The imprudence of postponing the removal of a cyst

Member when I used to be a blogger? Those were the good days. A time when America was awesome. When I was wrapped up in an American flag, cradled in the American dream. The world was my oyster. Jobs were plentiful, and there were just so many damned oysters to get. Then, all of the sudden I got a HUGE INFECTED CYST.

The cyst is in no way related to jobs, American dreams, or oysters. Unless of course (not having) health insurance is part of the American dream. Then, I suppose, infectious cysts and the American dream are terribly related. Where do oysters fit in? I just don't know.

So I have had this cyst on my neck for the better part of a half of a decade. A doctor tried to remove it previously, and for whatever reason, failed in the attempt. I don't know, I guess his cutting tool wasn't sharp enough, or he got tired of spending 7 minutes trying to do it, or he had a tee time at the Nephi golf course, or whatever. The point is, the cyst came back over the next better part of that half of a decade that I previously mentioned.

Gordon Franklin Elliot, the little oyster in my neck, grew to be about the size of a small marble. Or an incredibly large pearl. And I mostly ignored it, and passively hated it. It wasn't huge and gnarly to the point where anyone talking to me would be rendered unable to make eye contact. Often, people would never even really notice it. Until, that is, Gordon Franklin Elliot became angry and enormous.

Within about a period of a month, GFE went from being a small, semi-noticible marble under my neck skin, to a glaring red pist off half of a golf ball.

Conversations, when I'd meet new people, went something like this:

"Hi, nice to meet you. I'm Fish."

"Nice to meet you too. I don't really know anybody here. Who do you knooooooOOOOOHHHH DEAR GOD WHAT IS THAT?!?"

"Just a writhing pile of cancer, festering in my neck, moments away from sending me into an early grave. Thanks for reminding me."

Sometimes Gordon Franklin Elliot was a goiter. Or a spider bite. Or a nest of spiders. Or a parasitic twin. Or whatever. I got pretty good at immediately drawing attention to him, so as to avoid the insta-disgust/shock when anyone noticed it organically. It seemed like immediately bringing it up, and then lying and/or telling the truth about it made it easier to swallow.

Once I lost full (most) range of motion in my neck, and the mound hurt like hell, I decided it was time to visit the doctor. I got an appointment at a clinic. When it was finally my turn, I followed the nurse back, and stepped on the scale, at which point the doctor came by. She looked at Gordon Franklin Elliot, and said, "I'm not touching that. You need to go to the emergency room, and you need to go tonight."

Well shit.

So to the emergency room I went, and sat there for about 3 hours before they took me back. It is always fun, mingling for about 3 hours with lots of people who probably aren't going to pay for whatever thing the ER is going to end up doing to them.

I was excited and terrified when it was finally my turn. Joy! Rapture! This neck ailment would finally be removed from my life, once and for all.

Only, that was not the case. Apparently, when something is "just about the most infected thing I have ever seen," doctors are more concerned with removing the infectious waste than with removing that which harbored it. In other words, you have to drain the shit out of the bathtub, before you can cut out the bathtub.

So about the time that the doctor finished looking at my neck and decided that it needed to be drained, and then left me there for 45 minutes, I started thinking about how much I wasn't going to like having a needle shoved into the thing down which I swallow air and food. I don't like needles in the best of circumstances, and the neck just seems extra scary. I was trying to think of worse places to have needle penetration, and the list was short: penis, finger webbing, beneath finger/toe nails, belly button, eyeball, and maybe straight into the nipple.

I asked for some valuum or some such calming drug. Instead of giving it to me, they sent me back into the shitshow that was the waiting room, complete with some dude with a really terrifyingly messed up eye yelling at his mom on the phone, people hacking and coughing, and a really large old woman with blood soaking through a rather expansive tract of pants somewhere near where the ass and back merge together.

I spend another half an hour or so out there, until I was finally summoned back for that which I simultaneously dreaded and anticipated. I was lead to another room, deeper in the belly of the hospital. The whole 5 or so hours of waiting started to make sense, as I was re-checked in- meaning they did all the same nonsense they did over an hour ago- asking me why I was there, to what I was allergic, checking my blood pressure, etc.

I reminded the new doctor that I was expecting some valuum, and could they please hurry the hell up with it, lest the needle go anywhere near my neck in a completely lucid, terrified state. She assured me it was on its way, and then left.

A few minutes later, in comes my savior with the entirely too tiny dose of valuum. The drug had slid down my gullet fewer than 3 minutes before the doctor came back, ready to bury a needle in my neck. "NonononononoNOOOOO! Not enough time!, I screamed in my head, while nervously tapping my feet.

"Um...I JUST took that valuum like, 3 minutes ago. Is there any way you can come back in a few?"
"Well, I can wait I guess."
"Does this mean that I will wait like, 15 minutes, or another hour?"
"I don't know. It might be a while."
"Okay. Just do it."
"Okay. I will warn you, this is going to hurt. BUT, it should only hurt for a second, and then the numbing will kick in."
"Wait. Do you have to stick the needle in the middl of it, or just near it?"
"In the middle."
"Ugh. Okay. Well. Wait. Okay, just do it. No, wait. Ahh, I can't do this! Okay, just do it."

Oh, how I waxed cowardly.

But COMMON. A needle right in the middle of this enormous, infected, incredibly tender neck protrusion?

It is a strange feeling when you find yourself in a situation in which you have no choice to do something that seems like the worst thing in the world. When you have to be braver than you are. When you know you have to hold still while a needle parts the tender folds of your bulbous neck flesh, filling the protrusion with excruciating, fiery horror.

I'm glad that I didn't have some prescient knowledge of the excruciating, fiery horror part. I just assumed it was going to hurt. Not that it was going to hurt worse than any other thing ever hurt.

So I laid down, and said, "Okay okay, hurry, just do it."

She came over, popped the needle in, and I said, "Oh. That wasn't as bad as you said." At which point, she began injecting the numbing agent, which caused the whole excruciating fiery horror thing to happen. Seriously, like 1,000 wasps, stinging my neck all at once, for 45 seconds. I sweated. I writhed. I said some things that would probably make my mother, grandmother, and maybe Jesus cry. I didn't, however, move my neck an inch.

Once that was over with, I was abandoned again for about 10 minutes while my neck went numb. I thought, "alas, that sucked. But at least the painful part is over."

Again, a lack of prescience kept me from bolting out of the hospital, to die in the streets of a neck-to-brain-to-heart infection combo fatality. When the doctor returned, she looked like she was ready to operate upon a radioactive mutant covered in suppurating lesions. Face shield and all. At this point, Gordon Franklin Elliot felt hard as a rock. It seemed like one fell poke would cause a septic eruption never theretofore experienced on planet earth.

"Cool," I thought. "This will be over in no time. Poke, drain (explode), sew it up. I'll be home in time for the Daily Show."

There was a poke. There was a squirt. And then soooooo much squeezing. And, accompanying the squeezing, soooooo much pain. And, thus, more writhing, sweating, and swearing. It took about 8 minutes to drain that sonofabitch. During which, she said, "I bet you wish you took the oxycodone now, huh," as I had previously refused it, for fear of becoming nauseated, due to not having eaten any food in a ton of hours, mostly because I had been in the damned ER for tons of hours.

"Yeah. I guess I do."

Once she was finished, she sent one of her minions away to fetch me some opiates. I lay there sort of trembling, thinking as the world thought after the holocaust, "never again."

So, for the last couple of weeks, Gordon Franklin Elliot has been packed with long, ribbony gauze, which has been so tenderly removed and repacked on a daily basis by my dear friend Adam, and lately another dear friend Susan. God bless them, for saving me from daily visits to the hospital. Instead, we do the dreadful repacking in my kitchen. It is almost all the way healed up, and the sepsis seems to be gone, which means I get to go in for round two- absolute and final extraction of Gordon Franklin Elliot.

And after weeks of having gauze shoved into a hole in my neck with tweezers, with blood running down my chest (in the early days) in my kitchen....bring on the neck needle. My fear has abated.