The Star-News


Doctor keeps him in stitches

Sat, Jun 01 2013 12:00 PM Posted By: Richard Peña

In the Lamb's Players Production of "Fiddler on the Roof" there is a scene where Motel the tailor is joyously showing the townfolks his newly acquired labor-saving instrument, a used sewing machine, exclaiming, "This household will never have to wear hand-sewn clothing again!"

I was thinking of this the other day when a medical technician was busily sewing up portions of my face, not with any fancy machine like Motel’s, but an old fashioned needle and thread much the way our mothers used to mend a tear in our pants.

Although the affected area of my face was properly deadened and I could feel no pain I could, nevertheless, sort of follow the procedure as he took stitch after stitch. I wondered at the time if there was not something out there that would make the procedure more professional, that is, more in keeping up with medical technology.

For the past several weeks I have been undergoing a series of procedures by my dermatologist, Dr. Walter Nahm. I went in for a checkup a month or so ago and they discovered growths here and there that had the possibilities of going on to something much more serious. The obvious decision was take them out now and avoid massive surgery in the future. So, with the help of my caregiver, Patty, and daughter Coni, who happened to drop in at this time, I made more trips to the good doctor’s digs over in the Carnation Circle of San Diego than I made to the golf course on my good days.

Oh, I know that there are other methods of putting one together after some sort of surgery.  Some 20 years or so ago I had a heart bypass procedure where I was literally taken apart. To put me together they used staples, much like the kind that one might find at the office supply store of the same name. They were not exactly the latest in medical advancements but they did the trick so why complain?  I have yet to fall apart.

I think that any doctor who has ever held a scalpel would classify his patient by using a adjective.

They would say such things as “tough as nails” or “great trooper” or “tremulous.”  I hate to think what they think of me.  I believe I would fall somewhere between “crybaby” and “lachrymose loony.” With age I have gotten worse. I despise needles of any kind. When a needle is used on me I always make sure I am facing the other way.  I think, erroneously of course, that if I don’t see it I am not a party to it. I also cannot tolerate the sound of any machinery in the examining area. I think they remind me too much of the cardiac machines they had in some offices, those that don’t bring back pleasant thoughts.

Thankfully I am on the downward side of my dermatology procedures. I have one more stitching job and then, of course, a return visit to remove them.

At that time, they tell me, my face will be back to normal, whatever that is.  I will have no more worries regarding those cancerous growths that come around in certain ages.  I really should not complain.  Dr. Nahm has a pleasant bedside manner.  He could be one of those doctors who sometimes posed for those Norman Rockwell portraits.

He keeps telling me that I should walk more but then everyone does that.  So if you see someone walking down the street and someone says, “Hey, there is Robert Redford,” look closer.  It could be me.

By the way, the production “Fiddler on the Roof” by the Lamb’s in Coronado is excellent.    And if you see it don’t forget to take a good look at Motel’s sewing machine.


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