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Keep em in Stitches
I was feeling fine until the phone rang. It was a doctor's office, and it's never a good sign when they call you. The nurse told me I had a little skin cancer patch on my forehead—a squamous cell carcinoma (which sounds suspiciously like Sasquatch)--and it needed to be cut out.
What? Cut? But...
She said they'd give me stitches, as if this was some kind of added bonus, at which I immediately imagined them crisscrossing my forehead, giving me that always chic Frankensteinian look.
I've never had surgery
or stitches or a scar and I didn't particularly want to start now, especially on my face. Not to mention that anything with the word "carcinoma" is scary, But the nurse said it was a simple thing that'd take 10 minutes then be fine. Usually.
I scheduled an appointment for the next day, even though I'd lived with the spot for I don't know how long. I'd never worried
about it before but now I could feel it whispering like a ghost, saying, "I've overstayed my welcome, exorcise me!"
I only hoped I hadn't waited too long. I immediately went online to read all about it, which was comforting, except in those instances when it was horrifying.
From there my imagination whisked me a few months down the road to where I'd have one of those distinguished scars I could say I got from a great white shark. Or a crack head.
The shark excuse seemed more plausible, given there are actually more great white shark attacks where I live than
anywhere else in the world, so it could have happened. I could have been kayaking, as sharks tend to think kayaks are seals and try to bite them, and the rest is etched on my forehead.
My head is only still attached to my body because I used the oar to bop the shark on the nose. And perhaps to make it believable, given my dubious outdoor skills, the shark could have
been an infant, just teething on me. Something manly and dramatic like that.
You did want the details of the procedure, didn't you? I'll take your stunned silence as a "yes."
Before I knew it I found myself at the dermatologist's office, sitting
on a chair that could become at a table, at least if the doctor knew how to use the controls. He tried one foot pedal that almost sent me catapulting off the chair, then another that nearly gave me whiplash. "It's a new chair," he said. I hoped he wasn't using a new knife.
The numbing part hurt, the rest didn't. The doctor said he'd put the scar in one of my "wrinkles"
which I thought was a bit harsh (no euphemistic "laugh line" or anything), and said he had to be careful lest it change the shape of my eye or make my eyebrow raised like I was in a permanent state of disbelief. Oh, great! Now as well as my other failings I could end up asymmetrical!
Before I had a chance to hop in the car and find the Beverly Hills plastic surgeon
who's done so much for Michael Douglas, the doc started cutting—then he stopped, surprised at how much I bled. Perhaps his other patients aren't human, but if you cut me, do I not bleed? You're darn right I do! He hissed for the nurse to get a clamp and then continued. I felt nothing except terror and a pervasive thought that I'd have to spend the right of my life wearing a scarf around my forehead. I was comforted by the fact that it looked so good on Johnny Depp, then discomfited by
the fact that I'm not Johnny Depp.
Then I heard more hissing and felt what seemed like cold air, only to learn it was really something akin to a red hot soldering iron cauterizing me so I wouldn't bleed. And then it was done.
The nurse bandaged
me up, covering half my forehead in what looked like taupe electrical tape so it seemed like I'd had a run-in with an insane interior decorator. If it wasn't a good look, at least it was temporary. I had what felt like a headache, then itching, then an unhealthy curiosity to see what it looked like.
Twenty-four hours later I did. I have to say it was a very manly scar
that looked especially hip with the stitches. I've never had a scar, other than the emotional ones. But I figured it could be quite stylish now that pirates are in vogue (http://tinyurl.com/yj659w ). Today a scar, next year a decorative eye patch!
Or, I could just own the Frankenstein thing and accessorize the ensemble with a jaunty neck bolt!
Who knows, I could start a trend—this year's "statement" that makes the tattoo passť! You just watch, next year everybody will have them! Poor Britney, just as she chose misspelled tattoos, she could follow this trend and think they'd look good on her wrists.
A week later I went back to have the stitches removed, after toying with the idea of simply pulling them out myself. I mean, how often do you get to do that? Like never. But, just in case something unexpected happened, I went back to the doctor's office, where the nurse pulled them out with a minimum of what they like to call "discomfort."
I looked in
the mirror and could hardly see the scar, which was good, but I kind of missed the macho black stitches. Memo to self: a fine-tip pen could make realistic stitch marks.
Then, with a maximum of what I like to call "searing pain," she took a can of liquid nitrogen to my face, burning off other spots here and there until I looked like I'd contracted a tropical disease. The scar was cool, the spots were not.
But as long as she was going I kept pointing out places—I figured if she was going to make me look like I had been in combat with a cougar I might as well look like I put up a good fight.
Then I asked her why parts of the scar hurt and others were numb and she said that was normal because of
the nerves that were cut. Then she dropped the big one, explaining that if the doctor had cut the wrong nerve, my eye would have drooped like I'd had a stroke. It's good no one told me this, because before the doctor could have made an incision I really would have jumped off the chair, numb forehead and all, to find Charo's plastic surgeon.
But I made it through
relatively unscathed, with a visible scar not nearly as large as my invisible ones.
Next stop, sunscreen. Stupid ozone layer! Where's Al Gore when you need him? (Hopefully running for President!_
Read about my latest movie role (you read that right), here!
SPAM-FREE E-MAIL LINKS
I get about 600 spams a day. A day. That's because my old eponymous e-mail address was on my web site from 1995 and is now on what seems like every spam list in the universe. Luckily, I use Gmail.com which is good at filtering out the stuff, and I also created two new, private e-mail addresses. One for business, one for personal use.
So how do I put my business address on my web site so people can contact me, without making it an open invitation to spammers?
I use a free service called the "Enkoder," located at http://automaticlabs.com/products/enkoderform/ You
the form and press the "Enkode it" button.
This creates a big bunch of code that's unreadable to humans, and more important, to spam-harvesting robots.
In your web site's HTML, you simply "mailto" link with this code.
Make sure that this is done on every page that has a contact button, or, do like I've done, which is to create a single email-me page that other pages link to and have that page use the enkoded email address. (example: http://tinyurl.com/tbo53 )
Your web visitors can still e-mail you with a click, they'll never know the difference, but your address will be invisible to spammers (unless your friends forward your e-mails with your address attached, in which case eventually it'll get to spammers—so always use BCC, and
remove the e-mail addresses at the top of mail you forward!)
http://www.heifer.org/ You can change lives and bring hope and possibility to the people who need it most by giving the gift of an animal to a needy family. Heifer has
helped more than five million families become self-reliant. Gifts start at $20 for chicks. It's a great gift for the person who has everything, for the person who doesn't. http://www.heifer.org/ or call them at 1-800-422-0474.
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DO GOOD WITH A CLICK
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P. S. I'M FINE
So I have one more wrinkle on my forehead. Big deal. So I
have to wear hats and sunscreen. OK. I'm lucky and know it, and hope you are even luckier this holiday season and all through the new year.