Annette: O.K. ... as I have the most disconcerting habit of inadvertently scheduling "medical” stuff back to back, I followed up Monday's awful mammogram—that left me bruised and sore after I was twisted and pulled well beyond my range of mobility—with another appointment yesterday. This one saw me forgoing mindfulness about my health for an encounter with a Doctor that was cosmetically-motivated.
We have an extended vacation in San Diego and Las Vegas approaching and I had determined that I needed to tackle the spider veins that have begun to map themselves on my thighs. I don't have a lot of them but my considerable vanity over what independent sources have deemed my well-turned ankles saw the offending veins bother me in a manner disproportionate to their appearance. Hence, I decided, after mulling it over on and off forever, to have them removed via the injection of a solution that causes them to collapse and fade away.
I checked the cost on the U.S. side of the border and learned that a treatment was about $400.00 and that you need several. (Full disclosure: I had this done after my son was born—22 years ago—and had not been troubled until the last couple of years with their reappearance. But suffice to say, I know the drill.) Put off by the significant expense, I decided to research what it would cost in Canada and was thrilled to learn it would only be $70.00 per session plus $50.00 for the original consultation as I no longer have Ontario health insurance.
Which is how I came to find myself laying face-down, trying not to put weight on my still-smarting and bruised right breast, on an examining table with an ever-so-capable, twenty-five-years-experienced, Niagara Falls, Ontario-based Doctor administering the first treatment of 50 injections to my less-than-toned thighs...
Now I need to digress here for a minute and explain that prior to the appointment I grabbed a late lunch in Ontario by way of killing time before the encounter with our capable practitioner. If you've known me for any length of time, you may recall that men who are down on their luck are inflamed by the sight of me. Ever since I was a little girl, I've had them go off ... totally off ... whenever I've so much as crossed their line of sight. Long ago I gave up trying to understand it.
So yesterday, I was in a Tim Horton's, a phenomenally popular chain of doughnut shops and as innocuous a location as you can imagine, when I heard a commotion. I looked up from my egg salad sandwich and my clearly provocative copy of the new Woman's Day and just had time to think "Oh here we go!" before a homeless guy barged in shouting the odds, modified with tons of profanity, having spotted the irritant that is me through the plate glass. I was gathering my wits to shut him down when he spewed, "You effin' little wh*re of sex toy!" So impressed was I with his dazzling imagery, I almost bought him a coffee rather than giving him a taste of his own verbal abuse but just made a quick escape instead.
But I return us now to the examining table ... I had failed to recall that while most of the injections sting rather than hurt, a number of them proved painful indeed. I tried unsuccessfully to keep count so I could gauge when the unpleasantness might end while giving distracted thought as to whether the ordeal would ultimately be worth it. I was musing over the whole “getting older, expectations for women thing, our female reluctance to go gently-into-that-good-night and its attendant pressure” while the Doctor meanwhile busied himself ripping off huge strips of surgical tape which he used to adhere a giant cotton ball, applied with considerable pressure, to each injection site. When this, the first of three or four treatments ended, he wrapped my now pulsating thighs in thick tensor band-aids leaving my legs, under my trousers, looking as if one of Hollywood's best had fashioned me a fat suit.
It was then I realized two things ... the tensor bandages made it all but impossible to bend my knees, and also that surgical tape is called that because it has a scalpel-like edge which will slice flesh quite handily if you attempt to crook knees when they are wrapped in it. Now all of this could have been put down to a painful lesson learned ... save for the yet-to-come drive home which included a crossing at an International Border heavily manned with people trained to look for the out-of-the ordinary ... say … just as a for instance ... a woman wearing a from-the-waist-down fat suit who can't bend her knees.
Swinging my legs the way you did when playing Monster with a gleeful child, that is say tossing them in an arc to complete a step, I made my way to my car. I have to tell you as I awkwardly endeavored to hoist myself into my crossover vehicle, encumbered by my somewhat useless limbs, I did not bear any resemblance to an "effin little wh*re of sex toy"! Nope ... I did not! Further, I quickly realized that driving while unable to bend one's knees is a challenge indeed. I had to push the seat all the way back which left my arms completely straight. Picture a stuffed animal with its permanent arms and legs extended pose and you'll get the idea ... In addition to the disconcerting visuals and obvious safety concerns, every depression of the gas pedal or brake caused the surgical tape to behave like Christina on Grey's Anatomy and slice with unencumbered delight deeply and decisively into my punctured flesh.
At this point, the offending veins, in what I took to be some sort of an objection to the solution pulsing through them, began to burn as if gasoline was flowing through my circulatory system. And so it was that when I approached the border, my face was contorted in a combination mask of pain/feigned normalcy. (It had occurred to me upon approach that should the guards’ suspicions be raised, they would likely make me remove the bandages and that the fresh 'tracks' from fifty hypodermics would not win me any dispensation with those charged with protecting our borders.)
Sure enough, you'll be pleased to know that our tax dollars have been spent such that the official took one look at me and, his expensive training artfully serving him, asked me to exit the vehicle. "F*ck", I whispered under my breath as I swung my tree trunks to the side and awkwardly hopped out. I saw the young man cast a sidelong glance as he took in my misshapen thighs and, after a moment's indecision, he did the kind thing and searched the vehicle believing, I'm certain, that I had the worst case of cellulite ever seen in Niagara county.
Finally, after hitting every red light therefore finding it necessary to depress the brake constantly, I made it home where I just had to kill time till 10 p.m. when I could remove the offending tensors. After some experimentation, I found the least uncomfortable position was lying flat out on the floor, which is how I spent the five hours, watching the clock the way you do when you are in labor, until the bandaging could be removed. The removal of that tape, with its glue that would probably hold stuff firm in a Level 4 hurricane, is yet another story, but allow me to say I hacked at it with abandon using garden-shear sized scissors such was my desire to get it off me.
So ... what have we learned about vanity and the suffering that we are willing to endure for it? Well, I can't speak for any of you … but I might just start paying a bit more attention to Jamie Lee Curtis and her frequent rants about her abhorrence for the artificial things women do in pursuit of looking good as we age... “Might,” I say ... at least after my next three treatments. Whatever thoughtful consideration I entertain though, I’ll certainly be careful not to cross my milky-white, unlined thighs and risk causing fresh spider veins while I do it!
To your days I leave you ... Fondly, Annette