I'm Really Stupid Sometimes - 05.25.98

I found the bump under my left arm once night while lathering myself down in the shower. I was running some soap down across my side and felt it role under my finger just below the rib cage. At first, I thought I might have just brushed against my ribs a little strangely, but the same thing happened a couple nights later.

The second time my fingers went over the small bump, I stopped my hands where they were. I moved my entire hand over my side, pressing a little harder than normal, and sure enough, I felt a something small and hard role under each finger as I passed over it. For the first few moments, panic set in. I wondered what it was, why it was there, and what it would do to me.

After a few deep breaths, I started prodding it around a little more. I pushed on it, squeezed it between my fingers, and even tried to move it around. Through all of this, there was never any pain. It simply sat there just under my skin, a hardened pea-sized mass. Since there was no pain, I decided I'd just leave it alone for awhile and see what happened. I guess I was hoping that it would go away, but I was reminded by it every night in the shower or random times when I was putting on a shirt and would brush against it.

After a couple weeks had passed, absolutely nothing had happened. The size hadn't diminished any, but there was still no pain and it hadn't moved or changed shape any. Deciding that it was with me for the long haul, I now tried to think of different solutions.

The first (and least viable) was going to see a doctor. While I have nothing against doctors, I just didn't feel like it a large enough problem to warrant seeing one. It hadn't caused me any problems other than weirding me out when I first noticed it and it was smaller than a pea in size.

Just about the time I decided that I wouldn't go to see a doctor, it really started getting on my nerves. It still didn't cause me any pain or any other problems, but it started eating at me every time I touched it. It turned into a small, pestering mass that simply wouldn't go away. After getting thoroughly fed up with the nusance, I came up with an answer for my problem; I would remove it myself.

I hadn't taken any anatomy courses in school, but I could feel that it was only located under the skin. There was no muscle or other tissue to cut through other than that, so I rationalized that it would be no different than getting a large cut from falling off my bike or some other occurence.

After this decision was made, I was quick in my actions. I went to an all-night pharmacy and picked up everything that I thought I would need; sterilized gauze, rubbing alcohol, healing ointment, medical tape, rubber gloves, an X-acto knife with extra blades, and a small pair of stainless steel scissors.

Upon arriving home, I set a pot on the stove and quickly set some water to heat. While the water was heating, I went to my bathroom and placed a clean, folded towel on the edge of the sink and the rest of my supplies at arms length from where I was standing. Once the water on the stove had come to a boil, I plopped the knife, all the blades, and the pair of scissors down in the bubbling water. I then put on a pair of the gloves and set about arranging things in the bathroom once again.

After removing the boiled instruments from the water, I placed them on the clean towel on the edge of the sink and went to get the final component. I popped a couple ice-cubes out of a tray, put them into a small dish and brought them into the bathroom and set them close by. It was a primitive anesthetic, but it was the only one I had access to. Besides, I didn't want to stop and end up changing my mind.

Rubbing the ice up and down my side, I could feel my skin losing more and more feeling. As soon as it was good and numb, I grabbed the X-acto knife and put in one of the new, sterilized blades. While lowering the blade to my side, I could see that my arm was shaking and I could already feel myself grinding my teeth together.

When I made the first cut, I didn't think that I had even done anything until the blood came running out. It wasn't a very deep incision, but eventually a steady trickle was running down my side and onto the old towel I had tucked in around my waste. The pain followed soon after, so I took a washcloth I had nearby, rolled it up and clenched it in my mouth.

Moving quickly again, I made another slice within the first cut. This time, the blood really started coming out. The wound felt pretty deep, but I couldn't really see if I had gotten through to where I needed. I let out a muffled scream and looked up into the mirror. I was standing half naked, with partially bloody rubber gloves and a knife in my hand, smiling a sinister, half-crazed grin while biting down hard on a twisted green washcloth. If only I had remembered the camera.

After somehow summoning a little more strength, I took the knife and again slowly pulled it through the open wound. The pain was excruciating, and I still couldn't see anything other than skin and blood. In a final desperation move, I sliced through the crimson hole one more time in hopes of seeing something that didn't look like it belonged there.

All that I did find was more blood and a lot more pain. By this time, it had soaked through the thin towel around my waste and I could tell that it was getting all over my shorts and underpants. Instead of cutting anymore, I admitted defeat and sat down while pressing a cold cloth against my side.

Eventually, I got the bleeding to subside and bandaged everything up with plenty of gauze. It was painful for a few days, but healed rather quickly with twice dailing servings of ointment and plenty of anti-bacterial soap. I decided that I would finally go to see a doctor about it, but I'd would first wait for the self-inflicted wound to heal almost completely before going.

After the scab had diminished and completely flaked away, I felt around the area and n oticed one other thing; the lump was gone as well. All that was left was a long, discolored line of skin where I had tried in vain to extract it.