Whenever I go to the doctor, my mother cross-examines me as if I were a witness for the prosecution. The following conversation took place over the phone last week after a few minutes of pleasantries and catching up, although we had just spoken to each other the day before, and she and my Dad had just left town for Palm Springs the day before that.
I usually don’t tell my parents anything “bad” while they’re on vacation, but Mom was pumping me. Besides, this wasn’t something I considered technically “bad.”
Mom: “So, what’s new? What’s going on?”
Me: “Nothing’s new. Everything’s fine.”
Mom: “What’s wrong?”
Me: “Nothing’s wrong.”
Mom: “Well, I know something’s wrong.”
Me: “What do you mean? How do you know something’s wrong?”
Mom: “I can hear it in your voice.”
Before I continue, I should say that my mother can pretty much tell when something’s wrong by the sound of my voice, but I swear I sounded perfectly fine.
Me: “I think I sound perfectly fine.”
Mom: “No you don’t. You sound too cheerful.”
Me: (To myself) “WTF?”
Mom: “I know you. I know your voice. You’ve been sounding too happy. I know you’re hiding something from us.”
Again, let me say that I understand when I sound weird, depressed, or have a scratchy throat, but I am not aware of ever sounding too cheerful. I mean how can someone sound too cheerful? Isn’t cheerful a good thing?
Me: “Maybe I’m just happy.”
Mom: “Nobody’s that happy.”
I gave up. I decided to just go ahead and tell her.
Me: “Look, Mom. I didn’t want to worry you while you’re on vacation. There’s nothing for you to do and there’s nothing for you to worry about. I saw Dr. Scheutz yesterday.”
Mom: “The surgeon?”
Me: “Yes, the surgeon.”
Mom: “Why? Why did you go to the surgeon?”
Me: “Because I had some stuff I wanted him to look at and tell me if it needs to be removed.”
Mom: “Stuff? STUFF? What do you mean by stuff?”
Me: “Just some growths and things.”
Mom: “Growths? And where are these alleged growths?”
Me: “Well, I have these thingies growing on the outside corners of both of my eyes, and I must have something embedded in my knee from gardening over the summer, so he wants to remove it.”
Mom: “What kind of ‘thingies?’ Can you be more specific? And how do you get something, as you say, ‘embedded’ in your knee?”
Me: “Well, the thingies are little bumps that keep multiplying. Sometimes they hurt or itch. And I gardened a lot this summer, especially with my friend, Harvey, in his garden out in the woods behind the Church.”
Mom: “Church? What were you doing at a Church? You’re Jewish.”
Me: “Yes, I know I’m Jewish. Anyone can garden at these free plots behind this Church. It doesn’t mean I’ve converted.”
Mom: “Motion to have that last comment struck from the court documents. Leslie, there’s no need to get defensive.”
Me: “I’m not defensive. I’m just giving you the facts.”
Mom: “Okay, so the facts are that you gardened with some ‘friend’ named Harvey behind a Church and now you have something embedded in your knee?”
Me: “Pretty much.”
Mom: “What? There’s more?
Me: “No. That’s pretty much what happened.”
Mom: “So, thanks to this Harvey fellow, you now have to have something removed from your knee. Is he going to pay for it?”
Me: “What? No! He gave me a pad to kneel on in the garden and I said I didn’t need it. I like to crawl around on my knees when I garden. I wear jeans. It’s not like I was wearing shorts. I like getting dirty, digging out weeds and planting new plants.”
Mom: “I didn’t raise you like that.”
Me: “I know, Mom. We always had a gardener, but I like to take care of my own garden.”
Mom: “And look where it got you! Into the surgeon’s office!”
Me: “Mom, it’s no big deal. It hurts, and when he removes whatever it is it won’t hurt anymore. End of story.”
Mom: “End of story? End of story? What about your eye ‘thingies’ as you call them? Is this Harvey person responsible for those, too?”
Me: “Harvey’s not responsible for anything!”
Mom: “That’s what you say.”
Me: “It’s true. He had nothing to do with any of this.”
Mom: “Is this Harvey person paying you to help him?”
Me: “What? No! I volunteered.”
Mom: “Aha! So he is responsible!”
Me: “No. He’s not. I volunteered because I like to garden and I wanted to help him out. Plus, he always gives us tons of stuff from his garden, so I like to help him.”
Mom: “I’m telling you, I didn’t raise you this way.”
Me: “Fine. Anyway, I’m going tomorrow to get all the stuff removed.”
So, Richard took me the next day to have all of my “stuff” removed. I had stitches on the outside corners of my eyes and a ton of stitches in my knee.
The day after the surgery my friend Roberta insisted on driving me for my first follow-up appointment. She reasoned that if I was on painkillers and had stitches in my eyelids, I probably shouldn’t be driving. She’s like the Mr. Spock of my friends; very logical.
Dr. Scheutz removed the bandages from my knee, and put on fresh bandages. He also prescribed antibiotics and antibiotic ointment, which I promtly reported to my mother.
My friend, Rosa, brought me a gift bag full of goodies and on Saturday took me for a manicure.
Another friend, Juliet, brought me a book and a cookie. Lots of friends called and e mailed to check up on me. It was so nice. I have the best friends.
I drove myself to and from yesterday’s appointment and the doctor said things are continuing to improve. I get to resume activities as long as they don’t hurt, so I took my dogs for a walk when I got home.
Dr. Scheutz had also given me the results of my biopsies, and I was happy to hear that there was nothing bad, so I called my Mom to tell her.
Me: “Hi, Mom! The doctor said I’m doing well and he gave me the results of the biopsies.”
Mom: “Oh, my God. What did you have?”
Me: “Actually, the left eye was some kind of viral cyst, but the right eye was a pre-cancerous cyst. The knee thing was a giant wart, which he explained is a virus I might have gotten from gardening.”
Mom: “Did you say ‘cancer’?”
Me: “No, I said ‘pre-cancerous’, which means it was a good thing I had it removed.” Personally, I was more upset that I had a wart on my knee. I mean, who gets warts on their knee?
Mom: “Don’t forget! Take all of the antibiotics he gave you.”
Me: “No, Mom. I want my leg to fall off.”
Mom: “Very funny, young lady. I’m just glad that you’re okay. Maybe you shouldn’t garden next year.”
What? Me not garden? That is not even a remote possibility.
Me: “Mom, I will always garden, but I’ll wear knee pads.”
Mom: “That sounds like a good idea. But maybe you shouldn’t garden with your alleged “friend” Harvey at the Church. I think a nice Jewish girl shouldn’t be frolicking around with a male friend behind a Church.”
Me: “Mom, Harvey is about your age. His wife used to work with Richard. We don’t ‘frolic’. We work in the garden. It’s a lot of work, but it’s so worth it. Next year I’ll bring you some of Harvey’s tomatoes, corn, and sugar snap peas that taste like sugar when you pick them and eat them right off the plant.”
Mom: “You mean you eat stuff right out of the garden without washing it first?”
Me: “What can I say? I like the taste of deer pee on my cherry tomatoes.”
Mom: “Goodbye, Leslie. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”