Personally, I anticipated the crucial medical procedure occurs prior to breakfast and not after. My anxiety was already quantifiable given the severity of the looming operation. I wanted it done with the greatest expediency!
I had no plans to prolong the tension until after that morning meal. If that were to happen, I would be psychologically hindered from mindlessly engulfing my tall stack of hearty Kodiak Cakes, dark chocolate pancakes smothered with warm maple syrup, butter and whipped cream, and surrounded by mounds of crispy bacon. We mustn’t forget the accompanying 24-ounce mug of piping hot Papa Don’s Coffee merged with a splash of Starbucks Caramel Macchiato Creamer.
The truth is, this all came to a head — pun intended — a number of decades ago. Uncertain of when it first precisely appeared, and my apologies for possibly spoiling your Saturday morning appetite, it turns out a subtle sebaceous cyst began to form in the middle of my back under the skin. Essentially oblivious to this minuscule intruder, I paid little attention to its growth, in large part because I couldn’t see it for myself nor could I reach it not being endowed with any double-jointed appendages.
Gradually, quietly and unobtrusively, my little blemish increased in size to the point of it being rather, shall we say, obtrusive. The mound became so pronounced, whenever the grandkids came to town, they’d want me to take off my shirt, lie on my stomach and drive their Hot Wheels cars and trucks up and down the steep mogul. You could say they wanted to play “bump-er” cars.
Some of my own children were a bit more discreet and when we’d greet each other with a warm embrace, they’d feel around my back for the fleshy protrusion and whisper, “Dad, you really need to get rid of that thing!”
My wife is the one who is often requesting a back rub, and not the other way around. Still, on increasingly more occasions, she urged me to get it looked at since I couldn’t. Hardly an annoyance to me, and a sight unseen, for years I just looked the other way, which was generally straight ahead.
The pressure continued to build, not just on my backside, but from my bride-side, and I reluctantly relented and made an appointment with my trusted family physician, Dr. Jeff Eiden.
Always cool, calm and collected while putting patients at ease, he said, “Let’s take a look!” That is to say, he himself took a look.
I’ve no idea if he takes Wednesday afternoons to hit the links, but, it turns out I could have added a range ball to his bag as he, after some gentle prodding and probing, informed me this mass was “about the size of a golf ball.”
Had I been an avid golfer, I might have lost my appetite for the game. I would have preferred my doctor describe it as approximately equivalent to a large brussels sprout or a medium sized snail, as my menu leans away from any sauteed sprouts and escargot.
Thoroughly and thoughtfully explained, the surgery was scheduled some weeks later in a special procedural room in his office.
Obviously, it was a routine surgery for him. From my vantage point, however, it was rather unprecedented as I “went under the knife” while simultaneously having a coherent conversation with my “surgeon.” I get a bit nauseous just thinking about that.
With a successful surgery behind me, post-op instructions we given along with the timeline of seven to 10 days for suture removal. I could have it done back in the doctor’s office, or, if preferred, simply have my wife handle it.
Married to my “Florence Nightingale,” so there is no need for the additional “effect,” she was eager to save me a return trip to my doctor.
My wife, a frequenter of such educational programming garnered from reruns of “Marcus Welby, M.D.,” “St. Elsewhere” and “E.R.,” or from binge watching “Doc Martin” and “Call the Midwife,” would be performing this most delicate operation of removing those tiny little threads woven vertically down my back.
Wanting to take matters into her own hands, she initially requested it happen after breakfast. Even before rolling out of bed, we negotiated a deal where I take care of all the cooking but not before she takes care to remove my sutures.
This crucible moment swiftly approached at, of all places, the kitchen table. The tea kettle was steaming for proper sterilization of all instruments, a tiny scissors and a tweezer, now placed on a kitchen towel. I sat nervously as she started poking, twisting and tugging at my incision.
Recalling the nearly indiscernible pain from the actual surgery, by comparison, I spouted off to her, “hey, ease up back there,” pun unintended! This was followed up with the question, “Have you ever removed sutures before?” Without seeing her presumably sheepish expression on her face, she replied, “Well, no, not really!”
Aghast, I had no intention of being her first victim. There was already light on the subject, but then another lightbulb went on as I suggested, “Then you had better Google it and find out!” Almost immediately after a quick inquiry, another woman commanded instructions over the phone and my wife confidently proceeded to effortlessly remove all three of them.
When I finally turned around, we were both “in stitches,” laughing at what unfolded. Saturday morning breakfast was never better!
Ken Pollitz moved to Ottawa in 1991 as mission-developer/pastor of New Creation Lutheran Church. His biweekly column provides insights and viewpoints from Putnam County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org