My wife and I had more than our fair share of encounters with the health care delivery system this week. Our saga started Wednesday morning when I had to have minor outpatient surgery and it ended that evening with my having to take my wife to the ER.
Taking things in chronological order, around two weeks ago a small, barely noticeable cyst on my lower abdomen, which I’ve had for years, suddenly swelled up from the size of a pea to the size of a peach. At the same time, it turned deep red and was extremely sensitive to the touch.
Apparently it’s not that uncommon for a sebaceous cyst to become infected, and the first course of treatment when it does is antibiotics. After a week, though, the drugs hadn’t worked and the infected cyst kept growing, getting redder, and becoming even more painful to touch.
So I went back to the doctor Wednesday morning and he lanced and drained the cyst. While the procedure itself was gross, the most painful part was when he injected the site with Xylocaine, a local anesthetic, to numb the skin where he intended to make a small incision over the infected, inflamed cyst.
Thanks to the Xylocaine injection, I didn’t really feel the incision or any pain as he pushed down and squeezed the pus out of the cyst. But it was kind of gross to see all that thick, opaque, yellowish-white fluid matter mixed with blood being squeezed from the cyst like pus from a giant pimple. How’s that for a visual?
Before sending me home, the doctor dressed the still oozing wound by covering it with gauze pads and securing them to my lower abdomen with half a dozen strips of adhesive tape. He suggested that I change the dressing twice a day until the oozing stops.
And that’s when the real fun began.
You see, I’m a hairy guy, and the cyst, positioned on my lower abdomen, just left of center, was surrounded by my “man-fur.” The tape strips the doctor used to secure the gauze pads over the wound were stuck to those body hairs and the only way to remove the gauze pads covering the incision was to quickly rip off the tape.
Did you ever see The 40-Year-Old Virgin? Remember when the character played by Steve Carell was having his chest hairs removed? Imagine that happening right above your groin. Yeah...OUCH!
That’s when I decided, before redressing the wound, to do a bit of manscaping. I took my beard trimmer and removed most of the body hair in the area of the cyst, which area, in case you’re interested, ran pretty much from my crotch to my navel, but only on the left side. It’s an interesting look.
On the rocks
Sadly, I wasn’t able to milk much sympathy after my traumatic ordeal for very long. Just seven hours later I was upstaged by my wife. While hiking with our dog Shadow along a wooded, rocky path at a local state park, she slipped on a wet rock. She tried to break her fall by reaching out with her right arm, but it was her wrist, not her fall, that she broke.
Despite her intense pain, my wife managed the short drive home from the park. As soon as I saw her swollen and somewhat misshapen wrist, I knew it was broken. I got Shadow situated in our house and I drove my wife to the emergency room, where we spent the next four hours.
confirmed that she had broken two bones in her wrist. The doctor applied an immobilizing splint on her right arm. This “splint,” which to me looks and works very much like a cast, extended from above
her elbow to the tips of her fingers.
As a right hander, it didn’t take her long to internalize the affect on her activities of daily living an immobilizing splint on her dominant arm would have.
“How am I going to take a shower if I can’t get this [explicative deleted] splint wet? How am I going to wash and blow-dry my hair? How am I going to get dressed?”
I, too, am not unaffected by this kind of injury to my spouse. If I want to eat between now and the time the cast is removed, I will either need to take my wife out to dinner, order and pick-up carryout, or cook our meals myself! Of course, that last option limits what we can eat to steaks, baked chicken, and spaghetti.
Oh, by the way, she also bruised her knee in the fall, and it’s painful for her to walk. So when it comes to walking our dog four times a day, that’s pretty much going to be my job for the foreseeable future.
And finally, our cross-country road trip back to San Francisco, which we planned to start on June 17th, has been indefinitely postponed.