Though Charles Fort Wouldn’t Even Blink An Eye

April 9, 2007

This is not about anything cancer-related, O Best Beloveds, nor is it food porn, but it is kind of weird and wonderful, in the sense of “Huh, ain’t that a thing?” wonderment. I mean, it’s nothing like the time Rick rented a car only to have ants pour of the dashboard when he was half way to Vegas (ask him some time), but it’s still, well, you’ll see. Warning; there will be squirmy bits before we get to the denouement.

So as some of you know, in the fall of 1984 I was in a car accident (drunk driver plowed into my side of the car), aka Mary’s OTHER Medical Drama. (I do not do this for attention. I swear.) Little of this, little of that, ultimately it was all fine, though if you’ve ever wondered about the scar that lightly bisects my right eyebrow, that’s where it came from. Speaking of scars, I have a little spattering of them on my left elbow, presumably from where the window made contact. Though raised and lumpy (ER doc sewed it up without too much care) for many years, over time they flattened out and now aren’t anything at all.

Except at some point, I can’t remember how many months ago, I was rubbing the elbow, and felt a little lump. Like the original, now dissolved scar tissue, except it was floating around loose under the skin. It bugged me. It’s one of those things; it could only bother me if I touched it, but now that I knew it was there, I touched it all the time. “Could scar tissue just detach from a scar like that?” I wondered. Could I go to a dermatologist and have her, I don’t know, suck it out? Like lipo? Can you do that with scar tissue? Excise it? Won’t it just leave another scar? And of course, I can’t just leave it alone, because it’s like being aware you have a tongue in your mouth. Once you think about it, you can’t stop. Like you can’t right now, can you? (Sorry about that. Keep reading, it will distract.)

At some point a few months ago, I discovered a tiny bruise just above the elbow, and in the center a little circle of distressed skin, sort of like a bug bite after it’s been healing for awhile. Huh, I thought, and thought no more, even though I hadn’t been any of the places I usually collect bug bites. But then it didn’t go away. It was still bruised. And a lump. With distressed skin. And what’s more? The scar tissue lump was gone. Could it have floated two inches to the north? I wondered. But this lump was solid, unlike like my free floating friend. What the heck was going on subcutaneously? How much autonomy does my anatomy have?

Even though I have regular access to a doctor, I forgot every time I went to see Dr. W. to have someone tell me what this could be. Finally, I remembered to show it off to a couple of medical types there. Opinions varied from “in-grown hair” to ‘infected bug bite.” Leave it alone, it will go away. But it didn’t. I chalked it up to my underwhelmed immune system’s slow healing. Last Friday, I showed it again to Chemo Nurse Kathy, who agreed with the previous diagnosis, but mused “Doesn’t it bug you? I hate having rough skin. I would have exfoliated it off by now.” Well, I had tried, but it was stubborn, and picking at it seemed to make no difference and I was afraid of making it worse.

But today, it felt a bit like a scab was lifting, so I started–here’s the squirmy bits, do your best–picking at it, and rubbing it, trying to grip the edges of what felt like a tough scab or the ingrown hair turned callus or something out of the damn lump, so I could pull it off. (What, like you’ve never picked at a scab? Leave me alone.) Anyway, it bled like billy-oh, but nothing budged. I took a bath, thinking warm water might soften it and I could rub a pumice stone over it. That didn’t help. But I kept pulling at it, trying to make progress, all the while thinking “I wonder if I should go to a doctor for this? Oh, for pity’s sake, it’s just a little scab. Why waste the time and insurance money?” And I tugged, and I tugged, and I thought about leaving it, the sharp little thing, but it was now the principle of things, and I pushed and pulled and dug and—it came free!

And it was a tough piece of something, I noticed, as I turned it over in my fingertips. Harder than any callus I’ve had. And it’s…not scab colored. In fact, it’s…shiny. In fact, it’s actually…


Stuck in my elbow all those years, missed by the ER doc, presumably because it was buried so deep, somehow it got loose, or maybe it was always loose, but eventually it moved up and out of my arm, emerging a mere 23 1/2 years later. We’ve all heard stories about the Civil War vet who died from his wounds decades later after a bullet leftover in his chest moved up to his heart, but none of us really believed it happens. Okay, maybe that’s just me.

But ain’t that something? I’m wondering if I can put it in a locket.

And of course, because I did it myself, now I’m going to have another scar,