Getting My Head Examined

Have you ever thought about what’s inside your head?

Random question for a Friday, but it’s kind of where my mind is at. (And after yesterday’s post on politics, I’d rather tongue-bathe the monkey cage at Zoo Atlanta than write about anything political today.)

Today, I went and got my head examined. They strapped me into a pretty white machine with a nifty revolving gizmo and took pictures of the inside of my noggin. Then, they showed me those pictures and told me something that anyone who knows me realizes is patently obvious: I have massive sinus issues.

Massive ones. I’m more stopped up than a convention for constipation. I have more clogs than Atlanta traffic.

Or, as my doctor told, “You aren’t actually breathing. You just kind of take in air.”

Good to know.

Naturally, surgery was recommended. I’m not exactly a medi-phobe, but it’s close. Every time I sit down in a doctor’s office, all I hear is a cash register dinging. This makes me nervous, which makes me slightly panicky, which makes me want to be anywhere other than the doctor’s office. So I’m not scared of the doctor, per se, just his bills. And sinus surgery – even outpatient sinus surgery with minimal risk – makes me a little uncomfortable.

I’ve mentioned this hesitancy to some friends and family, and their response is the same: get over it.

“Don’t you want to be able to smell?” (I work with teenagers, and smell might be overrated.)

“Don’t you want to actually taste what you’re eating?” (Depends on what I’m eating. If it’s a burrito, yes. Zucchini, no.)

“Aren’t you tired of the headaches?” (Yes, but a bajillion pack of Advil is still cheaper than 1.3 minutes of anesthesia, which I would need if I had surgery.)

“You have no idea how it would change your life.” (Maybe so, but if I don’t know what I’m missing, then I can’t miss it, can I?)

I’ll probably end up having the surgery, of course. In the long run, I am tired of feeling like I can’t ever get enough air, or of hearing other people talk about how delicious something tastes. There are times when my stuffed-up-head deprives me of some of life’s simpler pleasures, like when my daughter took a deep noseful of air yesterday and said, “Smell that, daddy? That’s fall!”

I miss that. The last time I smelled fall, it was 1993, and my friend P.C. Frailey were at the UGA Homecoming Game. As we walked from Russell Hall towards the stadium, we were inundated with the smells of pulled pork, grilled steak, hamburgers, hot dogs; the smell of fallen leaves, woodfire, and earth; the crispness that autumn air holds when the humidity is gone, but the coldness hasn’t settled in.

We walked among this, my friend and I, and took in the wonder. It was so moving, in fact, that by the time we’d gotten to the stadium, P.C. had gone on a journey of a different sort. He looked at me, and with all seriousness declared, “I’m going to break some hearts. People have been encouraging me to go to BYU.”

Then he gestured to the sights and smells around us and said, “But this is where I belong. I’m coming to UGA.”

I can smell the barbecue now, and though it’s only a memory, it’s a powerful one.

So I guess when the surgical consultant calls me next week and wants to know if I’m ready to schedule my procedure, I’ll go ahead and say yes. It’d be nice to be able to smell even a little bit of fall this year, not to mention Christmas. I’ll just suck it up and get it over with, I suppose, and be grateful that I even have the option.

In the meantime, I’ll try not to think about that scene from Total Recall, when Arnold pulls the tracking device from his own nose, which is my rough approximation of what I imagine sinus surgery to be like. I’ll try not to think about that at all.

It’ll be tough.

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