When I woke up Sunday, I went through my typical morning ritual where I stare at my naked body for an hour or two in the mirror, giving myself mental high fives for not giving into any of the traditional definitions of “beauty” or “health” or “fitness” or “ew, why won’t he put a shirt on”. And that’s when I noticed it, right above my right armpit, pulsing and throbbing and red and painful.
“Must be a zit,” I thought as I contorted my arms into such a way as to actually be able to probe the swollen mass. I squeezed it and pushed it, but there was no release. “I’ll give it some time, and then I’ll pop the hell out of it,” I said out loud, because I live alone and talking out loud helps fill the growing void of loneliness and despair.
The next day, it had not improved. In fact, the redness had started to spread around my arm. I began to suspect that maybe this was not a zit after all, but a spider bite. Possibly late Saturday night, I had cuddled with a brown recluse without even realizing it, and maybe she bit me because I wouldn’t let her be the big spoon. It’s not the first time in my life that’s happened. “I’ll just power through it, and let Mitt the Zit burn out on its own. No big deal,” I said to Phil, my microwave.
Tuesday morning, the swelling had not decreased. When I probed Mitt, it felt like there was liquid inside, and it was very painful to the touch. The redness looked angry now, and my arm throbbed and tingled frequently. “It’s time to go on the offensive,” I whispered to my army of ready fingers (whispering to avoid giving Mitt notice of the impending attack). With a mighty battle cry (which I think was “Owwwwwwwiieeeeee!”), I grabbed a loofah and exfoliated it until it bled. Or oozed. I couldn’t really see through the veil of tears.
When that hadn’t fixed anything, I decided to turn to the Internet. I posted a photo (see artist’s rendition below) online and joked (okay, I wasn’t joking) about it hurting and wanting my mom.
Between Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, well over 60 people commented on the photo, none of whom agreed with my assessment that I should just tough it out. In fact, when I suggested that I just get a scalpel and drain it myself, I am pretty sure I heard someone scream out “YOOOOU IDIOT” all the way from Milwaukee. I got several phone calls and texts, and some of the people were nurses and medical professionals. I ignored those people, of course, and listened to the people with anecdotes about how their grandfather got bit by a spider on his eyeball and it swelled up to the size of the planet Neptune and he contracted a staph infection and then MRSA and then herpes and then AIDS and then his arm rotted off and he became a zombie and they had to shoot him in the head to stave off an attack.
Clearly, I was going to die. I looked at my options. I could go to a doctor and get it treated, or I could finally make my People Who Deserve To Die Before I Do list a reality. On my way to Walmart to pick up a gun, I passed an Urgent Care center and decided that visiting the doctor might be cheaper than buying those thousands and thousands of bullets.
After an hour of waiting and $120 of my money, the doctor came in, looked it over, said it was draining well, bandaged it up, and gave me a prescription for antibiotics. And then, as he was about to leave the room, he turned and looked at me. The lights dimmed, and his eyes glowed red as he pointed at me. “It’s good you came when you did. If you hadn’t, you would have DIIIIEEEEEEED” he bellowed before disappearing in a puff of sulfuric smoke.
So, thank you, Internet, for saving my life and also for making me deathly afraid of staph infections and MRSA and spider bites and necrotizing tissue and amputation and all of these things that I never thought about until yesterday. Can you take a look at this hangnail and let me know what you think?