Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Slipping and Sliding Through Winter . . . Oh, And A Little Cancer, Too

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Let’s see.  When last I left you I was deep in the hell that is trying to buy a sofa in Dijon.  The French are obsessed with modern design.  I wanted nothing to do with the furniture we bought from the previous owner, with its lacquered finish and dearth of architectural details.  However, my husband liked the look – as well as the convenience of not having to shop.  So I told my husband that I’d put up with the rest, but I would buy an American-style sleeper sofa.  I’d have none of that futon business.

The brown hunk of futon Euro-style sat there like a pile of steaming dog poo in the Louvre’s statue hall.

Why their love of a futon, you may ask?  Would you want to carry a couch up these stairs?

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Futons come in boxes that fit in tiny French cars and maneuver up winding staircases and through centuries-old tiny doors.

But more about that later.  Let’s talk about why I disappeared from the blogosphere before I even left France.  It has something to do with this:

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The snows came.  But the snow plows and snow blowers didn’t -- at least in the narrow streets of historic Dijon.  Or the ice melt on sidewalks.  So I picked my way to and from the bus stops.  I had so much to do for the apartment.  And I had to find my sleeper sofa in time to have it delivered before I left town.  BAM!  I didn’t even have time to react as I found myself on my back in the middle of a patch of black ice.  Before trying to stand, I took inventory.  Definitely a sprained ankle.

With so much to do I hobbled on through Dijon for almost three weeks.  I had no time to rest or find a doctor.  At the pharmacy I bought some tape that had a picture of a foot wrapped in this adhesive brace, comme ça:

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So all was well for about two days until I woke in the night scratching my ankle so hard that I was bleeding.   Despite the “hypoallergenic” label on the box, my über-sensitive skin was having a massive allergic reaction.  My foot and ankle were swelling more from reaction to the wrap than from the sprain.  And at the pharmacy I was informed I couldn’t buy any steroid anti-itch cream without a doctor’s prescription.

And that’s why I didn’t write.  I was too exhausted from hobbling around and too distracted from the massive itching to write.

By the way, did I mention that my knee was killing me so bad I couldn’t get down on the ground to do my yoga?  Simply sitting in a dining chair led to pain.  Even sleeping hurt sometimes because my leg would turn just so and the pain would shoot through me and wake me up.  This started before the ankle thing.  Perhaps it was the affect of carrying fully loaded shopping carts, or computer printers, or full sets of dishes and glasses up three flights of stairs.  Several times a day.

But I made it.  I found a suitable sleeper sofa that fit through all the required spaces before being deposited in my living room.  Only a little blood was shed.  Of course, it took the patience of the movers, who decided to dismantle it and carry it up the stairs in two pieces and then mantle it (is that a legal verb?) again.  They earned a giant tip for doing this in the rain and not saying “Forget this!” and hauling the thing back to the warehouse.

However, when the time comes to replace this sofa down the line, I’m just opening my French doors in the dark of night and chucking it into the street.

When I got back to the States I raced to the orthopedist and found out that my knees are disintegrating.  Yes, good ol’ arthritis has made its appearance.  “What do I do about it, doctor?  I don’t want knee replacement just yet.”  His prescription:  Don’t fall.  And lose weight.

Yeah, yeah . . .

But then . . .

My dermatologist, in my annual visit (you do go, don’t you?) said, “I don’t like the look of that spot.”  A spot that had been there, seemingly unchanged for as long as I could remember.  Only the size of a pea.  But she took her scalpel  and dug out a chunk for a biopsy.  And less than a week later she called back in the early morning while I was sitting in my pajamas checking e-mails.

Yes, I have skin cancer.

She said it was a slow-moving form as long as it’s on the surface, but swift and deadly once it grows below the epidermis.  Mine was caught early.  This week a plastic surgeon will make an even larger incision to cut out a bigger chunk of skin, down below the epidermis clear to the fatty layer, to make sure none is left.  On the down side my days of being an arm model are over.  On the up side it will be a while before I can carry laundry baskets or work a vacuum cleaner.

So that’s what’s been up with me.

Tell me (in the comments box) how your winter went.  What were your highs and lows?  Have you begun a routine of annual visits to your dermatologist?  What are you waiting for?

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18 comments:

Lee I said...

Is that an overhead view of the couch?
Dermatologist yes. I made an out-of-sequence visit fairly recently because my nose got a bit sunburned in Strasbourg last fall and I didn't like the way it looked. I don't usually burn. He zapped a row across my nose and hit another couple of spots on my face. I hope I still get to go back on my regular annual schedule.

Julie Farrar said...

Yes, an overhead view. They're preparing to make a turn through the first of 3 difficult doorways. There was an easier door on ground level, but they insisted on this challenge because it was nearest to their truck. And good on you with annual visits.

J.L. Murphey said...

Glad the moving men had to lug up THOSE stairs.
Actually just went to the dermatologist so I'm set.
For the ankle you would have done better with an elastic bandage. Hope it's better.

bridgetstraub.com said...

Glad you are able to take care of this so quickly. All the best & a speedy recovery.

Julie Farrar said...

Hi J.L. Thanks for reading. I tried to find an elastic bandage, but all I found was the one in the picture and it was almost 7 p.m., which is when the pharmacies close. Then after it started itching I could barely tolerate a shoe and sock over the rash. So I'm adding "elastic bandage" to the list of things to throw in my suitcase for the next trip.

Nadine Feldman said...

Oh, wow, I sent you a Facebook message before I read your post. Yikes! Sounds like you've had a tough time of it.

Good point about the dermatologist. Hubby made a recent visit, but I haven't. I've been thinking about going because my acne is flaring up again. My parents have both had several surface skin cancers removed over the years, so I need to be careful.

olgagodim said...

Julie, what a lot of woes! Get better fast and take care of yourself.

Patricia said...

Yikes, Julie! What a winter! Your advice about the dermatologist is spot on ~ pun intended! Early detection is the key, no doubt about that. Sorry to hear about your fall but happy to know your couch was delivered by helpful souls! When do you return to Dijon? Did you read on my blog that the October trip was cancelled because the travel company was sold? The Womens Travel Network is hoping to put the same trip together and I'll keep you posted! I'll be in Nice from mid-Sept to mid-Oct anyway. Perhaps our paths will cross! *sending healing karma*

Liv said...

Well that all kind of sucks. I'm so sorry! Take care...

Anne B Wright said...

I was Wondering what happened to you. So glad that your cancer is not life threatening - that's all I could think of as I read your blog. The fold out couch is a beautiful color! Take care of that ankle and hope it heals strong, though it might take some time.

Anne B Wright said...

Hi Julie - so glad that your cancer is not life threatening. That's all I could think of as I read through your blog - you sure caught my attention! I was wondering from time to time how you've been. Life deals us surprises, doesn't it. Hope your ankle heals stronger than before, though it might take some time. By the way, in a pinch, benedryl might work for itching. I am going to go to the dermatologist and have a scan for skin cancer - thanks for reminding this California girl who soaked up the sun as a teen.

Julie Farrar said...

Yeah, benedryl works great for itching for me. However, it puts me out like a light and leaves me with a benedryl hangover. Allegra works good for my allergic reactions. I had used up all I had brought, but when I went to the pharmacy I got the equivalent of Claritan. It didn't work the same on an itch.

Thanks for all kind thoughts. My physical therapist has gotten everything back on track with legs and ankles. Unfortunately, only I can do the weight loss. I'm working on it, but Girl Scout cookies arrived this week.

Tami Clayton said...

Gosh, Julie, I am so sorry to hear about your skin cancer. It's a big reminder to me, fair skinned as I am, to go see my dermatologist and get a full check. It's not something I've ever done but should do. I hope all goes well following your visit to the doctor again. So glad you got your sofa dilemma all sorted out!

Ellen Gregory said...

Welcome back, Julie. Sorry to hear you've been having a hard time of it -- but yay for the new couch! Glad your prognosis is positive and hope you recover from everything soon.

Tele said...

Ah, Julie, sweetie... Rough times. Glad that you've got an alert doctor for the early detection, that you're getting through, and that spring is near! I've been wondering how you were doing; sending warm thoughts for your well-being!

MuMuGB said...

Well, it looks like you have had a lot to deal with. I haven't seen a dermatologist for ages, thanks for reminding me. I hope that all your health scares will go away. As for losing weight, I love Bikram yoga (when your ankle is better, obviously!). Take care!

Julie Farrar said...

Thanks for the good thoughts, Muriel. I like yoga but not bikram. With a disintegrating shoulder, I can't do too many down dogs, planks, or other power poses. I stick with the gentle stuff.

Scrollwork said...

Through all your travails you've managed to hang onto your wry sense of humor, Julie. I chuckled over the not-so-idle threat to chuck the sofa out once its time is up. And Girl Scout cookies arriving just when you have to focus on losing weight.

Thank goodness the spot was spotted in time. So sorry about the knees.

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