Tuesday, June 29, 2021


I’m the first to admit I’ve never been punctual. People who know me have learned to give me the wrong time to be somewhere so I’ll get there on time. For example, if an event starts at 7 PM, they’ll tell me it starts at 6:00 because they know I’ll arrive at 6:45.

Recently, since having my Mohs surgery, I’ve had to visit the office of a group of physicians every two days for a bandage change.

I was instructed beforehand to arrive 15 minutes early, wait in my car out in the parking lot and they would call my cell phone when they were ready for me. They even emphasized, “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

The first day, I arrived 15 minutes early for my 8:00 AM appointment, which was a record for me – not only for actually getting out of bed at the crack of dawn, but also for arriving early anywhere.  I was so proud of myself, I was tempted to go order an engraved trophy to display on my fireplace mantel.

Well, so much for being early. I ended up sitting out in the parking lot until 8:15 before my phone rang. It was so hot in my car (my A/C is “iffy” at best) and I was so sweaty by then, I didn’t even need a bandage change…because the bandage had slid off on its own.

“Where are you?” the voice asked in a tone that sounded just a bit irritated. 

“Out in the parking lot, waiting for your call.”

“Oh…well, you can come in now.”

When I got home later, I realized why they’d been so late calling my cell phone. It was because they’d been calling my home phone. I had two messages on my answering machine saying, “You can come in now, we’re ready for you.”

Unfortunately, I was 17 miles away, sitting out in their parking lot both times they’d called. It must finally have dawned on them (my answering machine message saying, “I’m not home right now,” might have given them a clue) that they weren’t calling my cell phone.

The next appointment, I once again arrived early, but was called (this time on my cell phone) at 8:00 sharp. I was instructed to go up to the fifth floor and someone would meet me there and take me to the examining room. So I took the elevator to the fifth floor, stepped out  – and didn’t see a soul anywhere.

But I did see so many hallways branching off from one another, I was pretty sure the building had been designed by the same guy who designed mazes for laboratory rats.

After 10 minutes of standing in one spot and still being the only person up there, I decided to go exploring. A dozen hallways later, I found a waiting-room door that had my doctor’s medical group’s name on it. I breathed a sigh of relief…until I tried the door and discovered it was locked. Also, the waiting room was dark.

There was a chair out in the hallway, so I sat down and waited for someone to arrive.

And then I waited some more.

By 8:30, I decided to throw caution to the wind and break the “don’t call us, we’ll call you” rule. Bravely, I called the number listed on my appointment card.

I knew I was in trouble when the woman who answered asked me what city I was calling from. It turned out she was in Massachusetts. By then, my voice could aptly be described as whining as I told her I was in a deserted hallway near a closed waiting-room. She told me she would call someone to come get me, and to stay where I was.

A few minutes later, a physician’s assistant appeared, smiling and apologizing. My appointment took all of five minutes.

When I was leaving, I stepped into the elevator and a woman pushing a mail cart suddenly appeared. She was the only person, other than the physician’s assistant, I’d seen on that floor that morning.

“Do you mind if I share the elevator with you?” she asked me.

I shrugged and said, “As long as you’re not an ex-convict carrying a hatchet, I’m fine with it.”

She looked wide-eyed at me and said, “No, I’m just delivering some packages.”

My next appointment is Thursday at 1:45.

I’ve decided I’m going to leave my house at 1:44.

It’s just no fun being early.

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Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science-fiction. Contact her at: sillysally@att.net.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021


 (Written on 6-21-21)

In my blog post on April 19th, I wrote about my anxiety about an upcoming appointment with a dermatologist to check a cluster of bumps on the bridge of my nose.

I finally gathered the courage to see the doctor on April 26th. By then, the bumps I’d been so concerned about practically had disappeared, so I nearly canceled the appointment. But the woman I’d talked to when I booked it suggested I also have a full-body skin-check done while I was there, just to get a baseline map of all of my current moles and spots, especially any “iffy” ones. So I thought that sounded like a good idea.

To be honest, the doctor didn’t make me feel very comfortable. He informed me I couldn’t speak to him unless I was wearing my mask, yet the first thing he did was tell me to remove it so he could check my nose and face. I showed him the cluster of bumps I was concerned about and he said, “Oh, that’s nothing…a benign keratosis.”

I breathed a long sigh of relief, thinking all of my worrying had been for naught. Then in the next breath, he said, with all the expression of someone reading a grocery list, “But that bump on the side of your nose is cancer. Now let’s look at your neck.”

I said, “Whoa!  Wait a minute – let’s get back to the cancer!”

To which he snapped, “Don’t speak to me without your mask!”

He then said, “It’s a basal-cell carcinoma, one of the least serious forms of skin cancer. It’s not a big problem. Have you heard of Mohs surgery?”

When I get nervous, I joke. 

So I blurted out, “Mohs surgery? What happened to Curly and Larry?”

No reaction. 

He took a biopsy at that point, slicing off the bump and sending it to the lab. He said I’d know the results in a few days.

During those “few days,” which lasted about 120 years, I managed to convince myself the doctor was wrong. The tiny flesh-colored bump on the side of my nose never had bothered me or changed in color or size, and I’d had it for years. It was just an old-age bump, I told myself. Lots of elderly people have bumps on their faces. And I’m elderly.

In the meantime, I made the mistake of looking up “Mohs surgery on the nose” on Google. I was pretty sure the Marquis de Sade had gathered the photos for the images. Frankenstein’s monster had fewer stitches than most of those poor people in them. And every person’s story about his or her Mohs surgery was like reading something out of a Stephen King novel. It seemed as if they were trying to outdo each other in gore category.

“I had just a tiny bump the size of poppy seed,” one person wrote, “and now I’m missing half my nose. I had to have a flap of skin cut from my cheek and pulled over my nose, and the other day I yawned and tore apart my stitches..”

The stories got only worse after that one – everything from post-surgical skin turning black and falling off to pain so intense even the world’s strongest painkillers couldn’t take the edge off it.

So when a woman from the doctor’s office called and actually yawned when she told me my biopsy had come back positive for cancer, my first thought was she must make a heck a lot of these calls. My second thought was I was glad I could wear a mask in public without anyone thinking I was weird...because I could conceal my future hideousness.

The Mohs surgery was set for June 17th.  Six long weeks to wait. That was because the Mohs specialist who was going to do the honors was associated with a bunch of hospitals in the state and was in certain areas only at certain times of the month.

The Mohs information packet I received from the surgeon made me start to think for the first time that removing my little bump was going to be a much bigger deal than I’d originally anticipated, even after reading all of the previous horror stories. It said the surgery could take from two hours to as many as nine, depending on how many layers of skin would have to be removed. It said I’d have one layer removed then have to wait for the lab results. If cancer cells still remained, another layer would be taken and more waiting for the lab results. This would go on for as many layers as it took until the results came back cancer-free. Best-case scenario would be one layer, a stitch and a Band-Aid. Worst case would be about five layers and reconstructive surgery.

It also said I’d have to take five days off from work afterwards and get a lot of rest, with no heavy lifting, bending, stress or exercise. And I’d also probably have swelling and bruising and at least one black eye. I was given a list of things I might need for my wound care afterwards: petroleum jelly, cotton swabs, gauze, bandages, organic soap, Tylenol, dry shampoo and more. 

Call me a pessimist, but "the least serious form of skin cancer," was beginning to sound pretty serious to me.

The six weeks leading up my surgery crawled by. Living alone made everything seem worse because I had way too much time to sit around and worry.

So I decided I needed a diversion and threw myself into writing another novel. By the time my surgery day arrived, I’d written 86,000 words. That book was the only thing that kept me sane because it was an escape from reality into an alternate world I created myself. And while I was working on it, I wasn’t able to think of things like “How much of my nose is going to be left after my surgery?”

My friend Nancy had planned to drive me to my surgery and then sit with me during the waiting periods for the lab results, but because of Covid, I was informed she would have to wait out in the car. Not wanting to subject my poor friend to sitting in a parking lot for hours, I decided I’d be brave and go through it all by myself.

Surprisingly, I’d been more nervous for the first visit than I was for the surgery. By then, I just wanted to get it over and done with. If the surgeon had shown up with a set of garden tools, I think I still would have told him to go ahead with it, just to get it over with.

Fortunately, I liked him. Unlike the first doctor, this guy was cheerful and had a good sense of humor. He also allowed me to talk to him while I was maskless, which was the entire visit, seeing he was working on my nose.

His assistant, Chris, did all of the dirty work – injecting the local anesthesia, cauterizing the wound, cleaning up the blood and then bandaging. The first injections weren’t bad. A bit of a burning sensation and then numbness. I didn’t feel anything during the removal of the first layer of skin.

Not even fifteen minutes later, the results were back. I was told there still were cancer cells – so on to the next layer, wider and deeper. More local anesthesia was given – this time in an area with an open wound, so it was a little less comfortable. But after that, I didn’t feel the taking of layer number two.

I joked with the surgeon, “Keep going and I’ll be able to wear a nose ring.”

He said, “Do you really want one?”

I had to laugh, picturing myself looking like Ferdinand the Bull.

Before I knew it, I was given the “all clear, no more cancer.”

Thank God!

The surgeon then told me I had two options: I could let the wound heal on its own and he’d pack it with some kind of dissolving gelatin filler. But, he said, it would leave a scar. Or, I could have a graft taken from my ear to cover the hole in my nose.

“Will the scar be able to be concealed with makeup?” I asked him.

He said yes, that it would be a flat scar. That ended that. I was done with needles and carving. I opted for the filler. So something called Surgifoam (a.k.a. gelatin made from pigs) was put on my nose and then it was bandaged with a pressure bandage that I was told not to touch or get wet. An appointment was made to have the bandage removed in four days.


I really was curious to find out what was lurking under that bandage, believe me. After seeing all of the scary photos online, I was expecting to be able to land a role in the TV series The Walking Dead as one of the zombies with its body parts dropping off.

As far as the surgery’s after-effects went, I didn’t have any pain or visible swelling, and no black eyes. Only two things bothered me, neither of which I’d read about during my hours of Mohs research online. First of all, the nostril on that side started to run – like turning on a faucet. I wasn’t allowed to blow my nose or even touch it, so I had a runny, drippy nose for two days. I could have hung a bucket under it, it was so bad.

Also, my wound had to be cauterized several times during the surgery and the smell of my burnt flesh was similar to that of a badly overcooked steak. When my nose was bandaged, that odor was trapped in there, so all I could smell was burnt steak. Everything I ate tasted like it because I couldn’t smell the actual food I was eating. Luckily, both problems disappeared in about 48 hours.

Today I had the pressure bandage removed and was told everything was looking good. I still wasn’t shown what the wound looked like but I was shown a diagram of the tumor that had been beneath the skin - kind of like a kidney shape. I learned that even though skin cancer might look like a tiny dot on the surface, it can be similar to that small rock you try to dig up out in your garden, only to discover it's actually a boulder beneath the ground. Also, you don't have to be a sun worshipper to get skin cancer. I'm proof of that - I'm nocturnal. But if you have arsenic in your well-water, which I do, it is another leading cause of skin cancer. I do have a purification system for my water, but it broke last year, and thanks to the pandemic, I still haven't been able to afford to get it repaired. 

More Surgifoam was added to my wound, and another bandage was put over it. I then was told to come back in two days for another bandage change.

I’m pretty sure they don’t realize it’s about a 36-mile round trip for me every time they change my bandage.

Speaking of which, after the new bandage was put on today, I ran several errands while wearing a mask in 92-degree heat. Beneath the mask, I could feel the sweat pooling up all around my nose.  I kept thinking, “Noooo! I’m not supposed to get the bandage wet! I haven’t even dared take a shower since my surgery because of it!”

Sure enough, an hour ago, just as I was leaning over my dog's bed, about to put a new lightweight blanket on it, the entire bandage, complete with a chunk of the Surgifoam, fell off my face and landed right in a clump of dog fur.

Um…I think I might be in trouble...


#   #   # 

UPDATE 6-23-21

After a lot of searching, I found a single gauze pad and some tape under the bathroom sink and re-taped my wound. When I did, however, I made it a little long, so it was hanging down to my lip. But I had an appointment at the dermatologist's scheduled for today for another bandage change, so I figured it was good enough to last till then, and at least my wound was covered and not being exposed to germs and bacteria.

Well, last night I was eating soup and I got some of it on the bottom edge of my bandage. I was so embarrassed, thinking the doctor would think I was a slob when I went back today, I tried to cut that edge off the gauze. It looked better, but still there was a little soup remaining along the border.

Today, I went to have the bandage changed and the physician’s assistant removed it and pointed out the stain right away. She then started with, “There’s no need to be concerned about a little rust-colored discharge, it’s usually just…"(and she used some medical terminology).  But by then, I was laughing so hard, I wasn’t even listening!

The poor woman stared at me as if to say, “What on earth is her problem? I’m being completely serious here!”

I finally managed to say, “That’s tomato soup! I was hoping you wouldn’t notice!”

She started laughing and we both ended up cracking up for a solid couple of minutes. When I was leaving, she handed me some packets of gauze pads and said, “In case you decide to eat soup again!”

Anyway, the good news is she said my wound is looking great and healing nicely, and I finally can sleep on my right side again!  Thank goodness! It was torture having to sleep only my left!

#   #   #

Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science-fiction. 

Contact her at: sillysally@att.net.


Monday, June 14, 2021


I was pleased to hear that Concord’s annual Market Days Festival, its 47th, is going to be held again this year on August 19. 20 and 21. 

I’ve always enjoyed Market Days and have gone every year for practically as long as Concord has held them – back when they were called Bargain Days.  It’s always fun to stroll down Main Street, which is closed to traffic during the event, and shop at the booths and tables that line both sides of the street and sell everything from exotic foods and handcrafted jewelry to half-price shoes and clothes.

And then there’s the entertainment that can feature just about  anything you can imagine – dancers, bands, karate demonstrations, jugglers, karaoke singers, cloggers, unicycle riders and much more.

The only problem is that nearly every year for as long as I can remember, the Market Days celebration has been held during the hottest days of the summer.  I recall one year in particular when it must have been 102 degrees in the shade.  The chocolates and fudge in the candy booths rapidly turned into hot-fudge sauce, and the frozen treats from the ice-cream vendors looked like drinks in cones before they even reached the people’s mouths.

One year, when it was uncharacteristically cool during Market Days, I made a really dumb decision to take my rottweiler, Willow, to the event with me. There always were plenty of dogs strolling down Main Street with their families, so I thought it might be a good place to try to socialize her a bit, seeing we lived way out in the country where she rarely saw many other dogs or humans.

It never crossed my mind that people might fear a dog that stood about 30 inches high and weighed nearly 120 pounds.

The minute Willow and I started to walk down the middle of Main Street, I realized that maybe she wasn’t going to have the joyful afternoon of socializing I’d imagined she’d have. The fact that people practically fell over each other jumping out of the way and little children ran screaming to their parents the minute they spotted Willow approaching was a pretty good clue. Had I been walking a skunk on a leash, the reaction couldn’t have been much worse.

Finally, a man approached us. “What a bee-yoo-ti-ful dog!” he gushed, looking truly awed. “Please, may I pat her?”

“Sure, go right ahead,” I told him.

The minute he touched Willow, she was in love, cuddling up to him and wagging. Onlookers watched this man as if he were a lion tamer about to thrust his head into the lion’s mouth. When they saw he’d managed to actually touch Willow without losing any major body parts, a few of them walked over and also asked to pat her. Willow was in her glory.

Then came the man with a pitbull. The two dogs locked eyes. Willow wagged. The pitbull didn’t.

“Is your dog friendly?” I asked the guy.

“Oh yes, he’s just a big pussycat,” he answered.

He brought his dog closer to Willow. They sniffed each other and everything seemed fine…until the pitbull decided to growl and sink his teeth into Willow’s ear. The growling match that followed attracted a group of people who probably thought dog wrestling was part of the entertainment.

“Gee, my dog’s never done that before,” the guy said, yanking his pitbull away. “Is your dog OK?”

There was no blood anywhere, so the only thing injured was Willow’s pride.

I decided it was time to go find a bench, have a seat and give Willow a drink of water. I found the perfect bench in the shade in Eagle Square and sat down in the center of it. Then I pulled a bottle of water and a plastic bowl out of my bag and Willow and I both had a drink. At one end of the bench was a stone wall on which two women were seated. Another woman soon joined them and sat on the end of the bench…where she kept leaning toward the wall to talk to the other two women. In her right hand was an ice cream cone, which she wasn’t paying attention to as she chatted with her friends. Every time she spoke, she unknowingly waved her hand with the cone in it…right in Willow’s face.

Before I could blink, the woman’s scoop of ice cream had vanished. Frantic, I searched the ground, hoping to see the ice cream lying there. But the only evidence as to where it had gone was a very happy-looking rottweiler with vanilla ice cream all over the end of her nose.

The woman turned to eye her cone, which was empty, and then glared at me, as if she thought I was the one who’d stolen it.

“I’m really sorry,” I said. “My dog ate your ice cream. I’ll buy you another one.”

“Um, that’s OK,” she said, smiling tightly. “I really didn’t need the calories anyway.”

I spent the rest of the afternoon steering Willow away from food-carrying kids who were her height. The ice-cream snatching incident made me realize that no slice of pizza or hot dog was safe anywhere within three feet of her face.

Not only do I enjoy searching for bargains every year at Market Days, I also enjoy watching other people search for bargains. I never cease to be surprised at the number of people who will buy an item just because it’s on sale. 

For example, there was one woman who was holding up a floral dress that looked as if it had been made for a Barbie doll.

“Isn’t this dress just darling?” she called out to her friend, who was looking at a display of earrings nearby. “And it’s half price!  Think I should buy it to wear to the anniversary party this weekend?”

Her friend’s expression clearly revealed that she thought that if by some miracle the woman actually could manage to squeeze her body into that dress for the anniversary party, it would take the Jaws of Life to extricate her from it. Still, she replied, “Half price!  You’d be a fool to pass up a bargain like that!”

At another tent that featured discounted brand-new footwear, a boy was trying on a pair of popular brand-name sneakers that were marked down from $79 to $24.95. 

How do they feel?” his mother asked.

“They’re way too big” he answered. “My feet nearly come right out of them when I walk, even with the laces tied tight.”

“Well, I’m not passing them up at that price,” the mother said. “You’ll grow into them.” 

I figured that by the time the kid was 30, he might be able to wear them…but only if his feet grew to be about the size of Paul Bunyan’s.

So I really am looking forward to attending the event once again this year…if the temperature’s not 102 degrees. And I won’t be making any frivolous purchases just because an item is on sale. Nope, no way. 

I mean, those glittery blue socks with the unicorns on them I bought the last time I went were absolute necessities.


 #   #   #


Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines for most of her adult life. She is the author of several novels, including: “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” “Heed the Predictor” and “Inside the Blue Cube.” Contact her at: sillysally@att.net.



Tuesday, June 8, 2021



I never realized it before, but I think I might be obsessed with potatoes. For one thing, I eat them every day. Some people can’t go a day without coffee, but I can’t go a day without a potato…make that two potatoes.

When I go shopping for them, I always pick up the bag and sniff the potatoes through the little holes in the plastic. This has caused more than a few people to stare at me as if I have some sort of a weird potato-fetish.

Still, it would take more than a few bewildered stares to keep me from wanting to stick my schnoz into the bags. Potatoes are supposed to smell like fresh soil. If they smell like anything else - mildew, cow manure, farmers' feet - I won't buy them. During my pre-potato-sniffing days, I had too many potentially fabulous meals (okay, a few homemade French fries) get ruined when I trustingly used unsniffed potatoes that ended up tasting like old sneakers (not that I’m an expert on sneaker flavors).

The only problem this past year has been trying to discreetly sniff the potatoes while I’m wearing a mask. I did manage to sneak a few short sniffs instead of my usual lengthy deep breaths, but at least twice I ended up buying potatoes that when I removed them from the bag at home, smelled like a wet towel that had been sitting in a gym bag for about two weeks. This taught me to also check the plastic bags for any drops of moisture clinging to the inner layer. Moisture has a way of quickly making potatoes turn rotten or mildewed, neither of which will enhance the taste of your potato salad.

And then there is the green-potato controversy. Nothing upsets me more when I peel a potato than to discover it’s green. But even after all these years, I still have no clue if a green potato is safe to eat because the available info online is divided about 50-50.

Half say, “Just cut off the green parts and the rest of the potato is still fine to eat,” while the rest say, “Green potatoes are toxic! Toss out the whole potato because even the parts that aren’t green yet are going through a chemical transformation that can cause your (insert any body organ) to fall out!”

There’s one potato company that tints its plastic bags brown. I can’t count how many times I’ve purchased a bag of those potatoes, thinking they were brown, but then when I removed them from the bag at home, discovered their outer skins actually were green – and their innards were even greener. I’m tempted to eat a bunch of their green potatoes and then after my (insert any body organ) falls out, sue them for millions for misrepresenting their product.

Even worse, I read an article online that said the skin of the potato never should be eaten because it’s usually where all of the fertilizer and pesticides accumulate. “Peel the potatoes and toss out the skins!” One doctor wrote.

When I think back to all of the cheese-and-bacon-filled potato-skin appetizers I’ve eaten over the years, I should have been dead a long time ago...or currently resemble some alien mutant.

Another thing that’s upsetting about potatoes is the variety of sizes in a single bag. I found this gigantic potato in the bottom of a bag of potatoes, and then a super-small one in the same bag. The nutritional information on the bag said: “Serving size – one potato – 110 calories. Well, for my 110 calories, I’ll bet you can guess which one I'll go with.

So am I truly obsessed with potatoes? Nah, I don’t think so.            Time to take my dogs, Russet and Yukon Gold for a walk now.

#  #  #

Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines for most of her adult life. She is the author of several novels, including: “There’s a Tick in my Underwear!” “Heed the Predictor” and “Inside the Blue Cube.” Contact her at: sillysally@att.net.