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Refugee At Home

On Monday I had a small patch of skin cancer removed from the bridge of my nose. It sounds like a big deal, but it wasn’t. The procedure itself felt no worse than having an earlobe pierced: There was only a quick, surprising burn as the doctor applied a local anesthetic, but the actual procedure seemed to last no longer than a network station break. It was only the sound of cutting that got to me, the dull snip of flesh—the sound you might hear if your dinner companion chose to cut their meaty filet with a pair of cuticle scissors.

That aside, it felt relaxing to be lying down in the middle of the day, under a warm blanket, a pillow tucked beneath my knees. I dozed off. When I awoke, I had a bandage on my face the size of a hamburger bun. I touched at it curiously, like a blind man learning the face of a friend.

The bigger deal actually came the next day, when a different doctor—this time, a plastic surgeon—followed up to putty the now-concave part of my nose. In the world of cosmetic surgery, it’s called a “repair,” and it’s performed to fix parts of the body deformed by congenital defects, or developmental abnormalities, or trauma: a knife fight, dog bite, or, in my case, an angry little bald-faced tumor that took up residence and required rough eviction by the authorities.

The plan was to clip off a small piece of skin by my ear and “graft it,” the surgeon said, onto my nose. The word “graft” always makes me think of efforts to reproduce heirloom apple varietals, and immediately I conjured up twigs and tape. But in this case, it would be more like a patch sewn onto frayed denim. It sounded simple enough, but as it turned out, this surgery was more involved than I anticipated: If yesterday’s was a child’s simple wooden puzzle, today’s was a 5,000-piece monster jigsaw designed to challenge shut-ins for weeks.

It took longer, required more anesthetic, and when I awoke and stood swaying in front of the hospital lavatory mirror, it had dropped a gauze pad the size of a nickel onto my nose. It looked like a dollhouse pincushion sewn onto my face with crazy Frankenstein stitches. If I had buttons for eyes, I’d look like a not-very-talented child’s attempt at a crude, stuffed doll. I had a blinding headache, burning eye from a bit of iodine swabbed too closely to it, and a swollen face that left me unable to smile or sip water without dribbling it down the front of my cement-colored hospital gown. And though I didn’t know it then, I felt better than I would over the next two days.

It was not so much the affects of the surgery but the prescribed pain drug, a narcotic, that seemed my biggest bully. It was hot pink and oblong, like a jelly bean in an Easter basket. It looked like candy, but once past my lips it made quick work of bringing me to my knees. Evil and powerful, it pinned me down for days on the couch, curled into a motionless ball, as my cracked and swollen lips whispered, “Take me now, sweet Jesus.” The pill incited a cascade of agonies: a series of mutinies from my head, my gut, my bowels. My organs all seemed to be plotting a conspiracy against me, to make my existence as painful as possible.

I lived not so much day-by-day or minute-by-minute, but second-by-second, willing my head to stop pounding and the roiling, heaving sea in my stomach to calm. When it didn’t—when instead it erupted into the purple plastic bowl like a kind of foamy, foul birch beer—I made all sorts of promises to reform my ways. I’d be kinder, nicer, more giving. I’d volunteer in a soup kitchen. I’d offer our spare room to a homeless person. Sweating onto the sheets, I vowed to take better care of myself: I’d wear SPF 45, even in winter. I’d take a multivitamin. I’d work on my quads.

With a little distance, and a rational explanation from the surgeon over the telephone, I can now see that my system was reacting to a kind of affront from the double wallop of anesthesia and the pain drugs. But when you are in the throes of it, it’s hard not to wonder whether you might have seriously pissed someone off. It’s hard not to offer to make amends, to strike a deal. With anyone.

Gradually, I grew to tolerate the pink pill, but I still depended on whoever was home with me for the simplest of tasks. Family members came in from work or school, and I marveled that their worlds were still continuing: They still left in the morning and came home at night, same as always, like nothing had happened. I sensed the winter chill from their jackets like Anne Frank feeling the snow that clung to the coats of attic visitors.

They helped me from the bed to the couch, and then held a glass to my lips so I could sip the tiniest of sips. They fetched more dry crackers. This was the kind of pampering that I might, were I feeling better, actually enjoy, and possibly milk a little. But in these circumstances, I felt sad, pathetic, and robbed of something.

I was able, after another day or two, to bear the sound of the TV or stereo, stimuli that had previously provoked my stomach to pitch. I’d convalesce in front of the television and stare at an endless flow of sitcoms. I was heavy into sitcoms when I was younger—at one point, my whole world revolved around the scheduled airing of my favorite shows—but it wasn’t until now, perhaps with the insight proffered by my narcotic pink pill, that I realized with a dawn of recognition that each sitcom was all about me. About my life: my relationships, my kids, the way I am.

Incredibly, each 30-minute segment featured a female lead exactly like me, with my characteristics: The way I embarrass my family with my played-up, over-the-top enthusiasm; my controlling tendencies; my inclination to nit-pick. All was revealed to me in Technicolor, and I read its code like a truth I’d been too dim-witted to realize before. It probably helped that my vision was blurred, because my nickel-sized nose cushion prevents me from wearing my glasses. The fuzzy characters on the screen could be good-hearted anyones. Like my sometimes hapless but generous and loving man. Like my wise-cracking teen. Like my cute-as-a button youngest. My competitive sister. My intrusive neighbor. Like you. Like me.

I was reconciling my life with “Everybody Loves Raymond” when the pink pill made me doze off. When I awoke, it was late afternoon: the TV was off, and the clock radio next to my head had switched on, playing a hit parade of current songs with some older classics mingled in.

Listen, it don’t really matter to me/Baby, you believe what you wanna believe,” sang the radio. “You see, you don’t have to live like a refugee.

Then: “Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have/Kicked you around some/Tell me why you wanna lay there/Revel in your abandon….

Now this was something I recognized, maybe more so than George Lopez and the King of Queens. It spoke to me of the way I was living now, in my inner world, as a refugee within my own body, that erstwhile place of comfort and ease. A bucolic place, even, where I felt capable and safe. It allowed me to accomplish things with proficiency and ease, to navigate my world while easily surmounting impediments and roadblocks.

But lying here now, I realized, I was in exile: Things I took for granted were unexpectedly off-limits. I didn’t have access to the same resources I’d come to enjoy and, I admitted it now, took for granted. Whereas once I wandered the streets without a care in the world, confident that I’d wake up the next day and carry on as I always had, now I wasn’t so sure. I was a stranger in this land, this place, this body that turned out to be unpredictable and deceiving. I couldn’t depend on it to get me through my day as I was accustomed.

Tom Petty was right. Maybe I wasn’t living in an actual shanty or camp, but I was living as something that resembled refugee status. I’d lost my independence, and now existed in that murky place where I resented asking for help I desperately needed.

Lying there in the dusky light, my head propped up at an uncomfortable angle to keep the swelling down, I sang along silently in my head:

Honey, it don’t make no difference to me
Baby, everybody’s had to fight to be free
You see, you don’t have to live like a refugee
No baby, you don’t have to live like a refugee.

But I do, Tom, I do… at least for now. But not for long. By next week—two at the most—I’ll be better. For another few decades, knock wood, I’ll again walk the streets of my inner hometown, unfettered, in total confidence.

Outside my window, the cold winter sky was rolling from a smoky gray to black. I wasn’t really cold, but the sight of it made me shiver. I pulled the blanket closer to my oddly angled chin just as another thought occurred to me. I wondered, But for how long, exactly?

How long before we all, in a way, become exiled from ourselves—from the able-bodiedness of our youth? Because of age, or illness, or whatever else that can rob us of fitness and vigor? How long do any of us—you, me, George Lopez, the hapless, the wisecracking, the competitive, the cute-as-a-button—really have? How long before all of us become, in a sense, permanent refugees, with no hope of ever going home?

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107 Responses to Refugee At Home

  1. Ellen Britt says:

    Yes, so well put Ann! I’m caring for my 86 year old mom who told me as I washed her back that she never dreamed when I was younger that I’d be one day caring for her.

    We are all on the same road, for better or for worse.

  2. Ellen Britt says:

    Yes, so well put Ann! I’m caring for my 86 year old mom who told me as I washed her back that she never dreamed when I was younger that I’d be one day caring for her.

    We are all on the same road, for better or for worse.

  3. First of all: I’m so glad you’re okay enough to spoil the rest of us with your writing.

    It sounds so trite to say I know what you’re feeling, but I do. Late in high school and early in college, I went through a series of annoying operations on my ear. I remember well the tumultuous tummy seas and the feeling of needing everyone else far more than you ever wanted to need anything. I couldn’t walk straight even, so double the embarrassment when you had to ask someone to hold you upright so you didn’t topple off the frelling toilet when you peed. Yeah, so much for modesty.

    I’m so thankful that, thus far, my ears are the only thing that have really let me down. My chubby little body has taken good care of me, even when I’ve willed it to cart around an extra 50 pounds, and I’m grateful.

    As for the pink pills, well, suffice it to say that you might wish for them – even if just once in a while – on those days when the pincushion is long healed and the world at large is after more than your nose.

    Be well, friend. :)

  4. First of all: I’m so glad you’re okay enough to spoil the rest of us with your writing.

    It sounds so trite to say I know what you’re feeling, but I do. Late in high school and early in college, I went through a series of annoying operations on my ear. I remember well the tumultuous tummy seas and the feeling of needing everyone else far more than you ever wanted to need anything. I couldn’t walk straight even, so double the embarrassment when you had to ask someone to hold you upright so you didn’t topple off the frelling toilet when you peed. Yeah, so much for modesty.

    I’m so thankful that, thus far, my ears are the only thing that have really let me down. My chubby little body has taken good care of me, even when I’ve willed it to cart around an extra 50 pounds, and I’m grateful.

    As for the pink pills, well, suffice it to say that you might wish for them – even if just once in a while – on those days when the pincushion is long healed and the world at large is after more than your nose.

    Be well, friend. :)

  5. rickey gold says:

    Amazing that you can write like this when you’re feeling so crappy. But write you can! Next time you’ll know to tell the surgeon to give you the anesthesia that doesn’t make you sick (SO been there — worst part of surgery!)

    “Family members came in from work or school, and I marveled that their worlds were still continuing…” Have always been amazed by this when faced with a tragedy. The world goes on even when we don’t.

    Feel better, Ann!

  6. rickey gold says:

    Amazing that you can write like this when you’re feeling so crappy. But write you can! Next time you’ll know to tell the surgeon to give you the anesthesia that doesn’t make you sick (SO been there — worst part of surgery!)

    “Family members came in from work or school, and I marveled that their worlds were still continuing…” Have always been amazed by this when faced with a tragedy. The world goes on even when we don’t.

    Feel better, Ann!

  7. Tim Jackson says:

    Ann… (damn you, Handley)…

    I can relate to much of that, all too vividly. As I laid in my various hospital beds, neck in a brace, many bones fractured, Morphine pumping through my veins, I spent a lot of time fading in and out of awareness of my world. In that world of awake, asleep, doped-out-of-my-mind-wooziness I had a lot of time to reflect on shit I hope I never do again. When I was back in the hospital waiting to be allowed to go home without fear of the clots breaking free and finishing the job the multiple broken bones and broken neck couldn’t, I worried that I’d never race my bicycles again- or possibly even be allowed to ever ride again. It was selfish and petty to spend so much time fretting about me and my personal freedom, but when I got home and spent the next 4 weeks at home with friends, family and my girlfriend visiting from Taiwan taking care of me night and day, I realized that my life really IS a network of other closely interlaced lives. We all live in these little constellations of connections. None of us live “alone” and what happens to us, happens to the others too. I was unable to se my daughter for 3 weeks and when I finally did see her for an afternoon, it was all I could do to keep from crying every time I saw her. The thing is, we never know when that freedom can go and we become refugees without a camp to go to. I worried for awhile that I would have to live with my family and I began to resent them for being able to take care of me in my time of need- because they had the strength and freedom I no longer did. Love is weird that way sometimes.

    Just know that you’re not alone in the refugee camp and you have your own constellation of support. I promise you do. Hell, you might even be able to get me to help where I can… maybe…

  8. Tim Jackson says:

    Ann… (damn you, Handley)…

    I can relate to much of that, all too vividly. As I laid in my various hospital beds, neck in a brace, many bones fractured, Morphine pumping through my veins, I spent a lot of time fading in and out of awareness of my world. In that world of awake, asleep, doped-out-of-my-mind-wooziness I had a lot of time to reflect on shit I hope I never do again. When I was back in the hospital waiting to be allowed to go home without fear of the clots breaking free and finishing the job the multiple broken bones and broken neck couldn’t, I worried that I’d never race my bicycles again- or possibly even be allowed to ever ride again. It was selfish and petty to spend so much time fretting about me and my personal freedom, but when I got home and spent the next 4 weeks at home with friends, family and my girlfriend visiting from Taiwan taking care of me night and day, I realized that my life really IS a network of other closely interlaced lives. We all live in these little constellations of connections. None of us live “alone” and what happens to us, happens to the others too. I was unable to se my daughter for 3 weeks and when I finally did see her for an afternoon, it was all I could do to keep from crying every time I saw her. The thing is, we never know when that freedom can go and we become refugees without a camp to go to. I worried for awhile that I would have to live with my family and I began to resent them for being able to take care of me in my time of need- because they had the strength and freedom I no longer did. Love is weird that way sometimes.

    Just know that you’re not alone in the refugee camp and you have your own constellation of support. I promise you do. Hell, you might even be able to get me to help where I can… maybe…

  9. Annie,

    Agree with Amber’s comment about being glad that you are now feeling well enough to spoil us with your writing. Glad you are on the mend!

    I’m resistant to pain meds and anesthesia makes me nauseated, too… so I literally feel your pain!

    Not sure if I told you about the time that I had total jaw reconstructive surgery (after a bike accident) years ago. I was hospitalized for seven days, and had my whole face on ice…titanium pins hodling it together. I was all wired shut and my head was swollen up like a basketball — and on a LOT of pain and anti-nausea medication (nothing quite like feeling like you are going to puke with your jaw wired shut!)

    My helpful mom thought it’d cheer me up to bring me a Gary Larson Far Side book in the hospital. Sufficed to say, the IV pain medication made me loopy and prone to hallucinating… and one of the cartoons struck my funny bone so hard, I ended up splitting my stitches….

    If I remember correctly, the cartoon was one of the “banned” ones — It showed an operating room — patient on the table — surrounded by masked doctors/surgeons. At the end of the table there was a dog sitting on the floor, looking up and BEGGING. The surgeon on the end was motioning like he was getting ready to feed the dog something from the table. Bleah.

    Sick, I know, but it just made me laugh – so hard I began to HURT – alot…ended up having to spend another day in the hospital due to bleeding from my stitches. The book was confiscated for several weeks.

    Anyway, I hope your laughter has again returned and glad you got yet another entertaining post at your expense. Although by the sound of this one, you’d trade the post back for not having to go through this experience!

    Hope you’re healing fine and back to your beautiful inside and out self again soon. XO

    Leigh

  10. Annie,

    Agree with Amber’s comment about being glad that you are now feeling well enough to spoil us with your writing. Glad you are on the mend!

    I’m resistant to pain meds and anesthesia makes me nauseated, too… so I literally feel your pain!

    Not sure if I told you about the time that I had total jaw reconstructive surgery (after a bike accident) years ago. I was hospitalized for seven days, and had my whole face on ice…titanium pins hodling it together. I was all wired shut and my head was swollen up like a basketball — and on a LOT of pain and anti-nausea medication (nothing quite like feeling like you are going to puke with your jaw wired shut!)

    My helpful mom thought it’d cheer me up to bring me a Gary Larson Far Side book in the hospital. Sufficed to say, the IV pain medication made me loopy and prone to hallucinating… and one of the cartoons struck my funny bone so hard, I ended up splitting my stitches….

    If I remember correctly, the cartoon was one of the “banned” ones — It showed an operating room — patient on the table — surrounded by masked doctors/surgeons. At the end of the table there was a dog sitting on the floor, looking up and BEGGING. The surgeon on the end was motioning like he was getting ready to feed the dog something from the table. Bleah.

    Sick, I know, but it just made me laugh – so hard I began to HURT – alot…ended up having to spend another day in the hospital due to bleeding from my stitches. The book was confiscated for several weeks.

    Anyway, I hope your laughter has again returned and glad you got yet another entertaining post at your expense. Although by the sound of this one, you’d trade the post back for not having to go through this experience!

    Hope you’re healing fine and back to your beautiful inside and out self again soon. XO

    Leigh

  11. Vickie says:

    Your account of your recent experiences helps to make me even more grateful for my health and wellness. I’m so glad you are recovering. Hope you are 100% soon!

  12. Vickie says:

    Your account of your recent experiences helps to make me even more grateful for my health and wellness. I’m so glad you are recovering. Hope you are 100% soon!

  13. Connie Reece says:

    So sorry you’ve been through the proverbial wringer, Annie. Good to have you back, writing eloquently about your refugee status.

    We take so much for granted–until the indignities of age or infirmity tug at us like the tides and threaten to sweep us out to the sea of depression. Back in October (five days before I left for Marketing Profs conference in Arizona) my sister fell and shattered the elbow on her “good” arm. Two surgeries and three months of therapy and she’s recovered 20+ degrees range of motion, yet still cannot do some things she could before…like blow her own nose.

    Simple things we take for granted. And then they’re gone.

    Sending you a big ol’ Texas-sized hug and wishing you a speedy recovery now that you’re past the Pink Pill Days.

  14. Connie Reece says:

    So sorry you’ve been through the proverbial wringer, Annie. Good to have you back, writing eloquently about your refugee status.

    We take so much for granted–until the indignities of age or infirmity tug at us like the tides and threaten to sweep us out to the sea of depression. Back in October (five days before I left for Marketing Profs conference in Arizona) my sister fell and shattered the elbow on her “good” arm. Two surgeries and three months of therapy and she’s recovered 20+ degrees range of motion, yet still cannot do some things she could before…like blow her own nose.

    Simple things we take for granted. And then they’re gone.

    Sending you a big ol’ Texas-sized hug and wishing you a speedy recovery now that you’re past the Pink Pill Days.

  15. Sonny Gill says:

    Ann – first off, good to hear you’re doing well and away from those pretty but anything but, pink pills.

    Your thoughts hit home with me, unfortunately, as I immediately thought of my 17 y o cousin. He was recently diagnosed with a children’s brain cancer that’s in its advanced stages. As big a shock as it has been for our family, I can’t imagine what he’s going through and the thought of him losing his youth as he starts this battle. It’s easy to wish to put myself in his place but the best I can do is offer my support to keep him strong and my ears to listen to him when he needs. We have a huge family that is always going to be there for him and cousins that can always relate to him as we’re all within relative age and can relate to those things adults may not understand.

    I’m confident he’s going to fight through this and not lose out on his youth and those things that we all take for granted. It definitely puts things into perspective, for everyone in our family, that those things can easily be taken away from us – but more so, tests us to support each other and my cousin as he fights for his youth.

  16. Sonny Gill says:

    Ann – first off, good to hear you’re doing well and away from those pretty but anything but, pink pills.

    Your thoughts hit home with me, unfortunately, as I immediately thought of my 17 y o cousin. He was recently diagnosed with a children’s brain cancer that’s in its advanced stages. As big a shock as it has been for our family, I can’t imagine what he’s going through and the thought of him losing his youth as he starts this battle. It’s easy to wish to put myself in his place but the best I can do is offer my support to keep him strong and my ears to listen to him when he needs. We have a huge family that is always going to be there for him and cousins that can always relate to him as we’re all within relative age and can relate to those things adults may not understand.

    I’m confident he’s going to fight through this and not lose out on his youth and those things that we all take for granted. It definitely puts things into perspective, for everyone in our family, that those things can easily be taken away from us – but more so, tests us to support each other and my cousin as he fights for his youth.

  17. Diane Hessan says:

    Ann, that was incredibly poignant. And, just think — I’d never have known about your blog were it not for the gift of Twitter. I am glad you are on the mend, and I’ve sent your link to 2 friends who are going through a rough period right now.

    Thanks!

  18. Diane Hessan says:

    Ann, that was incredibly poignant. And, just think — I’d never have known about your blog were it not for the gift of Twitter. I am glad you are on the mend, and I’ve sent your link to 2 friends who are going through a rough period right now.

    Thanks!

  19. Katie Morse says:

    Ann – I’m happy to hear you’re recovering, and though I’ve never been through something as scary as skin cancer (all cancers scare me – petrify even) , I can empathize with the physical and emotional process of recovering.

    I think Tim says it best above: “We all live in these little constellations of connections. None of us live “alone” and what happens to us, happens to the others too.”

    We understand that our family connections and friendships affect our lives, but it’s so rare that we see excactly how our lives ripple to affect others.

    That insight, though rare, is valuable, and it always serves to put my perpective back in place.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

    -Katie

  20. Katie Morse says:

    Ann – I’m happy to hear you’re recovering, and though I’ve never been through something as scary as skin cancer (all cancers scare me – petrify even) , I can empathize with the physical and emotional process of recovering.

    I think Tim says it best above: “We all live in these little constellations of connections. None of us live “alone” and what happens to us, happens to the others too.”

    We understand that our family connections and friendships affect our lives, but it’s so rare that we see excactly how our lives ripple to affect others.

    That insight, though rare, is valuable, and it always serves to put my perpective back in place.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

    -Katie

  21. Phil Johnson says:

    Yield to the pink pill! I’m telling you girl, you can write, although you may need a bigger canvas. A recommendation to all my writer friends: Robert Stone’s memoir: Prime Green – Remembering the Sixties. You’d like it.

  22. Phil Johnson says:

    Yield to the pink pill! I’m telling you girl, you can write, although you may need a bigger canvas. A recommendation to all my writer friends: Robert Stone’s memoir: Prime Green – Remembering the Sixties. You’d like it.

  23. Elizabeth Sosnow says:

    That may be the most powerful post I’ve read in a year. Thank you for the inspiration, courage and thoughtfulness. I can’t wait to share it with friends. Please take good care of yourself.

  24. Elizabeth Sosnow says:

    That may be the most powerful post I’ve read in a year. Thank you for the inspiration, courage and thoughtfulness. I can’t wait to share it with friends. Please take good care of yourself.

  25. Hi Ann,
    Ok.
    I won’t try to crack any jokes.
    Really.
    I was going to reach out to you a couple of times last week, but said to myself, “Self, if everything was hunky-dory, Ann would be on Twitter a lot more than the one time she was on it this week. Leave her the hell alone”

    Glad I did. Talking to an unhappily stoned, post surgery woman, who was feeling quite weirded out, would not have added any value to my week.
    {Or Ann’s}

    Missed your Tweets.

    Just happy that the pink-pilled insanity is slowly leaving your head.
    Now, hurry the hell up, get better, and start singing a happier T.P. song.
    Okay?
    The Franchise King
    {Re-Branding taking place. In case you hadn’t noticed!}

  26. Joel Libava says:

    Hi Ann,
    Ok.
    I won’t try to crack any jokes.
    Really.
    I was going to reach out to you a couple of times last week, but said to myself, “Self, if everything was hunky-dory, Ann would be on Twitter a lot more than the one time she was on it this week. Leave her the hell alone”

    Glad I did. Talking to an unhappily stoned, post surgery woman, who was feeling quite weirded out, would not have added any value to my week.
    {Or Ann’s}

    Missed your Tweets.

    Just happy that the pink-pilled insanity is slowly leaving your head.
    Now, hurry the hell up, get better, and start singing a happier T.P. song.
    Okay?
    The Franchise King
    {Re-Branding taking place. In case you hadn’t noticed!}

  27. Ann Handley says:

    For the record, because a few of you have kindly voiced alarm, I am feeling about a jillion times better than I was… and I will totally fine. Totally. Once my reputty-ing takes hold, I just might go out again, too.

    And I dunno — the pink pills had their value. I’ll never watch sitcoms with the same nonchallance, nor listen to the Top 40 in quite the same way. Who knew?

    p.s. Wear sunscreen. This means you.

  28. Ann Handley says:

    For the record, because a few of you have kindly voiced alarm, I am feeling about a jillion times better than I was… and I will totally fine. Totally. Once my reputty-ing takes hold, I just might go out again, too.

    And I dunno — the pink pills had their value. I’ll never watch sitcoms with the same nonchallance, nor listen to the Top 40 in quite the same way. Who knew?

    p.s. Wear sunscreen. This means you.

  29. Tim Berry says:

    And with it all, great writing. All the way to the end. Glad I caught, it sorry you felt that way, glad you wrote it, and glad you’re feeling better.

    Re your last paragraph, like turning 60. My dad gets that too … he’s 89.

    Keep writing,
    Tim

  30. Tim Berry says:

    And with it all, great writing. All the way to the end. Glad I caught, it sorry you felt that way, glad you wrote it, and glad you’re feeling better.

    Re your last paragraph, like turning 60. My dad gets that too … he’s 89.

    Keep writing,
    Tim

  31. Extremely expressive and insightful writing. Thanks very much for allowing us to glance into your world and to ponder these things with you. You, ma’am, are a writer. I really love reading your posts and thank God that we will still have you for a while yet. Keep getting better…, and I will wear sunscreen…( recently found out that my skin can also get sunburnt, as black as it is…)

  32. Extremely expressive and insightful writing. Thanks very much for allowing us to glance into your world and to ponder these things with you. You, ma’am, are a writer. I really love reading your posts and thank God that we will still have you for a while yet. Keep getting better…, and I will wear sunscreen…( recently found out that my skin can also get sunburnt, as black as it is…)

  33. Claudia says:

    Welcome back to your inner home, the world you’re not a refugee in: your writing!

  34. Claudia says:

    Welcome back to your inner home, the world you’re not a refugee in: your writing!

  35. Ann, as I passed through this 10 years ago for a skin cancer on my left leg, I get and subscribe every word of yours.
    The feeling is not being immortal any longer. Not that I thinking of being immortal, but, you know, until this event you believe that life is own your side.
    These thoughts should remain in our mind even to look at people or events in a different way, with a new life value ranking.

  36. Ann, as I passed through this 10 years ago for a skin cancer on my left leg, I get and subscribe every word of yours.
    The feeling is not being immortal any longer. Not that I thinking of being immortal, but, you know, until this event you believe that life is own your side.
    These thoughts should remain in our mind even to look at people or events in a different way, with a new life value ranking.

  37. We seem to be born with this belief that we are immortal, that suffering and death are for others. And despite mounting evidence to the contrary, we cling to it as we age. My parents were in denial. I’m in denial. My kids are in denial. Must be “baked in” to the human spirit for the purpose of keeping us moving forward. Like hope.

    Beautiful writing. Welcome back.

  38. We seem to be born with this belief that we are immortal, that suffering and death are for others. And despite mounting evidence to the contrary, we cling to it as we age. My parents were in denial. I’m in denial. My kids are in denial. Must be “baked in” to the human spirit for the purpose of keeping us moving forward. Like hope.

    Beautiful writing. Welcome back.

  39. Paul Chaney says:

    Whew! Considering the tone of your email the other day I was thinking something much worse, much more foreboding like… melanoma!

    Since, Ann, your honesty brings out the most deep-seated of my emotions, let me say I know what it’s like to live as a refugee, a stranger to myself.

    Though I won’t bear my soul in front of the entire world, often I feel that I carry scars (the emotional kind) which must be kept hidden, and all the while this haunting refrain plays in my head, “If you really knew me, you wouldn’t love me.” Nuff said about that.

    Ann, I love (LOVE) your writing. It is a treat to read. But, why so dark at the end? Brrrr!!!!

  40. Paul Chaney says:

    Whew! Considering the tone of your email the other day I was thinking something much worse, much more foreboding like… melanoma!

    Since, Ann, your honesty brings out the most deep-seated of my emotions, let me say I know what it’s like to live as a refugee, a stranger to myself.

    Though I won’t bear my soul in front of the entire world, often I feel that I carry scars (the emotional kind) which must be kept hidden, and all the while this haunting refrain plays in my head, “If you really knew me, you wouldn’t love me.” Nuff said about that.

    Ann, I love (LOVE) your writing. It is a treat to read. But, why so dark at the end? Brrrr!!!!

  41. An SPF 50 hug from NJ for a swift recovery, Ann. Glad you’re feeling better already…

  42. An SPF 50 hug from NJ for a swift recovery, Ann. Glad you’re feeling better already…

  43. Julie Roads says:

    I’ve gotta say…that one laid me flat. Between the fact that my imagination is hyperactive and you are a phenomenal writer…I was right/write there with you.
    Did you ever read Lucy Grealy’s ‘Autobiography of a Face’??? That’s right where this post took me.
    I do hope you’re feeling better – and that the good lessons stay…and the angst and torture fade away (like the shit of a having a baby does).

  44. Julie Roads says:

    I’ve gotta say…that one laid me flat. Between the fact that my imagination is hyperactive and you are a phenomenal writer…I was right/write there with you.
    Did you ever read Lucy Grealy’s ‘Autobiography of a Face’??? That’s right where this post took me.
    I do hope you’re feeling better – and that the good lessons stay…and the angst and torture fade away (like the shit of a having a baby does).

  45. Welcome back, get well.

    I tore my achilles tendon in Oct, and camped out at home for more than a month. I have to say it was difficult, but taught me one thing. Patience is a virtue. Almost lost in today’s go go go world. For all its worth, It was a lesson well worth learning even thought the hard way.

  46. Welcome back, get well.

    I tore my achilles tendon in Oct, and camped out at home for more than a month. I have to say it was difficult, but taught me one thing. Patience is a virtue. Almost lost in today’s go go go world. For all its worth, It was a lesson well worth learning even thought the hard way.

  47. Bdot says:

    Glad to hear you’re doing better…..

  48. Bdot says:

    Glad to hear you’re doing better…..

  49. Karen says:

    First, so glad you came through everything and are feeling better and on the mend.

    I can relate as much as anyone who has shared his/her ailments (after a certain age, who can’t relate?) Blessed mostly with good health and no serious issues but still having been waylaid by minor surgeries over the years (wisdom teeth and such), or recovering from childbirth or high fevers, I’ve realized how much the body is a shell, a vehicle for what’s inside. And through that shell we can just as much experience heaven as hell, be in paradise as prison.

    The physical extremes of life drive this point home for us – pleasure, and illness. Function, and dysfunction. You’re millimeters away from saying as much in this post: that the body is our portal for, as spiritual beings, having the human experience. It’s a limitation, necessary for the limitless divine, the infinite consciousness to experience itself in all its possibilities. And we don’t get to pick and chose which part of the experience we want – we get it all. Like any coin, there are two sides.

    When we’re young we’re barely aware the outer shell is there – it’s light, it’s effortless, it’s not a well formed or accepted idea yet. As time passes it densifies, it gets out of alignment, it takes more maintenance and sometimes it goes out of commission to remind us who we really are.

    From my own experience I’ll just say being over 40 has a strange way of putting you in touch with your own mortality while simultaneously teaching you to treasure every remaining healthy, free, effortless day you have left. I hope there are many for both of us, but when they run low or run out, I also know what liberating bliss from the outer shell death will be, and I fear it not.

  50. Karen says:

    First, so glad you came through everything and are feeling better and on the mend.

    I can relate as much as anyone who has shared his/her ailments (after a certain age, who can’t relate?) Blessed mostly with good health and no serious issues but still having been waylaid by minor surgeries over the years (wisdom teeth and such), or recovering from childbirth or high fevers, I’ve realized how much the body is a shell, a vehicle for what’s inside. And through that shell we can just as much experience heaven as hell, be in paradise as prison.

    The physical extremes of life drive this point home for us – pleasure, and illness. Function, and dysfunction. You’re millimeters away from saying as much in this post: that the body is our portal for, as spiritual beings, having the human experience. It’s a limitation, necessary for the limitless divine, the infinite consciousness to experience itself in all its possibilities. And we don’t get to pick and chose which part of the experience we want – we get it all. Like any coin, there are two sides.

    When we’re young we’re barely aware the outer shell is there – it’s light, it’s effortless, it’s not a well formed or accepted idea yet. As time passes it densifies, it gets out of alignment, it takes more maintenance and sometimes it goes out of commission to remind us who we really are.

    From my own experience I’ll just say being over 40 has a strange way of putting you in touch with your own mortality while simultaneously teaching you to treasure every remaining healthy, free, effortless day you have left. I hope there are many for both of us, but when they run low or run out, I also know what liberating bliss from the outer shell death will be, and I fear it not.

  51. You are a GREAT writer.

    Wow, what a post.

    And a Petty reference, heaven.

    More important, your writing brought out a lot of memories I have of being in the hospital after my head injury and of the the early days of recovery. Actually, even now, I find myself slipping into “refugee” mode every once in a while.

    Thank you for the words!

    Jeff
    http://www.cerebellumblues

  52. You are a GREAT writer.

    Wow, what a post.

    And a Petty reference, heaven.

    More important, your writing brought out a lot of memories I have of being in the hospital after my head injury and of the the early days of recovery. Actually, even now, I find myself slipping into “refugee” mode every once in a while.

    Thank you for the words!

    Jeff
    http://www.cerebellumblues

  53. Shannon Paul says:

    I really just love your writing and I’m glad you’re on the mend. I can relate to a lot of the feelings you describe here but for different reasons. I like to think that life retracts like this for us so we can remember who we are again. I know I forget who I am sometimes and it always feels good to be back when I get back to remembering.

    I’m glad you’re back.

  54. Shannon Paul says:

    I really just love your writing and I’m glad you’re on the mend. I can relate to a lot of the feelings you describe here but for different reasons. I like to think that life retracts like this for us so we can remember who we are again. I know I forget who I am sometimes and it always feels good to be back when I get back to remembering.

    I’m glad you’re back.

  55. My happiness at seeing your latest post in my inbox this morning turned to pensiveness as I read on. I am SO glad to know you are well on the way to a total mend, only sorry to know it was a rocky road there for a while.

    I went through a huge existential crisis about a year and a half ago, when my 85-year-old mother died. She had been slowly dwindling for some time, and I think my crisis had been slowly increasing in pace, until it finally hit between the eyes once she was gone.

    Part of my mental journey at the time dealt with exactly what you have written about. And over time, I have come to a sort of equilbrium of acceptance. My life is well more than half over, the body and mind are showing signs of wear, and I work at being mindful about enjoying every minute of today.

    Was it Mark Twain who said that youth is wasted on the young? I never gave mortality or senescence a second thought when I was flexible and ache-free!!!

    Thanks for another thought-provoking foray into the life of Ann. I appreciate your willingness to share!

    Trish

  56. My happiness at seeing your latest post in my inbox this morning turned to pensiveness as I read on. I am SO glad to know you are well on the way to a total mend, only sorry to know it was a rocky road there for a while.

    I went through a huge existential crisis about a year and a half ago, when my 85-year-old mother died. She had been slowly dwindling for some time, and I think my crisis had been slowly increasing in pace, until it finally hit between the eyes once she was gone.

    Part of my mental journey at the time dealt with exactly what you have written about. And over time, I have come to a sort of equilbrium of acceptance. My life is well more than half over, the body and mind are showing signs of wear, and I work at being mindful about enjoying every minute of today.

    Was it Mark Twain who said that youth is wasted on the young? I never gave mortality or senescence a second thought when I was flexible and ache-free!!!

    Thanks for another thought-provoking foray into the life of Ann. I appreciate your willingness to share!

    Trish

  57. Meryl Steinberg says:

    So sorry to hear about your ordeal with the narcotic pain killer. For your–and loved ones–future reference, please note: When I fell off my bike, I lost 3 teeth , cut my lip entirely through, and banged up my face. The swelling made the docs shudder so they prescribed a special strong pain killer. Thankfully, I had a packet of 1000c Arnica homeopathic tabs in my wallet (got it for someone else’s getting surgery). By evening, swelling & pain down so much, a regular ol aspirin was working fine. Friends w/ broken legs & other surgeries have had similar effect.

  58. Meryl Steinberg says:

    So sorry to hear about your ordeal with the narcotic pain killer. For your–and loved ones–future reference, please note: When I fell off my bike, I lost 3 teeth , cut my lip entirely through, and banged up my face. The swelling made the docs shudder so they prescribed a special strong pain killer. Thankfully, I had a packet of 1000c Arnica homeopathic tabs in my wallet (got it for someone else’s getting surgery). By evening, swelling & pain down so much, a regular ol aspirin was working fine. Friends w/ broken legs & other surgeries have had similar effect.

  59. Claire says:

    Lots of reactions – but the one that inspired me to comment is on the drugs. I throw up everytime I get some type of morphine/ pain killer. (Two C-sections, cute baby, where’s the bowl…). My son has the same reaction (worst was when tonsils were out, throw up where they just operated).He has had anesthesia for MRI, tonsils out, teeth pulled…I always explain that he has a bad reaction, but seem to get the answer that these are the only drugs (maybe they are?). Your column inspired me to get the records from all these spots and see if I can at least try and advocate for something different for the future…

  60. Claire says:

    Lots of reactions – but the one that inspired me to comment is on the drugs. I throw up everytime I get some type of morphine/ pain killer. (Two C-sections, cute baby, where’s the bowl…). My son has the same reaction (worst was when tonsils were out, throw up where they just operated).He has had anesthesia for MRI, tonsils out, teeth pulled…I always explain that he has a bad reaction, but seem to get the answer that these are the only drugs (maybe they are?). Your column inspired me to get the records from all these spots and see if I can at least try and advocate for something different for the future…

  61. Shama Hyder says:

    Ann, dear Ann!

    I hope you are feeling better. I have never been in the hospital for an extended time nor suffered the wrath of drugs. Although Zithromicin (another pink pill! What is it with pink pills?) makes me pretty ill.

    Have you ever considered writing fiction? I’d buy!

  62. Shama Hyder says:

    Ann, dear Ann!

    I hope you are feeling better. I have never been in the hospital for an extended time nor suffered the wrath of drugs. Although Zithromicin (another pink pill! What is it with pink pills?) makes me pretty ill.

    Have you ever considered writing fiction? I’d buy!

  63. Donna Tocci says:

    Ann – your writing is, as usual, beyond compare. I’m just so sorry you had to go through this experience. But, I’m glad you have a great support system. Don’t forget, I’m not too far from you either should you need something.
    Take the time to really heal, my friend.

  64. Donna Tocci says:

    Ann – your writing is, as usual, beyond compare. I’m just so sorry you had to go through this experience. But, I’m glad you have a great support system. Don’t forget, I’m not too far from you either should you need something.
    Take the time to really heal, my friend.

  65. Ann, only you could take an such an unpleasant experience and turn it into a treat to read. I can relate to what you went through. A few years ago I had cervical fusion performed on my neck. They literally slit my throat to gain access to my spine. If you ask me there is no such thing as ‘minor’ surgery if it’s be done to you. Glad you’re on the mend. I know that I’ll have skin cancer issues of my own someday. I spent a lot of time sizzling in the Southern sun before sunscreen was invented.

  66. Ann, only you could take an such an unpleasant experience and turn it into a treat to read. I can relate to what you went through. A few years ago I had cervical fusion performed on my neck. They literally slit my throat to gain access to my spine. If you ask me there is no such thing as ‘minor’ surgery if it’s be done to you. Glad you’re on the mend. I know that I’ll have skin cancer issues of my own someday. I spent a lot of time sizzling in the Southern sun before sunscreen was invented.

  67. B.L. Ochman says:

    I agree with everyone who is amazed that you can write like this in the midst of all this!!

    So sorry you’ve had such a nasty time.

    I know it seems far away right now, but it’ll pass and you’ll be feeling sassy again – eventually.

    We are, in the end effect, pretty fragile creatures, for all the bluster. There’s a body lottery, and nobody escapes it. And that’s why we help each other through.

    Sending you a great big hug and really really hoping you’ll take the time to rest before you run back to everything you do.

  68. B.L. Ochman says:

    I agree with everyone who is amazed that you can write like this in the midst of all this!!

    So sorry you’ve had such a nasty time.

    I know it seems far away right now, but it’ll pass and you’ll be feeling sassy again – eventually.

    We are, in the end effect, pretty fragile creatures, for all the bluster. There’s a body lottery, and nobody escapes it. And that’s why we help each other through.

    Sending you a great big hug and really really hoping you’ll take the time to rest before you run back to everything you do.

  69. Christian Gulliksen says:

    You go through an uncomfortable, drug-addled recovery and your mind produces a philosophical treatise on the fragile union of body and soul.

    I, on the other hand, would have gotten no further than sulking, demanding a better drug and, perhaps, having a “pretentious conversation” (do I owe you a royalty for using this phrase?) about their various pros and cons :)

    With each essay I’m reminded that the pool has a deep end, too. Way to go, Handley.

  70. Christian Gulliksen says:

    You go through an uncomfortable, drug-addled recovery and your mind produces a philosophical treatise on the fragile union of body and soul.

    I, on the other hand, would have gotten no further than sulking, demanding a better drug and, perhaps, having a “pretentious conversation” (do I owe you a royalty for using this phrase?) about their various pros and cons :)

    With each essay I’m reminded that the pool has a deep end, too. Way to go, Handley.

  71. Mary Anne Shew says:

    I didn’t even know you were under the knife until the email arrived with this post. I’m so glad to hear you are on the mend and getting past the meds.

    You are one hell of a writer. Your essays remind me of Ellen Goodman, Judith Viorst, and even Erma Bombeck. Seriously, pack up these essays and hie thee to an agent. That you have terrific insight is one thing; to be able to write like this about what you discover is a whole ‘nother thing.

    As with the others who commented, this entry stirred up a great deal for me. In the last 4 years I’ve lost 8 people close to me, including my mom, whose death occurred only 28 days after her lung cancer diagnosis, which came out of the blue. (Her doctor was treating her for bursitis until they finally did an xray to find the source for pain in her upper right arm.)

    The confluence of all those losses put me into a panic about my own mortality. It wasn’t so much that I’m afraid to go on to the next adventure, but I worried about any messes I might leave behind for others to clean up. I’ve spent the last year or so cleaning out my house, keeping mostly just what we use or love, letting the rest of it go. I’m writing down what my husband needs to know to shut down my business, how to move my clients to others I trust if I’m gone or incapable.

    The other thought you bring to mind is how long the body takes to truly heal. A few years ago I had to have emergency gallbladder surgery, my first time ever in the hospital as a patient. (And I could go on about that experience, but I won’t.) I entered the hospital about 7am on St Patrick’s Day and was released 36 hours later, anesthesia barely worn off, still in shock that it happened at all. It took 36 months for my system to fully recover to the point where I no longer feel my health will collapse after the slightest brush with a sneezing person.

    So allow me offer you unasked-for advice: Truly take care of yourself, and take it easy. Your body and mind have been through a lot, even if the affected part is no larger than your nose.

    However, do NOT stop writing these posts :-) We need you out here waking us up to ourselves.

  72. Mary Anne Shew says:

    I didn’t even know you were under the knife until the email arrived with this post. I’m so glad to hear you are on the mend and getting past the meds.

    You are one hell of a writer. Your essays remind me of Ellen Goodman, Judith Viorst, and even Erma Bombeck. Seriously, pack up these essays and hie thee to an agent. That you have terrific insight is one thing; to be able to write like this about what you discover is a whole ‘nother thing.

    As with the others who commented, this entry stirred up a great deal for me. In the last 4 years I’ve lost 8 people close to me, including my mom, whose death occurred only 28 days after her lung cancer diagnosis, which came out of the blue. (Her doctor was treating her for bursitis until they finally did an xray to find the source for pain in her upper right arm.)

    The confluence of all those losses put me into a panic about my own mortality. It wasn’t so much that I’m afraid to go on to the next adventure, but I worried about any messes I might leave behind for others to clean up. I’ve spent the last year or so cleaning out my house, keeping mostly just what we use or love, letting the rest of it go. I’m writing down what my husband needs to know to shut down my business, how to move my clients to others I trust if I’m gone or incapable.

    The other thought you bring to mind is how long the body takes to truly heal. A few years ago I had to have emergency gallbladder surgery, my first time ever in the hospital as a patient. (And I could go on about that experience, but I won’t.) I entered the hospital about 7am on St Patrick’s Day and was released 36 hours later, anesthesia barely worn off, still in shock that it happened at all. It took 36 months for my system to fully recover to the point where I no longer feel my health will collapse after the slightest brush with a sneezing person.

    So allow me offer you unasked-for advice: Truly take care of yourself, and take it easy. Your body and mind have been through a lot, even if the affected part is no larger than your nose.

    However, do NOT stop writing these posts :-) We need you out here waking us up to ourselves.

  73. Lori Magno says:

    Oh Miss Ann! Feel better honey! I go in for Mohs surgery (on my “mandible” as the docs refer to my jaw) on March 4th – I’ll be feeling your pain then.

    Maybe we can get a price on a truckload of 45SPF!

  74. Lori Magno says:

    Oh Miss Ann! Feel better honey! I go in for Mohs surgery (on my “mandible” as the docs refer to my jaw) on March 4th – I’ll be feeling your pain then.

    Maybe we can get a price on a truckload of 45SPF!

  75. Alan Wolk says:

    A little late to this party, but it’s easy to see why you’ll be alright: rather than deciding the sky was falling, you managed to bring a bit of humor and levity to the whole thing. And that ability to see the humor in the absurdity of our condition is far from universal.

    Glad to hear you are on the mend though and able to get off the couch. As unpleasant as it may be overall, there’s something to be said for the mind-clearing effects of an enforced vacation.

  76. Alan Wolk says:

    A little late to this party, but it’s easy to see why you’ll be alright: rather than deciding the sky was falling, you managed to bring a bit of humor and levity to the whole thing. And that ability to see the humor in the absurdity of our condition is far from universal.

    Glad to hear you are on the mend though and able to get off the couch. As unpleasant as it may be overall, there’s something to be said for the mind-clearing effects of an enforced vacation.

  77. Ann,

    I’m so sorry you had to endure this. I’m familiar with the sickness, thoughts, fears, and despair you described. Had a few repairs myself in 06.
    Talk about feeling helpless and dependent! Yes, I took it all for granted, too!

    Life is full of cruel ironies: That you should generate one of your best pieces of writing (IMHO) during one of your worst moments…

    That you should require any cutting of any sort on such a perfectly pleasant and perky nose (a true gift of Nature – or your mom or dad? :-) is yet another cruel irony. [People PAY big $$ to create your type of nose! heh]

    That you should change my mind in 10 minutes about not wearing sunscreen after my husband unsuccessfully spent 10+ years pleading with me to wear it.

    That’s right. I – the one who never, ever wears sunscreen – will now wear sunscreen. Nope, I’m not a masochist or a moron. I just never wore sunscreen. Now I will. And now I’m thinking this piece should appear in many other pubs and on other sites…to scare the hell out of everyone else into wearing it too.

    Thank you Ann. THANK YOU. (my husband will probably thank you too)

    I am so very happy that you are feeling better.

    Best wishes,
    Jaculynn

  78. Ann,

    I’m so sorry you had to endure this. I’m familiar with the sickness, thoughts, fears, and despair you described. Had a few repairs myself in 06.
    Talk about feeling helpless and dependent! Yes, I took it all for granted, too!

    Life is full of cruel ironies: That you should generate one of your best pieces of writing (IMHO) during one of your worst moments…

    That you should require any cutting of any sort on such a perfectly pleasant and perky nose (a true gift of Nature – or your mom or dad? :-) is yet another cruel irony. [People PAY big $$ to create your type of nose! heh]

    That you should change my mind in 10 minutes about not wearing sunscreen after my husband unsuccessfully spent 10+ years pleading with me to wear it.

    That’s right. I – the one who never, ever wears sunscreen – will now wear sunscreen. Nope, I’m not a masochist or a moron. I just never wore sunscreen. Now I will. And now I’m thinking this piece should appear in many other pubs and on other sites…to scare the hell out of everyone else into wearing it too.

    Thank you Ann. THANK YOU. (my husband will probably thank you too)

    I am so very happy that you are feeling better.

    Best wishes,
    Jaculynn

  79. Katybeth says:

    Oh my! Sounds just really awful–Usually the best thing about pain is the great legal drugs–I think you should get a full refund and be allowed to keep your nose!

    One consolation (I think) your children are to young to be able to insult you with Bozo the clown jokes?

    Hope you are back at your WII best soon!!

  80. Katybeth says:

    Oh my! Sounds just really awful–Usually the best thing about pain is the great legal drugs–I think you should get a full refund and be allowed to keep your nose!

    One consolation (I think) your children are to young to be able to insult you with Bozo the clown jokes?

    Hope you are back at your WII best soon!!

  81. Judy Mitchell says:

    Split a case of SPF 70 with you? I was there 2 years ago and have the 3″ scar on my leg to remind me to reapply. Sorry you got so sick. Glad you turned to sitcoms in times of trouble — it keeps me high end sunblock – just when I thought I had a meaningless job! Great post -thanks for sharing the story.

  82. Judy Mitchell says:

    Split a case of SPF 70 with you? I was there 2 years ago and have the 3″ scar on my leg to remind me to reapply. Sorry you got so sick. Glad you turned to sitcoms in times of trouble — it keeps me high end sunblock – just when I thought I had a meaningless job! Great post -thanks for sharing the story.

  83. Marta says:

    Ann, I have only recently learned about you and started reading you. Never left a comment, don’t know why. I want to say thank you, I want to say your descriptions move me just “like a blind man learning the face of a friend,” and most of all I want to say, long enough, Ann, long enough! Love, Marta.

  84. Marta says:

    Ann, I have only recently learned about you and started reading you. Never left a comment, don’t know why. I want to say thank you, I want to say your descriptions move me just “like a blind man learning the face of a friend,” and most of all I want to say, long enough, Ann, long enough! Love, Marta.

  85. mom3girls says:

    Welcome back, I missed your writing and (especially) your tweets!

  86. mom3girls says:

    Welcome back, I missed your writing and (especially) your tweets!

  87. Paulette says:

    Again, what can I say but wow! I’ve been laid up 2x, once because of eye surgery (a cornea transplant) and once after near-fatal pneumonia. You capture perfectly that sense of being trapped by the body that has inexplicably betrayed you, and the way that betrayal somehow alters the movement of time. I hope you’re well and recovering.

  88. Paulette says:

    Again, what can I say but wow! I’ve been laid up 2x, once because of eye surgery (a cornea transplant) and once after near-fatal pneumonia. You capture perfectly that sense of being trapped by the body that has inexplicably betrayed you, and the way that betrayal somehow alters the movement of time. I hope you’re well and recovering.

  89. Rohit says:

    You know you’re a writer when some of your best writing comes from a moment of personal crisis like this. I’m glad you shared the experience with all of us and gave us all the gift of this wonderful post to think about and share. But as a fellow writer, the thing that makes me happiest is knowing the therapeutic satisfaction that probably came from writing this for you. Sometimes there’s nothing like writing about an experience and reading it back in our own words to help us deal with a difficult moment. Looking forward to seeing you and your resurrected nose at an event soon. :-)

  90. Rohit says:

    You know you’re a writer when some of your best writing comes from a moment of personal crisis like this. I’m glad you shared the experience with all of us and gave us all the gift of this wonderful post to think about and share. But as a fellow writer, the thing that makes me happiest is knowing the therapeutic satisfaction that probably came from writing this for you. Sometimes there’s nothing like writing about an experience and reading it back in our own words to help us deal with a difficult moment. Looking forward to seeing you and your resurrected nose at an event soon. :-)

  91. Adam Needles says:

    Hi, Ann. Thanks for sharing this with all of us.

    My wife flagged this piece, and I knew you were undergoing some surgery, but I had not fully internalized the experience you were going through. And your words are so poignant in that regard.

    I sincerely hope you’re feeling better and that this surgery has ‘taken care of’ what ails you. I’m sure this is something you would not like to make a regular thing.

    Best wishes for a continued recovery!!

  92. Adam Needles says:

    Hi, Ann. Thanks for sharing this with all of us.

    My wife flagged this piece, and I knew you were undergoing some surgery, but I had not fully internalized the experience you were going through. And your words are so poignant in that regard.

    I sincerely hope you’re feeling better and that this surgery has ‘taken care of’ what ails you. I’m sure this is something you would not like to make a regular thing.

    Best wishes for a continued recovery!!

  93. John Munsell says:

    Ann,
    Wow! I could read your writing all day long. So sorry to hear of the whole ordeal, but what a gift you’ve been given.
    Perhaps the debate at the end should not be about how long we have before we become permanent exiles or refugees from the bodies of our youth, but rather how long do we have to bring smiles to the faces of others through the talents God has given us. You are unbelievably talented and you bring smiles to the faces of so many through your writing every day.
    In about 4 months I will undergo my 3rd surgery, only this time it’s a biggie. What started out as a simple hernia repair has now grown into a major complication. Apparently, it comes with a lot of risks and a two-month recovery period.
    While I certainly have my concerns, there’s a part of me that welcomes the down time. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of my own pink pills, but I hope that it gives me a similar time of reflection. I hope that it gives me the time to pen something as poignant and compelling as the things you put out every day. And I hope that through my writings I can put a smile on someone’s face like you do each and every day through your own written word.
    You’re the best, Ann. Your body doesn’t define you. Read the words of all those who care about you and who responded to your post. You educate people. You motivate people. You move people. You make people laugh. And in this particular post, you did it all while living in temporary exile. What a gift indeed!

  94. John Munsell says:

    Ann,
    Wow! I could read your writing all day long. So sorry to hear of the whole ordeal, but what a gift you’ve been given.
    Perhaps the debate at the end should not be about how long we have before we become permanent exiles or refugees from the bodies of our youth, but rather how long do we have to bring smiles to the faces of others through the talents God has given us. You are unbelievably talented and you bring smiles to the faces of so many through your writing every day.
    In about 4 months I will undergo my 3rd surgery, only this time it’s a biggie. What started out as a simple hernia repair has now grown into a major complication. Apparently, it comes with a lot of risks and a two-month recovery period.
    While I certainly have my concerns, there’s a part of me that welcomes the down time. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of my own pink pills, but I hope that it gives me a similar time of reflection. I hope that it gives me the time to pen something as poignant and compelling as the things you put out every day. And I hope that through my writings I can put a smile on someone’s face like you do each and every day through your own written word.
    You’re the best, Ann. Your body doesn’t define you. Read the words of all those who care about you and who responded to your post. You educate people. You motivate people. You move people. You make people laugh. And in this particular post, you did it all while living in temporary exile. What a gift indeed!

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  97. Dear Ann,

    What an eloquent writer you are ~ so glad to read & know that you are doing well and recovering. Wish you all the best sincerely ~ and look forward to reading more of your updates via ur blog site as well via twitter. PS – yes! SPF50 all the way for myself and for my family.

    Best!

    Susan

  98. Dear Ann,

    What an eloquent writer you are ~ so glad to read & know that you are doing well and recovering. Wish you all the best sincerely ~ and look forward to reading more of your updates via ur blog site as well via twitter. PS – yes! SPF50 all the way for myself and for my family.

    Best!

    Susan

  99. Rency says:

    I understand how it would be to face all this but am glad out of this you keep your calm and are moving in forward positively. My mother is suffering a similar experience but my Hope lies in my God. Only thing i would like to share with you is trust in God. He made us. Jesus Christ died for us and rose again that we would be free from all this pain. By his stripes we were healed and am sure if we trust and have faith in God, in prayer if we ask for healing God will heal us right now. I must say you are a prolific writer and really brave at heart. By reading your blog i felt more closer to God. He’s giving me more reason to Praise Him. From today on Ann u will be in my prayers..you can send your prayer requests to me at rencym10@gmail.com

  100. Rency says:

    I understand how it would be to face all this but am glad out of this you keep your calm and are moving in forward positively. My mother is suffering a similar experience but my Hope lies in my God. Only thing i would like to share with you is trust in God. He made us. Jesus Christ died for us and rose again that we would be free from all this pain. By his stripes we were healed and am sure if we trust and have faith in God, in prayer if we ask for healing God will heal us right now. I must say you are a prolific writer and really brave at heart. By reading your blog i felt more closer to God. He’s giving me more reason to Praise Him. From today on Ann u will be in my prayers..you can send your prayer requests to me at rencym10@gmail.com

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  105. Amazing that you can write like this when you're feeling so crappy. But write you can! gucciwell.com Next time you'll know to tell the surgeon to give you the anesthesia that doesn't make you sick

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