Monday, June 09, 2008

Good News: I Don't Have Arm Cancer - Day One

I never go to hospitals. I don't know if it's a male thing or I'm just scared to find out what all these curious ailments and disconcerting pains are, but I never go. But recently I forgot to bring deodorant to Xmas Girl's place, so I borrowed her Lady SpeedStick. I'd be lying if I said this was the first time I've worn women's deodorant, so I didn't really think it would be a problem. After a week or so, though, I developed some redness under my arm. That redness then turned into a bump. That bump grew to the size of a baby's fist. So yeah. You're caught up.

Day 1 - Friday - 4:30 AM

I woke up at XG's early in the morning and felt fairly nauseous. I rolled out of bed to check myself out in the bathroom mirror. Hair? Greasy. Face? Busted. Body? None. Everything is in place so far. I check under my arm and see a bleeding red mountain. Suddenly my stomach flips, and I swallow it back like the usual warm tequila routine. It feels powerful, though, and I bow to the porcelain god, ready to bestow my sacrifice.

The vomiting is lengthy and loud. I'm sure XG appreciated it. I stand up and try to rinse the grit from my teeth before I remember something. Hmm. Perhaps when I showered Thursday and it started oozing puss and blood, that should have been a concern. Perhaps blood and puss should always mean medical attention. Perhaps if this all started on Thursday then I should have started this blog on Thursday. Too late!

Day 1 - Friday - 5:50 AM

After much debate, surrounding the fact that I don't know what my medical insurance is, we decide to go to the hospital. I meander aimlessly around the corridors of this hospital until Xmas Girl finds the registration. We sit in a sparsely populated waiting room as we wait for a doctor. The tv blares a Mexican talk show. At least I think it's a talk show. Who can understand what in the hell those Mexicans are so excited about? A dark-skinned matronly lady sits staring at the television. I presume she can relate to this program.

Day 1 - Friday - 6:20 AM

My name is called and I excitedly hop up. Aww, it's just Triage. Whatever that is. I thought I was cured. I sit in a small room with what looks like a med school student as she asks me common questions. I'm guessing they are "common." This is all a bit new to me. I thought height and weight was a bit personal.

We sit back in the waiting room and wait to get called again. A cute young blonde and a skinny guy walk in gingerly and sit down to wait. Hey, your girlfriend is near-blind too? We should start a club, dude! A look up at the television shows that this talk show has apparently turned into a full-on Carnivale. The white couple looks over; we exchange glances and roll our eyes. Facial gesture racism. Cool.

Day 1 - Friday - 6:40 AM

"Brown." Huh? Yes? What? Me? That's a bit of a common name to be calling out to a waiting room. A nurse walks us to a room where she hands me a robe to put on. She leaves and I panically yell to XG, "What do I do??" She says just put it on, Stoop. I start taking my shoes off. "What are you doing?" she says. I don't know! I thought I had to get naked and have my butt hanging out like those cartoons from the 40's. That's the only part of this visit I was looking forward to.

XG hasn't seen this monstrosity since it's onset, so she finally asks to see it. I warn her and then lift my arm. She gasps, screeches out loud, and then faints to the floor. Okay, okay that's not true. She didn't faint.

Day 1 - Friday - 6:55 AM

The Asian doctor comes in with a male Mexican nurse and a loving grandma nurse. They ask me why I took my shoes off. The doctor takes a look under my arm. His face looks grim. Grandma's looks pained. Mexican's looks at XG. For a moment I wondered if I had arm cancer, but the doctor said that the swelling was all due to an abscess. He plainly states that he will have to open and drain it.

"Open" makes it sound easy right? Like a twist-off. Like a Coke! Coke is delicious! But, unfortunately, in this case "open" is short for "cut open." Something tells me if I had to surgically open a fleshy top to get to a Coke, I'd be drinking Jack on the rocks. I ask him if it is going to hurt. He responds by telling me what he is going to do to it, which doesn't really answer my question. So I try to rephrase, "Okay, but what kinda pain are we talking here." XG laughs in the background. Aww she loves me. I lean up and see she is sitting in a chair facing the wall. Aww she really loves me.

Day 1 - Friday - 7:05 AM

I lay back with my arm swung open and my hand behind my head. First comes the numbing agent. He says I will feel a pinch and then some burning. Yep, pinch. ....Yyyyep burninggg. Hmm, fuck. Okay well points for accuracy. His answer to the pain follow-up question was "This area is really hard to get numb." That's a big fuck me. After a few minutes I see him get in close and focus like a billiards player, he stops and gets upright to tell Grandma Nurse not to stand by my foot. Shit, is this going to spray six feet across the room? Are my legs going to involuntarily kick? Am I going out like Nicholson in Cuckoo's Nest? I KNEW I SHOULDN'T GO TO THE HOSPITAL GET ME THE FUCK OUT OF HERE.

He starts cutting and it feels like someone taking a knife and cutting it over a very senstive, bulbous, infected part of your body. How's that for an analogy? The cuts drag across the abcess. It hurts like a bitch. I try to remain stoic and still as I grip the railing of the bed and focus on the ceiling. Up, he turned it up a notch. I think he's finding his groove because these fucking HURT. I breathe it out and clutch the bedside rail, squinting my eyes at the fluorescent ceiling. There is a short reprieve as he tinkers with his tools and they ask if I'm okay. "Mm-hmm." He leans back in, and he cuts at a new place. Holy horse balls that is much more sensitive. Fuck me hard why are you doing this. This sadist makes my denist Dr. Knuckle Hair look like a massage therapist. Thank god I am earning some good painkillers.

Day 1 - Friday - 7:30 AM

I give a few strong exhales as he arranges items on his tray. I have a good feeling that the cutting is done. It was bad, but I'm cool. XG yells over her shoulder to see if I need anything. I do not, but that is sweet. The doctor now tells me that he has to do the packing. What the fuck is packing? I'm guessing he means packing, like, my wound in ice? He says this is to soak up the infection. Huh? He draws a long shoelace-like material from a jar, accompanied with a long metal pokey dealie. The nurses grimace. Fuck. FUCK. That is going in my arm holes?? Aww fuck guy, well does it hurt because-OH MY GOD THAT IS SIGNIFICANTLY WORSE THAN THE CUTTING. YOU ARE STRAIGHT UP STABBING MY OPEN WOUND WITH A BLADE. HOLY SHIT YOU KEEP DOING IT. AND DEEPER. AND HARDER. JESUS BUTTFUCKING CHRIST ON THE CROSS. THAT IS WORTHY OF BLASPHEMY.

But I keep silent, resorting to closing my eyes. I try to apply others' brave moments to my life, and conjure images of Fight Club where Ed Norton tries to meditate away the chemical burn. This does not work for a few reasons: 1) I do not know how to meditate, 2) This is nowhere near as bad as a chemical burn, 3) Brad Pitt's calming eyes are not here to coax me through the ordeal. Instead, I try to take the pain, reasoning that many have endured more. Whether this makes me a man or a masochist, I do not know. They remind me to breathe as my hand grows to be a part of the railing.

Day 1 - Friday - 7:45 AM

They seem to be done with the fuck-you portion of the procedure, and I finally look down. The rag was on the business end of a Jackson Pollock style smattering of blood and puss. Judging by the frantic cutting, I wouldn't be surprised if it was him. I look in my armpit and see two shoelaces sticking out of open holes in my arm. Great. I'm a babywipe dispenser.

I exhale through my nose a few times and lower my heartrate as XG approaches the bed with eyes full of pride. She attempts to hold my hand, but it may be permanently wrenched to the railing. The Mexi-nurse bandages me up and we ask him how this might have happened. He replies, "It happens to black people a lot." ...Wh-....Is he implying that I'm black? "They get it a lot in their butt." ....(!) "It's their pores they have a lot of problems with it, I mean they get it a lot." Okay, so the reason I got it is because you have an unhealthy obsession with black people's assholes? Informative. Thank you.

Day 1 - Friday - 8:00 AM

I read over the discharge papers eagerly. Keep it dry yeah, yeah. Come back in 24 hours right, right. Take Augmentin for an antibiotic aaaaannnnd....Aleve for pain.

...You motherfuckers. Oh I'll be back tomorrow. This isn't over.

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