Friday, February 27, 2009

Having Said That...

...don't get me wrong. There's definitely a downside to cosmetic surgery. Numero uno--the stiff, tight feeling. Like if you forget and turn too quickly, you might rip your face off. Ha. Kidding. Sort of.

Yesterday, I stumbled across a review site devoted to the "lifestyle lift"--a popular alternative to traditional cosmetic surgery. Yikes. Sixty percent (60%) of the commenters said the procedure wasn't worth it. Complaints ran the gamut from minor (no change, change didn't last) to horrific (pain, bleeding problems, ugly scars). Now, granted. Statistically, you have to discount how bad this looks at first glance. Presumably, people with negative experiences are much more apt to comment than those with positive. Plus, if you cast your net widely enough, you're probably gonna catch a lot of tainted fish (there's an odd analogy). Still...the stories definitely bear paying attention. And a lot of 'em will break your heart. Like I say, I'm no expert, but here's my take on it: the procedure itself is probably okay, but I'm gathering it's kinda been franchised out. Now, franchises might work for hamburgers, but our faces? Not so much.

Caveat emptor and all...

Hey, by the way...after inviting people to contact me via my profile, I've been informed that, duh. That doesn't work. I rrrreally hesitate to put my address in text here because who knows what the google gods will do with it, so try this: click on my website (in the sidebar on this page), and then click on contact. That should getcha to me.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Work-In-Progress, Take One

Well, crap.

I made this whole slide show extravanganza, but I wanted one that doesn't take you from the site to hawk its wares, and now I can't figure out how to see if there's another way to keep that from happening.

In the meantime, I'm re-thinking posting some of the more hideous photos.

Decisions, decisions.

Okay, Plan B.

I'll try Picasa.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What Was I Gonna Say??

Last night I took my new face to a local restaurant/bar where I ran into a guy I've known casually for about two years. He asked me to dance and we were chatting over the music when....

Him (peering intently): Is there something different about you?

Me: hair's blonder?

I hope men are that stupid.

Friday, February 20, 2009

97.1 KLSX -- RIP *Updated

Pardon me while we take a break from the face lift festival to pay tribute to the passing of an LA talk-radio station. Now, I can' t say I was a regular listener, but damn. I AM gonna miss Frosty, Heidi, and Frank on those rare occasions I find myself driving somewhere at noon. And, if I've heard the last of Tim Conway, Jr.'s "What the Hell Did Jesse Jackson Just Say" ...the world will hold a little less joy.

Kudos to the on-air talent (with the exception of Danny Bonaduce who's always kind of a douche bag, isn't he?)--they're handling their exits with grace and inspiration. (Of course, ever-the-cynic, I imagine they're all smart enough to know about bridge burning, but still.) Tom Leykis (on whom I run hot and cold) explained the situation succinctly: in a sucky economy, with ad revenue declining, switching formats from talk to music makes sense 'cuz the latter is less labor-intensive.

Sad, though.

And all I gotta say is this: Nobody better be messing with my Mark and Brian.

You hear me, KLOS?????

*Updated to include this link to Frost, Heidi and Frank's farewell video. Well done, guys.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cosmetic Surgery--My Story*

*Titled thusly so as to show up in search engines--yep, just me, doing my usual public service!

In reflecting on my cosmetic surgery experience, some of what I’m thinking is actually too personal to share. (I know! Shocking, huh? THIS from the girl that even confessed to wearing two left shoes on a blind date!) With that in mind, I offer the following...

One of the reasons I kept delaying the inevitable was that I dreaded putting my life on hold for what seemed like a huge chunk of time. Guess what? Life doesn’t stop just because you’re tied to your home recovering from surgery. At least for me, it didn’t. Crap, I had more visitors in one week than I’d had in the past five years. Talk about a non-stop party! It got to the point where I needed a vacation to recover from my recovery.

But oh, how I enjoyed it! Friends and family flocking to see me...entertaining chez work or personal responsibilities of any kind...all I can say is, truly, one of the happiest periods of my life. (And after calling in sick only once in 25+ years, let's just say this “hanging out at home” was a unique experience—one I could get easily get used to.)

So, yeah. Life went on. And as a bonus, that huge chunk of time turned out to be...well, not so long after all. Hell, I went out to dinner (in public!) a week to the day after my surgery, and I only missed seven full days of work. A mere SPECK in the scheme of things...especially when you consider the months and years I’ll get to enjoy this new face. All in all, an extremely good deal in terms of the return on (time) invested. (Okay, and probably the money invested, too.)

Speaking of the financials, I can’t stress ENOUGH my feelings on the subject. If you’ve stumbled across my blog via Google cuz you’re trolling for cosmetic surgery stories, here’s your reward in the way of some free advice:

1. Don't pay for the zip code. I'm sure there are qualified surgeons in Beverly Hills; I'm equally sure there are lousy ones. In either case, the bottom line on your 90210 tab is gonna include a helluva lot of overhead.

2. I don't care how fancy the doctor is or how many of Hef's playmates he's done boobs for, what is his vision for you? (One doc I consulted was about as enthusiastic as a DMV clerk.)

3. Don't fall for false charm. Hate to say it, but the world of cosmetic surgery is full of good looking guys with great bedside manners. Make sure your pick has the skills to match.

4. Check out the surgeon's staff. Are they happy campers? If so, it's likely because they respect the man for whom they work.

5. It should go without saying, but I'll mention it anyway: survey the surgeon's previous work, either by looking at before and after photos on his website, or speaking to former patients. Use your gut to evaluate.

6. By the same token, measure personal recommendations against your good judgment, because we all have an inborn tendency to tout our own doctors--it's a way to validate our choice, not to mention our result. (In this respect, it's like choosing a hairdresser; ask a friend to recommend a stylist and she'll gush ad nasuseum about her own--and why you simply CANNOT even THINK about trying anyone but HERS--and yet, how often do we do precisely that and promptly move on to another one?

7. During the consultation, does he promise to make you look like Brooke Shields's younger sister? Run for the hills. (Realism happens to be a personal preference; your mileage may vary.)

8. Find the balance between experience and youth. What I'm saying here is that there are surgeons with longstanding reputations who...well, let's be honest...are doing the same old thing they've been doing for ages and, sadly, their patients reflect it. So sure, you want someone with a ton of procedures under his belt, but not if they add up to an assembly line mentality with Studebaker-era (or worse, Edsel) techniques.

9. And speaking of automobile analogies, let's add this one: Beware the surgeon who, in effect, "totals" you on the estimate. Ask yourself if you truly need the laundry list of procedures he's recommending. Trust me. You can always go back for more.

Hark! Still awake? I left the most important for last:

10. Just a theory, but I'm thinking a GOOD cosmetic surgeon possesses superior technical skills, whereas a GREAT cosmetic surgeon possesses, in addition, ARTISTIC VISION. (And, to tell you the truth, maybe I have those reversed.) At any rate, don't make the mistake of believing ALL surgeons possess both because, in my opinion...the simultaneous combo of left and right brain attributes is a rare occurrence.

# # #

So there you have it. My collected wisdom on the subject. In case you missed the link in earlier posts, my surgeon is Dr. Michael Schwartz and he's located in Westlake Village, California. Click here to visit his website.

And if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me either by leaving a comment, or via the email address in my profile section.

Up tomorrow (or when I get to it): More photographs!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blog Gaps and What They Mean

Ever notice how sometimes I go on a tear, furiously blogging daily and then, suddenly...nothing? Well, guess what? This doesn't mean I'm out of stuff to say...on the contrary, it means that I wanna take the time to say it right. Y'know, like, with topic sentences...cohesive paragraphs...rigorous context.

Hey, you think that kinda writing comes easy?? Think again.

So, yeah. Before moving on, I want to wrap up the whole face lift process with all its life-changing reflections, giving the experience its proper due. Just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Stay tuned, though.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Re-Inventing Randy, Part VII

Quick fly-by since the "real" job is eating up my time today.

Over the weekend, my 1099 from Dorchester Publishing arrived in the mail, which got me to thinking...two years ago, I hadn't ever written a short story, let alone submitted one. Three cents a word, I scoffed...pffffft...who needs it?

Well, hm...guess what...turns out those words add up. Let's put it this way...I paid for roughly one-third of my face lift with proceeds from short story sales.

Squee, indeed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Re-Inventing Randy, Part VI

You can't have a good sick-room without a doggie in attendance. Filling in for the late great Kody-Boy (best doggie in the world and infamous taunter of coyotes), was Kath's pup, Tucker.This guy was sooooo sweet. In the middle of the night, he'd trot into my room, hang for awhile, then meander back to Kath's. She said he was restless because of the high winds, but I knew better. He was coming to check on me. Okay, and even if we go with her theory, then I submit he sensed the difficulty I was having with the whole sleeping concept, and his presence in my room was a signal that we shared a bond.

Most of the time, he laid down right next to the bed, but on a couple occasions, he leapt onto the mattress and tried to spoon. No, really. I swear.

Or maybe his solicitous attention stemmed from some kinda beauty and the beast thing (me being the beast, of course).
Oops. Forgot to warn you that was coming! Hey, I've decided there are two sorts of pictures: 1) the kind that are awful but not scary because you're not looking at car accident injuries, and 2) the kind that are awful AND scary because, just look ugly, surgery or not. Both of these fall into the first category, I think. Anyway, FYI, photo 1 was taken on about day 4. The yellow was a welcome sign because it's one of the final colors of the bruise rainbow. Photo 2 was taken on day 5.

Oh, and speaking of dogs (this segue would've worked better a minute ago), how about this year's winner of Westminster's Best In Show? Go, Stump!!!! Ten years old, which makes him 70 in people years....and I'm thinkin' this will set a trend...maybe with my new face, the 2009 Miss America Pageant ain't out of the question....?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Re-Inventing Randy Part V

I have a theory about cosmetic surgery that I formed back in 1978 when I paid to have a power sander grind off several layers of my face in a procedure known as dermabrasion.

As favorable as the end result may be, you usually end up with something you didn't have before that'll bug you almost as much as the stuff you just fixed. I call this unforeseen collateral damage, and in that instance, it was a nifty set of scars along my jawline visible mainly when I got any sun. (So visible that, on occasion, people asked me what's that on your face? Yeah, subtle. And so polite.)

Anyway, it's too early to tell what the collateral damage of this recent go-round will be as far as the face goes (although I have to say, I'm LOVING the progress--pictures soon!), but, geez. New theory. The propensity for the rest of your body to fall apart is in direct proportion to your age at the time of the procedure.

Because...first of HIP is killing me. And unless I'm mistaken, the hip bone is NOT connected to any facial bones that I know of. No, the pain in my hip is from having to sleep sitting upright (which, nevertheless, I gladly did after hearing the horror story of an acquaintance who somehow neglected to follow this particular direction and ended up having blood pool to one side of her face, thereby causing all KINDS of complications). But, wow. No amount of pillows, arranged any which way, relieved the discomfort of my poor hip.

Permit me to compare and contrast:

Fig 1. Correct Post-op Position

Now let's look at the way I USUALLY sleep:

Fig 2. Normal sleep position (aerial view)

I call this the Swastika position which, while unfortunate, is quite apt, as I think you'll agree, and serves well to explain the hip discomfort.

Oh, and guess what else? The borderline tweakiness in my wrist went completely wonky after a week of hoisting my poor hip on, off, and around the bed, so I'm wearing one of these.

But, hey...a small price to pay for the way I'm looking these days. (Sorry, you'll just have to wait for a current photo--meanwhile, content yourself with one from waaaaaaaaaaay back on Day Four.) Suffice to say, I've come A LONG WAY, Baby!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Re-Inventing Randy Part IV

You may have wondered why pre-op prep included the purchase of a 42" flat screen TV. See, here's the deal: I pictured a couple days of bed rest--maybe 48-hours of leave me the hell alone--during which poor Kath would find herself with nothing better to do than watch DVD's on a wonky downstairs TV where even Kate Moss came off looking like a gluttonous pig (the picture is squished into something resembling letterbox format, only it's not.)

So, yeah. I bought a new TV.

Did she watch it? Uh, not so much.

Because, in truth, we were busy upstairs watching cool stuff together like a marathon of America's Top Model episodes. Oh, and those skanky OC housewives. (Ugh. Imagine my dismay when one of the wives accompanied her mother to a face lift appointment. Yeah, thanks Bravo. I really needed the affirmation that I belong firmly in the aging mom category rather than the young hot housewife. I hate when that happens. On the other hand, thanks too for that expression on the daughter's face--the one prompting me to cackle yes my dear, your time will come soon enough.)

Anyway, I know. Meow.

Also on the agenda in the early going--namely the day after surgery--was a return trip to the doctor's office where I went from 'early mummy' to 'fashionable urban turbanista.'
(Geeez, am I sharing too much???? Wait until you see the photos that prompted a warning from my sister-in-law to cease and desist.)

Sidenote: I now realize I should have tried to post these memories in real time, to lend a sense of how quickly the days passed. Oh, well. Use your imagination.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Re-Inventing Randy (Part III)

In the last post, I promised...So there they are. While I lay clueless in the OR, Kath went to work at the condo pre-packaging snack-sized baggies half-filled with frozen vegetables--a truly handy item to have on hand!

Meanwhile, let me backtrack a moment because I kinda glossed over the hour immediately following surgery and since certain impressions stand out, perhaps they're worth observing. In particular, I remember how peas-ful and quiet it was. And how strangely comforting it felt to hear Liz going about whatever she does following a procedure (um, like, cleaning up residual Randy remnants?).

I'm not sure what flashback from my past I might be conjuring up. Maybe I'm recalling the story my brother tells of listening to his doctor bang out a real estate deal in the next office after an angiogram or something...anyway, as I lay there adjusting to a new reality, I have a conscious memory of relief at not being subjected to voices...nor of cabinets slamming shut without regard to the person with jangly nerves...just the sound of a professional going through her routine. Like I say, the efforts to make me comfortable didn't go unnoticed! And when Liz brought me apple juice (?) to sip through a straw...ah, heaven. (But an additional mental note: More straws! I need straws at home!)

Also during this time, Dr. Schwartz came in to check on me. He told me later he knew I'd be okay because I was so chipper which, of course, was a deliberate act on my part--never having been through surgery, I desperately didn't wanna be the drama queen, so I guess I achieved my goal? (Okay, to be honest, I DID complain of feeling, uh, shall we say...TENSE...but when Liz mentioned the word "Xanax" I relaxed immediately.)

Anyway, Kath showed up (yay, Kath!) and by the time she and Liz wheeled me down to the car, I felt 100 percent ME. Cheerful. Joyful. Ready to tackle anything.

At home, I easily climbed the stairs to my bedroom (my darling parents thought they'd be insurmountable, and for that reason had practically insisted my recuperation happen at their place--um, no--sorry, folks)...

At this point, I'd pictured being totally out of it, but no! Bring on the phones! Let's CALL people!

First up, of course, I called my parents. What a surprise (to me AND to them) that I sounded so normal, so like myself! Reassuring, I'm sure.

Meanwhile, Kath doled out the crackers and juice. A call was made to my brother and sister-in-law to bring straws, ginger ale, and to pick up a prescription for an inhaler (which I never needed but, owing to my previous breathlessness, Kath thought might be handy to have in case it returned).

And then...then...well, we just chilled, I guess. I suppose I slept off and on, but really, not so much. Besides, not two hours after getting home, my first guests arrived. As Kath let Barry and Polly in the front door, I made my way to the top of the stairs and announced: "The party's up here!"

Uh, I think I may have shocked them a bit...y'know...with the attitude.

Or maybe with how I looked? Ha. Two reactions stand out in my mind: Barry said I already looked 20 years younger (um, right...let's wait for the swelling to go down, 'kay?), and Polly said I didn't look nearly as scary as she'd feared.

But let's not rely on their assessment. You be judge:

(Are ya ready???)

Peas--they're the new rage in fashionable eyeglasses
Let the record PAIN was experienced during the filming of these memorable moments! Truly!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Re-Inventing Randy (Part II)

So yeah, the fear factor I mentioned yesterday. I think you’ll be surprised how it figured in.

My FIRST fear was that I’d somehow miss the surgery appointment. Y’know, like, sleep through it. Especially since I don’t set an alarm EVER. Mostly because I wake up all night long anyway (thanks, menopause!!), and on the rare occasion I DO set the alarm, I usually screw it up by switching am for pm or vice versa.

Kathleen arrived from Laguna Beach the night before, which provided a great distraction. We did last-minute grocery shopping, bought giant salads at Gelson’s, and hunkered down to do some serious catching up. Before long, it was time for bed, with a plan to rise around 6 a.m.

As predicted, I woke long before Mark and Brian broadcast their morning hello’s. Bounding out of bed, I took one last shower, donned surgery-appropriate attire (sweats and a zip-up top), and urged Kathleen to hurry so we wouldn’t be late.

Promptly at 6:45 a.m., we entered the surgery center and rang the little bell, announcing our arrival. Seconds later, Surgical Nurse Liz ushered us inside.

No turning back now!

You’d think this would be when fear number two kicked in, but you’d be wrong. I couldn’t have been more relaxed. Kath and I cracked jokes, Liz dolled me up in a hospital gown and fluffy warm blanky, and soon I had an IV in my arm. (My first IV EVER!!!) Then we moved into the recovery room where I climbed onto a bed to await the next phase.

Dr. Schwartz came in minutes later. His opening words? Something like: “So, I see we’re doing a breast augmentation and a tummy tuck this morning, right?”


Gotta love a surgeon with a sense of humor (although, I DID inform him that the boobs are next. Not that I want them bigger, mind you, just...well...more MANAGEABLE.) He proceeded to draw all over my face with some kind of purple marker, creating guidelines for the actual procedure. Kath got to watch the whole thing, lucky girl.

But alas, it was time to send Kath on her way, and then Liz escorted me to the operating room. Like clockwork, the anesthesiologist (my first EVER anesthesia!!) joined us. And still no fear! (Not even the one where you get put to sleep...forever.) In fact, we quickly discovered we went to the same high school five years apart (yeah, GO CHARGERS), and the last thing I remember was asking if he’d known Mr. Miller which, when you think about it is just the strangest thing, isn't it? I mean, WHO KNEW back then, that as I walked out of American History for the last time, that the NEXT time I mentioned the teacher's name it would be moments before...


...and then the second fear.

See, I DREADED ‘coming to’ g-r-a-d-u-a-l-l-y...where I’d slowly, slowly, realize...WHAT THE HELL DID YOU JUST DO TO YOURSELF?? And I was afraid of the resulting panic.

But it didn’t happen that way.

Somehow, I went from Sleeping Beauty forever-after slumber to full awareness. (Is this how anesthesia works??) I knew exactly where I was and why, so no panic.

Well, no panic from THAT source.

I have to admit, I felt a tiny bit claustrophobic. Apparently because of the oxygen mask. And when they took it away, I felt a tiny bit breathless. As in, put that thing back on. I remember informing Liz that my dad suffers from sleep apnea--ha--I guess to make sure shew knew that just because I was supposed to breathe, didn’t mean my body was on the same wavelength.


Apparently, I was breathing fine, and waking up all mummified didn’t faze me in the least.

So much for the fear factor....

Coming up next: Frozen pea packs.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Re-Inventing Randy (Part I)

Shall we cut to the chase?

I did it!!!!!!!!

Last week, at this very moment, I slipped into la-la land (well, let’s face it, more like SNOOZE CITY) in a last-ditch attempt to regain my youth...Ha. Kidding. I’m under no such illusion. Actually, the simple truth is that after a year of peering at myself in the mirror each morning and thinking I don’t wanna go through the rest of my life looking like this woman who’s become a stranger, I plunked down an obscene amount of money and scheduled a face lift plus upper and lower eyes.

Yay, me!

See, it’s not ALL about vanity, although (raises hand), there’s obviously a component in there somewhere. For me, more importantly, the decision to lose my surgenic virginity (yeah, I just made that up), boiled down to two issues: one, my friggin eyebrow muscles were exhausted from the effort of hoisting up my eyelids when I wanted to do stuff like...oh, I dunno...SEE; and two, the whole saggy thing going on with the rest of my face translated (in my mind) to sloppiness. (Longtime blogreaders will recall my love/hate relationship with sloppiness−I’m some sort of recalcitrant Virgo.)

Anyway, then this weird chick started showing up in my photographs. She wore her hair the same way as I, and she visited the same vacation spots. But I didn’t recognize her face−namely, her smile−and then it came to me. That poor smile has to prop up those big fat bags under her eyes−no wonder her lips are straining. Of course, that girl was me.

Lastly (okay, I guess I lied−we’re up to four issues now, aren’t we?), it came down to that lonely but necessary task we women face (no pun intended) every morning of our lives. I’m talkin’ about staring into that lighted make-up mirror−the one with the magnification so that our aging eyes catch those rogue hairs sprouting from our chins. (More lying−I don’t own the kind with the magnification but the lights are bad enough.) I mean, is that any way to start out a perfectly good day when you’re 55 years old? You’re practically doomed before the coffee cools off.

So, yeah. Cosmetic surgery was definitely on my radar and the blips were growing in frequency and decibels.

But first, as you know, I had to quit smoking. Major stumbling block, and it took months getting around to. Trust me, I get it. When it comes to healing, you definitely want your oxygen carrying blood guys firing on all pistons, and guess what−nicotine (and all the rest of the crap in cigarettes) tends to screw with the efficiency of that whole system. So, yeah. First up, I had to quit smoking.

Then, of course, I had to schedule time off. Hey, January’s as good a time as any.

Finally...well, let’s just say, business turned around mid-way last year, allowing me to feel comfortable spending a chunk of money on....ME.

I’d already done my research and in-person consults back in April, so I knew the name of the surgeon I wanted wielding the knife. He came with the added bonus of being local (between my driveway and his office, there are only two turns!−okay, spread out over about 5 miles, but still...), and he’d performed surgery on a friend of mine. (Total coincidence! I found him first! I found him first!)

Anyway, so that part was easy, and on a Wednesday in January, I found my fingers punching out the numbers to his office where the lovely Nicole suggested a date not even two weeks away.


“Okay,” I said, “let’s get ‘er done.” (So, see? Remember all that stuff I blogged about−the switching of the beds, the upgrading of the TV, etc. etc.? Ha. That was my version of pre-op prep!)

Also high on the prep list was securing the services of lifelong friend Kathleen. A respiratory therapist by profession, I knew that if she were available, she’d be here in a heartbeat, ready to hold my hand and take care of the yucky stuff. Little did I know that having her on-board would also make the, dare I say it...FUN?

Coming up tomorrow...oh, who knows? I haven’t written it yet. Maybe something about fear. Yeah, that’ll be good. What do you suppose my two greatest fears were?

(Note: I have no idea how many posts this’ll turn out to be, but I promise pictures at the end!)

Monday, February 02, 2009

First Line Contest -- An Update

Hey, all...remember that contest I entered awhile back? I'm still in the running, so how cool is that? In case you've forgotten, it's at author Karin Tabke's blog, and it's where you add a line from your manuscript each week until you get axed by the judge. Here's my entry thus far:

Looking back, my mid-life crisis began on a Tuesday in March, right there on aisle twelve of the local supermarket between the laxatives and the condoms. That’s the day I confronted an assortment of tampon boxes and wondered if my diminishing egg production warranted the forty-eight count economy size. See, I worried about a future when the half-empty box, now faded and kinda tattered around the edges, still sat beneath the sink ready to mock me every time I reached for a hair dryer or fresh roll of TP.

“Can I help you find something, ma’am?”

“Yeah, could you put out an APB on my youth?” A rhetorical question, but when the kid gasped and made a move as though to summon the men in white suits, I dredged up a reassuring smile. “Just kidding,” I lied, vaguely trying to pinpoint the moment in life when I’d gone from miss to ma’am.

This is from my current WIP--the one mysteriously titled JATAOMM for now. I've written about 70 pages and read it through just the other night. Looks like that month-long stall I've been in is nearly over (go, ME!).

Meanwhile, be sure to look for tomorrow's post. I'm working on a marathon entry about last week's doings (astute blogreaders--well, plus friends and relatives--you guys know what I'm talkin' about.)