Sunday, February 12, 2012
Tuesday is Valentine's Day! Don't miss these excellent French terms of endearment. Be sure to scribble one of them into a card or, better yet, whisper one of these into someone's oreille! Photo "Waiting for some Sweethearts" taken in Paris.
bosse (bohce) noun, feminine
J'ai découvert une bosse sur la tête. I found a bump on my head.
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
(A review of the past four weeks...)
Sometime last month I began waking early each morning with a strong sense of apprehension.
"It has to come off," the dermatologist had said, confirming my worst fears. Dommage you didn't come in three years ago, it would have been a matter of a few stitches then...
After the surgery on my forehead, last fall, in which a lesion about the same size as the one of my nose was removed, I was afraid to go back under the knife. Given how much they took off for the similar-sized growth, might I lose my nose? (I remembered all those Google images for "basal cell carcinoma", and all my feverish internet searching which yielded horror image after horror image--including amputated noses!)
My middle-of-the night sweats continued. Then, something mind-altering happened. I discovered a bump on my head...
Fast as that I forgot about my nose. I turned all of my attention to the pea-size growth on the side of my head, une bosse as hard as a rock.
I wondered, was I being paranoid? Had the bump always been there?
At the Clinique de Provence the lab technician called me in a second time. "We need to take another X-ray..." I stepped back onto the machine, resting my back on its cold metal wall for balance. Following the technician's example, I put the tip of my finger on my head, indicating the bump's location, and stood so still I dared not breathe. As the X-ray began, the floor beneath my feet moved from side to side, like a fairground ride, only much slower. It was my mind that raced, in a marathon prayer.
Notre père qui est aux cieux.
Que ton nom soit sanctifié....
And then, briefly:
"OK, you can wait in the salle d'attente..." The technician showed me out of the room.
The third time the technician returned, she informed me that the doctor wanted to do an échographie. More information was needed.
As I waited for the ultrasound exam, the woman beside me complained about her test results which indicated a sprained wrist. How would she cope? she wondered aloud.
I left the distraught woman, and was led into another room where I lay down on a table, letting the doctor smear a cold gel onto the side of my head. I watched the computer screen as the doctor ran a kind of large rollerpen over the bump.
"When did you first notice it?" he questioned, his accent as heavy as my own. Iran? Pakistan?
"A few months ago."
The ultrasound screen showed my scull, which looked like the surface of the moon. A little farther along this smooth surface, we saw the bump. The doctor paused to measure it: 7.2 mm
"Have you seen other patients with these kind of bumps on their heads?" I wanted to know.
"Ne vous inquiètez pas," he assured me. The bump was hard and not soft. I took that to be a good sign, guessing that tumors were soft. "But you will need to have a brain scan..." he added.
The doctor was kind enough to make the appointment for me at the hospital in Orange. The downside, I would need to wait one week until I could have the necessary test.
During the one-week attente, I rarely thought about my upcoming operation for the removal of the lesion on my nose. It seemed absurd, now, to worry about a patch of skin, one that could easily be removed. But how would a bump on the side of my head be removed? Should it be removed? And then it occured to me: if there was a problem with my head, then maybe there would not be an operation on my nose afterall...
In the following days I thought about the many undones in my life. I would need to burn my diaries! Also, would there be time to make another book? I would want to save these blog stories for my kids to enjoy one day... as a way for them to know their mom better--she is not the overserious maman that they mistake her for. ...Please, dear God, make it so that this bump is benign--it is my kids who need their mother, my husband who needs his wife, my mom who needs her daughter, my family, friends who need...
On January 12th, my friend Phyllis accompanied me to the hospital, where I had a brain scan. An hour later, when the doctor called me into her office, we had not sat down before she announced: c'est bénin.
I repeated the foreign words enough times for them to register, before throwing my arms around the conservative doctor, and babbling the news to Phyllis, who I could have KISSED! And maybe I did.
Ten days ago I had that second lesion on my face removed. Wide awake this time, I can tell you that the operation went beautifully and I am the proud wearer of 17 rock star stitches that travel down my nose like a backward "L"...
During that interminable week of waiting for the brain scan, I had tried to decide just what was the most important thing in life--or what would be the most meaningful way to live out the rest of one's days, whether that be one month or one decade. I am honored to have the answer stitched down the side on my nose, beginning in one great "L". Love--loving everyone who we come in contact with: the lovely ones and even the grumpy ones. Especially the grumpy ones!
I get my stitches out on Wednesday. I often look in the mirror, just to check them, and to remember to say thanks. And I am thankful for this bump on the side of my head (my husband calls it my corne, or "horn", indeed, I am a Capricorn! And this boney bump--though it may not be as grand as the mythic goat's--is a great reminder to live strongly, fortified by love.
I appreciate your comments! To respond to this story, click here.
dommage = too bad
une bosse = bump
Notre père qui est aux cieux. Que ton nom soit sanctifié.... = Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed by Thy name
la salle d'attente = waiting room
une échographie = ultrasound
ne vous inquiètez pas = do not worry
une attente = wait
c'est bénin = it's benign
Tip: Check out our "What to do in Paris?" page, and see all the great tips that readers have sent in!
Meantime, here one more tip: Visit the American Libary: this week Robert Camuto is speaking. He is part of a three person wine/cheese/perfume panel! Check it out here.
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety