Real-Life ER Drama

I visited the ER many times as an accident-prone kid – and a couple of times as a still-accident-prone adult – almost always for stitches, almost always somewhere in my head, to the point that one time, after seeing it done so often, my mother got medieval and fashioned her own butterfly stitch for one of my lesser wounds.

As of this morning, I’ve visited the ER three times in the last five days.

*** Semi-graphic details to follow. Check out Robert Smigel’s hi-f’n-larious “Blue Christmas” instead! (Or, in addition if you’re the voyeur type, like Dyanna!) ***

Long story short, I got some kind of infection in my right armpit last weekend that swelled to the size and shape of a two-inch banana, virtually disabling my right arm by Monday night when SalomĂ© forced me to go to the ER. After a ridiculous wait, I got in and the doctor had to slice, drain and stuff my pit in what was far and away the most painful experience I’ve ever endured. As it was, the infection had made moving my arm deliver a pain like skin being ripped apart. The anesthesia he injected burned like something no metaphor can convey. Like what I imagine fire consuming flesh might feel like. After that, everything else – the incision, the draining, the packing of gauze into the wound – was a mere annoyance. Relatively speaking.

Vicodin and a prescription for anti-biotics, and a return appointment Wednesday morning to remove the packing left me thinking I’d be good to go by Thursday at the latest.


Turns out the infection was still there Wednesday and I was still pretty swollen, so they removed the packing and – with an offer of the anethesia derived from Satan’s urine, to which I said no – packed it up again. If this is modern medicine, I’m guessing people simply used to die from this sort of thing.

The swelling went down significantly over the next two days, to the point where I was able to move my arm pretty freely without any notable pain, and again I’m thinking I’ll be done after this morning’s follow-up.

Wrong, again.

Why is it that the doctors with the gruffest bedside manner are generally the ones that seem to be better doctors?

The guy I saw today was rather abrupt, and not the least bit gentle, but he was the first one to clearly explain what was going on and, though I’m sore as hell again after his thorough but not-the-least-bit-gentle cleaning and re-packing job, I at least feel like I have a better sense of where things stand and what probably caused the infection to begin with.

Fun stuff!

So, anyone know an alternative to deodorant? As it was, I always avoided anti-perspirants because I knew they could cause things like this, but apparently my underarms are too sensitive for regular deodorant, too, a problem that apparently also plagued my grandfather. Not being a hippie or bohemian poet-type, I need some kind of alternative that won’t get me weird looks at work or extra personal space on the train!

Where’s my Whole Foods shoppers at?

Public apologies to Cristin, whose farewell toast/roast I missed last night asa result of this. I really wanted to be there but, obviously, it just wasn’t happening. 🙁

PS: When I say “sore as hell,” I mean sore like someone’s shoving their thumb into my armpit and pressing hard right up into the wound. Ouch!

10 thoughts on “Real-Life ER Drama

  1. Guy…

    Something like that happened to me in college. The difference for me was that I dealt with it for about 3 days and never went to the hospital. On the third day I was taking a very hot shower, letting the water run over it and it actually broke open, everything came out and I was ok after that. Didn’t use antiperspirant on that side for a while either. Maybe you can try one of those gel types. I used one once and sweated right through it. Definitely didn’t block any sweat glands but didn’t stink to high heaven either.

  2. Did some Googling and came up with this – Hidradenitis Suppurativa ( – which I think one of the doctors mumbled at some point but it went right over my head. Great!

  3. They have a great medicine for that condition you talk of; in Puerto Rico they call it ” Machete”. One swipe against your arm and the problem is solved.

    Nah seriously….. The body tends to fight infection off with the introduction of pain. The longer you waait and think the pain will go away; it gets worse. I had something similar in my pubic region once ( ingrown hair ). It got bad and fortunately I had the good sense to boil a needle and pop it and squeeze out the pus with the infected hair. I’m william wallace in a mask dude.

    Pues, feel better with your one arm and have a happy new year

    Peace Dawg

  4. What, exactly, did you have in mind as far as an alternative to anti-perspirant? I guess my question is, what exactly, was causing the problem? Something in the deodorant? The irritation caused by applying deodorant? The rebellious nature of your inner hippie just trying to get out? I’m sure I know of something…just lemme know….Happy New Year papi! See ya in 2005!….MCS

  5. 1. Stop picking on meeeee! (whine)
    2. Men and their refusal to see doctors. Sheesh!
    3. What about that au naturale Crystal stuff I’ve seen around? I hear it works.

    Sorry you’re walking wounded. Feel better!

  6. Ow. And ow.

    Whole Foods has some tea tree oil type-stuff in stick form that’s supposed to do the trick. I, of course, am almost as sweaty as Robert Karimi, so I have to use regular deodorant and sort of hope for the best.

    Good luck with it. And no “raising the roof” for you for two weeks.

  7. Guy,
    Sorry to hear about your experience. Here’s a suggestion for you, try using talcum powder. I’ve used it before in a pinch. It could buy you some time until you find a perminate replacement.

  8. Guy,
    2 inch bananas sound terrifying, especially growing out of the body! Glad to hear the ordeal is over. I like the Kiss My Face Liquid Rock deodorant. Apparently it’s a liquid version of those crystal rock things, sometimes called “Thai deodorant stones,” which i thought was some exotifying label but i was informed that people really use them in Thailand.

  9. ohmifuckinglord,

    that’s terrible! i’m gonna go research that right now. so sorry to hear your new year was ass, too.


  10. That is intensely fucking gross. But, you know, coulda been the groin, so consider yourself lucky… just another reason to wonder what the hell is happening to people’s bodies as a result of the weird shit we are all exposed to. And where you live, there is a LOT of dubious stuff in the land and water even before you start applying it directly to your skin.

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