Years ago when I was still concerned with what my hair looked like, I refused to wear hats.
So what? Now, think about this for a minute. If you are a farmer, or at least breed some
type of livestock, what are you out in a lot? No, not manure. Thatís not what Iím going
for, itís sunshine. And, what can sunshine do to unprotected skin? Thatís right, burn.
Constant burning year after year leads to? Yep, badly sun damaged skin. This can lead to
what? Tons of wrinkles and possibly, hereís the scary part, skin cancer.
Over the last several years Iíve been having bits and pieces of my face removed. Not that
Iím going for a new look, or was a Punker before being a Punker was cool, itís because I
have a badly sun damaged face with suspicious "places", as the doctor says. And, it all
started when I was younger and I absolutely refused to wear a hat because it would muss
up my hair.
Now I raise goats. Come on, folks, how vain can you be when you raise goats? I donít
worry about my hair. When I wake up in the morning, thatís the new "do" for the day.
And, if I comb it, well thereís another whole new look. Because usually, I am outside with
the goats all day, or doing something goaty, like cleaning stalls, kidding, hauling hay,
making hay, etc.
This last bout of removing part of the face was on Valentineís Day. I was to be in the
outpatient ward by 6:15 a.m. Lee and I got up at 4 a.m. to get the morning chores done,
plus bottle feed 10 kids, and get to the hospital on time. Talk about being tired.
We got at the hospital and they immediately took me back to get "prepared". Almost at
once the nurse had problems with me. "Remove all your clothes," she said.
I said, "What?! To get a thingy cut off my face? Itís not down on my body. Itís on my
"Remove your clothes and put this on. It ties in the back." She said sternly.
She hands me this threadbare gown. I growl and start taking off my clothes. She ignores
me and walks off. "If I had known I had to take my jeans off I would have shaved my
legs. Itís all on your head now," I grumbled at the departing back.
I get "dressed" and crawl into bed. Lee hunts up a very thin blanket to keep me warm. You
ever notice how cold they keep rooms where the patients are in threadbare gowns and
see-through blankets? Lee draped my coat over my shivering form. The nurse comes in
and takes that and my clothes away. I think she was suspicious Iíd at least slip my jeans
back on before going to the operating room.
I lay there and wait, and wait, and wait. Finally, Iím dozing off. Lee has already dozed off
in his little chair with his head being supported by the wall TV control. A nurse bustles in
with her thermometer and blood pressure cup. Sheís pleased with my temperature and
comments on my blood pressure. "112 over 68. My, you are relaxed." A slight snore
almost escapes from my lips. Try getting up at 4 a.m. and see how relaxed youíll get later.
"Well, itís time to move you down to get you prepared. The doctors come in at 7:30 a.m."
I am taken away from a now awakened Lee and moved to another room with even more
people in little curtain stalls. They park me in a corner and leave. I wait and try to fight
dozing off. At 8:30 a.m. a nurse comes and gets me for the operating room.
When we get there, I realize something awful. Iíve got to go to the bathroom! Right now! I
tell the nurse and look frantically around for a bathroom sign.
"Thereís no bathrooms near the surgery. Come on. You can hold it for fifteen minutes,
canít you?" The helpful nurse says.
I agree to be a brave little soldier. So, she immediately splashes me with colder then the
North Pole betadine on my face. Then slaps a freezer cold jel pack on my left leg. She
explains this is a "ground" of some type in case they get a bleeder and have to cauterize my
face. Great. Iím going to end up drowning in my own juices, from either end. Then the
doctor comes in and says he is going to numb my face and it will "sting" a "little".
Personally, it felt like he was trying to nail my face to the bed. I bravely stifled my protests
to a mild high whine that could have broke windows two blocks away.
Forty-five minutes later the surgeon is through. The nurse explains to me how to put on
make-up around the stitches if I want to get dressed up. I interrupt and tell her my idea of
"dressing up" is clean jeans and a clean sweatshirt. That ends that discussion and Iím out of
there. I wave good-bye to the surgery crew and urge the nurse onto faster speeds with my
bed. A bathroom has to be near-by, somewhere.
She parks me in "recovery" and another nurse appears all cheerful wanting to take my
blood pressure. "Iíve got to go to the bathroom," I croak out.
"Oh, come on," she says cheerfully. "You can wait a few minutes until I can get your blood
I could see she wasnít going to let me go until she had her way. I tightened down the hatch,
clenched my teeth, and offered my arm.
"Heavens, you are 130 over 90. Thatís a tad high," she says with great concern.
"Iíve got to go to the bathroom," I croaked out again. "I came in this morning with 112
over 68. Let me go to the bathroom."
"Well, maybe weíd better let you go to the bathroom," she says brightly. "And, Iíll take
your pressure afterwards."
I leaped out of bed and start burning rubber to the bathroom I had spotted down the hall.
"Donít forget to hold the back of the gown closed," she calls after me.
A few minutes later I walk back to my bed a new person. People from the many parked
beds are watching with interest, but this time I had hold of the back of the gown. The nurse
letís me go home after I sign the release papers and the surgeon says he is pleased that the
area is "contained" that he cut out.
What do I do now about future sun damage? Iíve been studying and experimenting with
this over the years. You can use that super greasy sunscreen that will let you slid through
any crack. Try to climb up on the tractor seat, sit down, and you almost slide back off.
Now, thereís the water-based sunscreen, not greasy, but if you start sweating, watch out
for your eyes. That stuff smarts and youíll find yourself staggering around trying to see out
of badly watering eyes.
So, Iíve studied other people and how they handle the sun. One farmer had a great idea in
that he took his kids old plastic swimming pool and somehow strung it up over his roll bar
on his tractor. Itís cheap, effective, and quite an unusual sight. Since he wasnít concerned
about looks, I had to assume he raised goats, too.
So, this year, following that farmerís line of thought, Iím going to hunt up the biggest
sombrero I can find. Big enough to shade all of me and two or three goats looking for
shade. The only thing Iíll have to worry about then is a strong wind that might float me off
our hill farm.