The Dangers of Avocado.

There are certain foods that God created for the purpose of letting us eat toppings. Because toppings are a life blessing.

Potatoes, for instance. On their own, they’re not that exciting. But when you add butter and sour cream and cheese and bacon and maybe some bar-b-que while you’re at it, they’re the sparkling unicorn of food.

Tacos. Tacos are nothing BUT toppings. Which is why they’re never a bad idea. Especially when served in soft corn tortillas. Which is the ultimate topping wrapper.

Chili. Chili is an extra special topping food, because it calls for toppings and bottomings.

I use rice for my bottoming. Chris uses Fritos. Some people use crackers, or so I hear.

And for toppings, I’ve always used sour cream and cheese, but have recently discovered the splendor of adding an avocado to my chili topping repertoire. Because Avocado is kind of like my bacon – it’s perfect with everything.

I made a giant vat of chili last Monday night. We had a lovely family dinner, to which I invited my parents. Or I thought I did. I texted my Mom – I would have scrolled to find the text stream where I text both of them at once, but I had onion juice on my hands and really wanted Siri to handle my texting for me.

But mom never answered.

Later that night, I texted Dad.

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I felt bad for my text-only ways (a normal human being would have called her parents when not receiving a response to a dinner invitation), but we still had a vat and a half of chili left over (that’s the thing about toppings – they somehow multiply your main dish leftovers because you use so many toppings that you use very little of the actual product), so I told my parents to just come over the next night.

Tuesday night.

I rewarmed the chili, got out the voluminous options of toppings and bottomings, warmed up the cornbread, and prepared for another large family dinner.

The last thing I needed to do was to slice an avocado. I knew my Mom and I would be the only ones taking advantage of the world’s best topping, so I only grabbed one avocado out of the fridge and began slicing it open while talking to my mom.

I did my usual of cutting around the middle, and then opening up the avocado. But instead of my usual THWACK approach to remove the pit (the THWACK approach being where you THWACK the pit with the knife and then twist and pull it out), I did more of a THWACK-saw.

I do not recommend the THWACK-saw approach.

Because the avocado was softer than I had assumed and catapulted loose from the avocado mid-saw…but the sawing didn’t quit. And I was sawing in the direction of my hand.

And, as I was holding the avocado in my right hand, the sawing continued into my thumb. To the point where I definitely heard and felt sawing taking place on my thumb bone.

Sometimes physics is a real turd.

As one does when sawing one’s thumb bone, I screamed and dropped the avocado. I ran to get a paper towel to sop up my outwardly flowing life force and surveyed the damage.

The cut was long, thick, and vomiting blood. But oddly didn’t hurt…at all.

It’s gonna start hurting real soon. Just you wait.

I asked mom if I needed stitches. She took a look and told me to go let my father see it while she hunted down a butterfly bandage. He looked at it and was also uncertain.

…But it still didn’t hurt.

Mom bandaged me thoroughly, causing me no pain whatsoever. I decided to table the matter of my thumb because it wasn’t hurting and I needed to slice my avocado and then there was chili to eat.

Priorities, you know?

Chris wasn’t quite home from work, so I sent him a quick text to help him adjust to the possibilities that lay ahead.

“Just to mentally prepare, we may need to go to the ER later. I cut my hand de-pitting an avocado.”

He answered back, “Sorry. You did that last night, too.”

I pondered what he said.

HAD I cut my hand two nights in a row while de-pitting my avocado? This did seem vaguely familiar. Then I remembered that I had a bothersome cut on my index finger and I didn’t remember how I’d gotten it.

I had cut my hand the night before!

Do I cut my hand every time I de-pit an avocado?

This seemed oddly familiar as well.

Clearly I needed a new strategy for de-pitting avocados.

I prepared my bowl of chili and gave myself an extra serving of avocado. I deserved it, after all.

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But then I looked over at my mom’s bowl and she had not gotten any avocado.

Perhaps the adrenaline from the injury made me more frantic than usual. Or perhaps I’m just an insubordinate daughter. But I demanded of her, “Why aren’t you getting any Avocado? EAT THE BLOODY AVOCADO! …Err, I mean that “bloody” in the British sense. Not the literal one. Maybe.”

She quickly spooned herself some avocado onto her chili.

We ate, my hand continued not to hurt or throb or anything remotely uncomfortable, and I actually felt quite energized. Adrenaline really is magical – why haven’t they figured out how to make adrenaline pills yet?

After dinner, I drove up to my neighbor’s house whose husband is a doctor. He’d just walked in from a long hospital shift that I’m sure was delightfully fun, and I accosted him in the basement before he even got to go upstairs and kiss his family.

I brought a fresh tube of superglue with me, because I knew that in the past, when their kid fell and busted her head, they just superglued her back together, because superglue is the same thing as liquid stitches. Who knew?

(Also I love the idea of fixing a broken kid the same way you fix the broken kid’s broken toys.)

I peeled off the bandage for him to assess the damage. He opened up the cut a bit to take a look, and asked me again if it didn’t hurt at all? No, it didn’t.

He didn’t know why I wasn’t hurting, but because of where the cut was (going up my thumb right where it bends), he said that superglue wouldn’t hold it long enough to heal – I really needed a couple old-fashioned stitches.

I drove back home with my feeling-quite-fine hand, and we decided that Dad would drive me to the ER. After all, it might not be as easy to drive after a numbing shot or three in the hand.

Dad and I sat in the ER lobby and people-watched, communicating our terribly judgmental thoughts back and forth with our eyes. Who knew the ER was such a fascinating place? Probably everyone.

It was finally my turn, and the nurse asked me all the questions he was supposed to like, “Have you ever thought about self-harm? Are you sure you didn’t do this on purpose?”

“No. I just really wanted avocado to top my chili. Have you ever tried it? It’s delicious.”

“When did this happen?”

“Around 6pm. But I ate the chili before coming in. Because I worked hard for that avocado.”

He happily dumped me into a room, where a nice ER doctor came in and asked if I’d ever had stitches before.

“Oh yes. On my hand even! From sleepwalking.”

He then wanted to hear all of my various sleepwalking stories as he shot me up and tied three nice little stitches in my hand.

There was the time I broke my nose

And the time I got lost in the funeral home…

And that time I fought Captain Hook

I apologized that my current injury was so boring.

He ran out of the room to get something and I snapped a quick picture of his handiwork. (Click here if you’d like to see it. You’re welcome for the opt-out, queasy people.)

Then he finished stitching me up and told me he’d see me soon, then sent me on my way. And no, he had no idea why I wasn’t hurting, either.

But the moral of this story is, although there are countless useless kitchen gadgets that do various overly-specific tasks, this brand new tool that I bought this week will pay for itself in one use. Because ER co-pays are expensive.

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On Visiting The Knife-Happy.

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I’ve noticed that there are two types of 30-somethings.

Those that have a regular visit to the Dermatologist to get every millimeter of their skin scanned for abnormalities and are constantly mentioning what they’ve recently had removed,

And those that have never visited a Dermatologist.

I’ve always been in the second group. Not because I have anywhere close to perfect skin, or dislike doctors, but because I have been in denial that I’m in my 30s for some time and would rather believe that I’m an invincible teenager with no skin fears.

This is not to say that I haven’t forced my husband to go and get a bump removed when it started to morph into something that made me feel uncomfortable. But he’s older than me. It’s time he starts thinking about his skin.

Also, I see enough variety of doctors thanks to my Dysautonomia and compromised immune system and stupid wreck that I really just don’t have room in my life for a relationship with a Dermatologist.

But finally, after fighting bravely on my own the war against a pesky shoulder rash for…wait for it…five months (including religiously applying two different prescriptions I already owned)…I decided that I should most likely plan my first date with the Dermatologist.

Over the years, I have asked my friend that is most solidly in group #1 of 30-somethings for her Dermatologist’s name on countless occasions, always intending to grow up and go. I’d even had it pulled up in a browser on my phone for a couple of months. So I scrolled through and found the tab, and gave them a call.

“Yes. I’d like to schedule an appointment. I have a rash that won’t go away.”

“Okay. Would you like a full body mole check while you’re here?”

(Sounds like a nightmare within a nightmare within a nightmare, but might as well get all the services for my co-pay…) “Sure.”

“Okay…the first available appointment is…..June 10th.”

“Um, well, you see, I have a rash….”

“Okay. Without the full body mole check, the first available is….April 20th.”

“Um, well, you see, I have a rash….”

“Okay. Well, if you’d like to see a nurse practitioner, you can come tomorrow.”

“That will work.”

I knew that “tomorrow” was too short of notice to get a sitter for my kids, so I bravely decided to bring my little homeschooling troupe with me.

I mean, I just have a rash. How gruesome could it be?

On Tuesday morning, we arrived and got settled into my assigned torture chamber. The bubbly nurse and nurse practitioner overflowed their joy all over the room as my eyes darted back and forth, looking for blood spatters on the ceiling or suspicious moles stuck to the walls.

Things had happened in this cell. I could feel it.

My rash, unfortunately, was at a dormant stage – of course. It has come and gone for five months, getting much worse when I was on an antibiotic for something else. At one point, it swelled up and looked exactly like the symbol on the old USSR Flag:

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(Which happened a mere two days after I blogged about Mr. Putin’s Sexy Wall Calendar. Coincidence? I think not.)

But at this moment, it just looked like a bit of dry skin. It still itched, but Nurse and Nurse Practitioner couldn’t see how very itchy it was and how very communist it had recently been.

“Hmm…just looks like overly dry skin to me. You need to use moisturizer within four minutes of getting out of the shower and here – I’ll prescribe you a stronger cream to knock it out. But let’s look at this bump over here…and this one…oh and this mole in your armpit!!”

They began to circle my shoulder area hungrily, clucking at all of the various bumps and discolorations. I was a DermaVirgin, and they were taking great pleasure in all of the various offerings of my as-yet un-cut-on skin. It hadn’t helped at all that I’d been honest on my medical history form – they saw that my dad has Ocular Melanoma and their frenzy only heightened. “Melanoma is melanoma. You’ve got a first degree relative with Melanoma. We need to check all the things. Melanoma melanoma MELANOMA!! You don’t mind not having any flesh remaining, right?”

Okay they didn’t ask that last question but it was implied.

“We need to take a biopsy of that…and that…and let’s just take off that mole real quick. It won’t need stitches. These will just be slightly pink marks – like you cut yourself shaving. No big deal – it’ll just take a minute.”

A tray magically appeared with three jars (the kind you’d see shrunken heads floating in), three flexible blades, a shot, and a bunch of gauze and blood-soaking apparatus.

And nobody asked my opinion.

I mean, call me old-fashioned, but I think I deserve a minute to consider the fate of my armpit before they slice a crater into it. Maybe I held a fondness to my armpit mole.

They shot me up in all three places to numb the areas so I wouldn’t be fully aware of their carvings. Then, with the quickness of a NASCAR pit crew, they buzzed around me, sliced and diced my arm, back, and armpit, dropped my former pieces of self in their jars, and covered me with band-aids before I could see what they’d left of me.

I did catch a quick glance at their blood-and-guts covered knives, though, and knew that “it will just be a pink spot – like if you cut yourself shaving” was as much a lie as The White Witch promising Edmund an endless supply of Turkish Delight.

The kids and I escaped the Dungeon of Human Samples, but not until after they’d scheduled that “Full Body Mole Check”, leaving me seriously fearing my future fashion statement of Swiss Cheese Flesh.

Thanks to those numbing shots, I was really feeling quite fine, aside from the mental stress, and it was a beautiful day, so we went on a hike in the woods with friends. It was as if nothing dark and demented had occurred that morning.

There were waterfall discoveries,

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And boulder throwing,

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And rock-climbing,

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And cave-dwelling.

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I felt great. It was a lovely day. The dermatology visit was squarely behind me.

…Until the end of the hike. When things began to sting. Shots only last so long, after all.

I went home and peeked under my bandages. I gasped at the deep craters that were now a part of who I was. These were not slight pink marks. They were more like someone decided to journey to the center of my body and began digging a hole, then gave up and started somewhere else, then gave up and started one more place.

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Over the next couple of days, the abysses were greatly uncomfortable, especially the largest one that happened to be in my armpit, and especially especially when I ran. Sweating profusely into a giant white pus-filled crater is not really something I would recommend for fun and amusement.

By Thursday, the holes named Shoulder and Back had dried up and become less like bubbling cauldrons and more like nice, dry moon craters. But Armpit did not. It began to grow, taking up more real estate under my arm, and developing a nice swollen, red shoreline. Then I began to get chills and fever and dizziness. At first I just thought I was having a couple of bad Dysautonomia days, but I soon realized that it was likely being caused by the vat of infection stirring beneath my arm.

Finally on Saturday, I decided it was time to call about it. The on-call doctor said it definitely sounded infected and called me in an antibiotic – an antibiotic that would heal my armpit, but most likely turn my rash back into a Communist Flag.

Oh – and did I mention that in the chaos of treating my wounds, I lost the prescription for my rash, the original reason I entered the Dungeon of Doom?

Yeah. I’m awesome like that.

So the moral of this story is, don’t allow people to randomly cut on you. Just Say No. It’s a two-letter word. Practice with me. NNNNNOOOOOOO.

“It will be a pink spot”, they say. “Like if you cut yourself shaving”, they say.

Yes. It’s exactly like that. If you shave with a staph-infected three hole punch.

The Perils of Standing Up.

It took weeks of parental foot-putting-down for us to convince Noah to stand up to pee.

He liked sitting down just fine and saw no reason to stand, thank you very much. Lazy peeing is good peeing.

And finally, when out of sheer obedience he would stand, he would inch closer and closer to the toilet until his thighs were front-hugging the toilet in a most uncomfortable-to-watch level of familiarity.

I prayed against so many toilet façade germs during those weeks of bowl-sidling, but was, I suppose, somewhat grateful that there was NO WAY the kid could possibly miss the toilet. Because when giving a thigh massage to a toilet, one cannot have bad aim.

So there’s that.

But eventually he moved on from his intimate relationship with toilet bowls and seemed to have a decent relationship with the the act of urination – there was no toilet contact, and his aim was 99% accurate. I felt like I had succeeded in training him up in the way that he should go.

Until last Thursday night.

Noah and I had just arrived at small group at a friend’s house – Chris and Ali were coming separately after stopping by the store. Things didn’t start out well for Noah. We walked in the door, and his very-excited three-year-old friend Abigail ran around the corner, screaming Noah’s name.

Ever the dainty little lady, she tackled him with the power of an Alabama National Championship Linebacker in the hug of the century. He immediately fell backward onto the floor, at which point the gigantic dog, a creature that Noah carefully crafts his life around avoiding, jumped on top of the poor child and began licking his face.

I sifted through the dogpile of dog and Abigail to rescue my flattened son, then safely delivered him to a chair.

Where Abigail followed.

“I’m going to color you a picture, Noah! Look! Coloring!”

…At which point Abigail’s older sister, Caroline, came in and abruptly pointed out that the picture in question was her picture and it was not to be colored on by smaller hands nor given to houseguests.

This was an altogether devastating turn of events for Abigail, and in the same passion with which she had she greeted Noah, she wailed her sorrow into our ears over her lack of coloring muse.

Noah and I quickly exited the room to give her some space.

I found a quiet spot in the living room, and Noah headed to the bathroom.

A few minutes later, more friends arrived for small group. Passing by the bathroom on their way to the living room, they were able to detect faint calls that sounded like my son.

“Noah’s calling for you.”

I got up and walked toward the door skeptically.

“No, he’s calling for Daddy. Which means he doesn’t really need me – he just wants Chris to wipe his butt because Chris will and Noah knows I’m retired from the butt-wiping business.”

But, to end the nonstop yells for Daddy, who was not even there, I opened the bathroom door.

And I stared.

Words formed, but they couldn’t leave my lips.

Then they did.

“HOLY CRAP okay he does need me.”

Noah turned his head toward me from where he was standing in front of the toilet, and offered explanation.

“I had to tee-tee and I had to poop too and I tried to keep my bottom closed while I tee-teed….but it all just came out.”

And out indeed had it come. He was on his last of ten days of antibiotics, which always gives him a healthy dose of what he refers to as “water poops.”

Except in the case of what was in front of me at that moment, it was more like Fifteen Cans of Hormel Chili Poops.

It was like a blender set on liquify and left on all day. With the lid off.

It was like a Hershey’s Factory caught in a heat wave.

It was a Venti Mocha Crappuccino with an extra shot.

It was on his legs. On his pants. On his feet. There were three separate piles on my friend’s bathroom floor. And there appeared to be a freshly formed river flowing through all of the crevices of his underwear.

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It’s definitely one of those moments in life where you don’t know exactly where to start. But you know that the only way you’re going to accomplish the task at hand is to just pick an area and start rowing.

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I chose the floor, since it was the one thing affected that did not belong to me.

But first, I needed proof of what I was about to do on behalf of Chris, the parent that had actually been summoned to the scene. So I took a picture. A picture that I will not show you. Because it is an image that I will see every time I walk into my friend’s bathroom for the rest of my life and you do not need to carry that burden.

But it was roughly like…

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I grabbed some toilet paper and began trying to sop up the piles of butt pudding coating the floor.

Noah took exception to my strategies. “Mom!! It’s on my feet!!’

“It’s on EVERYTHING, son. I’m getting to it.”

Then he became paranoid about the situation becoming more complicated. “Mom!! Don’t put so much toilet paper in the toilet! It’s going to STOP UP!”

“Well can you reach it to flush?”

He carefully leaned forward and began flushing the toilet after every other wipe-and-dump.

(Sorry, dear homeowners, if your water bill is high this month. And also I owe you a roll and a half of toilet paper. And a new house.)

I removed defecation from the floor and pertinent parts of Noah, then carefully had him swivel and get up on the toilet so that I could get to the fronts of his legs and his pants.

And I was traumatized all over again.

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When I got the full picture of that Hungarian Goulash dripping from every inch his garments, I nearly lost my ability to parent. Ever. Again.

Then I took another picture.

My next order of business was containing his underwear river before it got turned sideways and became a waterfall.

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I took the trash bag out of the trash can and carefully shimmied it up and over Noah’s pants, praying to God for protection of my hands. Then I removed the tragedy and tied up the trash bag.

Only later, after Noah was happily asleep, did I wonder what pants I had thrown away. Were they new? Old? Did they fit? Were they too small?

But it didn’t matter in the moment. They could have been Gold-Encrusted hand-me-downs from Prince George himself and I would have tossed them without a thought. The only thing that mattered in that moment is that the wasteland formerly known as clothes be contained in airtight plastic.

As I was performing this delicate operation, Noah said, “I’m so sad. I want to be playing right now.”

I looked up from squeegying poo off of his legs and felt sorrow for him.

For just a second.

But then I remembered that I was in the process of squeegying poo that did not belong to me.

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Meanwhile, Chris and Ali showed up. Since we put our kids to bed at small group, this meant that I now had someone to yell for to get Noah’s pajamas and fresh underwear out of his bag. And also find some cleaning supplies.

Chris came with clothing and Clorox wipes. I yelled for him to leave them outside the door. The scene was so bad that I simultaneously didn’t want to have to subject him to it (except via picture, later) and I felt the need to yell for him to hear me through the lava filling the bathroom due to the erupted anus volcano.

I Cloroxed the floor. Then Cloroxed it again. Then looked at the giant brown stains on Noah’s legs – brown stains I’d been furiously rubbing with toilet paper. And I Cloroxed my son’s legs.

I immediately felt guilty about putting the world’s harshest chemical (in wipe form, but still) directly on my child’s skin, so I yelled for Chris to bring me paper towels. I moistened them and scrubbed the chemicals from his tender little legs.

I still felt guilty (and despite the Clorox I also felt that my son was infinitely unclean), so I shoved him in his pajamas and sent him to find his father to find a bathtub and re-clean everything below the child’s waist.

But right before Noah left the bathroom, one of the countless children yelled “I think he’s with the dog!!”

Noah, naturally thinking they were missing and trying to locate him, yelled back, “I’m not with the dog -I’m in the bathroom! I just….pooped a little.”