Monday, January 02, 2012

Elephantine Musings

The Girls Contemplate Our New Home
The Girls Contemplate Our New Home
Uploaded by toastfloats
At times I am convinced that the Fates are determined to prevent me from successfully reentering the work force full time. I swear it is not merely an elaborate form of laziness which over the years has pulled me out of the employment market. Homeschooling, cruising, extended stays in foreign countries, all these are arguably my fault but I OWN them. I fully admit that life distracted me. I did it on purpose with a purpose.

Now, however, I want to work. Okay, world? I want to work. I work hard. I'm good at what I do. Let me work.

Except not for the last two months while I sorted our immigration paperwork, got DrC all spiffied up and off to work himself, and scrapped nearly 8 months of indescribably icky goo off our bodies and out of the boat.

And not this month while my Mommy is in town.

And apparently not next month while I have a good chunk of my face reassembled.

It turns out that the little bump on my nose which initially appeared like the world's most persistent and slow forming zit is actually not a zit at all. It's a zebra case of a tumor which is going to just keep growing until I either cut it off or I can't see past it and run my car off a cliff. The medical definition of a zebra is a disease or condition that is so uncommon that a doctor only learns of it because medical schools engage in a form institutionalized hazing which in any other context would be declared a felony. Any given zebra only shows up in the average medical practice once or twice in a doctor's entire career, if that. Such cases are shared with colleagues over a slice at lunch or at the annual Christmas party after a few drinks. Professors make presentations about zebras, others make a living doing research on them and publishing the results in esoteric journals.

This zebra tumor has -- as is usual in such cases -- an unpronounceable, unspellable name which I promptly forgot but which DrC rattles off with élan whenever the topic arises. It apparently has been there for years and years… maybe even since childhood! … just waiting till the perfect moment when lack of ready cash, a high deductible insurance plan, and extraordinarily pent up demand to get back to work combine to make this the worst possible moment to erupt into sight. Now that it's growing, however, the thing is on a roll. Depending on my mood, the girls either refer to me as The Two Nosed Witch or Rudolph, the Double-Nosed Reindeer. It just gets bigger from here. Fortunately, there is just about zero chance it means death to Toast unless I am foolish enough to allow it to grow so large as to block my ability to eat.

Unfortunately, getting rid of it is fraught with all sorts of horribleness. It'll be expensive. It'll leave a really nasty scar. And, I am not shitting you, I am going to spend three weeks with an "elephant trunk made out of skin" stuck gobsmack in the middle of my face. Explaining how this works may require a diagram. The idea is the plastics doc cuts a strip of my forehead, backs it with a chunk of belly fat, then without detaching it, twists it over and down and attaches it to my nose where the dermatologist has left a great gaping hole after cutting out the tumor. Then we let the thing sit there for nearly a month while the skin grafts together after which we "trim the tusk off". You're damn right you are going to trim that off.

Climbing Out
Climbing Out
Uploaded by toastfloats
On the upside, I told you I didn't need all those 'get rid of belly fat' Facebook adverts. I have my own creative ways to reduce that flab. On the downside, I'm not entirely clear how I'm supposed to go on a job interview with a skin trunk curling up from my nose. I'm going to look like a Star Trek character, and I don't mean that in a good way. I know I should be happy that I'm not cast as a Red Shirt in this drama, but I just keep thinking that no one really ever thought the Ferengi were doable, no matter how lovable Quark got towards the end.

Tonight, I'm glib about this, able to tell jokes and contemplate the whole thing with some degree of distance and equanimity. I have to be honest, however. After leaving the plastics consult, I just sat down for awhile and cried. I don't want to do this. It's expensive, painful, and scary. I have no real hope I'll look like Nicole Kidman after my surgery is complete. I'll probably look like someone who has been through a far worse experience like a car crash or the collapse of a building in an earthquake. It'll take a long time to heal and might require several additional surgeries before I don't look like someone grafted a piece of my ass on to my face. I had a real zit on the other side of my nose this morning which almost sent me into hysterics. I want to be brave and strong and reasonable, but my inner me appears to just want to scream and jump up and down and bitch about the unfairness of it all. Fairness, of course, has nothing to do with it. Our own troubles touch us more profoundly than the most terrible trials of others, because they are our own. That doesn't make my trouble less to me, the thought does help me with the reasonableness of it all. It's a benign tumor. While I can't see how it could possibly make me stronger, it isn't going to kill me. I am not a great beauty to begin with and this isn't going to make me less so.

Getting down to brass tacks, what I really need is some work to do for the month of February that does not involve seeing people. Reasonable or not, I don't think I can shake hands with a client and keep a straight face when my face isn't.


Richard said...

Wow! Sorry to hear about you latest predicament. Have been following your travels for a while now and like the way you look at life. Hope this is nothing more than a speed bump. No pun intended.

Anonymous said...

See what happens when you don't keep your nose to the grindstone..?.?.? Hope that made you laugh. Good luck on the procedure, no one likes to be cut on. Maybe you could click on the insurance trick ad and pass along the info to us all.

Relentless Toil said...

Aw, man!
I wish I could drive over and give you a king size Snickers.

hbunny said...

Toast, I'm so sorry. That's a really tough thing to go through. It's going to be a long, hard road, but you will get through it and you will be just as beautiful as you've always been.

Nobody goes through something like that with as much grace and humility as we'd like to believe. You've got a tough spirit - you'll make it.

Unknown said...

Start a web based business that you can run from the boat. Or from anywhere. Make some digital goods that you can sell and support online. Sorry to hear about this procedure. Sounds not so great.

Anonymous said...

Hello Toast – You don't know me, but I have been an ardent reader of your blog since a mutual acquaintance of ours, 'Tad & Tina', turned me onto your blog. I don't text, twitter, YouTube or any of that stuff as my opinion of them are in agreement with your opinion of FaceBook. I have an account there, but it was set up for the express purpose of notifying my family about the progress my son was and is making, with regards to his rehab, from being blown up in Afghanistan in 2010. I don't use it for much else for all the reasons you just described in your post about the Facebook rant. I have security issues and if Zuckerberg can get hacked on his own device, why would I want to be associated with it?
Certainly, no more than is necessary.

All that is not the point of this post. I have two points for this contact. First, my heart-felt belief that you will come through this latest 'trial' safely. I'm talking about this tumor thing. Anyone who can jump on a bus and take a 14(?) hour bus ride to get into the middle of a hurricane and survive all that, can and will, survive this latest.

Unfortunately, I cannot help you out with your need for sudden work in the tech writing world. My only contact in that world is a 16-year old grandson whose ideas about businesses in the computer world are colored by his 16-year old hormonal levels, which change almost daily, and not really something I would put a lot of faith in.

Which leads me to my second point. While you are going to have some down-time, how about revisiting the notion of compiling your various posts into a book? In reality, you have already written at least two books worth of material. I personally think you have three books. I would just do a prologue in the beginning of each one, add an epilogue to the end and put the original material as is, in-between. Trying to re-write those experiences in hind-sight would lessen the freshness and humor of them. For every live-aboard out there, there is probably a dozen wanna-be's and another two dozen that want to read about such things. Another thought, you once likened your writing to Irma Bombeck and I agree. She wrote quite a number of best-sellers with her take on domesticity. Quite a bio on Google.

Please keep writing. I had thought when you got to New Zealand last year that that was the end of your blog. The 'Chickenhouse' section has been just as entertaining as the sea adventures.

judith said...

So sorry to learn of this impending health issue. I'm sure you'll brave it just as you've braved so many things, child rearing (girls!) and homeschooling just to name a few, oh yeah and the boat things. I agree you should write a book, several books. Did you know that many things can be written off as expenses when you are writing a book? But as I've mentioned before, your adventures would make a great sit-com. But the books... I've read the book An Embarrassment of Mangoes, a Caribbean Interlude by Ann Vanderhoof probably a dozen times and her sequel, The Spice Necklace 3 times. You can do this!!!

Sherry said...

Yeah, I'm with Anonymous. Remember the Bumfuzzles? They have actually made some money (I think) out of their book. And I think anything you'd produce would be much more saleable. You send me (and now all my friends who ready your posts avidly too) into hysterics with every post. Even one about something really awful happening to you.

Sign me up for the first edition.

Adventures on evergreen said...

Hey Toast I am with you about the wanting to work thing. I could go on my own rant about islands and chapter 11s and unions, but I still would not be working yet. Just goes to show what thirty years of nursing experience gets you in Hawaii. Finally got a per firm/on call job starting the middle of the month. We have been here since Thanksgiving. Sigh..... I am thinking the book idea sounds great for you
wish my blogs were as close to entertaining as yours. You certainly have a catchy way with words.
As far as the surgery goes, this too shall pass. Hang I'm there - recovery will be shorter than raising a child - Ha ha!!! I will send fast healing thoughts your way-lots of rest and fluids blah, blah, blah, but mostly avoid attitude which you have down cold. Tale care Carol

Kyle said...

Two quotes come to mind from your post, Toast:

Uncle Junior on The Sopranos, to his aide Bobby Bacala: "My father told me, 'never get old' ... I shoulda listened."

Mel Brooks: "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die."

This too shall pass ... but your great writing will not!

Anonymous said...

So sorry you have this challenge to face. Best wishes for rapid, happy healing!

Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans??

Love the idea of writing a book, and Amazon self-publishing could work. Have loved your writing for years, and suspect others would as well.

inklenaomi said...

it sounds like you need your own bookmark. pop me an address and I will get right on it.

the weaver in MN

judith said...

Check into the Gerson Therapy. You can see a short film about it on Netflix or Hulu.

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