Tuesday, December 16, 2008

cyst-less...for now

Some people are just cystic. That's what the doctor told me when I went in to have the bump on my face checked and after I informed him that ten years ago I had an egg-sized cyst removed from my knee and that my ovaries are apparently covered in them (I still haven't had that surgery). The best way to describe the thing on my face, which appeared over two years ago, is a small ball you could slightly move around under the skin. Most people said they couldn't even tell it was there. Twice I went to the same dermatologist, who both times shot the middle of the ball with steroids. Both times that solved nothing and pissed me off because why would you do the same thing when it didn't help the first time around?

So I waited. Just over two years. But a few weeks ago I woke up and the little alien pod on my face felt like it tripled in size. Suddenly, my mom, who is always telling me things don't look as bad as I think they do, was saying, "It's definitely noticeable now." Cool, thanks.

I made an appointment with a different dermatologist, without knowing ahead of time that this guy is the same one who removed a small something from my dad's face a few years ago, which turned out to be a small dose of cancer. I prepared myself for the worst and decided I might actually laugh if someone tells me my face is cancerous. The doctor came in, squeezed the area with his thumb and forefinger and said, "It's a cyst." Duh. I explained how it's suddenly grown and he said the only solution would be to operate.
I set up an 8 a.m. appointment the following Tuesday, barely nervous about getting my face cut open. The worst part involved getting ten shots of Novocaine outlining the whole area of the intruder. I involuntarily lost a few tears from the sharp pain, but was totally fine once I was all numbed up. As soon as the doctor made the initial incision he said, "Well it's infected, which means it essentially broke open." Gross. "So I'll have to scoop it out in pieces, as opposed to grabbing it out in one shot." I never got to see the pieces, and yes, I know it's weird, but I kind of wanted to. This probably stems from my dad (as most idiosyncrasies of my life do) keeping my tonsils in a baby food jar filled with formaldehyde when I had them removed 22 years ago. He said he wanted to give them to someone in the family, I forgot who, who was studying medicine or something.

As the nurse attached a giant bandage to the left side of my face, she said, "I hope you took the day off work."
"No I did not," I proudly replied. "I'm a dog walker, so I don't have anyone to impress. They love me bandages, stitches, cysts and all." The funny thing is that I had my office party to attend that night, where I finally got to meet all my dog-walking co-workers for the first time. I felt the need to explain what happened earlier that morning to a few people, who I knew were looking inquisitively but didn't want to say anything. I was fine with it, though, and so were they. Because to be a dog-walker, generally speaking, you can't also be an asshole.

The following are photos either my mom took or I took of myself over the aforementioned days. (Also, I forgot to mention that Stella, my puppy, had her lady parts removed on the same day at the same time, so she's involved in my before&after documentation.)

[Stella and me the night before our various stuff was removed]

[before--i'm pushing the cyst with my tongue, it wasn't that big/protruding]

[the initial bandage]

[band-aid downsize]

[here are my stitches]

[me and Stella 5 days post-op, i have an even smaller band-aid and my mom missed getting Stella's scar in the photo]

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

dog is my copilot

A dog does not make plans and back out the day of. A dog does not forget your birthday. A dog does not only say it cares about you under the influence of alcohol. A dog does not crawl back into your life every time its on-again/off-again significant other is, yet again, on the outs. A dog does not actively pursue you, charm all your best friends, ask you out, say it's interested in you and then, as soon as you let your guard down and express similar sentiments, completely disappear out of your life. A dog does not call you to make plans once a year coincidentally while its wife happens to be out of town. A dog does not tell you it wishes you were the one having its child instead of the girl he knocked up. Dogs do not get divorced. Dogs do not play mind games. Dogs are not fickle or evasive, that is best left up to cats and men.

I know my love of dogs seems to be a recurring theme in my writing, but I just really can't get enough of them. Abbi's husband, Ben, recommended I become a dog-walker--"because you're introverted and you love animals," he said. He had been working for OutUGo for about a month, when I finally took him up on his offer to interview with the company.
I had been sitting around losing money for three months, so it couldn't hurt, I thought, to at least try this dog-walking thing. My interview went really well; apparently it's a lot easier and more comfortable for me to talk about how much I love animals than how much I like myself, as I've tried and failed to do multiple times at human interviews.
I've been working there for almost a month now and I love it!(actually almost two now...seeing "Marley & Me" with Ben and Abbi tonight--1/3/09--inspired me to finally finish this post)
Basically I have a set of keys to a bunch of apartments/condos/houses in the Lincoln Park, Old Town, Roscoe Village and Wicker Park neighborhoods, and once a day (well twice for the golden doodle puppy that lives across the street) I let myself in and take the dog(s) on walks or play with them inside if the weather's horrendous, like it has been lately. I absolutely love my job and I'm aware that not a lot of people can say that. I even get to see a golden retriever twice a day who HUGS me! I'm not kidding--he stands on his hind legs and wraps his front legs around my waist and gazes up at me with those unconditional eyes. I know what you're thinking, but there is no leg-humping involved.
What is better than getting paid to hang out with dogs, to be outside, to be on the move for several hours a day? Not much. And this summer when most people will be freezing in their air-conditioned offices, I will be soaking in the rays in all of Chicago's glorious green spaces.

I also failed to mention, due to my unfortunate lackluster attempt to update this blog regularly, that my sister and I bought our parents a black pug puppy a few months ago as a belated anniversary surprise.

[this is at a gas station in French Lick, IN, right after we did the puppy/cash exchange on county road street corner]

[beanie baby pug vs. real pug, actual size]

[curled up with a toy Scrunch never liked]

[the first week we had her, she lived with me in the city. this is her meeting nola and axel, huge german shepherds]

[we found mini tennis balls, just her size!]
I made them a cryptic card with a picture of our family and Scrunch and wrote, "We didn't want your anniversary to be marked by the death of Scrunchy, so in honor of your 33rd, we got you a 3rd." A third, as in pug. We gave them the card as soon as they landed at OHare, after traveling throughout Rome and Israel for two weeks.

[i almost gave them a bottle of oxyclean as a hint but settled on just the card]
I thought there was a possibility my dad would figure out my puzzle, but neither him nor my mom had any idea what the card meant nor what was hiding in the gift bag we handed them upon exiting the airport (we have excellent video footage of our road trip to French Lick, IN where we picked up the puppy and of two weeks later when we surprised our parents at the airport, but I need a new computer just to find enough memory space to do video work).


My mom was thrilled. My dad, not so much. We told them her name, which I had come up with on our drive to get her: Junebug, because she was born in June and looks like a bug, and call her June for short. Neither of them liked that. I also thought of Georgia (the female version of Curious George) and Batman (because she looks like a bat whenever she lays on her back, which is frequently). My sister's contribution was Beyonce (and she wanted to buy the puppy's brother and name him Jay-Z), and my mom started calling her Phoebe for awhile. Ultimately what won, though, was Stella, which my boss at the time thought up based on the children's book, StellaLuna, about a fruit bat who lost her way and thinks she's a bird.

This name suits her well as she has quite the personality. She is absolutely nothing like Scrunchy. She hides bones in the house, plays fetch, makes very weird noises and likes to plop herself down on people's backs, heads, laps whenever she pleases. She also apparently LOVES the snow, another trait unheard of in the pug breed. To further illustrate this, I will end this will a few more captioned photos.
[my little vampire bat]

[i spent three hours trying to make a pumpkin pie on thanksgiving, and it took her three seconds to push her way into the fridge and stick her face in it! and then stuck her tongue out at me!]

[look closely, there's a creature hiding in my dress]

[...and in my hair, which she probably thinks is a nest]

[i have no idea how i caught this, but yes, she's mid-air]

[weirdest picture award...this is her running back and forth between my sister [in red] and me [with camera]...i don't even know what kind of creature she looks like, but she's tearing through the snow so quickly, that it looks like the waves she's making should be water...]

[love at first sight.]

For the growing collection of Stella photos, click here