I had to say goodbye to an old friend the other day. Truth be told, we only barely got along. But as long as he didn’t bother me, I wasn’t gonna bother him. At least until he started to get a little big for his britches…
I’m talking about a lump that I have had on my chest for a while. Nothing big or gross. It was just a semi-squishy little “hill” right over my right collarbone. My wife actually noticed it several years back and I sort of thought “oh yeah…” when she asked me what it was. Seems I’ve had it for a while.
It wasn’t sore. It barely felt like anything at all. You could have fun poking it, and that was about it. It wasn’t noticeable under clothes, or even very readily without. At least no one except my wife ever seemed to mention it. And I’ve had my shirt off in front of an alarmingly large group of friends and family.
I’m told that the technical name for what the doctor’s suspected it was is a lipoma, and that they are overwhelmingly benign. Now that’s a pretty comforting thing to hear, but when Mr. Lumpy started to grow at something more than the relative snails pace he’d previously shown, I started to have my doubts. After expressing my concerns with the doctor, he agreed that having him surgically removed was, at worst, a harmless solution for my piece of mind.
..So like any fussy landlord does when the tenants break the lease, I had him evicted.
Probably the coolest part was the actual procedure. After administering a couple of necessary prep items, and attaching a really cold patch with a monitor lead to my leg, the nurse settles and leaves to check on the surgeon’s ETA. Check this out. So I’m lying on the table, when the surgeon, Dr. Weinstein, comes in. I’ve been prepped by a nurse and a technical assistant, and the conversation has been light and humorous. A couple of quick checks from the surgeon and we’re ready to go. He swabs my chest with “iodine”, and the nurse pauses for a moment before announcing “I’m gonna make a little tent here for your head and neck”. I’m thinking “ok, it’s so I can be spared the sight of my chest being cut open”. SO I joke with the surgeon: something about “just in case I become a little squirty”.
He laughs and mutters “I don’t think we have to worry about that”.
So they stick me a couple of times with a local anesthetic (Somehow that is always more unpleasant than I remember, but never really a big deal). Dr. Weinstein does the whole slicing into me thing, and the fun begins. They’re careful to remind me that if I’m suffering any pain, to speak up. Apparently the topical anesthetic is cheap.
After cranking my chest skin open a bit with some retractors (THAT feels weird, I can tell you), the surgery begins. And all the while we’re talking. I almost don’t realize he’s started, when the surgeon hits a spot that makes me wince. And I realize that the pain isn’t really what I expected. It feels like lots of (painful) pinpricks.
And come to think of it, why is there acrid smoke around? And what’s that crackling sound? Like bacon cooki… SWEET LORD! That’s ME cooking! Seems they prefer to use the electrosurgical unit on things like this! No wonder he snickered when I mentioned blood! Not much chance of that as he cauterizes every little nearby blood vessel as he SEARS his way around the lipoma.
After that little shock (yucck yucck), the rest of the procedure was uneventful. And quick: I was in and out of there in less than a half an hour, sutures and all. They even had a little “step-down” unit with recliners, juice and pretzels. Felt like blood donation.
And here’s what I get for my troubles. A Chest full o’ stitches, and an itchy patch where the shaving happened.
When I finally get to take the cover bandage off to see where Lumpy used to live, I get the final surprise: My initials? Is that so they remember who I am? I dunno.
So how does it all feel? Am I glad I did it? SURE! It was the cool kinda surgery, not the scary kind. It’s also good to get that off my chest, so to speak. Now I only have to worry should he decide to “come back”. But in that very odd way, like losing weight, or getting very long hair cut very short, I kinda miss the old guy. He and I had been very close. Now with him gone, I feel simply… ordinary.
Is that weird?