Bee's picture

the plot thickens

Wed, 03/07/2012 - 09:01 -- Bee

When the skin cancer specialist heard that the genetic test was negative, he laughed and said "The plot thickens!"

Then he examined my face, and ordered more biopsies.

One of the more alarming aspects of my skin cancer is the fact that the tumours are unusual. No general practitioner I've ever met could accurately diagnose a lesion, and very few dermatologists have been willing to treat me.

Looking at my own face, I couldn't see what the doctor wanted to remove.

I could only see the scars.

But that is irrelevant, and the appointment was arranged.

Bee's picture

having what you do not have

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 08:57 -- Bee

March 1 was the big day, the culmination of years of dithering and debate. I woke up early, grabbed a cup of coffee, muttered the standard protests, and proceeded to a prestigious and historic hospital widely perceived to be one of the best in the world.

The doctor performed a perfunctory examination, looking at my palms and knuckles, measuring my head, scribbling notes on paper. Then she folded her hands together, looked mournful, and intoned the results of a DNA test performed to confirm the genetic disorder I was diagnosed with in 1983:


Bee's picture

rendered, not received

Thu, 02/02/2012 - 01:54 -- Bee

The experience of cancer, much like the experience of being a mother, involves large swaths of caretaking. Rendered, not received.

From the nurses holding my shoulder to the taxi driver who picks me up outside the clinic, the friend or family member who changes the dressing on the wounds, the person behind the counter as I buy a cup of coffee: whatever happens, whatever they say, it is my job to either conceal the truth or make them feel better about what they are looking at.

Bee's picture


Wed, 02/01/2012 - 01:52 -- Bee

"On a scale of one to ten, ten being the worst pain you've ever experienced. . . ."

I let the doctor finish, then said "My pain threshold is calibrated on a different scale. This won't hurt."

He signalled to the nurses behind me, and they all put on safety goggles. He said "We have transplant patients who say this is the worst pain of their lives. They're tough nuts, but they feel it."

I shrugged, and strapped on my own pair of safety goggles. "Uh huh."

Bee's picture

birth, midwifery, medicine

Thu, 08/18/2011 - 03:18 -- Bee

This week Radio features an interview with Ina May Gaskin, founding member of The Farm and mother of modern midwifery. The interview is fantastic and reminds us that the fundamental controversy of parenting happens before you meet the baby: where, and how, will you give birth?

Pregnancy and childbirth are natural, normal, and integral events in the lives of the majority of women, whether we choose to be mothers or not. Most of our bodies are inherently capable of creating life - often to our surprise.

Bee's picture

choices, chances, and chronic pain

Sun, 07/31/2011 - 04:45 -- Bee

My productivity is set by the health of my right hand, and that is determined by how often I use it.

If I rest, and keep the arm close at my side, the hand remains useful for simple tasks like opening doors. But if I do any manual activities for longer than half an hour - including but not limited to cooking, cycling, and typing - the hand blows out. Literally: the numbness starts in my smallest crooked finger and spirals up around the arm to my neck, with shooting pain following posthaste.

McCain Is Trying To Kill Me (perhaps literally) by Maria Rowan

When I was 19, I was in a car wreck. As a result I had a spinal fusion that was successful for two reasons. First of all, I can walk and second, the fusion is in excellent shape twenty years later due to an excellent surgeon and prudent care on my part.
However; this puts me in a category known as "pre-existing condition" to insurance providers. Once you have one, you must stay insured at all times or you will never be insured again.

Explaining Brooks by Dewi L. Faulkner

Mothers get to watch a lot of sunrises. One of nature's biggest practical jokes is that babies and toddlers most often have needs that are in no way conducive to nighttime sleep. My nine-month-old daughter is cutting two enormous front teeth, and so has taken to living a cranky-baby swing shift: bed at four a.m. up at nine or ten, with a nice big nap around two in the afternoon.

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