It was that time on a summer evening when the sun’s shadows have reached their full length and the night is beginning. We had just left a Fish House and Oyster Bar restaurant. Omaha is better known for it’s steak houses than it’s seafood restaurants; maybe it goes back to the days of the Texas cattle drives when cattle were driven north to meet the Union Pacific railhead, or maybe it was Omaha’s livestock market, that at one time was the largest in the world. I was still savouring the faint, remaining taste of the remoulade and muffaletta relish from a Shrimp Po’ Boy when my attention was shifted back to the road lane I thought I was driving in; the front driver’s side wheel had thumped into a raised curb. I straightened the car into the lane and waited for the steering wheel to start juddering; the tyre had hit the curb with a large thump and I was certain the wheel was now buckled, or part of the front suspension and axle was bent. I thought no more about the taste of remoulade and muffaletta relish; I sped up and braked several times, and finished off with several jerking left and right sharp weaving turns.
The left and right weaving and veering caused me to sway slightly in the seat; and I was taken back to those nights in the Land Down Under when I was driving the Mini Cooper home after bending the elbow with the mates. I’m not proud to admit it now, but once or twice, I would have had one too many ice colds and so I would close one eye to stop seeing double. With the double vision gone I would focus on the center line of the road and try and keep the Mini straight and parallel to the line. And the next morning the Mini wasn’t where I thought I had parked it the night before.
I didn’t feel any vibrations in the steering wheel so I thought no worries, she’ll be right; no damage done.
Most times when I’m driving on the interstate I follow the speed limit, or set the cruise control to just about five miles above the limit. It was in the early evening, the day after the tyre thump into the curb, when I accelerated to a 65mph speed limit, cruising speed, after leaving the on ramp. For the next 10 minutes I blissfully cruised Omaha’s Interstate 680. The next morning I was stopped in my tracks as I walked toward the car; my eyes became fixated on a large bulge on the sidewall of the front driver’s side tyre.
It was if the tyre had developed a sebaceous cyst; filled not with fluid but hardened with air. As I stood staring at the tire cyst my right hand instinctively moved under my left arm pit and I started to feel for the lump.
For as long as I can remember I had this small lump just below the armpit on my left side; sometimes I would cradle the lump with my index and middle finger and jiggle it. Years ago the lump was diagnosed as a blocked gland; I was advised by the doctor that if it got any larger then I should see a doctor. After forty years the lump got larger. I never really noticed the lump getting larger but I started to feel the lump with the inside of my left arm; something I hadn’t felt before. I stood in front of the recessed bathroom vanity cupboard above the sink. I’d already removed my shirt, so I raised my left arm, and looked at the reflection of the lump in the vanity mirror.
It was large. I cradled the lump with my index and middle finger, but before I could jiggle it a stream of yellow tinged, diluted blood red liquid, squirted onto the mirror. I let the lump rest for a couple of days. I raised my left arm, and this time instead of cradling the lump, pushed on it with my index finger; it released a stream of tinted red liquid. Overthe next several days I grew weary of cleaning and sanitising the vanity mirror so I waited until I was showering to squeeze the lump. BAM !!! a geyser of liquid onto the tiled wall. I pride myself on being a quick thinker; after several days of spraying the shower tiles with a reservoir of tainted liquid I thought that I should see a doctor.
I didn’t touch the lump before seeing the doctor; 3 days of just looking at the lump in the mirror. And on some days there was a slight dampness on the underarm of my shirt and an odour from under my left arm. I wondered if all the under the shower pushing and squeezing had caused the lump to become infected. I sat waiting in the chair in the examination room. I held my left arm high above my head and the doctor moved in closer to look at, and touch the lump. She pushed on the lump.
She instinctively jerked back when the thick liquid squirted out and got most of herself out of the way in time. Some of the cheesy, blood diluted, liquid erupting from the engorged lump under my arm landed on her head and chest; but most ended up on the floor, and some even streaked across the room and onto the cupboard doors. She kept pushing and squeezing; draining the lump. I left with a supply of antibiotics, the lump covered in a blanket of gauze, and a follow up visit scheduled for next week. As I walked away from the nurses station I overheard the doctor asking if they would call maintenance and request a clean up for the room.
The lump oozed for the seven days leading up to the follow up visit; and grew in size. The doctor must have remembered the cheesy, blood diluted liquid, and the room clean up from the last visit because this time she placed a wad of dressing over the lump before pushing and squeezing. At the end of the appointment I was scheduled to see a lump doctor in two days.
There’s not a lot to do when you’re sitting just waiting in a doctor’s examination room. Because the magazines are usually old copies of either Time, Sports Illustrated, Good Housekeeping, People, Reader’s Digest, Parents, or Men’s Health I sometimes spend the time playing a game of things in a doctor’s examination room. Whenever I play the game I always get first the; exam table, chair, sink, computer, scale, wall mounted blood pressure measuring device, and cupboards, and then I really start looking around.
Without having anything to write on the things in a doctor’s examination room game becomes difficult. The more you discover things the more challenging it becomes to remember the extra things you find; but that’s part of the game. I didn’t have to wait long for the lump doctor. She drained the lump and did a quick examination. I don’t remember laying down on the examination table but I was lying on my right side with my left arm behind my head facing the lump doctor’s nurse who was sitting on my right, and the lump doctor was explaining it would be best if the lump was removed. It was a restful and calm conversation and I babbled on about how I become anxious at the thought of surgery, and she would have to recommend really good drugs to soothe my distress. As I was about to ask when will you scheduled the surgery I was overpowered by a cheesy, putrid stench. I think it was pungent odour that caused the nurse to move away, The lump doctor cheerfully said that I wouldn’t need surgery; I didn’t feel the anaesthetic numbing injection, but she had lanced, drained, and cut the lump out. She pushed gauze into the lump cavity; explaining that it’s best to keep the cavity open so it doesn’t seal up and prevent healing from the inside. Besides, keeping it open allows more time for draining. For next week a visiting nurse removed the packing, cleaned the wound, and repacked the gauze every morning; and after a check up from the lump doctor repeated the cleaning and dressing for another week. The cavity shrunk from a wound I could have pushed my index finger into, to a small chamber.
At the third week check up the lump doctor expressed her concern that the lump cavity had healed from the inside; and she would have to chemically roughen up the hardened chamber wall skin to allow soft tissue healing. During the next week the hardened skin stayed hard and so it needed to be cut out. The surgery was scheduled, and my distress was soothed with good drugs. The wall of hardened skin was deeper and wider than the lump so the new wound was stitched. And I now have a small scar instead of a lump just below the armpit on my left side.
As I looked at the lump on the tyre I thought how fortunate we were that it hadn’t released a stream of air that would have caused the sidewall to collapse when we were tootling down Interstate 680 at 65 plus miles per hour. I drove slowly to the complete auto care shop and had the tyre replaced. You can’t tell when a lump will erupt; it seems that lumps just decide that for themselves.