Thu 28 Jul 2005
I am feeling much better. Except for the occasional twinge inside my ear, the random ringing, and the intermittent ache of the stitches, I’m on the mend.
However, the worst part is not the actual surgery but the bandage. Imagine the feeling of an earwig crawling in your ear…imagine that feeling when you swallow to much water while swimming and your Eustachian tube stings…imagine having an itch on your face that you can’t scratch because you’re suppose to be a statue on stage during a production of Macbeth. This is what the bandage is starting to feel like. By dusk, it is everything I can do not to rip the thing off my head. In order to “become one with the bandage” and because I am “really bored” I have staged my own photo shoot. Unlike Josh’s previous shoot, where I was barely able to sit up, this shoot shows me becoming one with my bandage.
Behold the stylish ear muff:
Want people to feel extra sorry for you? Tie on a do-rag:
I can’t hear a thing through these headphones:
Trying for the Princess Leia look using a cereal bowl:
Mon 25 Jul 2005
I am sick and tired of feeling like shitâ€¦.what a weekend, man. In addition to taking 1 vicodin every four hours I was also hooked up to a motion sickness patch which was stuck behind my left ear before surgery. Head surgeries are notorious for promoting nausea. Two days in a row like clockwork I would start seeing floaters, my vision would blur, and I thought I was going to throw up and die–in that order. I did not throw up or die, but it turns out one of the side effects of the patch is light headedness and fainting spells. So I ripped off the patch, cut down to 1/2 a vicodin, and started taking extra strength Tylenol. During the evening I spend half my time in bed and the other half sitting up on the couch in the living room. Josh has seen me sound asleep sitting straight up on the couch. It was only recently–today–that I was able to bend over, kneel down, or move my head with slight ease. I can walk straight now, instead of holding onto the wall or using a chair as a navigation tool.
Today I eliminated the vicodin completely. I know there is a huge culture out there that worships these pain killers but count me officially out. You know when you lie down and prepare for dream land you sort of let your mind wander off? Your mind relaxes and reviews your day, takes inventory of what you ate; little scenarios pop in and out. Add vicodin and your mind relaxes into a 60’s Technicolor movie, complete with bright reds and oranges, crazy bold patterned wallpaper covers all your thoughts, and different textures and shrill colors coat each and every detailed scenario. I woke up with a start each time: Was I dreaming? Wait, did I get any rest at all? I would wake up feeling vaguely cheerful, as if I was refreshed by my little stoner nap. Than, slowly, I would start feeling dizzy, sleepy, goofy…combine that with my crash test helmet and you have an uncomfortable situation.
My ear sings at night, different pitches and frequencies, sometimes is literally chugs like a train…all of this, I am sure, is just my eardrum healing. The good Doctor removed 90% of what little I had left–nuthin’ but scar tissue and calcium deposits–and stitched together a new little drum using cartilage from behind the ear and a little from the inside wall. When the painkillers wear off, my stitches ache. When the painkillers are in affect it is everything I can do to keep my hands off my Frisbee-shaped bandage. I wiggle it, I scratch the little holes in the plastic, I adjust the enormous Velcro sweatband-like strap that covers my head. Someone, while I was anesthetized, put little blue smiley face stickers on my patch. The damn thing itches so bad it makes me feel like I want to crawl out of my skin. I called the nurse, begging for them to take it off sooner than next Monday. She laughed and said, “If I had a dollar for every time someone wanted their dressing removed sooner…It’s true, the bandage really is the worst part of the surgery.”
This is a statement I have finally been inclined to agree. Up until today, I thought the pain was the worst part. The kind of pain that only a sturdy vicodin can reduce. I thought the crippling nausea might be the worst part. Or the IV needle, ah yes, perhaps the IV is the co-winner. First of all, despite the numbing agent, I TOTALLY FELT EVERYTHING. The Anesthesiologist kept saying, “Huh, you shouldn’t be feeling anything right now.” A needle in the vein is a pretty distinctive feeling…anytime anyone messed with it I jumped several feet in the air. The result of this ill placed needle is a fantastic blue bruise on my left hand. Wow. I forgot that skin can turn the color of black tar if agitated enough.
On second thought, perhaps the worst part of the surgery is the unmentionable. A certain little side effect of pain killers…a nasty little secret. Let me give you a hint by describing my desperate diet over the past two days: Whole grain toast, High Fiber Odwalla called “Glorious Morning,” Metamucil, Water bottle after water bottle, fruit, raisins, nuts, lemon water, and finally…stewed prunes.
Sun 24 Jul 2005
This sucks, there is no easy way to say it. As I type this I am trying not to swoon from vicadin, lack of food, and what feels like a giant crash test dummy helmet on my head. Thank goodness for the new Harry Potter book, which has been by my side during this whole lame ordeal. I won’t get into the gross details, but ear surgery is a rough ride. I had no idea my bandage would be so big and cumbersome. For more pics, check out Josh’s blog. He very thoughtfully included a photo shoot that will get y’all in a laughing mood.
Wed 20 Jul 2005
Weekends need to be fun. Yeah, I know, we all thought we really new weekends when we were kids. (No school, woohoo!) Now that we’re working adults, Josh and I made a pact to do as much fun stuff as possible on our weekends. Especially since the weather has gradually changed from pissing rain to decent sunny weather.
Last Saturday and Sunday, after blowing off all our chores, we went on a four mile hike around the neighborhood. This may sound pathetic, but let me assure you it was quite a hike. We walked down a winding path to Madrona Beach, than curved around and hiked uphill for a full 2 miles until we reached Madrona’s swanky 34th st. My ass was incredibly sore from both hikes, but I took comfort in knowing that unless I want cheeks down to the back of my knees, I gotta climb hills.
Anyway we rewarded ourselves by attending the Madrona BBQ festival. Here I am bawking like a chicken while going clockwise around the Cake Walk:
I’m embarrassed to say that I got really competitive. This little kid in front of me ran back to the #3 I was standing on after the music stopped and I wouldn’t give it up. Her Mom was pissed at me, and I even said, “Can’t you share the #4?” In hindsight I realize I was a jerk…I mean, c’mon, the kid needed the cake more than I did. Turns out, neither of us won. (The second time around they made us hop on one foot around the circle, which was a lot harder than acting like a chicken). Anyway, Josh and I chowed down ears of corn and split a BBQ plate: ribs, sausage, chicken, and potato salad. Excellent! (And sticky). Not our typical fare, which is too bad because there is nothing like good barbeque. Our neighborhood is really, super, into BBQ and there were multiple stands offering various grilled goods.
We went downtown. Sure enough, Nordstrom Rack started singing our names and we were sucked into the monstrous void under the guise that we needed to find Josh a pair of sunglasses. We originally thought Sunglass Hut was going to aid Josh in buying a pair. Hundred bucks for sunglasses? Dude, that was Colorado, it’s hard to rationalize spending that kind of dough here. The Rack had some really lame sunglasses, it took some major scouting on my part to find Josh a suitable pair. Fifteen bucks, I think they’re Kenneth Cole, and they’re pretty slick.
We drank beer on the patio at Kells. We went to the Market. A band was playing honky-tonk music, I think they were called The Dog Days Band. Anyway, they had a bunch of huge dogs lying at their feet. One of them sported a little sign: “I Love Kids.” I threw a dollar in the dog’s hat and made Josh take a picture of me:
Tue 19 Jul 2005
This post is perhaps a little passÃ©, considering this is the second summer in a row skirts went from just above the knee to microscopic butt covers. The question posed is this: When is One Too Old to Wear a Mini Skirt? I ask this because I pondered this question last summer while I wore my practical knee length skirts. (I have so many that I have actually made a pact with myself to stop buying skirts all together). However, now that we’ve embarked on the second summer with everyone and their Mom wearing micro-minis, I broke down: I bought myself a mini-skirt. A pleated, denim, little number made by Levi–my most trusted jean maker. To hell with it, I figured, I haven’t danced for twenty-one years to have one of my favorite assets covered–I have great legs! Sure they’re kinda white and pasty, but all that aside, I’ve worked hard for my calf muscle definition. One of the best compliments I’ve ever been given was a fellow, straight, dancer of mine named Efrem: “Mara, you have the best legs I’ve ever seen…and I’ve watched a lot of porn.”
Sure, when gravity hits, my varicose veins pop out, and my legs no longer look nice, well then: Mini-skirt it’s been great but good-bye! I mention this because my hesitation with buying a new mini is that, well, you know, we’ve all seen cases of various women who have not retired their mini-skirts in a timely fashion. Ok, ok, not all of us have the body of a 16-year-old, and according to my observation at Westlake Mall every single girl under the age of 16 has a mini-skirt. (Ok, so a few of them were wearing those ridiculous, bulky, peasant skirts that look like a pleated bed ruffle). Granted the mini marketing campaign is aimed at the cute. So what, right? Can’t those of us hang onto this recent trend while we can?
The mini skirt has surfaced several times in my life. We all know it began in the 60’s, but the first time I was hell bent on a mini-skirt was in the late 1980’s. I finally talked my Dad into buying me one at Ross, it was light blue and had these weird little floating ducks on it. Paired with an oversized, v-neck, tee and a pair of white Keds and I was SET. Sixth grade, here I come! Scrunchy socks? They look great with my cotton/lycra, purple, ribbed mini, thank you very much. I continued to rock the mini in middle school, and I have to say it may have assisted in my short lived popularity in 7th grade. Sure, there was the sudden realization that while walking up three flights of steps at Shumway Middle School, anyone could look right up my skirt. Sure, my thighs stuck to plastic seats. Ok, I had to cross my legs all the time and that was kinda uncomfortable. Typically I braved the cold and wore the mini solo, legs shivering and bare. My legs became immune to the cold and as long as I had on a sweater I was set, my legs be dammed. It was worth it, man. The mini-skirt commanded a lot of power back then.
A surge of self-consciousness eliminated my mini-skirt wearing until 11th grade. I started wearing little shorts, and than boxers, under my enormous, billowing, baby-doll dresses. We wore those little slip dresses with Dr. Martins, year round. Occasionally, when it dipped below 35 degrees, we were known to pair a mini with long underwear–God forbid! (Hey, it was grunge, it worked…) Than I got a boyfriend and stopped caring about how my legs looked in a micro-mini. Entering college I was wearing size 38, ancient, hole-in-the-crotch, denim bought at Value Village. Everything was oversized and ill-fitting. I stopped dancing between the ages of 17 and 19 and my self-image went to pot.
But, around my 19th birthday I bought myself a black mini-skirt. I had a new boyfriend who was extremely exploitive and really celebrated my legs. I felt very certain that in order to embark on my new clubbing lifestyle I had to arm myself with a tiny skirt. This was right around the time when my one-woman show premiered at the Fringe Festival, and I rocked the crowd with various tiny skirts. An entire monologue was based on seducing a rock star using my “napkin-sized mini.” How great was the mini-skirt? It provided so much ventilation while navigating through hot, heavy, gay dance clubs. By the time I was 21 and attending the Miss. Cherry Bomb Drag Queen contest every Wednesday night at the now defunct Aerospace, my black mini was thoroughly broken in. Than, at 22, I moved to Colorado.
No one wore mini-skirts in Colorado. I don’t know if this was because they went out of style during the time I lived there…it’s quite a possibility. I just know that I replaced most of my cute, clubbing, night-on-the-town clothing with polar fleece. It’s sad how that happens…perhaps I was just getting old. Suddenly, my legs seemed goofy and cold hanging out in the breeze. Luckily, the skirt trend was accommodating and, like I previously mentioned, I bought a lot of long skirts.
Now, years later I am faced with the whole quandary: Is it too late? Sure, I’m no match for the 60-something woman with spider veins crawling blue and purple up her legs, skirt hiked up around her armpits while waiting for the #5. These days, the only minis I see are on adolescent girls and the occasional prostitute trolling Aurora Blvd. But, I admit I am terribly susceptible: Old Navy has been marketing mini-skirts and it’s hard to resist. Should I abandon what was once a fashion staple of mine just because Iâ€™m 28? No, right? I caved in.
Tue 19 Jul 2005
Posted by MS under Ridiculous1 Comment
Sun 17 Jul 2005
Screaming baby, 12:00 am, the sound coming loudly from an open window next door. An immaculate couple lives with their child in a similar, turn of the century house turned duplex, our windows are practically side by side. They have an annoying diesel car that they start up at any given time and than let run for what seems to be hours on end. I am not sure if either of them have jobs. This puzzles me, perhaps they are both stay-at-home parents? Could someone really afford that luxury? Perhaps one of them is a Microsoft millionaire, the kind I keep hearing about, part of the young, elite, wealthy hipsters who have bought up all the Madrona property. Why would they live in a duplex? (The other half of the unit is inhabited by a tiny, old, black lady named Mabel who has resided there for 40 years).
Josh and I have slowly realized that the crying that we hear frequently is typical for a baby. We hadn’t realized how much babies really, truly cry. At first I thought maybe the kid was just sick, and that’s why he starts screaming for a good solid hour at 3am. Now I am guessing this is just typical baby behavior. Kids cry. The whole ordeal sounds exhausting, and the screams are painful to our ears, I can only imagine how it must feel for the parents.
The crying has recently prompted Josh (and myself a little) to shy away from having babies (anytime soon). Every time I think I’ve convinced him that pro-creating might be fun, the shrill crying of our tiny next door neighbor rains down on the baby parade. Not that we were planning on firing it up this year or next, but there are constant reminders that time is a’tickin. Josh’s eldest sister has three children under the age of four. She joked that we needed to start having kids soon so that our children could play together. Josh said, “We plan on having your kids baby-sit our children.”
Of course, whenever thinking about this topic comes the whole: What if it turns out we are unable? (All that wasted birth control pops into mind immediately). We agree we don’t want to be one of those psychotic, infertile, parents who spend thousands on fertility treatments. Sure there’s adoption, but what if you adopt a little psychopath? You’re already taking a chance with your own genes, why risk someone else’s?
I already know I don’t want to be one of those forty-somethings trying to start a family. It can’t possibly be easy to wait that long. Can you imagine how exhausted you’d be chasing after a teenager in your fifties or sixties? I also know that I have always inherently wanted kids. Unlike Dr. Phil’s annoying, always-in-the-audience-smiling wife, I have never felt like I was “put on this earth to be a mother.” Lord, who is that confident?
I also fear losing my looks, getting fat, experiencing permanent under-eye circles. These egocentric, self-absorbed thoughts probably mean I’m no where near sacrificing my life to have a kid. I see women jogging by with baby strollers and I admire them. (Hell yeah, I’m getting a jogging stroller, thank you very much). I am also currently neurotic about my stomach, how big it is after eating a cupcake, how many sit-ups I need to do; I worry how my neurosis might grow after my stomach goes to hell. Maybe I’ll be too distracted, maybe itâ€™s just all part of the aging process, but I have prided myself on being in good shape. I fully plan to grow old gracefully, I really do…
Whenever I mention some of these thoughts to other parents they give me that weary, “you have no idea”, smile. I’m sure I sound like an idiot most of the time to current Moms and Dads. I also get the whole “no need to rush into it” song and dance as well as the “there is no manual, you have to make it up as you go along.” Of course I have no interest in rushing it…I’m only talking about it because I have to, because they throw all these stats our way, because I don’t want to be a parent in my fifties on the off chance that my aging body could even crank out something that late. My father said, however, that several of their childless friends changed their tune when they hit their late thirties. Suddenly, the career they had worked so hard on wasn’t the ‘end all be all.’ People are having families later on average, and I’m just fine with that. However, I don’t want to struggle with infertility just because I waited so long.
Back when we were in our early twenties and expounding on our make-believe future, back when we didn’t even have a solid idea of what we wanted from each other, back when we were merely dating, Josh and I figured that by 28 we’d have a kid. 28, right? At 22 that seemed so far off, like 28, wow, we’ll be practically 30 so of course we’ll have to start than. And than when we were 25, a year off from becoming engaged, living together pretty solidly, Josh and I thought: Ok, 30…we’ll start at 30. After all, my parents started at 30 and they had 3 children. It’ll be great to have kids in our 30’s, let our 20’s be our glory years, the real good times. Now turning 30 is only 2 short years away. Along with having children comes the whole tangle of The Dream. We should have a house, of course, we should be home owners before pro-creating…and solid jobs, income is so important, y’know. Oh, and we should be really solid and secure within ourselves, and be really established in a community so that we’ll have a whole village to help raise our kid.
Times like this I think, even though it would have to beat a 98.9% odd, an accident might alleviate a lot of the ridiculous planning. Of course no one is 100% ready. And if you wait until you have enough money, you’ll never have kids. Right?
Anyway, long story short, the next door neighbors have really given us the solid reality of what it is like to have a small person depend on you. They’ve removed a lot of the ‘aww, how cute, I want a baby” feelin you get when looking at a chubby toddler riding in a grocery cart. I know, I know, my Mom said “it’s different when it’s your own children…really.” I imagine she means forgiveness, the ability to look past your screaming, snotty nosed child and see the goodness, the part of you that really matters.
Sat 16 Jul 2005
Posted by MS under JoshNo Comments
I’d like to formally premier Beeping Slag, my husband’s sometimes funny, very technical, slightly teenage-boy humored, blog. He assures me it is still under development, what with being only two days old. Curious about Linux? Wondering what we did Friday night? Interested in a random pic of some guy’s scrotum popping out of a pair of short shorts? Josh’s blog is waiting…
Fri 15 Jul 2005
The best part about having a set plan for the next year as far as jobs go, is quitting the job search. No more checking craigslist every day, no more contemplating a return to Starbucks; the negotiating of oneself has ceased, the scream of disappointment is silenced. Suddenly the dance store doesn’t seem so terrible now that I know the end is near. Instead I ponder what last minute dancewear purchases I will make with my non existent money, I revel in the thought of no longer having to wait around the intersection of Dexter and Denny waiting to transfer to the #5, I relish the thought of having something to be passionate about.
In other news, last weekend Josh and I made our first trip as Costco members. Sure, we’ve been to Costco. We’ve tagged along with other people, staggering around the gigantic aisles, marveling over the baked goods. Going with an existing member is like being the third wheel on a date…it just isn’t the same as having your own card. Sure, there’s the obligatory offer of purchasing something with a payback promise, but I’ve never been able to say, “Yeah, I’ll pay you back for that box of pot stickers, let me pull out my cash.” I never have cash on me. It never happens. I have been the recipient of many Costco gifts, specifically from my father. I’ve received the Best Songs of the 60’s box set, the set of 12 plush Muppets, and the gigantic, hard back, full color book. I appreciate these gifts, I really do…but I want to make my own extravagant purchases at Costco.
So last Sunday afternoon, it was time. The sky was gray and unforgiving…Josh wanted some sort of massive quantity, (I don’t remember what it was), so we took off for Costco. We signed up, paid our dues, smiled for the camera, and boom: Costco Cards. The line for the food was long, otherwise I would have tanked up for my first trip on a berry sundae or a piece of pizza. We strolled around, without a true purpose and took it all in.
Costco was, duh, packed that Sunday afternoon. Everyone was pretty pushy, running on their own agenda, and the kids were all pissed. I don’t think kids have much tolerance for Costco, which is understandable because even adults have a limited patience when it comes to picking out stuff in bulk.
I made a beeline for the clothing and ended up, true to history, disappointed. I don’t fully trust Costco’s clothing…like, what’s so great about CK jeans? They have all this random brand name stuff that makes me wonder if it’s hand me down, cast off, what’s up with it? And where the hell are the Chanel sweaters? Wasn’t Oprah strolling around a Costco in Chicago picking up a few of those damn angora sweaters? Nope…white Tommy capris with various ties looked kind of cute but Josh shut them down right away. They had a million underwear choices for men but when it came to women’s panties: briefs or high-cut briefs…oh, and a few random pairs of boycut shorts–which c’mon, let’s be realistic here, boy shorts are really just big ole’ briefs. Pass over the bikinis, the string bikinis, whatever just put away those grandma undies. Anyway, so Costco fell short on the clothes.
I really enjoyed the book selection, the random DVD and music cds, and I loved the odds and ends: A big globe, down filled blankets, stickers, and other random knick knacks. The furniture was kinda of cool, and I guess reasonably priced…but I couldn’t imagine spending $500 on a leather chair anytime soon.
We were very cautious with what we put in our cart–no surprise $500 bill. I put in a gigantic thing of blueberries. Josh stocked up on generic contact solution–which really is an amazing deal. We were careful with buying cereal in bulk since we had heard that it really isn’t all that cheaper than buying cereal on sale. I was unable to avoid the Granola Snack Mix–Fresh from our ovens…I’m eating it now. I’m probably eating too much. Admittedly we bought big bags of frozen pot stickers and spinach ravioli. I oohed and aahed over the cheese selection and admired the gigantic party packs of sushi. Things got tricky: Should we buy a stack of frozen buffalo burgers? What if they were terrible, would we want so many of them? Probably not, is what we constantly rationalized. We were not very adventurous, even though Costco presented us with some really nice temptations.
I aim to buy roses every time we go to Costco. They’re just too hard to resist, even though Josh grumbled about the quality. After working a summer in a flower shop, Josh has high standards for his roses. He always goes for the tightest buds, feeling the base of the flower for firmness…he checked every bouquet and found one that made the grade. They’re red and smell nice…two dozen for 12.99.
We bought the obligatory jumbo pack of toilet paper.
I was also surprised at how depressed the employees offering samples were…all of them stood miserably at their little booth, slathering spread on a cracker, or cutting up frozen pieces of popsicle…none of them smiled or made eye contact. I realized part of this was because the average Costco customer is pretty rude. “What are you sampling?” A bullish woman demanded. The tired Costco employee lifted his head and muttered, “Cheese spread, would you like some?” And the woman dismissed him, not even politely declining; instead she made a rude face and huffed off toward the bulk dog food. No one said ‘thank you.’ The samples were gone faster than they could be placed on the silver tray. It made us avoid the samples…that and we didn’t want to fight the crowds…seriously, what’s up with everyone freaking out over free food in Dixie cups?
I sort of wished I was throwing some sort of big party so I could justify buying a big carrot cake…or a salami platter, or some sort of jug of potato salad. It’s hard shopping at Costco for two…and Josh and I have pretty different tastes. Overall, Costco will be another great temptationâ€¦.kinda like Trader Joeâ€™sâ€¦only much bigger.
Wed 13 Jul 2005
Just so you know this post is about the present. But in order to give you depth and knowledge, I have to back up here and give you some history:
1982–I am five, I have visited the hospital in the middle of the night numerous time due to severe ear infections. I still remember sitting in the backseat, staring out at the dark highway at 2am, watching the lights and sounds of the city as we drove to the emergency room. One day my Mom picked me up from Kindergarten early and took me to the hospital. Tubes were placed in both of my ear drums–that gentle flap of skin that protects, vibrates, and creates hearing. The tubes cause my infected ears to drain, therefore reducing the ear infections.
1984–I am seven. Sammy and I have our tonsils taken out the same day. I also receive another pair of tubes. Sam upstages the entire day by waking up in the recovery room, ripping out his I.V needle, hopping down from his bed, and taking off toward the nearest exit. My mother–who is pregnant–was sitting in the kitchen cafeteria when she is paged over intercom to get back to the nurses station right away. My brother ran right by her while she was making her way to the station. When asked ‘where are you going?’ he yelled, “Home!” over his shoulder. Later Sam dumped the entire contents of his liquid medicine on my father and the nurse, refused to let the doctor look down his throat, and got my Dad busted for lying down next to him in his hospital bed. I, however, was the resident surgery veteran and entertained myself by watching Doctor Who reruns and sucking on popsicles.
1986–A third round of tubes is placed inside my fatigued ear drums. Hearing loss in the right ear is consistent. I have not been allowed to put my head underwater for years, I wear earplugs in the shower, and I realize during Fourth Grade Swim Week that I am grossly inadequate. I am placed in the lowest swim class available, the one where all the kids tread water in the baby pool and practice blowing bubbles in the water. I am mortified, embarrassed, and terrified I will drown. I fail the swimming lessons. It is an uphill battle that I am still fighting: Learning how to swim successfully and with some sense of grace.
1988–It is revealed that the repeated tube insertion has left a hole, a “perforation” in the right ear drum. This could be the cause of the hearing loss. Granted, the ear infections are gone, but a hole has remained. The doctor remedies this by removing a piece of tissue from behind my right ear and grafting it over the hole. I show up to my sixth grade class looking like Frankenstein: stitches behind my ear, part of my hair shaved, and a big bandage taped over part of my head. A month later my hearing has improved and I am allowed for the first time in my life to go sans-earplug. That summer I attend a family reunion and discover the joys of the swimming pool. Donning a pair of goggles I became a mermaid, a swimming machine.
1989–My body rejects the graft. It slowly peels off and fades away, leaving the hole open and exposed. My hearing loss returns–as does the earplug.
1990–I return to the hospital where I’m knocked out and the doctor searches my ear for clues. He finds none, removes scar tissue, patches me up, and sends me home. The only difference is that I am 13, and feeling heavy anxiety. The thrill of the hospital is gone, I hate the feel of anesthetic, the idea that I’m asleep by sedation and that people are messing with me. I have become neurotic about my ear.
1991–The doctor decides to try the graft again. This time the incision behind my ear is smaller so I can hide it under my hair. Wearily, I am a surgery veteran. I wake up in the recovery room and refuse to rest. I force myself awake, claiming to be fine; I stumble into my clothes, and deny the use of a wheelchair to the parking lot. I climb into my mother’s car and pass out for six hours. Six months later there is an infection and the graft doesn’t take a second time.
1995–I am about to embark on my life as an adult. The doctor, who I have seen since I was four, takes one last look at me and makes noises about wanting to do the skin graft a third time. The size of the hole has increased. I dismiss it, resuming the stance that I’m screwed, plain and simple. The last thing I want to do is show up to college with a bandage on my head and three follow up appointments in Portland. The hearing loss aids me immensely during the loud noisy nights in the dorm.
1999–I see an ear doctor in Seattle. He looks at my ears and mentions that there might be a problem with the Eustachian tube attached to the right ear. If we cover the hole, there will be no place for air to go, and that’s why my body rejected the grafts. It seems plausible, but there is no mention about what will happen to me in the future. He does say that the hole is large and that the skin might fold over and start growing into my inner ear. I make note to always have my doctors check my ears for sign of skin takeover.
2005–I am awoken by the sound of loud whistling, than a ringing, and than a dull consistent sound. With horror I realize it is all coming from inside my head…earplugs are useless. The white noise from a fan dulls the sounds and I resume sleep. I go through this every other night, never knowing what kinds of noises will immerge from my ears. Sometimes it sounds like a dull ring, other times it sounds like the whistle of an airplane gliding in and out of my brain–last night it was an inconsistent whistling. I make an appointment with a renowned ear doctor at the UW Medical Center. During the examination, a TV screen in the doctor’s office projects the inside of my ear for my viewing pleasure. It is the first time I have ever seen what my inner ear looks like. I am shocked…it is red, discolored, unhappy and very ugly. (I try very hard to be a big girl and not cry). The doctor is pretty impressed with how unhealthy my right ear is. He shows me the yellow, crusty, scarred piece of my ear drum and claims, â€œThat’s all that is left.â€ The poor little guy barely vibrates when air is blown on him. The doctor says “We need to take it all out and start over.” He says, “We’re going to reconstruct you a new eardrum using cartilage from your ear.” Can you do that? “Cartilage is stronger than tissue, which is probably why the tissue grafts didn’t take.” What about the ringing in my ear? “Uh, that’s the least of your problems…although the fact that your eardrum is defunct might have a lot to do with the noises.” What if I don’t have the surgery? “Well, that little scarred piece of ear drum will fold down into your ear and grow around all the little parts and cause major problems. If we make you a new ear drum, it will prevent future damage.” When should we do this surgery? “Two weeks.”
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