Thursday, May 15, 2008

Like I need another hole in my head

I had my lumps removed yesterday!

Well, two of them. So I'm still kinda lumpy.

See, I've had six pilar cysts on my head since as far back as I can remember. Most common in middle-age women (like me!), pilar cysts are little rubbery growths filled with keratin, the building-block protein that generates hair, nails and skin. So by some stretches of the imagination I've been carrying the inchoate members of my septupletude just under my scalp for 40 years and I just murdered my way down to being quintuplets. Or something like that.

In any case, pilar cysts are benign and harmless (like me! except when I murder!) and amount to little more than curious little bumps to be discovered only by people who playfully tousle your hair. (Of course, people who mess up my hair are also subject to murder, but they at least take some guilt with them to the grave.) In the last year, though, two of my little cysts had started hurting. In a pain–pain–pain rhythm synched to my beating heart. And one of them had a tendency to bleed whenever my discount hair stylist nicked it with his discount clippers. So my dermatologist and I decided they should be removed. Unfortunately, scheduling their removal involved a two-month pas de trois coordinating little pieces of information between my insurance carrier, my dermatologist and the scheduling service my dermatologist uses. But everything finally converged yesterday morning, and at 8:30 sharp I finally found myself lying on an examination table while a nurse injected a local anesthetic all around my two condemned little brethren. Which was actually the most painful part.

While she was doing that and then busying herself setting out scalpels and sutures and all the other accoutrements of outpatient surgery, the doctor left the room and came back with a ... clock radio. Seriously.

Nurse! Hand me a scalpel! Now I need a sponge! Now I need some Digital Digital Get Down ... STAT!

When I gave him a quizzical look that said Dude ... do you realize that your sole contribution to the surgery preparation at hand has been to set a a freakin' clock radio on the hospital gown hamper next to the not-for-pretend surgery stuff your nurse is setting out? he explained that since the surgery was on my head and so close to my ears, the cutting and scraping actions of his scalpel would produce squeaking noises that I could actually hear. HOW COOL IS THAT? He told me he brought in the clock radio to drown out the squeaky noises in case they would freak me out. WHICH OF COURSE THEY WOULDN'T. If I got to actually hear myself going from lumpy to smooth (well, less lumpy), I didn't want to miss a single note of it.

I told him I'd really love to hear the squeaking of his scalpel against my lumpy head, but apparently he'd had enough people seriously freak out about it that he insisted on playing music. Unfortunately, his radio got shitty reception in the examination room, so my distraction music was about 20% Billy Joel and about 80% khhhhhhh!

Once the radio had started soothing me with its dulcet tones, the doctor and I began the awkward process of getting me in a position on the table where he could conveniently stab me on the top left side of my head and the back left side of the base of my skull, where my two condemned little brethren had been residing. The process was made weirder by the fact that the anesthetic was actually making me light-headed as it oozed past my lumps and deep into my hooker-and-porn-addled brain. And also because I was wearing only underwear and a hospital gown that kept falling off every time I rolled over to try a new position.

But we eventually found a workable position with me on my stomach and my arms smooshed up under my chest and neck like a mummy, and the doctor commenced hacking away at my poor condemned little brethren. And I'm sad to report that the acoustics in my head are such that I don't think I would have heard any squeaking even if Neil Sedaka hadn't been crackling on the fire next to me.

Once the doctor had pulled the first little dead brother lump of keratin out of my head, he (jokingly, I presume) asked me if I wanted to see it. Is the pope a boy-raping drag queen? OF COURSE I WANTED TO SEE IT.

On a completely unrelated note here, I've spent the last month relaunching a web site for a well-known client that offers lawn improvement programs including fertilizers, weed killers and the elimination of destructive, unsightly pests like grubs. In fact, just this week I finished writing about grubs. White, wiggly, disgusting, pus-like grubs. Which made it completely ironic—but still apropos of nothing—when I lifted my head from my little mummy pose and saw dangling right in front of me in the doctor's tweezers a lump of bloody, hairy keratin that looked like ... Rush Limbaugh's tiny little penis. Or a grub, now that I think about it.

Which. Was. Totally. Cool. Rush Limbaugh imagery notwithstanding.

Even cooler: The second incision disgorged two grub-like lumps of keratin. It was like I'd won the Disgusting Things Growing Under Your Scalp Jackpot!

By then, the clock radio reception had taken a turn for the worse, so the nurse hit some button and it switched to a talk-radio program. Which was fine until I started paying attention ... and I heard a husky female proclaim that the day's topic of discussion was "embracing your biblical femininity." Which, in combination with just having seen Rush Limbaugh's tiny little penis, was a little too much excitement for one morning.

Fortunately, I was soon sutured up, slathered with a couple protective, nourishing gobs of Polysporin® and sent on my way with strict instructions not to drink alcohol for 24 hours. Even though I'd just been forced to look at Rush Limbaugh's tiny little penis.

And it seemed like I was healing nicely until a couple hours later when the local anesthetic wore off in the middle of a client call and holy shit it felt like bickering monkeys were scaling my slightly less lumpy head with pickaxes.

But thanks to a bottle of OTC pain relievers and some panic-inducing (and therefore suitably distracting) deadlines, I survived the day without harming any monkeys.

After work, some co-workers and I took some clients to a Cubs game. I hadn't counted on it being colder than the pope's dead, black heart by late afternoon and I was woefully underdressed. So I stopped to buy a Wrigley Field shirt on my way in. And by the time I got to our seats I discovered we were sitting in two rows ... and my empty seat was in the front, putting the gooey back of my head directly in the sightlines of one of the clients who make my salary possible. Concerned that the sight of my pulsing wound would make him vomit his pizza rolls all over my professional future, I discreetly sent my colleague (who was sitting next to him) the international symbol for Does it look like I've been shot or stabbed in the base of my skull and my hair is now clotted with blood and brain matter that is in reality just a protective, nourishing gob of Polysporin®? He responded with the international symbol for Dude, can I have some of your nachos? Which I took to be polite-in-front-of-the-client code for No.

Here's the view from our kick-ass seats:

The Cubs won, by the way. Even without my lucky lumps in attendance. And I didn't freeze—or bleed—to death. And my head actually felt better by the end of the game. But it was still oozy. So before I climbed into bed I stuffed my pillow and its 800-thread-count pillowcase in a protective, blood-stain-colored T-shirt. Because a less lumpy head deserves a fancy elitist lifestyle. Which always starts with an unstained pillowcase.

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