I wrack my brain for ways of describing this pain but nothing original comes to mind.
They numb my ass, but it isn’t enough. The infection runs deep, too deep for the lidocaine to reach, the doctor explains.
All the WebMD pages and comment threads told me the lidocaine injections would be the worst part. Fire in your veins / hurts like a motherfucker / seriously thought i was going to pass out.
I’m facedown on the exam table, my pants trapped around my knees. The vinyl is cold against my skin, and I try to wriggle away from the patch of cracked upholstery against my hip. I ignore how irritatingly handsome the doctor is and how long it’s been since someone touched me.
“The numbness should be setting in now, but this next part might hurt. Tell me if you need to take a break.”
He presses on my flesh, and I think about how the internet is a goddamn liar. When the pressure eases, I have a second of relief before he adjusts his fingers and squeezes again. Harder this time.
My gasp makes my mask stick to my mouth.
I wrack my brain for ways of describing this pain but nothing original comes to mind. There is no room for poetry or curses or witty observations.
“Jeep seat,” it’s called, because soldiers in World War II first developed them from long stretches of driving across battlefields. I did not get mine from a battlefield, but still, I got mine from doing what was best for my country: sitting on my ass at home.
“If only I hadn’t been so lazy,” I tell my friend over Zoom. “Maybe I could’ve prevented it.”
“It could happen to anyone,” my friend consoled me from the chair she hadn’t moved from since lockdown started.
Meanwhile, I had not sat properly in months. I stood until my knees ached, laid on my front until my breasts hurt, pretzeled myself into positions until my legs fell asleep. I read the subreddit and learned that only surgery could fully remove the cyst. The incision and drainage procedure, described as a “17/10 on the pain scale,” was a necessary step prior to that. My body was faulty plumbing in need of extensive repair.
To help, I ordered Epsom salts, tea tree oil, and a coccyx pillow off the internet. I set timers for when I could pop another extra-strength Tylenol. I half-hoped the abscess would heal on its own.
Help me from my misery / Unbearable pain / Any advice? One post in particular struck me: what do i do about the pain i honestly feel like i could stab myself and it would hurt less
I woke up to a pinprick in my lower back one morning. It wasn’t a remarkable morning because each day was the same.
“It’s probably just a pimple,” my boyfriend shrugged as I inspected it in the mirror. When he pressed down on it, I winced.
Fear and an expiring lease had pushed us together into my studio apartment. It was fun at first—deciding where to get takeout, making elaborate cocktails for happy hour Zooms, binging whole seasons of TV. But then we learned the difference between playing house and having a household.
Only the bathroom had a door. It was where I took calls because he needed silence and a more professional background to talk to clients. I hoped the Zoom blur did enough to hide the fact I was on the toilet seat, precariously balancing my laptop on the edge of the chipped bathtub.
When he didn’t ask me about the pinprick again, I told him it was getting worse. I couldn’t lie on my back anymore.
“Then go see a doctor,” he said, his back to me.
I called the dermatologist from the bathroom.
“Have you been sitting a lot?” she asked.
I didn’t tell her about the toilet seat. She suggested I come in for an appointment.
“Are you sure?” I whispered.
There was a long pause—or maybe a glitch—before her reply. I wouldn’t wait.
“What if it’s serious? What if it’s bad?” I whispered to him as we laid in bed.
“You’ll figure it out.”
“I’d give it at least a few weeks before you try to exercise or have sex,” the doctor says, snapping off his gloves and depositing them in the trash.
I appreciate that he mentions sex in my future even though I can’t imagine the possibility while I’m deflated on the table, the evidence of what we’ve done in a biohazard bin. I’ve sweated through the back of my shirt and there are half moons on my palms from where I dug my nails in.
He goes over how to change the dressings, tells me to fill a prescription for antibiotics, and hands me a brown bag full of gauze and medical tape.
“Will you be alright by yourself?” the receptionist asks on my way out. Her skepticism is palpable through the plastic barrier, her image smudged by the breath of hundreds of strangers. I nod and waddle towards the door. I’m surprised when I take my first step outside without pain.
I remember now. That was the whole point of this procedure, a necessary agony. While I wait for my medication in CVS, I feel something—saline, blood, pus—sliding down my leg. It tickles as it travels towards my toes. I stand in line as the gauze soaks through. The thought of people considering the dark spot on my sweatpants, slightly off-center, makes me grin behind my mask. Let them.
I walk home as the extra hole in my ass leaks, my steps lighter than they’ve been in months.