By Martha Reed
I decided to make some changes in my life this year and one of them was to really take an active part in maintaining my health – make a real effort with nutrition and exercise, schedule all my checkups and appointments, etc. The surprise was when I arranged for a casual skin screening and my PCP didn’t like the look of some of my moles. Now, I should mention that I am the Queen of the Mole People - always have been – and some of these spots have been with me for as long as I can remember. The eye-opener this time was that she didn’t like a couple that were on my face.
Usually, when I get a mole removed, I schedule the outpatient surgery, close my eyes and go to my inner happy place in my mind and come out when it’s all done. The actual surgery nowadays is down to a science and is about as uncomfortable as getting your teeth cleaned, meaning not really. Bing, bang, done, I’m out the door and back to work with 400 milligrams of ibuprofen singing in my veins. Yesterday morning, however, I had to lie down on a table and let them pick up a scalpel and come at my face.
I’ve been trying to figure out why have someone come at my face is any different that pruning something off my back, knee, hip, or upper arm. I can’t tell you why, only that it is. The weird thing – for me, anyway – was that this time it was a surgery where I stayed awake. Every other time I’ve gone into an operating theater I’ve been unconscious. This time I walked in, was introduced to the team (strange?), everyone said “Hi” or “Good morning” as I was led to the table. It got very surreal after that and that was way before they gave me any Percocet.
I lay back and one half of my brain was directing me to retreat to my inner “Happy Place!” “Happy Place!” while the other, writerly, side was trying to take in all the details on the off chance I might be able to use them in a story someday. The pristine white room, the surprisingly narrow surgical table, the bright chrome lights in the ceiling. My conscious self was trying to get me to LEAVE THE AREA (in my mind) while the other part of me was listening and recording everything that was being said around me. There was a real War Between the States going on inside my head at approximately 10AM.
One of the very, very kind surgical nurses asked me where I worked and then started quizzing me on any people we might know in common. The courteous, trained side of my nature tried to answer her questions while the other side struggled with controlled panic. The two surgeons stitching my lower lip started discussing Cubs baseball and I wanted to ask them if they were really focused on the right topic just then but thought better of it. I know that I was just another random patient and that it was just another day at the office to them but it felt weird to become an object. After they started laying surgical towels over the parts of my face that they didn’t need (like across my eyes) that’s pretty much when I checked out.
That’s the report. Any further details for a future story will have to be fiction.