Hello Dear Readers,
I am writing to you sober (for the moment) because my pain levels are manageable without the aid of prescriptions, and since several people asked me to follow-up when I felt better, I thought I would not only update you on my current progress but also sketch out the last ten days of torment I endured. Before delving into the gruesome details, I want to reiterate my heartfelt thanks for all the prayer, thoughts, and well-wishes I received. My dad would read them to me when I was in too much pain to check, and it brightened my spirits. Many of you sent me the sweetest personal messages about how I had helped you or how much my store meant to you, and as a small business owner, I cannot ask for anything more. The love you showed me helped and continues to help me as I recover and move forward after what has been a rather tough couple years. In kind, I wish all of you nothing but the best and success in all you endeavor to accomplish.
My latest set back began Tuesday of last week. I woke up with a slightly sore tailbone as though I bruised it sitting down too hard. By Friday, the pain steadily increased, and I became convinced a secret surgery took place Monday night at which time a hard mass was inserted under the skin near my natal cleft (let’s keep it classy people). Since my doctor’s office was closed, I waited out the weekend despite the growing, swollen lump on my tuches and the ever escalating pain. Because, lemme tell ya folks, your tailbone, coccyx if you wanna get medical, is magically attached to everything in your body. You may not realize it, but even seemingly unrelated activities like sneezing or flexing your toes somehow pulls on your tailbone, thus causing excruciating pain to radiate throughout your injured tush.
By the time I called my doctor at 9a.m. on Monday morning, I could no longer do simple activities like get up from the couch without assistance because the bump, which I now posited could also be an alien entity verging on a full-on John Hurt moment in a much less dignified place, was so large and painful that all forms of moving were too much. Naturally, I turned to the keeper of all knowledge for answers. I googled my symptoms. The general consensus from the myriad of strangers and doctors posting articles and sharing anecdotes on medical sites was a pilonidal cyst or basically, an in-grown hair or hairs gone so rogue they have to be cut out of your body. Your body rebels so hard against them that it creates a combination of a cyst and friction sore, pulling the hairs and dead skin cells deeper into the skin to create a crater of filth and nastiness only remedied by a trip to the doctor. Given my pain levels, this sounded about right although I admit I balked at the odds. Only 26 out of 100,000 people develop a pilonidal cyst, and these odds go down if you are female, over thirty, have no family history, do not work a sedentary job, and so on. Leave it to me to develop something I have less than a 0.001% chance of ever developing, and then let’s factor in the odds of doing it a few days before I was going to see Wonder Woman too. (For the record, I sat on my legs the whole time.) Then I start thinking I should buy a scratch off or a lottery ticket which inevitably leads to a debate about whether there are two types of probabilities in the world, one for good things and one for bad things, whereby inherently negative events actually have a higher probability of happening than positive ones even if the mathematical probability is identical. See where googling your symptoms leaves you? See?!
My Monday appointment at the doctor consisted of sitting on hard, uncomfortable chairs for over an hour followed by an awkward, painful moment when he manipulated Fred—the mass officially grew large enough to require naming—to identify his origins. I bit back the urge to scream and instead released weak, half-breaths in attempt to quell the pain. Growing up, I played sports with a bunch of boys, and coaches were notorious for demanding you not cry and “walk it off,” and so right or wrong, I rarely cry when I am injured. But this mounting pain on my ass was a totally different story. Or maybe I should say ballpark and try to be consistent with the sports analogy? Whatever. The doctor confirmed the prognosis given by the Almighty Internet Medical Advice and referred me to an outpatient surgery center for a drain/excise procedure. I did extensive reading between hydrocodone induced sleeping bouts, and the good news was that people were typically back up on their feet and at work within a few days. I just had to get scheduled, and so I waited. And waited. And waited.
In the meantime, Fred sensed his impending eviction and transformed into a raging tyrant, radiating pain all the way to my groin area and, well to spare you the gross details, generally making it hard to even exist. Sleep was indeed a blessing. As the waiting continued, Fred looked less like a cyst and more like something else entirely. Some of the skin on the top was turning a very dramatic shade of purplish black that would be appropriate for a serious medical drama (*cue hot actor to scrunch his eyebrows and emote “But what else could it be?”*), and every time I looked back at my derriere, I was awestruck in the worst possibly way. And naturally it’s on my butt, and butts aren’t exactly something you tend to discuss with people. I was already trying to figure out a polite lie to tell when people asked why I closed for a week and needed help afterward. Plus, how can a Fred on your tailbone be so painful? Trust me, it absolutely can. This issue has been the most painful one of my entire in life. No injury, no surgery, no procedure, no nothing has come close to how bad this has hurt.
Finally, after two days of pleading with the office staff to get this damn referral to the . . . wait for it . . . just keep waiting like I had to do. . . OFFICE NEXT DOOR finished, they pitied me, no doubt sensing the exasperation in my voice, and my procedure was scheduled for yesterday at 10:45a.m. Despite the ongoing pain, I gingerly alighted from the car using my upper body strength to crab crawl out of my Prius, careful to prevent Fred from touching anything, and then I confidently waddled into the office ready to be finished. Once back in the room of suffering, as it shall forever be known to my heart, mind, and butt, I engaged in some sort of half-lounge half-sitting position on the table bed which was not entirely dissimilar from this:
Before the procedure began, I warned the nurses about a secret mutant power. My brother and I were born with a strong resistance to those paltry local anesthetics. They hardly work on us at all! I’m not sure if they doubted me or if there isn’t anything to be done for us, but the act of sticking Fred and his angry body of swollen red skin with needles served only to torment me further, so much so that I was in full on tears. “At least,” I consoled myself, “I won’t feel anything afterwards.” Oh how wrong I was! Outside of the initial incisions, I felt everything. Everything. And there was a lot to feel because guess what the doctor said after cutting Fred open? “I’m not sure this is a pilonidal cyst. There’s not much pus here but there’s a lot of dead black tissue. I think you were bitten by something which caused the internal layers of skin and tissue to go necrotic, causing an infection. Then the immune system fought off the bite and created an abscess. I have to cut out as much of this dead skin as I can for it to heal.”
It took everything I had physically to not jump off that table and run screaming and bare-assed down the hall. It sounds funny in retrospect, but seriously, y’all, that’s the worst pain I ever had in my whole damn life. Fortunately, my dad, who deserves the title Father of the Year and anything he damn well wants this Father’s Day, was sitting behind me holding my hand and rubbing my sweat soaked hair while I sobbed into the crinkly white paper coating the rough hospital pillow. Meanwhile, all I can think of is a nursery rhyme.
Little Miss Erica sat on her tuffett eating her curds and whey . . . nope, that won’t work. I found out I have Hashimoto’s disease two weeks ago, so I have to cut out anything with gluten like whey. Plus, Erica doesn’t rhyme with tuffett . . . but wait, what the hell rhymes with Erica? Hmm . . . okay, let’s try: Little Miss Erica sat on her derriere eating her gluten-free mousse when a long came a spider who crept up beside her and bit Little Miss Erica’s caboose.
Okay, so the doctor was a bit noncommittal on the type of insect, but come on! Gotta be a spider right? Well, I’ll tell you what ladies and gents, Little Miss Erica is turning to vengeance for comfort, and I am going to be bombing the shit out of my house, under my house, and the damn arachnids will be lucky if I don’t run around the yard in my brother’s hazmat suit dual wielding Raid cans like I am Mila freakin’ Jovovich taking on the spider apocalypse!
Anyway, on the non funny side of the situation, recovery time for this is more variable because it’s not as cut and dry as the pilonidal cyst. The doctor thinks he removed enough of the dead tissue for healing to begin, but right now, the open wound looks like a gunshot and a bit of Fred is still lurking beneath somewhere. I feel much better today, and I hope the worst is behind me (a pun borrowed from my friend Joanne). Recovery times should be comparable provided Fred takes a hint and leaves, and I may even make an appearance at the shop tomorrow. As I mentioned in the last post, I will need my dad at the store for at least a week to help because my ability to walk and stand is still limited, especially for such an active job. I won’t be listening to any negative comments about him being a co-owner of a lingerie store anymore either. I tolerate them because I know more than most about creepy men in this industry, but that man has been stressed to the max taking care of me and taking care of the store. He has done everything from helping me get up off the couch to holding my hand while I cried to going to the store to help customers. Quite simply: He is the best. He is why we are still open and why I have the strength and sense of humor to carry on even after adversity. Thank you daddy for all the help this week, and I love you.