pain foreplay

“I‘m hanging on by a thread*,” I heard myself say today. I was speaking to my father’s wife, Carol, who promised if she were here with me in Florida, she’d find us a suitable case of wine. “Yeah, no kidding. Phil just said he was heading to Wal-Mart [he is unnaturally obsessed with the place], asked if I needed anything. Nope. Nothing. Then he’s in the driveway, and I’m suddenly chasing after him, ‘Wine, get wine. Hello? WINE!’ Carol, I’m a mess.” I needed to vent…

“Abigail likely needs eye surgery to correct the eye that wanders out when she’s tired. She now needs to see a plastic surgeon and have that surgery on her chin, and the cost of cosmetic surgery is obviously not cheap. Lucas had a fever of 102.5 the other day and was throwing up. Oh, ya know, and there’s a major move going on is all. Boxes haven’t arrived yet. Abigail lost her beloved “Snuffy,” the ugliest stuffed elephant ever—it looks like one of the Trash Heap’s stooges from Fraggle Rock. Basically, it’s a rat-penis combo.  I have exactly no friends nearby. And Lucas decided to eat a Bend-A-Roo this morning. That’s all. No. Wait. I haven’t had my period since May 16, which basically means I’ve got two months of ‘bite me’ coming everyone’s way. I haven’t returned any work phone calls, and I HATE THE SUN! It causes cancer. Both my parents had skin cancer removed. It’s like a nightmare. Every time I get a pimple that I suspect might keep coming back, I’m convinced it’s cancer, obsess over it, then forget it, then obsess. Add it to the psycho list right beside ‘Find a new dermatologist in Boca that does mole mapping.’ And why, for the love of God, is Phil so obsessed with WAL-MART?! I mean, what is that about? He actually walks around huffing about how the Austin Wal-mart prices for fresh roasted turkey are $3.00 LESS per pound than the Delray Beach Wal-mart. All I can think is, why in the ham sandwich are you buying “fresh roasted turkey breast” when it’s never really fresh, never tastes like a carved slice from an actual turkey, a la Thanksgiving? And Wal-mart?! Seriously? Can’t you just bargain shop at Costco like a normal person?! Hello? Are you still there?”

HOLY NUT SLING! My phone dropped the call while I was “double-cheek-checking” Lucas’s wipe work after his own double.

Vent FAIL.

It’s 2:52 AM now, and I can’t sleep. Hence the re-vent, blog-style.

I realize, of course, that everything that’s got me all worked up and histrionic is not life-or-death. It’s temporary. The fear and the overwhelming anxiety is all build up without anything actually “happening” right this second. It’s like crying when you see the needle, insisting it hurts, when the doctor hasn’t touched you yet. It’s pain foreplay.

Fear is the anticipation of pain.

ABIGAIL’S EYE SURGERY: We’ve tried the Pirate Diet, but it’s just not cutting it. These types of surgeries are “best done early. Timing really is of the essence.” I hate this phrase. All at once, it makes me think of salt-substitute and a magazine with the tagline: fierce, fun and fabulous! I’m speaking with their new pediatrician over at Pediatric Associates. “Don’t wait on this. Call Dr. Kanterman. Really. It’s all about timing.” So, I’ll beg for the earliest appointment, then I’ll freak once I hear the news from the horse’s mouth. Only this logic never works. The whole “Cart before the horse” bullshit makes me want a ram a carrot stick up the horse’s hind mouth.

ABIGAIL’S CHINNY CHIN CHIN: Thank God Phil’s mother was with me when we walked into the doctors’ offices. One look at Abigail’s chin, and the nurse said, “That is NOT going to look very good when it heals. At all. Which hospital did this?”

I want to hit rewind, the button where everything’s still in play, just slick, squeaky, a blur of backward, then play. I’m back in Austin, July 4, on our way to Dell Children’s Hospital when Phil says he thinks we should just get her to the ER as fast as possible, turning to Westlake ER (not a children’s hospital). This is not his fault; I am in no way blaming him for any of this. But I am blaming myself, and I’m blaming the doctor who PUT GLUE ON HER WOUND. I asked for a plastic surgeon, not just once, three times. Then I had Phil ask the doctor again if she didn’t need stitches, didn’t need plastics. “No, no, no. This will fix her right up.” I am so mad at myself… and at him. Why why why didn’t I take her to Dell Children’s an extra 15 minutes away?

“What’s done is done.” That’s another phrase I’d like to drop-kick.

Tomorrow I have to call Ophthalmology and Plastics… and all I can think is how Les Miserables she’s going to be… and camp starts and she can’t swim because of her chin. I feel so so bad. I also intellectually know that this is TEMPORARY and not life-critical, but still. All this with a move, putting our house on the market (once we’ve seen the pics, heard feedback from realtors), new house, new school, no friends nearby, no brownies, and zero sleep… suck to the sucky. I’m going to dig out some devil juice now. Or at least I think that’s what Charlie Sheen called Ambien. Yes, it’s come to misquoting Sheen. Up from here.

xo from the Sunshine State,


* How does the phrase “hanging on by a thread” make you think of anything but a vagina party-favor?



  1. I had eye surgery for the same thing, 30 years ago when I was 4, in Florida. Dr Bruce Hess at All Children’s in St Petersburg. Worked first time and never any problems, great guy, saw him every year for checkups until I was 12. He’s still practicing. His son is there now too, also an opthamologist.

  2. Hey, Steph. Sorry life is so stressful right now. Moving and getting used to a new place can be a nightmare.

    I am not a doctor but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. :-) I also grew up with a lazy eye and had not one, not two, but three, yes three, unnecessary surgeries on my eye. And they all did absolutely nothing. In fact, if anything, they worsened the strength of the eye. My parent had no idea of this, of course. They were trying to do what the doctors said and the doctors all said that this *had* to be done. It wasn’t until they took me to Newington Children’s Hospital that they learned that the surgeries were not needed and they started working on my eye. There was some patch work and eye exercises and the like but it worked. Now, technology and eye surgery today is probably very different than it was 30 years ago but be careful who you listen to.

    Also, you’re like 10 minutes down the road from me. Granted, we have never and may never meet but I have been reading your blog now for like ever. :-) Florida is challenging and it takes some getting used to. It took me a while to find friends but it did happen. Also, don’t you have family down here?

    And if you really need a dermatologist down here, let me know.

  3. I think it’s a bit ridiculous to have plastic surgery on a chin scar. Kids are supposed to have scars and more than likely it will go away on its own or use Mederma on it. But plastic surgery? That’s a hell of a message to send a child. It’s like denying that kids play.

    1. Author

      This is not some cosmetic surgery. This is her PEDIATRICIAN saying “She now needs to go to a plastic surgeon to fix this.” I must not have done a thorough enough job explaining that she has a MOUND of FLESH poking through her skin. Imagine a baked potato, overstuffed. The stuffing needs to go back in and make the potato (her face) look like it was never cut open in the first place. We are not talking about a scrape or a normal scar that would just happen on kids.

      1. I must have misunderstood from your earlier posts about the injury. I thought it was just a cut (still scary) that the original doctor made ugly by not stitching it properly. I didn’t realize she had scar tissue welling out of the wound.

      2. Clearly Jeneria doesn’t have kids. Stephanie – you’re her mom do what’s right. Don’t let some blog troll make you fell bad for having plastic surgery. Fixing a mound of flesh isn’t like giving a child a nose job or boob job.

        1. I don’t have kids. I have scars from being a kid. And I’m hardly a troll. I admitted I missed where Stephanie outlined the severity of the scar.

          I still think that in the case of simple scars, it’s bad to send the message that surgery is needed to fix them. Clearly, Abigail’s scar is far more serious than that if even her Pediatrician is advising corrective measures.

  4. You do so have a friend nearby! You have me and I don’t work so you can give me a call any time once you’re settled in. I can tell you anything you need to know about South Florida as well.

    1. I would just like to vouch for Widelawns. Granted, I’ve never met her, but there are people I’ve known for years in my own family I’d trust less.

      1. Author

        Yes, I met WideLawns once before when I was speaking for an event in Ft. Lauderdale. So I will for sure be taking her up on that girl-meetup.

    2. Widelawns and SK hanging out and becoming friends! You are two favorite bloggers. How cool is that?

  5. Stephanie,
    Of course you are going to find an amazing plastic surgeon to help Abigail’s face heal. The only message that you are sending to your child by doing so is that you care about her. Do not listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.

    The great thing about kids is that their skin heals very quickly and completely. Grace burned herself badly several years ago on a hot cookie sheet and today there is absolutely no evidence of any burn whatsoever. I’m sure a good plastic surgeon can fix Abby right up and this accident will soon be a distant memory.

    I too am one who finds myself obsessing about things I cannot control in the middle of the night. I’m currently losing sleep over the fact that next week we head to the coast for our annual beach vacation. Kids and large bodies of water. Scary.

    You’re going through a lot of changes right now with the move. Kids + surgery. Well, of course that’s scary. My goodness. I would be losing sleep too. At these times in life, I always picture an ancient woman (think black and white Civil War Era photo) sitting in an even older rocking chair, hand piecing an amazing quilt. Her words to me are simple, “This too shall pass.”

    Although it’s probably another phrase you’d like to drop kick right now, I somehow find comfort in those words. Comfort in the fact that the troubles do always pass, and I always find a way to work things out.

    Seriously though, #1 on our list of concerns should be Phil’s obsession with Wal Mart. That sounds dangerous. Do you have a Target nearby? Sounds like you may need an intervention, stat : )

    Hang in there.

  6. Sorry it sucks – it will get better. I want to jump in on the eye thing. I think any brand-new doctor who says surgery is vital right this second is looking for his next boat payment. Eyes are just too critical to be used as yacht funding. I suggest googling around for a world-class ophthalmologist and you and little one take a trip wherever that person is. You just don’t want to mess around with those big baby blues.

    1. 3 Teen’s, I normally adore your posts and secretly wish you would start your own blog. I agree that a second opinion is a good idea before embarking on any surgery — particularly on children.

      That being said, I am not sure a world-class ophthalmologist is really necessary for this type of procedure. When I received this treatment, although I was quite young, I still remember it being rather routine for my local office (a few other kids in there getting the same thing). I am not sure if such a highly rated physician would have the time or interest to take on something that is relatively routine in the realm of eye surgery. Additionally, getting on this physicians calender might be a feat in and of itself.

      1. You’re right, Kimberly – I’m a little hyper-sensitive on this one. And thank you for the sweet note. My darling boy had a wandering eye when he was a baby. We went to one quacky doctor who said he’d grow out of it, but then (sort of on a fluke) were sent to a highly renowned ophthalmologist who put him in glasses with prisms, patches, etc. Thankfully, with intensive eye therapy, it was corrected without surgery – right in time for his ear-tube operations.

        All that being said – I’m ridiculously squeamish about all things bodily fluid-esque especially eyeballs.

        I am also ridiculously happy to report that said son, now 20, is tall, gorgeous, can see (with glasses without prisms), can hear, and is currently on an 11 week excursion in the Australian outback! I’m missing him.

        1. 3 Teens:

          I am so glad it worked out sans surgery for your son. Of course, that is always the best option if available. The Outback sounds amazing, safe travels to him!

  7. Stephaine, Your explanation is useless without pics. I kid I kid.. gotta have some humor. My daughters butt went through a 2 story window when she was 5 on my Exs watch. Yes I had to add that. Anyways I was not told about the accident until she was on her way home from the ER with a load of god awful stitches. Luckily it was just her butt and not her whole body that went through.

    Anyways the ER Dr. said because of the location, on butt that it did not need a Plastic Surgeon consult. I am sorry but what is she wants to be a butt model. Anyways now my poor baby has this huge gnarly brownish thick scar on her tush and while its not visible when she is clothed or in a swim suit it makes me so sad when I see it. It reminds me of the accident and all things associated with that night. I don’t make a big deal of it and she doesn’t seem to care but it still hurts that I wasn’t there to protect her. Her pediatrician agreed that a PS would have been appropriate no matter the location due to the width and depth of the wound.

      1. Polycystic ovary syndrome. I have no idea what would lead the reader to making that diagnosis… A 2 month delay doesn’t indicate PCOS in any way.

  8. I had a similar surgery as Abigail when I was 4 in 1989. It worked wonderfully, I have never had any additional problems with that eye. I got glasses when I was older and transitioned to contacts quite well.

    I can imagine that this is a really stressful time, just wanted you to hear a “success” story!

  9. Two things:
    I just want to run to Flordia and hug you and your sweet babies.

    I couldnt get past May 16th.

    HELLO, tell phil to pick up a test with that bottle of wine while obsessing over prices at walmart.

  10. on the plus side, the plastic surgeons in Florida are probably more experienced than the plastic surgeons in Austin

  11. Make Phil watch the Wal-Mart documentary….The High Cost of Low Prices (or something like that). Fascinating!

  12. Ok, you need to take yourself to Total Wine NOW. There is one in Boca, and one in Boynton….no excuses. So not pass go, do not collect $200, but go to Total Wine.

  13. Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome. It’s a disorder of the endocrine system that causes irregular periods, fertility issues, and weight issues, among other things. When you said you didn’t have your period since March it made me wonder. Sorry if I’m being nosy!

  14. Just chiming in to say that I had 2 Strabismus surgeries (waaay back in the 70’s) and my son had one last year at the age of 3 and needs yet another one. hang in there, being a mom is hard!! xo

  15. I know of two REALLY GREAT plastic surgeons in Florida, but they are in Jacksonville. Too far away? If interested, I will send a picture of my neck scar, right at the base of my neck from a thyroidectomy. If I tried VERY hard, I think you could probably tell there was a scar there….yes, that good.

  16. I’m in South Florida. Although I don’t know how to help, but you can email me whenever!!! And I’ll do what I can. The only things in Boca I know about is Mizner, Twon Center, and PGA. And I haven’t been to those in ages :P But there is this great facial place, Skin Apeel Day Spa. OK, none of this is helping you….a day spa, blllth :P what am I thinking?! Hang in there!

  17. This is crap, shame man. One step in front of the other, thats all we can do.

    Greetings from (sunny) South Africa.

  18. Funny- Haven’t read your blog in a while but was wondering if you had moved down yet. Welcome to South Florida! It really is not that bad, although Boca is definitely not my favorite place…hence the reason I hightailed it to the foreign country also known as Miami.
    As for references in S.Fla, just email me or call with any questions. The number 1 ranked eye hospital in the nation happens to be in Miami- Bascom Palmer Eye Institute. I would take my kids there for any eye surgery (and have been there for my own eye stuff).
    As for pedi plastics, you may want to wait and see how the skin on the chin heals after a while. It will probably be better than you think, and can always be revised at a later date. Let her enjoy the summer. Put sunblock stick on it everyday and you can try kelocote.
    As for mole mapping, Dr. Robert Johr, the pioneer of dermoscopy/mole mapping (he actually wrote the text and runs the dermoscopy lectures at our national meetings) actually happens to have an office outside the University of Miami that is located in Boca. I don’t have the exact number right now but I am sure you can google it. If you want to schlep down to Miami I know the best derm in town :)
    Would love to get the families together. Let me know when you are settled, and let me know if you need anything else.

  19. There is a good pedi plastic surgeon in Broward- Stelnicki. I refer him a lot of patients and he does a beautiful job. You may want him to look at her chin and give you his thoughts…

  20. Hi –

    Normally I don’t comment, but I am a physician and I have strabismus. I had one surgery as a teenager and just got surgery again last year (I’m in my 30s). (Adults who need repeat surgeries still go to pediatric ophthalmologists). I researched pediatric ophthalmologists for several years before deciding who to go to. Hands down the two best pediatric ophthalmologists in the country for childhood strabismus are Dr. David Hunter at Children’s Hospital of Boston ( ( and Dr. David Guyton at Hopkins ( Both of them specialize only in strabismus. I had surgery with Dr. Hunter and love him. If you can’t get an appointment with him directly any of the faculty members in the pediatric ophthalmology department at the CHOB I am sure would be fine. I also had a consultation with Dr. Guyton and loved him too. If you saw either one of them they would explain why surgery is necessary; not all kids need surgery right away but in some cases it is necessary. It is not a cosmetic issue but a vision issue when children are little. Strabismus surgery sounds terrifying at first (I put it off for several years) but as long as you go to a top-notch ophthalmologist it will be fine. You can have surgery with either of them (or anyone at either of those two children’s hospitals) and then follow up with a local pediatric ophthalmologist. Even if you get surgery locally getting a second consultation would bring you great piece of mind….

  21. Oh my Oh my! I hadn’t checked in since Abigail’s chin split on the 4th, was hoping all was crazy busy but full of fun and new explorations. Sigh. They weren’t kidding when they said parenting is the toughest job in the world. Whoever gave you the wine store advice, Dammit that was going to be my angle here too….although I was going to suggest a wine country tour sooner rather than later!

    Regarding her surgery, another success story of sorts…my daughter got bit by a dog right around her eye, at about 18 months old. The scars can look pretty ugly when they’re young, but to see her today you wouldn’t even know that she’d had a bad experience at all. Abbie will come through with shining colors.

    Walmart. Yeah. About That.

  22. I had strabismus, or lazy eye, from birth, my right eye was perpetually stuck in the corner of my eye by my nose…I had eye surgery when I was eighteen months old to correct this…that surgery was most likely necessary…

    When I was fourteen I had a second surgery to further correct, because supposedly my eyes were done growing?? WTF, at 14? Anyway, really didn’t make a difference, but I had similar eye wanderings as Abigail at that time…when I was uber excited or exhausted or upset/crying…after that surgery, it still happens, no real difference.

    One thing I learned is that my eyes are thoroughly trained to not focus together already…they have been since I was little, maybe 2 or 3 years old. Now, I have periferial (sp?) vision in my right eye and typical vision in my left eye…doesn’t really affect me all that much.

    I might give her a few more years and see what her eyes do…to this day my eye wanders in pictures to a certain extent, but other than that I really don’t even notice it.

    Finally, I agree with the person who encouraged Phil to get an EPT along with wine at Wal-Mart…once he brings those things home, you can stage a Wal-Mart intervention! :)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.