Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I don't like finding unidentified lumps on my body, and I don't think many other people do either.
Over the years I've had quite a few lumps turn up, and each one of them has led to 'ick' and while not exactly 'woe', a fair bit of unpleasantness to say the least.
The first lump to cause me grief was in my left armpit. One day I found a little pea sized lump that didn't appear to be attached to anything, but being sensible I went to get it checked out just in case.
The doctor diagnozed it as just 'one of those lumps' and assured it was totally benign, as it shouldn't cause any problems, but to get back to them if I noticed any changes.
A year or so later I noticed some changes in that overnight it had quadrupled in size and was very red and sore. Sadly I noticed it late on a Friday evening which meant I had to wait until Monday morning to get to the docs, and by then it was even bigger and just moving my arm caused me to yelp.
Come Monday morning I asked my dad to call work for me to let them know I wouldn't be in and headed off to the surgery to be first in line when it opened. I didn't have an appointment, but I was that worried I'd have waited all day if needs had been.
Luckily a doctor arrived early and was able to squeeze me in, and after prodding the lump a bit and asking a few questions, informed me that I had an abscess in my armpit.
There wasn't much I could do about it other than to apply a poultice to it three times a day, and wait until it came to a head, and when it did to go back to them so they could drain it.
All I could do after that was to wait.
I could barely move my arm so was unable to go back to work, and spent the rest of the week mooching around and changing my poultice, until at last, at about 2pm on Friday, it came to a head.
By then it was huge; about the size of a golf ball, and very red and now accessorized by a delightful yellowy-green head which set it off delightfully.
I rang the surgery and by the time I arrived they were ready to drain it.
I changed into a robe, lay back on a bed that was covered in paper and slowly managed to raise my arm above my head so that my armpit was accessible, and then a doctor tried to give me a painkilling injection with a very long needle.
After they managed to coax me back onto the table from off the top of the cupboards, they tried again and eventually they managed to get enough drugs into me to numb the area little.
Then the doctor got a scalpel.
A split second later the world turned yellow as pus spurted out, hitting the doctor and the nurse next to her as it did.
I managed to grab a paper towel to cover my hair and face, but my gown was covered in the foul smelling gunk.
When the flow of pus slowed a tad, the doctor and nurse wiped themselves down and inspected the hole left by the fluid.
Alas, there was still quite a lot left behind which meant they had to try and squeeze the remainder out.
As the doc squeezed, another torrent of pus spurted out, and screaming in pain I accidentally kicked the poor nurse who had decided to stand out of the way after the previous attempt.
Eventually, with the help of two more shots of painkiller, a syringe, and a lot of paper towels, they managed to get all the pus out leaving a hole that was surprisingly small considering the amount of ick that had come out.
A few more bandages, poultices and a course of antibiotics later, I was fine, but ever since then I've had every lump checked asap.
One really big lump on my left breast called for more surgery, and again, it was totally benign (huzzah!) and after I was discharged I went back home to recuperate.
One night, about a week after my release, I'd just had a bath and was checking the stitches when I noticed yet another angry red lump. With the help of a mirror (it was on the underside) I recognized it as another abscess and went to get some antiseptic cream to rub on.
I swear I rubbed the cream on really gently, but next thing I felt was a sort of 'pop' from the lump and a warm feeling like something trickling.
Grabbing the mirror again I looked to see that the abscess must have just come to a head, which I'd caught as I rubbed the cream in.
It didn't seem that big so I decided to get some tissues and give it a little squeeze to see what came out.
What came out was another torrent of foul-smelling, yellowy-green ick.
It went everywhere.
All over me, the bed clothes, the bedside table and my dressing gown before I managed to get enough tissues to stanch the flow.
After it had stopped I braved myself to have another look, and I so wish I hadn't.
There was a hole there the size of a marble, and it was then that I threw up before passing out.
I didn't have the strength to clean up the gunk that night so after I washed myself, I bandaged up the hole and spent the night in the spare room with a packet of painkillers and an economy sized box of tissues just in case.
Another couple of years passed by before I found the next lump. This one was on my right breast and felt different to the one I'd had in my armpit, so once again I went to the docs to get it checked out.
This time they sent me to a hostipal for a needle biopsy, which for someone who does not like needles one iota, rather nail-biting to say the least.
But the doctor looking after me there assured me that it was unlikely to be anything sinister, and to try not to worry until the results came back.
The next week they called me back to have a chat and tell me what they'd found and so one afternoon found me sitting on a couch in a cubicle wearing another delightful hospital gown.
The doctor who'd been looking after me was away and a nurse asked me if I'd mind having some medical students watch while the doctor examined me and so.
I realized then that it was extremely unlikely that bad news was coming, so I agreed and shortly after a doctor came in holding a clipboard and followed by a gaggle of students.
He looked at my notes, then asked me to show him the lump which he pointed out to the students before giving it a prod.
He then asked how old I was and I replied that I was twenty four, and then in a booming voice he told me that the needle biopsy had confirmed that it was not cancerous, but was just 'a lump of gristle', before patronizingly patting my hand and giving me the sort of smile reserved for idiots.
He was about to leave when I called out and asked,
"By 'lump of gristle', do you mean a piece of bacon, or a Fibroadenoma?"
The students all tried to smother their giggles as the doctor stormed off without giving me an answer.
No 'ick' involved, just a tad of 'Yay' for me getting one-up on snotty, patronizing doctors.

There have been other lumps, and fortunately none of them have been anything sinister, but I still get them checked asap.
As my GP told me, she'd rather spend ten minutes making sure it's 'just a lump', than to spend a year treeting a cancer that could be terminal.
So if anyone has a strange lump, get it checked asap, akay?