I’ve had this bump on the back of my thigh for several years-it’s grown, as have I, unfortunately, and my doctor finally agreed that my insurance would pay for its removal. The first time I went in to have it looked at, she said it would be considered cosmetic and therefore, not covered. I’m not sure why; it wasn’t supposed to be there, it was an obvious lump, and it bothered me. So, it stayed. And grew. It got to the point where I wouldn’t wear swimsuits because I was very conscious of it-directly below my butt cheek for the world to see. It started causing me discomfort when I’d spend any length of time driving or sitting, and even made lying on my left side quite uncomfortable. My left side is my favorite side, as sides go…
I got the approval a few days after the visit with my primary care doctor. She isn’t the most friendly doctor and I suppose it’s not necessary that they have a prize-winning personality. After all, what’s important is that they are good at their job. An agreeable nature is secondary, although feeling like I’m being looked at like I have hypochondriasis isn’t pleasant. The more I think about it, I might look into switching.
My mother volunteered to go with me to my appointment. I didn’t rush to say yes only because I didn’t know how long she’d have to wait for me but I told her I might have her go. Just in case I was sore driving home, she might be of some use to me. I reminded her of it on Saturday and she asked when it was again and proceeded to tell me, “Oh, I made an appointment for the dog at the vet on Friday…” One upped by the dog. Thanks, Mom.
I got myself to the hospital where the doctor would perform the procedure-no idea what to expect, and quite stressed, actually. My biggest fear was that he would cut on me before I was numb. After having each of my five large children, I had stitches like most women nowadays. Unfortunately, I felt each stitch and no matter how many times the doctor would inject more anesthesia, it didn’t seem to help. I felt each one. As you can imagine, this left an unpleasant impression on me. Would this doctor listen if I told him I was hurting?
The nurse took my vitals and asked if I was allergic to any medication.
“None that I’ve encountered thus far.”
“On a scale of one to ten, what would you say your pain tolerance is?”
Now that’s a question I haven’t put much consideration into. How much pain can I take-were they going to see how far they could push me? The notion didn’t help my blood pressure, I can tell you that. I thought about it for a minute and the implications if I made the number too high and if I’d be considered a wimp if I made the number too low…I sat there psychoanalyzing myself before deciding on five. Five is a good solid number. Right down the middle.
The nurse asked me to put on a gown and I was concerned about being allowed to keep my underwear on. She said I could and so I felt some relief. I don’t like strangers looking at my naked butt. I was also able to keep my shirt on, which was a bonus.
We walked back to the surgery room where I was asked to remove my underwear and lie down on the table. Man, just when I was starting to relax a little. So up I went, feeling very exposed, and they quickly rubbed iodine on my thigh and cheek. They were nice nurses and understood my desire to have a bit of modesty and laid the sterile cloths so that only one cheek was exposed and nothing else extraneous. They laid a warm blanket over me, afterward.
The doctor came in, checked that everything was as it should be, and let me know he was going to begin numbing my leg.
“This will sting, I guarantee it.”
He went slowly and I didn’t mind it at all. It felt like little pinches and were only a slight irritation. He asked if I was doing alright and I said I was.
“You’re not a guy, that’s for sure!”
I’ve been told that women have a higher pain tolerance; it would make sense, of course.
He asked if I felt this and did I feel that, and thankfully, I did not. He proceeded to cut and I noticed that I was suddenly feeling warm and slightly nauseous.
“Gosh, it’s really warm in here.”
“I told them to turn the temperature down in here so it should be cooling off soon,” said the nurse.
“I’m worried that you’re feeling that way because you’re about to pass out,” added the doctor.
They brought me something to vomit into, just in case, and after a bout of the sweats, I started feeling a little better.
I’m not sure how he was able to cut into my leg when I know I had both butt cheeks on super-clench the entire time, but he did it and asked if I’d like to see what he retrieved.
He brought around the growth that had been causing my discomfort for well over seven years and it looked like what I can only describe as a baby octopus from the Korean BBQ place up the street. I wish I could’ve taken a picture.
“That’s about how I imagined it,” I said. “I’m glad it’s out of my leg.”
He asked me if I wanted stitches or staples and that there was no wrong answer.
“I think I’d like stitches. I’ve never had staples and the idea isn’t the most appealing.”
Stitches, it is.
I got seven on the outside, I don’t know how many on the inside and I’m not sure if he counted, anyway.
He went over all of the ways I should care for my wounded thigh-no shower until Sunday, no hot tubs or jacuzzi for three weeks. Come back and have the stitches removed in two weeks. He was naming all of this off as I laid there light-headed hoping I’d remember everything.
“Thank you for being patient,” he said as he was about to leave the room.
“Thank you for numbing me!” I responded, as they were applying the gauze. Truly, that was the greatest gift-a doctor who listened when I said I could feel something and he promptly gave me more anesthetic.
As I got dressed and was directed by the nurse which direction to go, she said to go one way if I had anyone waiting in the waiting room for me. No, I didn’t. Thanks again, Mom. Then go the opposite direction to get the elevator.
I picked up the pain pills the doctor prescribed and then hiked what felt like a mile out to my car. I made it. I had my first in-office surgery and it wasn’t horrible. I also realized that my doctor was someone I could picture my husband and I hanging out with at karaoke. He probably liked Neil Diamond, too.
I went to the grocery store directly from the hospital and bought some ice cream. Yes, I’m on a diet, but I figure a little pistachio almond ice cream is better than a glass/bottle of wine and it’ll make me less upset with my mom for ditching me. Right?
By the way, I told my mom that I was giving up the alcohol for a bit. My brother and his wife took her wine tasting tasting for Mother’s Day weekend and, being the wino they’re used to, they found this mug and unanimously agreed it was perfect for me. Obviously she’d forgotten about my abstinence, but it was nice to be thought of, I suppose.