Stitches aren’t inherently gross, unless you think deeply about them. They are thread, binding bits of flesh together so that other bits of your body don’t fall out on your carpet. But, that’s not what I want to share with you. I’ll leave that image there for a second though...Back with me?
I’m a little over six months out from my first brain surgery. It’s weird to say that, knowing I’ll have another one soon! My duraplasty and decompressive craniectomy, (like my fancy words - that wasn't my whole procedure but it's all I felt like spelling!) required so many stitches that when I asked my neurosurgeon how many I’d gotten, you know, for badass bragging rights (who wouldn’t ask!?), he literally laughed and said, “It’s so many that it doesn’t matter.”
I laughed with him, to be polite (if you are supposed to be polite to people who cook you a terrible meal, that means you have to laugh at the jokes of the man who poked into your brain and didn't kill you doing it). Still, in my head, I was like, “Um yeah, to you it doesn’t matter. That’s, like, the first thing someone asks: how many stitches?” Well, at least while they were visible, they did. With hair over the scar, people usually do this weird maneuver where I can tell they are trying to see it without me noticing they are looking for it. Just ask, folks. I'll show you.
But, now I get to say: I don’t know how many stitches it was, instead of being able to say four billion. My son’s doctor did the same thing when she reattached the torn tendon in his wrist; do doctors not count stitches anymore? Or, is it weird to want to know?
Anyway, this procedure requires internal and external stitches (some for the dura, and some for the skin). Also no big deal, except that the internal stitches are supposed to dissolve. Mine aren’t all dissolving. Instead, now that I’ve passed the initial scratchiness that accompanies shaved hair growing back (try it sometime, it’s the best), I frequently, still get unbearable itchiness on my scalp.
When this happens now, I can pinpoint it down to a lump, which a few days later develops into what looks like a cross between a blackhead and an ingrown hair. So gross. Really, so gross. Once you have something crazy-weird wrong with you, you become paranoid for the rest of your life, that every bump is going to be your certain death, so, I make my husband look, and look, and look some more.
You don't know how much your husband truly loves you, until it's 4 am, and he's examining an offending blackhead/ingrown hair for the fortieth time that night, with a flashlight, reassuring you that you do not, indeed, have a new infection of cerebral spinal fluid. "Yes dear, it's fine. No dear, you aren't dying. Yes dear, I looked carefully." All quickly followed by snoring.
So, we have to haul out our tweezers (I just made them sound really heavy), and yank out the dastardly hair, to get sweet relief. Gross, right? I hate that my husband has to be involved, but I can’t see back there, even with twisting and turning, and a good mirror. And, half of my skull is a soft spot, like a baby's. So, when the tweezers come out, I get freaked that I’m going to accidentally stab myself. I mean, those tweezers are heavy, right? Backward work, with heavy, sharp tweezers, on a soft skull? No thanks.
How many of these little bastards are in there? How many didn’t dissolve? How many do I have to look forward to, rising to the surface? I guess so many, that it doesn’t matter, right doc?