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A New Year

It brings new and old challenges; lots of hope, too.

Fran LoBiondo
by Fran LoBiondo

No one rings in the New Year like I do. On the day after New Year’s Day, I had an appointment to have a skin doctor remove an invisible lesion on my left biceps.

It was supposed to be a Moh’s surgery, in which the surgeon makes a cut, then examines the skin specimen under a microscope to see if there are any malignant cancer cells. If there are, they sharpen up their knives and take another run at me. They check the second specimen under the scope and if no rogue cells appear, then they stitch my arm up and send me on my way.

It sounds easy, but it isn’t.

First, while I was being grilled about my medical history, I told them I was allergic to epinephrine, which is used to numb the targeted site and slow the blood flow during surgery.

Epinephrene works, but it also brings on a panic reaction in some people. My heart speeds up and starts bucking, I get the shakes, and I feel like I could bust through a concrete wall and sprint all the way to Albuquerque. Lidocaine works, too, but without the panic.

Inevitably, the doctor listens to my symptoms and chooses a big dose of Novocaine (numbing liquid with epinephrine) to shoot me up with.

“Have you not listened to anything I said?” I ask, shielding my skin from the needle. “Oh, is this Novacaine? Sorry. He picks up the correct needle, and we go on.

“Just so you know,” the doctor says, “If you get a shot of Novacaine, anywhere but your face, you probably won’t have a reaction. It’s just that you have so many nerve endings in your face and mouth.”

I listened to him just like he listened to me, and I said,

“You know, I told my last doctor about the epinephrine allergy, and I could just see the information going in one ear and out the other.”

When I got home after my ordeal, I was shaking like a drunk in a blizzard, and I knew. I called the surgeon and asked him if he had given me Novacaine.

“Yes, I did,” he answered belligerently. “Because I had to cut close to the main nerve in your face, and if I did it wrong, you could have come out looking like a Shar Pei.”

“Thank you for your honesty,” I said. “You’re fired.”

Wrinkles aside, I always tell my doctors about my allergy. I tell the assistants, and their assistants, the janitor and the bookkeeper, just so there are no mistakes.

So, after this recent surgery, I came right home and opened the garage. I grabbed my bag of painkillers, my coat and my purse. And my mask. I started moving toward the door into the house, and got all the way up the two steps to the kitchen with my arms full, and began to slip backward.

FWOOMP. The next thing I knew, I was flat on my tuchas, bruised from my spine to my shoulders, and I thought I was paralyzed, but I couldn’t be sure because I couldn’t reach my phone to call an ambulance. Plus, I couldn’t bear to have the neighbors seeing me pitched backward in the garage with my legs in the air.

I have cleaned and bandaged my arm for a week now, and it looks pretty good.

My tailbone is so bruised that I have to clench my teeth just to sit down.

This is a new year, and I must confess I expected more from it.

On the bright side, though, we’ve managed to see our family even though there’s a worldwide virus keeping us mostly indoors, and there’s a new vaccination that shows some promise.

Our son, Greg, has taken down all Christmas decorations and brought up some snowmen and winter stuff. Having him home with us really makes the days of isolation go by more quickly.

I wish everyone a normal spring with good health returning soon.

Life Sentences