Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Butterflies and Guillotines

In an effort to maintain a perfect record of never allowing a year to lapse without at least one surgery, I went in for a parathyroidectomy last Thursday.  I am recording the incident under an anesthetic fog, but it is true and accurate, nonetheless.

The doctors have been advising me that my parathyroid is “out of whack.”  That’s a medical term indicating impending surgery.  Well, I was not too happy about the thoughts of this procedure.  Anesthesia always makes me loopy.  But apparently, the parathyroid is a winged little thingee near the thyroid, and its removal conjured up images of the surgeon running barefoot in slow motion with a butterfly net through a field of daisies on a summer morning. 

Well, in a burst of irrational optimistic positivity, I thought, why not?  I’d get it done now so we could go on our family vacation to Washington without having it hanging over my head.  In and out.  Slick.

Things went quite well at first.  My anesthesiologist was amiable, and said my veins were quite impressive.  I was sure he was hitting on me.  I was demur. I refrained from bragging, but I’ve always considered them some of my finest assets.  And they’ve never been surgically enhanced.  Modesty kept me from flaunting them.

We chatted for a while, until I noticed the OR begin to rotate.  I became alarmed and asked him if he felt as dizzy as I looked.  He assured me he was.  I told him to cover me-I was goin’ in.  Then I disappeared.

I don’t recall anything after that.  But upon regaining consciousness, I felt a little like Anne Bolyn, the morning after…and rather nauseous.  I requested some anti-hurl…STAT! 

That’s when I first met Nurse Vlad, my post-op care-taker.  She heaved me onto my side with the agility of a sumo wrestler, employing some moves she’d no doubt acquired as the head baton twirler of the Transylvania High School marching band.  I tried to regain my equilibrium.

Suddenly, I heard the clattering of hooves on cobblestone, the swish of an Excaliber blade as it cut through the air, and the fierce cry of a Samarai warrior yelling, “Charge!”  And then she impaled me!

This time I emitted a holler worthy of Wylie Coyote plummeting down a cliff. 

A disembodied voice from outer darkness announced, “I love a skinny butt!”  She put down her syringe, wiped her hands on her armor, mounted her trusty steed, said, “My work here is done,” and strode off into the sunset.

That’s the truth.  At least, that’s how I remember it.  Dennis’ version varies slightly.  But it’s my stupor.  Besides, he was on the OTHER end of that hypo!

I am recovering well, but it will be some time before I let anyone talk me into going to the meadow looking for butterflies.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Leaking Gas

Why is it that the best things in life are so short-lived?  Vacations, summer, lilacs, energy, money, general perkiness, youth, etc.  And, of course, childhood.  Especially childhood.

Those are Halcyon days.  Kids get up in the morning with full diapers and empty sippees.  The main task of the day is to empty the first and fill the second…and nobody gets hurt.  Then it’s play, play, play until time for their 2:00 tantrum.  What could be sweeter?

Children don’t fret over such trivial matters as heinous headlines, stock market gains and losses, gas prices, oil spills, elections, or celebrity drama.  A jug of chocolate milk, a bag of chips, and they’re OK in their wilderness.

But childhood has a shelf life.  Perhaps that’s why as adults we want to preserve, even prolong these days.  We know that all too soon the time comes when we can no longer find our way back to the house at Pooh Corner. 

And Time is a tyrant.  Case in point. Recently we were given a giant congratulatory yellow inflated smiley-face Mylar balloon.  That balloon was my alter ego. It made me happy.  Its face was unalterably merry, looking as if it had been injected with too much botox by an over-zealous doctor.

It bobbed mindlessly through the rooms of our house, and smiled mockingly as the kids belted it to each other, unfazed by the mauling.  I could identify. 

But a few days passed, and the balloon began to lose some of its helium.  The face started showing subtle signs of shriveling.  The sunny countenance appeared to crease along the edges and fold into itself.  The soft butter yellow took on a jaundiced look, as if its liver, if it had one, was not functioning properly.  Its smile became derisive.

As if that weren’t enough, the balloon lost some of its “bob,” and would float down to the floor and linger there, inert and inconsolable.  Finally, it drifted behind the TV, like Puff The Magic Dragon, going into its cave, seeking solitude and sanctuary. 

We respected its privacy, hoping it would soon recapture its “perky” and rejoin us.

Suddenly, as we were watching the Lakers maul the Suns, the smiley face unexpectedly popped up from behind the TV as if it were some kind of freakish Jack-in-the-box, just like the shower scene in “Psycho!”  I swear I heard discordant screeching violins at the same time.  It actually startled us. 

But now the happy face had changed dramatically. It appeared cavernous, with crevices, sags, and creping.  It bobbed and weaved like a drunk geriatric boxer in slow motion.  I swear it was a creepy perversion of “The Picture of Dorian Gray!”

Well, it was kind of funny.  I laughed.  Then I looked in the mirror.  I cried.  That smiley face was my evil twin.  I was scarier than Norman Bates!

When did I lose my helium?  How long have I been deflating?  When did my gas begin to leak?  And who wiped the grin off MY face?!

Our mirrors must be distorted!  ALL mirrors are distorted!

Call the code blue plastic surgery triage unit!

Call Dr. Kevorkian!

I tried to retain my analytical reason.  I hoped the unrestrained surge of stress hormones would not throw me out of orbit. I muttered vulgarisms incessantly. 

Now, I’m not asking to slurp at the Fountain of Youth through a garden hose.  I just want to return to the days when my butt was not oozing in concentric circles around my knees.  Talk about hostile take-over!  I thought I had that territory secured. 

And while we’re at it, who splattered my hands with brown spots in the most unattractive geometric patterns…like I’d just painted the town taupe?  When did all this take place, and where was I?  How come I didn’t notice? 

There is a certain bereavement at the passage of time.  The clock is an apex predator!

I don’t know where to register my complaints, besides shouting blasphemes into the lightless void of outer darkness.  (For the record, I got no response.)

However, since I have failed miserably to prevent my childhood from seeping away, I am focusing my efforts on my grandkids, before they pass their expiration date.

Spring is the season of recitals and rituals that signal the close of this recent school year.  Talk about short-lived!  Didn’t school just begin? 

We have always encouraged our kids to be curious, to ask questions, to express themselves without fear or inhibition.  So far, we’ve been wildly successful.

Our grandson, Carter the Curious, has been pleading with his parents for, of all things, an older brother.  Brodi asked for my advice.  I’m not touching this one, but I can’t wait to hear THAT explanation.

Over the Memorial Day holiday, Asher, our darling Asher, stomped in the windshield of Erin’s van…barefoot!  Did I mention he’s three?  We are all trying to stay on his good side until we can legally medicate him.

Most of our grandkids look like pipe cleaners.  Asher looks like Sammy the Bull.  It comes from daily workouts consisting of total annihilation. 

It’s going to be a long summer.

But I plan to pass the sunshine season stuffing my jowls with picnics and peanut butter.  I figure when autumn arrives, my face will be pumped and plumped and will once more resume the smooth contours of an inflated bladder.  And I will smile because…I will have regained my helium!