Rural Living

Good Riddance to a Season of Surgeries

by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer


 Margo Oxendine

After a weird, not-at-all-wonderful winter and spring, it’s time to get back to happy times and fun foods. But I never want to see another chicken-fried steak as long as I live.

Here’s something I haven’t said since I was a teenager: I can’t wait for summer!

What a weird, not-at-all-wonderful winter and spring. There was the second knee replacement, which did not go nearly as “well” as the first one. But, I was finally walking in the woods again by September, so I enjoyed my favorite season, outside in the glories of fall. (I had to be cognizant, though, of where the hunting gunshots were coming from, decked out in bright colors, cringing and praying some errant shot didn’t get me.)

Then, at the end of November, I decided I’d probably better go to the dermatologist. There was an odd “thing” near my eye, and another on my arm. Better get them checked out. I am a malignant melanoma survivor, so I am aware of the dangers. But, it had been 17 years since my awful bout with that deadly disease. I was fine. Wasn’t I?

Well, no. Here’s a warning, folks: Melanoma can kill you almost before you know it’s there. And just because you can’t see a weird thing on your body doesn’t mean it isn’t lurking there, where you can’t see it. Get checked out, please!

The place on my face was simply a keratosis. The doc sprayed liquid nitrogen on it and in about a week, it was gone. (I just wish he’d told me to cover my eyes before he sprayed that stuff!) The place on my arm was a sarcoma; it’s a step below a melanoma, but still ... I also had two sarcomas on my back that I couldn’t see. These were all scraped off in a painful way, and bandaged.

Then, the doc says what you don’t want to hear: “Hmmm. I don’t like the looks of this.” This turned out to be a mole on my back that I could not see or reach. It came back positive for melanoma. So, more surgery. Ack!

All those bandages on my back were bothersome. I couldn’t reach them, and they had to be changed daily. For that, I relied on my sister and my closest friend. They performed their nursing duties with good cheer, God bless them.

By March, I was feeling tip-top again, happily going about my carefree days.

Then, wham! I ate a big, greasy meal (chicken-fried steak with gravy and mashed potatoes). Sounded great at the time. Tasted pretty darn good. Until about a half hour later. Then, I was overcome with a feeling that a pony had plopped onto my midsection. It just got worse.

I did nothing but sit around and moan. Of course, this happened on a Friday, and my doc wasn’t in the office. Isn’t that always the way?

I knew what it was, regardless: My gallbladder. Sure enough, I related my symptoms (which by then had abated somewhat), and was told what I already knew. I had a sonogram of my gallbladder and sure enough, there

was a stone and what the doc delicately referred to as “a pudding-like substance” in my gallbladder. I would need to have it surgically removed.

I whined and complained. “I can’t stand any more surgery right now. And certainly, no more anesthesia!” I inquired whether I could just wait, since I felt “fine.” Sure, she said. You can wait. And then you can have emergency surgery when it attacks you again.

I thought a lot about this. I went to see the surgeon. “You can wait,” he said. “Your body’s been through a lot in the past year. But, it could attack you again.”

So, I made my appointment and lived with dread and stress until the fated day arrived. My sister drove me to Augusta Health.

I was quickly given some “feel good” drugs, thank heavens, and then before I knew it, the nurses were waking me up. It was over! I felt great! (Of course: There were the drugs.) I was giddy with relief and how good I felt.

That was the end of April. I can’t believe I sailed through something I dreaded so much and put up with for so long.

I am back to feeling tip-top, and I can’t imagine there’s one more thing that could possibly go wrong with me. I am so looking forward to summer, and happy times, and eating cheeseburgers again. However, I never want to see another chicken-fried steak as long as I live.

Spice up your summer reading with Margo’s “A Party of One,” a compilation of columns from the past. Call 540-468-2147 Mon-Thurs, 9-5, or email:




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