Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Her name is was Quisté

The following is courtesy of

Dear Alice,
What exactly is a sebaceous cyst? What causes it and how do you get rid of them?

Dear Reader,

A sebaceous cyst is a catch-all term for a benign, harmless growth that occurs under the skin and tends to be smooth to the touch. Ranging in size, sebaceous cysts are usually found on the scalp, face, ears, and genitals, but can occur anywhere on the body. They are formed when the release of sebum, a medium-thick fluid produced by sebaceous glands in the skin, is blocked. Most of the time, sebaceous cysts don't require medical attention: they can either disappear on their own or stay the same size without causing any problems. If cysts become infected or grow to a bothersome size, health care providers can remove them or prescribe treatment with steroids or antibiotics. Cysts can recur if they are not removed completely.


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I've told you about her. I've told you about how she insinuated her way into my life, and onto my leg. I've told you about how I have struggled with the essence of her, and what she means to me. I've told you about how I couldn't name her, and how she wasn't to be named. All of this and more as you read on. This, dear reader, is how you end an overwrought relationship with a sebaceous cyst.

So, yesterday was the day. I went in to have the bitch taken out. My blood pressure was a little high, and I was pretty tired. I had done a goodbye set of squats that morning that was enough to destroy my regular walking rhythm.

I drove up, paid my forty dollar co-pay and sat in the waiting room. I wrote furiously in my journal about my leg and other drama and I waited.

A kid came in and said he had Medi-care to the woman behind the glass. He said he needed help right then and there. She asked him why. He looked around and asked for a piece of paper; he wanted to write the stuff down because it was embarrassing. He wrote the stuff on the paper. The woman behind the glass told him that she would call him back up later. He made a beeline to the restroom. Ordinarily, when I see this sort of stuff, I don't pay acute attention; but this time I had all of my pistons firing. I was about to get clipped.

I got called in. They weighed me and checked my vitals. Yes, I was alive. And then they gave me the worst looking pair of shorts I have ever seen in my life and told me to get into them. These shorts had no chance of ever being a fashion statement. There was no form to them whatsoever, just an elastic waist.

And there I was, in a wife-beater and these lame-ass shorts.

So I was told to lay on this bed and wait for the doctor. I stared at my toes. I stared at the cyst. I started to blur my eyes and look at my toes. Individually, my toes look rather phallic. I had never noticed this before. I hope that I never have that kind of time on my hands again.

Then in came the doctor. He made a quick joke about spraying the blood out of the room from his last cyst operation. I am serious, the last time I heard that was in the mid-nineties when I was getting my lip pierced. Doctors and body piercing artists. Now that I toss that memory around, I think I paid the body piercing guy forty bucks to do my lip.

He put a cray paper blanket over my lower torso. There was a hole in the paper and he positioned it right over the cyst. Now some people have told me that my cyst had hit golf-ball size status; I prefer to think of it at boulder marble size. Whatever the case, the blanket caused it to look even more pronounced.

Then he busted out with his tools on his little tool tray. Pliers, exacto knives, tweezers and scissors. All of them with that soulless stainless steel look that Cronenburg dropped in DEAD RINGERS.

He asked me how I was. I told him that I was alright. He asked me if I was ready. I told him that I had been blogging the whole thing. Then he asked me if I had named it. I told him that I had not named "her" and I explained the whole sex thing to him. He was mildly amused. The nurse, who had been conversing with me in Spanish told me that the Spanish name for cyst is quisté. We all agreed on the spot that she had been named accordingly. I must digress and tell you that earlier when I was at work, the two women that I work with grilled me with hellfire in regards to my determination that the cyst was a female. They said that it was a sexist thing for me to make such a sexually identifying decision for something as foul as a cyst. That women are not parasitic, uninvited beings that should only be removed with violence. I honestly hadn't considered the angle that they were using. I suppose that I could have said that she (the cyst) was a gay male and that me being straight, I had to cut it out because I just don't get down like that. Or maybe the cyst was a bisexual male and I was still determining if I could go both ways or not. Or maybe the cyst was straight, and I was the gay one allowing him to hang out and hoping to convert him? The stuff was getting queer.
Whatever the case was, Quisté was a bitch. And that bitch was going down.

Out came the needles. I felt the first one go in. Then he proceeded to pump Quisté full of anesthesia. More and more, from all angles. The numbness hit. But I would describe it as a cold numbness. Like when you have been walking in snow for a long period of time in sneakers. You can hit your toes full-on with a hammer, and you will definitely feel the pain sooner or later.

Then homeboy went to town.

I took this stuff conscious. I suppose that he could have hit me in the face with a little of the anesthesia and I coulda done some night-nights...but I wanted this thing front and center. Full-on. It isn't every day that you get to see your body cut wide open by a professional. My nurse brought me some extra pillows with paper pillowcases so that I could sit up.

He cut a line across it. Initially, it was just a slight line of blood until I realized just how sharp that knife was. Plus it was tight. It has always been tight, and that has to do with the fact that has stretched my skin to its maximum elasticity point. Then Quisté popped. The nurse was standing on the other side of the room. Her statement was that she didn't want to get splattered. She had paperwork to do, but she was definitely hanging out over there.

So, the inside of a cyst, even after all of my research didn't show up the way I thought it would. I'd read cottage cheese and toothpaste as descriptions of the thickness of the liquid. I would have to compare this to moxycillon, which is the antibiotic you force down a kid's throat when they have an ear infection. Pepto Bismol would be a good way of describing the consistency. Wait, there has to be a better way of describing it. Whatever the case, there was a lot of it. Weeping and brawling it's way out. That mixed with the blood reminded me of the strawberry frappucinos that my friend Dean drinks. I usually tell Dean that his drink looks like the end result of a gerbil in a I am convinced that it looks like a popped cyst. It had no smell that I could find by the way. Perhaps if I had rudely reached in and dolloped some with my finger I would be able to report of some sort of funky smell. It was just that hair oil that all glands secrete. VOLUMES of it. Yeah, I've got it. I've got the image to compare it to: The thickness, the LOOK of it was like the liquidy glaze of a cinnamon bun. That is it right there. That is the image. Work with a heated, drippy cinnamon bun in your head and just imagine my bloody foot over it and you get what was seeping out of me.

So doc squeezed it all out. And mopped it up with gauze. Then he squeezed some more. There was blood flushing in from all around the wound. Not a pulsing, just a steady flow. What else does your skin do when it has been hacked open? I knew that I was going to bleed, but I wasn't expecting as much as I was getting. This was no horror-show spray, but there was a steady volume of the heavy stuff moving out like an oil slick every time the doc let up with the gauze. I was bleeding steadily. And that was when he really went to work.

He had some pliers and he pulled on the sac that was now hanging out of my leg a solid inch or two. It looked like a mini, tangled parachute limply sticking out of my leg. I could feel him tugging on that sac down to my ankle. I don't think that it was attached to my ankle though, I think that was just the skin, pulling. The cyst had been there so long that it had marbled with my epidermis, and he had to really cut with that exacto knife to get it off of my skin wall. If you have ever pulled the skin off of an animal, this is what the cyst's attachment to my skin layer was akin to. It wasn't coming off easy. It was leaving chunks of itself behind as the bulk of it was cut, pulled and sliced off.

He had some scissors. With these little things he was digging around and cutting. At times it felt sharp, and I was quite aware that part of me was getting clipped. The stuff hurt at points. At other points, I watched him digging around in there and clipping and was just aware that my nerves had been tricked into not believing that this was really happening.

He eventually pulled what I would compare to a sinus blockage snot out. It was glutinous and clustered. It was one of those oleaginous things that you pull out of the bottom of a sink or a tub and you drool because you might just vomit. He mentioned that the part now dangling from his pliers was probably the hair follicle blockage that had started it all. I couldn't tell if there was a hair in the greasy package, and I never saw it again after he put it aside. My leg was looking more and more like zombies had bitten me many times by my right ankle. I was sweating. I hadn't broken a sweat in a painful situation since I'd had my stomach tattooed. The whole body let out wave after wave of perspiration. Just enough to make me sticky, not damp or soaking. Doc was pulling and tugging at points and I had to look away and experience the feeling from an internal perspective. I could feel him pulling on it. I could feel it to my ankle. I could feel the skin that I'd prodded and poked for years getting pulled and clipped more. There was one point where he performed a full-on episiotomy in order to further grasp the bitch. I saw the man take out scissors and cut my skin like one would cut through several layers of wet construction paper.

There was a final snip from his scissors under my skin which I felt in the way you would feel someone kicking you in the ankle, but fleshier. It smarted. The last of the cyst had finally came out. Its look can most easily be described as similar to the flesh that collects around the chicken neck in the bag that is usually jammed up a roaster chicken's posterior.

The gaping hole, as I so eloquently described to Matt, looked like a tired vagina. Crude, I know, but that is the only real definition that I can muster for the thing.

Doc pressed gauze into the wound again and again and again. He told me that pressure would stop the bleeding. Now my leg was looking like some rednecks had had a cherry pie eating contest on it, and the contestants had been wiping their mouths incessantly with gauze. Globules were everywhere. There was spatter on the cray paper like several people with mouths full of blood had sneezed in my lower leg vicinity.

Doc and I talked about the guy who had been in the avalanche and had hacked his arm(?) off with a buck-knife in order to survive. We both agreed that hacking your arm off with a buck knife is the measure of a man, straight up.

Pressure didn't stop the bleeding, so now it was time to cauterize. I must add that the anesthesia was wearing off at this point. The nurse brought a flashlight looking thing with two prongs at its business end. The doctor lifted the flap of skin and proceeded to cook the stubborn veins. I must admit that this is the only thing that really HURT about the whole process. I could see the wisps of smoke from my seared flesh hitting the air. It smelled like burnt hair, not BBQ as I was joking with some people yesterday.

When the bleeding stopped, he pulled the hole upen for me to look in. I am telling you that the hole must have been 2" X 2". It was pretty big. He moved a tendon around. I felt it. I moved my foot and was able to observe the same tendon move. AMAZING. The flesh underneath reminded me of many a pork roast that I have seen. I must say, that my leg looked downright marinatable and cookable. It was reddish, because of the blood, and I could see all of the veins with their ridiculous choices of direction underneath the initial showing of meat directly over the bone. AMAZING I SAID.

Then came the stitching. He'd had to cut out more than just the initial hole to get rid of the parts of the cyst that hung on. The hole wasn't jagged. Actually, it looked more like the starting of a bowl on a potter's wheel. It was folding in on itself and miscolored. The reason for the bruised looking coloration of the skin was the fact that the skin had been stretched SO DAMN HARD.

10 stitches. A stitch is counted from the down and in of one flap to the up and out of another. I am gonna have one wicked looking Frankenstein smile down there. I told the doc that it was gonna be a badass scar. He smiled, weakly. The revelation for me was that he had been in this situation a bazillion times before, and maybe, just maybe I was amusing him a little. Or maybe, just maybe, he wanted to stitch my mouth shut, pour gasoline on me, light me on fire and send me rolling into the parking lot. I just couldn't tell. For the record, in my book, Dr. Jani is one cool motherfucker.

"Do you take aspirin?" He asked.
"No" I responded.
"Do you take Tylenol?" He asked.
"No" I countered.
"Will you take Vicadin?" He asked.
"Yes." I smirked.

He dimmed the lights and let me sit there and think to myself for what seemed to be about an hour and a half. I felt like the stubborn kid who refuses to go to sleep even though it is naptime. I fought sleep off. I had to get back to work.

When the doc came back, he asked how much time I wanted off from work. I made it clear that I was going back to work that day. I told him that it was my "damn protestant work ethic". He countered with the quip that he'd thought I looked like I "had just stepped off the Mayflower".

And now I am home, blogging this trash, hyped up on vikes trying to find a way to explain how happy I am that Quisté is in an office somewhere getting prodded like the brainbug at the end of Starship Troopers. You know, they have to check her and see if she is cancerous. Biopsy for the bitch.

I kinda wish that she'd stayed intact. It was time for her to go, but she didn't have to break down like that. I wanted her in a jar to keep by my computer monitor at work. In the end Quisté couldn't take the pressure of the relationship that I needed with her and she combusted. I wouldn't say that she was weak, I would just say that I was too demanding. She really tried to make it work, and I had to rely on forces outside of our relationship to keep her in line. In some ways I feel like a real dick. But in other ways, I am happy to be free from that bitch once and for all.