Thursday, May 5, 2011

I'm Not A Metallic Tree!

When I was a child, I acted like, well, a child. Especially when it came to getting my finger pricked, which happened more often than I care to think about because my Mama was absolutely determined I was anemic. (I wasn't anemic. I was lazy. Big difference!).  Luckily, my Daddy's dental office was right down the sidewalk from the Dr.'s office.  I remember one time, in particular, I was being extremely difficult and literally both drs and a few nurses were trying to hold me still to prick my finger and they had to call my Daddy to come help hold me down.  Those of you who still have nightmares of those big pointed lancets they used and equally big nurses that were rough, will shudder with your own memories and identify with what I'm talking about.

To put it mildly, I've never liked medical procedures. Dental were fine, but "medical"...well, no!   Fast forward to late 1999.  Car accident, RSD sets into my hand with the doubly broken thumb, and I have to have a nerve block for the pain.  I don't have a clue what that procedure is like today but then it involved IVs in both hands and a long, blue tourniquet that covered the affected arm that needed the block.  I had to have it, the only other option was one I didn't like, so I got all adult and told the anesthesiologist to just do what he had to do and not tell me about it.  If he needed me to do something then tell me only that much. I explained to him what a big baby I was and we'd both fare much better through this if he took my advice on how to deal with me.

To make a long nerve block short, I took all the stuff he had to pump into me and took it in a way that made it vital for him to leave all tourniquet settings alone and not ease up.  Up until that point, he had never had a patient take all the medicine nor had one that didn't need their tourniquet adjusted, and he had done thousands of nerve blocks he said,  And here, big baby me was doing both firsts!  And because I took it all and did great, I've never needed another nerve block and I should have had up to 5 more.

Before he left me that day he said and I'll never forget it, "You know, you talk like you're a baby. But you're not. You're tough as nails."

Those thuds you hear across America are people who know me fainting at the thought of me being tough as nails!  Daddy, pick Mama up from the floor!

Being Southern and having seen "Steel Magnolias," that became my nickname for me.  I'm a steel magnolia!  Yessirreee buddy-bobby-boy!  Being a metallic tree came in very handy when in 2008 I was diagnosed with the same arm with the RSD no less!  Is God good or what?!  (I mean that!  That's a huge blessing!)

And now, here in 2011, I'm having an identity crisis of monumental proportions! I find I'm not a metallic tree after all. I find I haven't been around the block as many times as I thought I had. I'm not tough as nails, I'm as pliable as a small paper clip.  At least when it comes to other people.

I'm finally getting involved with melanoma awareness.  I write and administrate the Melanoma Prayer Center on Facebook (which you can click on the link and read everything there without being on FB. I particularly suggest scanning through the several pages of "notes.")

I'm meeting people, hearing stories...real life stories, of people in their teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, ages far too young to be touched by this horrible, highly preventable, highly treatable when caught early enough, and highly deadly when not caught early enough, disease.  They're touching my life and melting my heart.  They're pulling back the steel and revealing "heart."  They're uprooting the tree and planting "soul."  They're showing me I was right all along about who I am.  But the anesthesiologist was right too.  I am both.

May is Melanoma Awareness Month.  All May, every May.  I leave you with this marvelous video called "Dear 16-year-old Me." You'll see other people who are tough yet teary. Driven yet compassionate. Learn from them.

This is what every one of us with melanoma in our lives wants to tell you.  These warriors did.

And I am grateful!