Back in the USA — Southeast; May 5-15, 2017


We flew in to Savannah on May 5, and the next day drove to Statesboro, GA to attend the cum laude graduation of Kristen Johnson, our granddaughter, from Georgia Southern University.  Saving seats for us in the football stadium were Danielle, Barb’s daughter and Kristen’s mother, and Abigail, Danielle’s other daughter.  Knowing that the restaurants in small-town Statesboro would be packed, we all returned to Savannah for lunch after the ceremony.    

On May 8 I kept an appointment with my Savannah dermatologist.  Last Fall she had removed a small basal cell carcinoma from a spot under a fold of my right ear.  By the time she called to say that the removed tissue was indeed skin cancer and that more needed to be excised, we were already back in Bonaire.  So the return visit on the 8th was to complete the removal.  This time, the tissue was examined as I waited, so I would leave knowing that “enough” had been removed.  But what to do about the cavity?  She fussed and fretted about trying to stitch it closed, but muttered that there wasn’t enough tissue in the awkward spot.  She fussed and fretted about a skin graft maybe being needed, but thought it would probably just eventually “fill in”, and finally settled on that plan after I told her I wouldn’t be in Savannah long enough to have a graft monitored and/or stitches removed.  She gave me a 24-day supply of antibiotic and a supply of “duoderm” thin skin patches to be placed over the incision site and replaced every three days.  After the second replacement (six days later) Barb noticed a hard white area in the middle of the site.  Oh oh.  Infection?

(Hang on to your hats, folks.  We are about to enter a fold in the time dimension and skip location and way ahead in time to “finish” the story of the ear.  Barb was able to sound sufficiently alarmed to get an almost-immediate appointment with a dermatologist in Bismarck, ND, who subsequently informed us that the white area was exposed cartilage.  Further, he opined that it was highly unlikely that the area would fill in by the neighboring skin growing over, and that if it did not, the cartilage would dry out and die, leaving an area vulnerable to infection.  He suggested that he monitor the site regularly and decide whether to attempt to find a plastic surgeon to do a skin graft.  Several days later, his office called to say he had made an appointment for me with a plastic surgeon.  Long story short:  the surgeon decided the best of several alternatives would be to remove the cartilage and replace it with skin harvested from my body elsewhere.  So there would be an area in my ear that would essentially consist of just two layers of skin:  one on the back of the ear facing toward my head, and the other the replacement skin facing in the other direction out from my ear.  

As I write this I have had the operation (under soft anesthesia similar to that used for colonoscopies) and am wearing an awkward contraption designed to protect the ear while the graft heals.

OK.  Back through the worm hole in the time dimension.  That is, back to our account of our activities in the Southeast.)


North Carolina

On May 11 we drove to Charlotte in a one-way rental car, where we changed to a round-trip rental and continued to Asheville to see Devi & Hunter, old cruising buddies formerly on Arctic Tern.  Hunter was in the hospital when we arrived.  He had a hip replacement some three years ago, and it did not go well.  Exploratory surgery revealed an infection, so the hip was removed and temporarily replaced with an antibiotic-saturated temporary replacement to occupy the space while he receives daily antibiotic shots over a period of months.  We visited briefly with Hunter and then accompanied Devi to a restaurant for dinner and then spent the evening with Devi in their home.  It was good to see them both; we just wish it had been in better circumstances.

Early on May 12 we drove to Boone, NC and had lunch with granddaughter Jessie.  We then went to a huge nearby Airnb home where we would spend the weekend in celebration of Jessie’s magna cum laude graduation and our mini-reunion, since we were joined by my daughter Nellie, her husband Michael, their two sons Michael and Connor, and Nellie’s other daughter, Katie.  Later that night Jessie’s girlfriend Deja joined us.  Staying at the house, as opposed to separate hotels or motels, turned out to be very good strategy.  It gave us much more time to socialize together as we prepared meals, cleaned up afterwards, watched TV, and so forth.  Great visit. 

The actual ceremony, held in the huge field house on the campus of Appalachian State University,  was on May 13.

On May 14 we drove back to Charlotte, where we eventually found a restaurant (Chris Ruth’s) not already fully booked for a Mother’s Day dinner.  We stayed in a motel that night, and early the next morning took a series of flights to Bismarck, ND.  But the details of that visit will have await the next exciting edition of our blog.