracefully going through the movements with ease.

Me at step class

Me at step class

While they were going left I was going right. When they were going up I was going down. I was the complete opposite of what they did.

And with each break, I’d guzzle some water. Half-way through the class I thought my bladder was going to burst. I felt like a puppy near some new carpet.

After class, we decided to continue the workout with crunches. K showed me how to do sit-ups on a machine, and even though I had been doing crunches at home, it was clear that the ones I had been doing at home were the same intensity that a preschooler could handle.

The next morning, I had to literally roll out of bed because my muscles felt like I had been punched in the stomach. But, I went back two days later and my legs didn’t feel like they were full of lead anymore. And I actually enjoyed the class.

And I’m determined to honor my New Year’s resolution until I can no longer wear the same size jeans as my husband, and am back in my old clothes. And if that’s not enough incentive, then I don’t know what is.

I’m Not Walking – I’m Just Running Very Slowly

Saturday was the kind of day that makes you smile.

Dale and I woke up early to participate in a 5k fundraiser for Tripp Halstead, a local child who was severely injured last October when a tree branch fell on him.

We got up around 6:30 AM to begin getting ready. Those of you who know me already know that I am NOT a morning person, and 6:30 comes quickly when you normally go to bed around 1 AM.

Dale gulped some coffee. I shoved a pack of chocolate chip Little Bites muffins down my belly and we headed out the door.

Since I had my stitches out from my Melanoma back in March, my doctor had told me to take it easy on the running because I could still damage my scar for up to a year after surgery. I have been walking on the “dreadmill” and through the neighborhood when I haven’t been worried about melting, but I only got the okay from my doctor to start running again about three weeks ago.

I have competed in nine triathlons and numerous 5k races, but I was about to find out how not being able to run for three months had taken a toll on my body…and my ego.

I knew I would probably be a slow runner so I went to the back of the crowd and waited for the race to start.

The whistle blew. People started moving. Some people were walking, some were jogging. My headset started spitting out my favorite 80’s tunes and I slowly started to run. IMG_6531

Mile one came and went. I looked down at my pedometer. I was running at a pace of 13 minutes per mile. So far, so good.

Mile two came and I noticed that my legs were really getting heavy. Did I somehow contract polio this morning?

What the heck??

Was I carrying $50 in change in my pockets or something? It was getting harder and harder to put one foot in front of the other.

I checked my pedometer again.

Good. At least I was getting close to three miles.

And that’s when it happened.

A rush of people came up from behind me and blew right past me like I was standing still. Two moms were pushing strollers…one with TWINS in it. They were chatting away like they were sitting at a coffee shop while I was gasping for breath and sort of making choking and gurgling sounds. My face was so hot I thought I might spontaneously combust at any moment.

Suddenly, up ahead, I saw it. It was as if the heavens opened up and the sun started to shine down.

It was the golden arch of the finish line.

I picked up the pace. Woo-hoo!!! I was back to being a runner. It took everything I had not to punch myself in the shoulder in a “way to go” fashion. I was so proud of myself!

That is, until a seven-year-old girl with pigtails and pink “Hello Kitty” sneakers flew past me like the finish line was an ice cream truck and she had some dollars to spend.

Yep.

I have some serious training to do.

The Strongest Man In The World

Nope. He’s not lifting cars off trapped people or flying through the universe saving the planet from stray asteroids.

He’s fighting cancer right this very moment.

And he is going to win.

My dad. My superhero.

My father was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the blood, in December 2011. In May 2012, he underwent a stem cell transplant. In February 2013, it failed.

But that did not stop my dad. He immediately started a clinical trial, which turned out to be too hard on his body. So after being admitted to the hospital last week, he began a 96 hour aggressive chemo treatment to knock the cancer out.

Now, my dad is notoriously stubborn.

My favorite picture of my dad.  Summer 1970

My favorite picture of my dad. Summer 1970

Just ask my mom.

Or my sister.

Or me.

Last week, he refused to go to the emergency room even though he was feeling terrible. (Turns out, he had pneumonia!) The nurse came in and fussed at him for not heading to the hospital sooner, even though we had all begged him to go.

My mother said he sat there and patiently listened to the nurse as she ranted and raved about how if he had waited much longer before coming in, he could have passed the point of them being able to help him.

When she was finished, my father said, “You know, I’m a retired Colonel in the Army. I’ve been chewed out by drill sergeants and superior officers, but ma’am, I must say, YOU are second to none.”

Under normal circumstances, my dad’s stubbornness would get under my skin like a blood-thirsty tick, but being up against this cancerous kryptonite, it has actually come in handy. He is digging his heels in and is not letting the cancer get the best of him.

And I am thankful that he has superhero strength, and stubbornness as well to fight this villain and to get us all through this.

But I’m still wondering…how does he hide his cape under his hospital gown?

Rain, Rain, Go Away

For the past three weekends that the kids have been at our house, we have had
nothing but torrential rain. It has rained so much that I think i saw Edward and Bella Cullen from Seattle checking out the house for sale next door to use as a vacation home.

It’s bad. I need sunshine.

Since we are a very active family, we normally are outside throwing the
football, hiking a random mountain or kayaking down a river. This month though, the kids have been hanging out in their rooms, plastered to their computer screens, coming out only to eat and then return to their bat caves.

After 36 hours of nonstop rain, we decided to take the kids to the local
trampoline park so even if they couldn’t get vitamin D, they could at least get some exercise. (A trampoline park, by the way, is a huge building filled with side-by-side trampolines so hundreds of kids can be jumping in one area at the same time.)

As we walked into the building I am immediately overwhelmed by the stench of
dirty kid sweat mixed with stale popcorn, and the high pitched screams of excited children.

Did I remember to take my blood pressure medicine today?

We move slowly through the line to pick up shoes. Now I always thought bowling shoes were disgusting but then I was introduced to the petri dish family of trampoline shoes. With bowling shoes, the wearer walks up and throws a ball down a wooden lane. Not much sweat involved.

However.

With trampoline shoes, the wearer is jumping, running, etc. as sweat builds up inside so badly so that when the wearer attempts to remove his or her socks, they literally have to peel them off their foot.

The other option is for the jumper to go barefoot.photo

Yes. Barefoot.

No socks.

I feel the little hairs on my neck starting to stand on end.

I sit back and watch hundreds of kids jumping around, standing in line at the
concession stand, or walking into the bathroom either wearing their sweaty
sponge shoes or their bare feet.

It reminds me of those kid play areas at fast food restaurants. You know what I’m talking about…the microbiology study that is disguised as a fun looking ball-pit that the kids can jump in. Isn’t that what every parent wants? For their children to dive into a method of multiplying microbial organisms?

The bile starts to rise in my throat.

It appears that every child is either part of a birthday group or the birthday child herself. Kids are screaming; parents look confused. It’s like a hillbilly circus without the social graces of a hillbilly.

Older girls walking around in their short-shorts that put Daisy Dukes to shame, putting the “tramp” in “trampoline park”. It’s a little more than just shocking. I mean the place has a dress code for people’s feet but they don’t care if a person’s butt is hanging out?

I watch the clock like a hawk. Only 35 minutes to go. I look away for a second and look back. 37 minutes now? How did that happen?

Finally the whistle blows and the jumping session is over. The kids run over to us begging for water. They take off their trampoline shoes and I take them by the laces. I carefully walk as if I’m holding an unstable bomb and toss them up on the counter, careful not to let them touch me.

I ask for open hands and immediately squirt on a little extra-than-normal size glob of hand sanitizer. Me? I want to bathe in it.

We fall into the slow flow of people who are also leaving because their session is over. Endorphins run amuck throughout the children who have been bouncing non-stop for the past hour.

A group of little girls squeal right next to me piercing my eardrums. I think I may have hearing damage.

And as we get in the car to go home, I start to wonder why it doesn’t seem to bother the kids that they are now covered in millions of prokaryotic microorganisms.

Then I remember that a long time ago, I was also a kid, who was unaware of the dangers lurking in a ball pit.

Long before I became a mom.

Dental Drama

It seems the older I get, the more I end up going to a doctor of some sort. My latest visit was to see the dentist. Just so you know, the dentist ranks right up there with my desire to go to the gynecologist. It’s never on the high priority list.

A few years ago, my dentist retired. He was the one I had gone to since I first grew in my teeth over 40 years ago. His office was over an hour away so I had only attempted to try out another dentist that was a little closer once before. (I had been to see him once and one night when I was watching the news, his face popped up on my TV screen. He had been arrested for murdering his girlfriend AND his wife.)

I immediately decided that the hour drive to see my old dentist was worth it.

After Dale and I got married he suggested that I go to his dentist that he has been to for HIS entire life.

I made my appointment and they advised me that since I was a new patient, they would need to run the full gamut of x-rays and tests on me…so I should be prepared to be at there for a couple of hours.

Oh yay. Something to look forward to.

I arrived for my appointment and they took me into one of the rooms. It didn’t have a door. Okay. So what if I’m screaming in pain or crying out of fear? The whole office is going to hear me slobbering like a baby. This isn’t starting out well.

The first technician comes in and says that she needs to take photos of my mouth. Ok. That’s good. I can handle photos.

Then she proceeds to shove these plastic mouth expanders in so that my lips are held wide open so you can see all of my teeth…as well as my stomach and kidneys. My lips felt like they were going to end up looking like the elastic on some old lady’s underwear – stretched way beyond their limitations.

I felt like a dog hanging out of a car window going 120 MPH down the highway. Definitely the same idea. Definitely not as much fun.

She took several photos and then said “Okay, now we are going to get some x-rays!”

She was so cheerful it sounded like we were about to go to a party!

She began to put together some plastic pieces that looked like a puzzle and I jokingly asked where those were going to fit.

“Oh, we use these now instead of those horrible little cardboard x-rays. They were so bad for you! Don’t worry. They’ll fit in your mouth. But it might be uncomfortable – for a minute.”

I opened my mouth and she somehow crammed these huge plastic pieces in place. “Now bite down.”

Uhh, what?

I can’t move my tongue. I’m having a hard time breathing. I think I’m already bleeding and you want me to bite down? I felt like I was ready to be hitched to a plow so I could go clear a field. This was not good.

Finally she was done. If I could have shot x-rays out of my eyeballs she would have been toast.

I could breathe a sigh of relief.

That was until the next technician came in.

“So, it says you have not been to the dentist in three years…” she said with a slightly disapproving tone.

“Uh, yes. I really don’t like going to the dentist,” I said.

“Well, I’ll make sure this doesn’t hurt much.”

Here we go again.

She took out a sandblaster that I’m pretty sure could remove graffiti off a concrete wall and pointed it towards my mouth. Of course, this was right after she used a meat hook to scrape any plaque off my teeth. I’m confident that with all of the scraping she did up under my gums, she got some plaque that had been there since I was in the sixth grade.

Then onto the dental floss. (I’m a religious flosser so this should have been easy-peasy.) But apparently, when you’re at the dentist, you’re supposed to push dental floss with excessive force in between your teeth just to be sure you make your gums bleed.

My gums are so swollen it looks like I’ve eaten a can of yellow jackets.

Then she sprays water into my mouth and then uses this suction thing to suck it all back up. I feel like I’m being waterboarded. Where in the heck is a sink? Can’t I just spit? The suction thing keeps getting stuck on my tongue and then my tonsils. I’m gagging.

I hate this.

Then she starts asking me questions. Now I have never understood this: Why would anyone ask you questions when they know you can’t answer without sounding like you’ve swallowed a pillow?

“I pruyus qwuiuhg wghhhek Akohuih Ilwlla suhur shia” I said. That meant “Yes, I’ve been watching American Idol too. Who do you think will win?”

My former dentist used to just hum Broadway show tunes while he was cleaning my teeth. Some “Phantom of the Opera” might really calm me down right now. She might want to try it.

The dentist comes in and looks at my chompers. He is very nice and has a really nice smile. He’s a walking billboard for going to the dentist.

He inspects all of my teeth, individually. During this time he is asking me questions. I’m sorry. I can’t answer you right now because that camera you have shoved in my mouth is dangerously close to my voice box.

“Do you drink sodas?”

My love for soda started at an early age...

My love for soda started at an early age…

“Yes but only one a day”, I said.

Tisk, tisk.

“Trust me”, I said. “You didn’t want me coming to this appointment without having caffeine first. I might have bitten you.”

He laughed but I’m pretty sure he understood that I wasn’t joking.

Overall, he said that everything looks good. I have the beginnings of cavities in my upper molars but that’s probably due just to age.

Seriously? He’s going to get on the gynecologist bandwagon and start telling me that things are falling apart because of my AGE?

That’s it. I’m not going to any more doctors until I’m eligible for a senior citizens discount.

But according to all of my doctors, that might be sooner than I think.

(Now I know that the ladies in my dentist office are probably going to read this, so please let me add the following disclaimer…I had not been to the dentist in three years so I’m sure you had your work cut out for you. After reading this, please remember that MOST of this was in jest, so please do not take it out on me at my next visit. haha)

Time Marches On

My husband gets so tired of me correcting him when he says how old I am. Yes, I will be 45 years old this year…but I’m not there yet. I’m 44! So don’t say that I’m 45!!

I always joke with him because HE IS 45. I think he just wants to not feel older than I am especially since he is already getting AARP literature in the mail or it could be that when he doesn’t shave his beard he starts to look like Wolverine from x-Men because it’s turning gray.

It’s never seemed to bother him much, however, yesterday afternoon I think he finally understood my frustration with getting older.

Old Man Winter

Old Man Winter

We were in the car heading down to see my parents for the afternoon. I was driving, and Dale was in the passenger seat working on his laptop. Since my dad has been going through chemotherapy, his taste buds have become a little skewed and so we decided to stop at the Varsity and pick up some of their famous “Frosted Orange” drinks. He loves them and they are strong enough for him to taste so I love surprising him with them.

We pulled up to the Varsity and waited in line. When I ordered the drinks through the intercom, I asked the lady taking my order not to fill up the cups to the top. I just wanted them filled up enough so when she put the lid on them, it didn’t squirt out the top of the cup.

Dale just looked at me and said “You sound like Meg Ryan in ‘When Harry Met Sally’. You know how she ordered her food and had a zillion conditions to go with it – “I’ll have the Caesar salad but I don’t want croutons, and I want the dressing on the side”. The lady taking your order is going to think you are a nut.”

So I decided to explain myself to her when we drove up to the window.

“I’m so sorry for being so picky. My dad loves these, and since he is going through chemotherapy, we have to be really careful about not letting anything touch his food, so I didn’t want the cup filled up because I didn’t want it to squish out on your hand when you put on the top.”

She did look at me like I was a nut.

But then she smiled, leaned out the window, looked at Dale and said “Is that your father?”
I choked on my diet coke and some of it ran out of my nose.

Dale leaned over and looked at her, smiled and said, “Uhhhh no. I’m her HUSBAND.”

I couldn’t stop giggling.

She never missed a beat. “What kind of cancer does your dad have? Is he being treated here? I had breast cancer and beat it. I hated chemotherapy. I lost my sense of taste too. And I lost my hair. I’ll say a prayer for him”, she said.

I then thanked her and we drove off.

I giggled some more.

“Doesn’t it stink for someone to think you’re older than you really are?” I asked. I think at that point he understood why I never want to be labeled older than I actually am.

Dale just growled at me.

I remember a quote from “Steel Magnolias” where Dolly Parton said “Time marches on, and sooner or later you realize it’s marching right across your face.”

Yep. Getting older really stinks.

Especially when someone thinks you are your wife’s dad.

The Big C

I am missing a big chunk of my leg this week. No, I didn’t get bitten by a shark or attacked by some criminal with a knife.

I saw my dermatologist.

As many of you know, going to the doctor in general isn’t one of my favorite things to do. It seems like whenever I go to a doctor I end up with something smashed, something violated, or something involving needles or x–rays.

I do not like going to the doctor. I cringe when I hear “This will only hurt for a little bit.”

Seriously?

I don’t want anything to hurt. Ever. Not even for a little bit.

I’ve discovered with age that I seem to be allergic to pain.

Years ago I had a zit on my nose that wouldn’t go away. The more I tried covering it up with makeup, the more it seemed to say “Look at me – I’m not going away!!!”

After about a month of mashing it, I decided to go to the doctor.

He was 150 years old and had glasses so thick that it made his eyeballs look freakishly enormous.

“Hmmmm,” He said. “I think we need to take this off. It’s not a zit. Looks like skin cancer.”

Uhhh, what?

I was only 24 years old. Okay, YES, I had used baby oil and iodine at times to get a tan, and YES, I had gone to the tanning bed when I was younger, but skin cancer? Don’t only old people get skin cancer?

He numbed my nose with a needle that was the size of a railroad tie and felt like it was coming out the back of my head. Then he performed what is called “Mohs” surgery, where they scrape a layer of skin off and then check it for cancer cells. They repeat the process until all of the cancer cells are gone and they have hit clean skin.

He scraped, and scraped, and scraped, and I was afraid I was going to end up with a third nostril.

Finally it was over and there was nothing more that needed to be done. Turns out it was Basal Cell Carcinoma, which wasn’t deadly, but it meant I would need checkups from that point on.

Fast forward 15 years. I’ll admit I became a little lax about going to the dermatologist EVERY year. Who has time for that? My life was too busy.

Then my father was diagnosed with cancer and that changed my thinking.

So I scheduled an appointment with a new dermatologist, this time with someone other than Dr. Kevorkian.

Dr. T is 5’ tall and weighs less than a fifth grader, but she is super sweet and incredibly smart.

She looked me all over and I mean ALL OVER and said “The only thing I’m concerned about is this little mark on your leg.”

“It’s been there for as long as I can remember. I always thought it was a freckle,” I said.

“It’s never changed?”

“No.”

“Well, if it were ME, I’d recommend getting it removed. Since you’re not having any problems with it, it won’t be covered under insurance (of course not!) and will be considered an elective excision but I’d do it if I were you.”

Elective excision? That’s me ASKING to be stuck with needles and cut on?

Hmmm. I’m gonna have to think about that.

So my husband and I talked about it and he said that we’d better be safe than sorry so we scheduled it on the calendar.

The day of the excision, I took a Xanax because as I stated earlier, I am allergic to needles. I also doubled up on my blood pressure medicine. Okay, okay. I might have doubled up on my Xanax also.

She circled the spot on my leg, which was about the size of my pinkie fingernail. The circle, however, was about the size of a golf ball.

Then she pulled out a needle.

“This is only going to hurt for a second.”

Shut. Up.

It did only hurt for a second. But then she stuck it in again, and it hurt for another second. And as she stuck me with the needle ALL THE WAY AROUND THE CIRCLE – about 25 times and I felt it EACH TIME. So for me, that “only hurt for a second” actually lasted over 25 seconds. Just a second. Yeah right.

I couldn’t watch. I stared and focused on Dale and squeezed the blood out of his hand.

Finally it was over. I went home and went to sleep.

Two days later I was allowed to remove the bandages and finally got a good look at it.

Holy cow. When I said golf ball size, I didn’t realize I meant golf ball size deep too. It looked like Hannibal Lector had taken some of my leg for a skin suit.

And the stitches? Clearly, my doctor has never studied plastic surgery. Was she blindfolded when she stitched me up?

My leg looked like Frankenstein’s neck.photo(10)

However…

My irritation quickly dissipated when she called to say that she had “good news and bad news,” which is something you NEVER want to hear from your doctor. (“The good news is we were able to perform your lobotomy. The bad news is that you were in here for an ingrown toenail.”)

For me, the good news was that she got it all.

The bad news? It was Melanoma.

Oh. Dear. God.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so terrified of a doctor in my whole life. Not even with one brandishing a needle at me.

Melanoma? No, it’s not a country in Europe.

Wow. All of those days out in the sun with no sunscreen on had finally caught up with me.

But I got lucky. God answered my hysterical prayers and my promises to feed the children in Calcutta, never miss church on Sunday again, and correct all my wrongdoings if He would let me be okay.

And even though it’s 37 degrees outside, I am heading to the drugstore shortly to buy sunscreen, which I will probably start bathing in.

Just to be safe.

(Friends, if you have not had your skin checked recently, please, PLEASE do so. Did you know that Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer but is one of the easiest to treat if caught early? And even though I write blogs to talk about these things and try to be funny about it, please do not ever skip seeing your doctor. One rough day isn’t worth the consequence of not going.)

Just Call Me Grace-Fall

I’m a klutz. It’s embarrassing but it’s true. I try to be so careful so that no one sees me being a klutz but it happens anyway.

I think it started when I was a child. I was always covered in Band-aids and bruises. If I was on the playground, I was the kid crying at the bottom of the slide because I didn’t know how to stop myself from flying off the end and landing face first in the dirt.

TIMBER!!!!  (This clearly was going to end badly...)

TIMBER!!!! (This clearly was going to end badly…)

When I was very small, my dad was cementing the four corners of our swing set into the ground so that it wouldn’t tip over when we were on the swings. My mom had just bought me a pair of $35 Forrest Gump-like corrective shoes. Now to me, $35 is a lot of money, but I can assure you that $35 back in 1969 was TRULY a lot of money.

So my parents weren’t too happy when I stepped into the hole and went up to my knee in cement, completely ruining my brand new shoe.

My cement shoe

My cement shoe

Dinnertime was equally as difficult for me. I regularly dropped my plate, or more often than not, spilled my drink all over the kitchen table. Sippy cups were invented because of children like me.

I broke my wrist when I was a sophomore in college. I was a little sister for the SAE Fraternity, and we were working on a roast of the brothers. As we were sitting in the library of the house, I saw one of the brothers that I needed to talk to walking by the front windows. I ran out of the house and slipped, landing on my hand.

Keep in mind, this was the fabulous fashion time frame where full prairie skirts were in style. When I slipped, my full skirt swooped up and landed over my head like a parachute so I was sitting in my underwear on the front lawn of the fraternity house.

While the guys were at dinner.

Looking out the window at me.

By the time I got over my utter horror of the situation, I realized my arm was hurting a little bit. When I looked at it, it was already twice its normal size. And it was turning purple.

Yep it was broken.

On a side note…One of the upsides of being a SAE little sister and breaking my wrist at the fraternity house is that the brothers sent one of the pledges over every few days to wash my hair for me. I may have milked that one a little longer than necessary but seriously, who is going to complain about having their hair washed by a bunch of good looking guys? Helloooo. I may be blonde, but I’m not stupid!

At least I got it honest...check out my mom's foot after being cut by a stingray

At least I got it honest…check out my mom’s foot after being cut by a stingray

Years later, I was in the parking lot of my office building, and as usual, I was checking e-mail on my phone instead of watching where I was walking. I had the great luck of stepping into the only pothole in the entire parking lot. A 6” x 6” hole, resulting in the most unladylike fall.

I was, however, back up just as quickly as I fell, and the only proof of my embarrassing mishap was a ripped skirt and two very badly skinned knees.

I glanced around the parking lot. Whew. No one saw me. At least that’s what I thought until I walked into the building and two of my co-workers were clapping.

Yep. Just call me Grace-fall.

Four years ago my klutziness came to a head when I stepped off a four-inch curb and BROKE MY FOOT. Yes, you read that correctly. As I was walking down the sidewalk, a dog came running up behind me. As I turned to look over my shoulder I stepped down and CRUNCH…that was all it took. I was on crutches until I realized I could do more damage to myself with them than if I were carrying a sword.

I finally got put into a boot that made me feel like a lopsided giant. There’s simply no way to be ladylike when you’re wearing a 50-ton piece of plastic strapped to your foot with industrial strength Velcro.

The boot on one foot, along with a slingback on the other foot. Clomp. Click. Clomp. Click.

Now I’m taking vitamins and calcium like Tic-Tacs because I’m kind of terrified that as I get older and my bones get more brittle, I’m going to break my hand by opening a bottle of wine.

But you know what?

I think that just might be worth it.