Thursday, February 23, 2012

Big Bad Boil

I have debated whether or not to post about this, but it has been such a big part of my life the past few days that I feel like I should. If for no other reason than to reread it in a few months and remember the story and how far I've come. 

Last December, right before I went home for Christmas, I got my first boil. Gross and slightly embarrassing, I knew nothing about what they were or how I'd acquired one. It was right where my leg met my butt, and over the course of a few days began to cause agonizing pain. I could barely walk, I winced the entire 15 minute bike ride to school, and standing and sitting came to be the most difficult part of my day. I would have gone to the doctor sooner, but being that I'm over here, I wasn't exactly sure where to go nor did I have the vocabulary to get things accomplished. Long story short, Kim and her amazing Japanese came with me, Keima wrote out in my issue in detail, and I made a list of vocab I needed. The visit went smoothly. I got 3 pills, and was set to leave for the US 2 days later, where I would have it looked at there. I did, and it drained, and we were golden.

Then I came back to Japan and some how acquired two new boils in my armpit. Every time I get one, since I'm now becoming a connoisseur, there is always a day where I am just out of commission. One night where I just cry from pain and frustration. Then continue to add hot compresses or whatever, willing it to mature, drain, and re-leave the pressure. The pain will continue for about a week as it slowly drains, though is bearable by then.

Last Sunday I got the pleasure of having 2 next to each other at the top of my right armpit. An already painful addition to my body, the sensitive location only magnified the pain. Then there was a rash down my arm, tender to my elbow, I decided I should probably go to the doctor. I did, this time all by myself. I was hoping to get some antibiotics like last time, which worked great, and go home. Instead the doctor decided to lance, as in cut, it. 

"I think maybeee I should cut it," the doctor said as he manhandled my sore.
Without being rude, I mentally willed him to change his mind. 
"Really? We cant just wait a few days and see if it drains?"
"No. I should cut it today."
"Ok. (Damn) Are you going to numb it first?"
"Oh of course," he said, "though the anesthesia doesn't always work. And the injection itself is quite painful."


I watched as he filled a syringe 90% full. I asked in Japanese if he was going to put it all in. He gave me a reluctant yes. I winced. The thing already hurt from the pressure it was putting on my nerves, so yes, please, by all means, shove more liquid in there.

I watched with terror as the doctor received, blades, scissors, forceps and needles from the nurse and took to my delicate pit. I cried, the entire time. I lifted my head once and saw sooo much blood I let out an audible gasp. The doctor told me in perfectly simple, calm English, 

"I think it's better for you not to look."

I laid back down, putting my left hand over my face turning toward the wall. The doctor explained in English that he was taking out the debris, as he called it. I said I understood, and the whole room laughed as I said the word for pus in Japanese. Who knew my Japanese vocabulary would expand medically?!
A nurse came to my feet and held my knees trying to calm me. I tried to focus on her. That was a poor decision. She could see the doctor cut before I felt it and would squeeze my knees in anticipation. Allowing me to know for sure that pain was in store.

Finally, he stuffed the newly enlarged hole with gauze and wrapped my arm. It felt like my arm was on fire. He wrote me a prescription for the 3 pills I'd previously had and set me up with an IV antibiotic before I left. I continued to cry. I could not stop. I tried to take deep breaths, telling myself the worst was for sure over. At least for today. I still had to come back Thursday and Friday.

As the nurses escorted me to the IV room next door, they chuckled telling me in Japanese that I was entering an all Japanese zone, between tears I smiled and told them that was not a problem. One tried to bond with me telling me that she was there in December when I first came in. That was a special moment. She came back and handed me tissues as I tried to calm myself, smiling as I called myself a baby in Japanese. She assured me my tears were validated as she made another cutting motion in the air.

I biked home, lifting my arm off the handle bars in anticipation of bumps in the road.  Now semi hungry, all I wanted was Mac and Cheese. Not exactly prevalent in Japan. Kim had just arrived home from Spain hours before so was coincidently home at 1pm on this Wednesday. I went to say hi and ask how Spain was, trying to distract myself from my throbbing arm. Then she asked what happened. As soon as I opened my mouth I cried. Again.

But things were looking up. She amazingly happened to have a box of the ever famous Mac and Cheese, and kindly offered to make it for us for lunch. Full fat. I was all for it. After lunch I was able to take my prescription, one of which being a pain killer. I could feel it kicking in. I took a nap and lost myself in television on my computer.

Flowers from my lovely neighbor Liv.
Battle Wound.
Just a few hours later, I felt SO much better. My arm wasn't on fire and since he took out a ton of debris, the pressure was mostly gone. I was able to do some laundry, and dishes that had been neglected. The teachers at work emailed to check on me.  I told them in summary what I had done. Since it was a form of a procedure, I was encouraged to stay home and rest. 
Fine by me.

I slept in on the rainy Thursday, then syran wrapped my arm to shower. Called my family, then hopped on my bike to head back to the doctors. I had no idea if more cutting was involved and I mentally prepared myself as I parked my bike and handed over my insurance card. The nurse who had tried to be my buddy the previous day, was thrilled to see me smiling. I watched the tools she handed the doctor, analyzing the damage each could do. I almost leaped off the table for joy when I realized it was just a gauze change. I winced a little as the gauze came out and went back in, but nothing compared to the previous day. I got another antibiotic IV and was pretty much giddy the rest of the visit.

Tick Tock.
Bored and so excited there was no more slicing!

Friday I went to work half day, and back to the doctors, which is just across the street. Another gauze change, IV, and hang out sesh with my new nurse friends. This time no gauze went back in the wound. We're making progress!
Before the gauze went back on, I told them that my mom was a nurse and wanted a picture of the opening. Not a total lie, but I did want to send her one. Lucky lady. They said of course that was ok. In the two seconds it took for me to take the pic, I could hear that information traveling throughout the floor, no doubt the entire ward now knows my mother is a nurse.

IV Fun.

Since I wasn't in tears and was all smiles this visit, the doctor told me that he once had visited San Francisco, taking BART and visiting UCSF. He then informed me that the word gauze comes from the Gaza Strip in Israel. Random but very cool. I had no idea.

I am all smiles and back to normal now. Having a dinner with a friend tonight and attending a Calvin Harris concert tomorrow night after a morning gauze change.

This weekend is shaping up nicely!


[The Latest]

Must Read: Japan One Year On...from The Sun. AMAZING PICTURES!
Google Search: Boils.
Tune: Crash Your Party By Karmin.
Accomplishment: A solo doctors visit.
Obsessions: Chocolate rice crispy treats.


  1. Eeeeek! Happy you are all better boo!

  2. KBoil=OOOOche please stay away from boils! love ya cw



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