I’ve been officially 57 for not even a week now and so far it’s not been altogether exciting. In fact, it’s just a bit depressing. I’m really not trying to be a chronic complainer here. My knees are particularly unhappy at the moment and I’m wondering if I’ll even get through six consecutive days of cycling on our upcoming Bicycle Adventures trip. Cranky knees aside, It’s just that this week seems to be about organs, and unfortunately, I don’t mean the musical instrument.
Just a few days ago I had a follow-up with my dermatologist. I’ve been using a gnarly prescription cream on my arms and face to address keratoses. It’s the downside of being a red-head. Life would have been a tad easier on me if I’d only been lucky enough to inherit my mothers olive skin and dark hair.
The skin is the largest organ in the body and a good 50% of mine is fighting the effects of sun damage. I’ve been fairly diligent with sunscreen application from my mid-twenties on, so it’s those childhood blistering burns on my back, hands, arms, and nose to blame for the majority of this damage. My dermatologist started me on this prescription cream regimen some months back. It’s strong, awfully nasty stuff. So nasty that after just several applications my skin looks something like pepperoni pizza. For a couple of days I even wore cotton gloves to hide the ugliness. I didn’t want folks to think I had some strange communicable disease. The protocol during the initial start involved two sessions of two weeks on and two weeks off. Frankly, It was all that I could stand getting through two weeks. I certainly felt like a wimp. While I was in Arizona for months dealing with the family crisis and ensuing mamma-drama I started loosing chunks of hair, far greater than normal. Let’s just say I was losing enough hair to fully cover dear Rocket-mans’ bald head.
“This is really freaking me out,” I wailed to Rocket-man as I stepped out of the shower on a recent morning. While he noted that there indeed seemed to be a lot of hair on the shower floor he honestly wasn’t concerned.
“I’m the one with no hair,” he laughs pointing at his head. “You’ve got plenty of hair on your pretty head sweetie. You’ve got nothing to worry about.”
I laughed with him. “If only I could take all this hair I’m losing and put it on your head,” I said as I scooped up the hair from the shower floor with a tissue. “……but no…really, I don’t think you’d even look good with a full head of hair,” I added. Rocket-man smiled and gave me a big hug. I’m so glad my husband has a sense of humor.
Honestly, I attributed the hair loss to stress. I’ve certainly had more than enough of it from all those months of drama and physical work following my step-father’s passing. So when I went in for my follow-up last week I was frank with the doctor telling him that I wasn’t sure if this regimen was working considering that my skin still looks red and mighty agitated even after nearly two months of stopping the cream application.
“It doesn’t look like any of this is healing.” I said as I pulled up my sleeves to show him my arms.
“Hmm. No…. I think it’s doing fine,” he says scanning both arms. “This is how your skin is supposed to look. And yes…it’s strong stuff, but the chemotherapy is working.”
I felt like a complete idiot.
“Chemotherapy? I don’t recall you ever stating it that way. You mean the actual function of this cream is chemo treatment?” I asked.
“Yes.” replied the doctor.
Maybe this is one of those ignorance is bliss moments. I’m not sure it would have done my head any good to deal with the “C” word all the while I was dealing with mother issues in Arizona.
“Well that explains that!” I said, brightly. I told him that I had been losing hair and thought it was due to the stress of dealing with a family crisis. I had actually looked up side effects of the cream on-line and it mentioned that hair loss at the application site (in this instance, my arms) may be a side effect. But my hair loss was on my head and I certainly wasn’t applying the cream there.
The doctor went on to say that most likely my hair loss was a combination of stress and the use of the chemotherapy cream.
“Give it another month or so and you should see an improvement in the hair department,” he said. “Meanwhile, If you’d like I could give you an injection to tame that redness on your arms.”
And the other organ you’re asking?
It’s the one that is about 6 ft. long and tubular (amazing, eh?); it works to eliminate waste products from the body.
Nothing spanks (pardon the pun) d-e-p-r-e-s-s-i-n-g than to have to make an appointment for a routine screening procedure at a place called the Digestive Diseases Center. Truly, it’s messing with my head. Couldn’t the docs have come up with a better name for their practice than that?
In any event, now it’s all about staying very close to the bathroom. It’s a good thing there is a Deepak Chopra book nearby to bring calm to my fraying nerves, as well as an entertaining read given to me by a friend; Ros Chast’s memoir titled “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” While it is not a book about the “C” word, the title alone, I think, is fitting for this occasion. And, later today I’ll have to drink two batches of disgustingly nasty swill in preparation for that lovely gold standard procedure….Colonoscopy…. that starts my day bright and early tomorrow.
The silver lining? I’ll expect to get on the scales tomorrow and see that I’m several pounds lighter. Even better…my innards will be spic ‘n span, clean as a whistle.
Now that–and pretty please, zero polyps–will be cause for a musical celebration, organs and all.