It must have been... I'd say 2003, because Boulos and I were living on the Upper East Side. I was in Chicago for some reason. I'd like to say it was when my brother graduated grade school and we (me and Boulos, not my 13-year-old brother) split a bottle of tequila and got in a loud fight on my parents' basement stairs at two o'clock in the morning and had to be yelled at by my mother. WE ARE CLASSY. But no, that was in 2002. I was visiting Chicago for some reason (Boulos, were you there for this? Somehow I feel like you were) and revealed to my mother the plague that had been... plaguing me for a few days: the giant cyst in the middle of my back.
My mom was concerned, but I like to ignore things like this. I mean, come on, eventually that giant, painful, I swear to god pulsating oval on my back will just GO AWAY, right? Like, what did people in the olden days do about cysts? Nothing. They just powered through. Or were stoned to death by other old timey people because the cyst was obviously the mark of the beast or something. Or, the cyst ruptured and they got infections due to unsanitary conditions (which were common in the olden days, you know) and then they died. WHATEVER. I don't have time to deal with cysts on vacation.
When the cyst reached its pinnacle, which was quite impressive -- bright red, the size of an egg, pretty firm except for this nice pokable little dime-sized area in the center (did you vomit yet? good.), my mom finally convinced me to go to the ER. This was the first of two ER visits I have made for really stupid reasons. I had a youngish, kind of good looking doctor who would not stop fretting about whether or not I was pregnant because of something he was intending to give me for the pain. We spent a LONG TIME discussing whether this was a possibility (no. I firmly stated. No, it is not). Then he'd leave. Then he'd come back, again concerned about my potential zygote. (No. There is no way I'm pregnant. Do you hear what I'm saying here doctor? NO WAY.) Sigh. I didn't have the heart to tell the cute doctor that I'd been celibate for years at this point. Eventually, after giving me a diabetes test that left me with a bloody finger, he made me take a stupid pregnancy test. I peed all over my bloody finger. Ah, well, at least that won't get infected.
I lay on my stomach while the doctor gave me shots to numb the area and then cut it open. Numb or not, it hurt like a bitch. I gritted my teeth while he... (don't vomit) squeezed all the pus out. YUM! I hope you're eating.
Then he packed it with gauze, told me he was sure he'd gotten "the sac" (this would be my first experience with that amazing term, which surprisingly is the only aspect of this whole thing that grosses me out), and revealed that he'd had a "giant man" in the other day who had cried like a baby through the exact same procedure. He assured me I'd do well in childbirth (?!) and sent me on my way. To this day, I am kind of worried about his level of interest in my offspring.
I went home to Boulos, who had to help me clean and redress the wound since it was on my back. She found the situation horrifying, but proved herself as a wife and lifelong friend by actually assisting me in this. I will be very, very lucky to ever find a man who would do the same. We nicknamed it my "back vagina," decided that "Chicago Style" referred to sex in the back vagina while both parties eat deep dish pizza, and eventually it healed, leaving only a small scar. Yay, no more cyst!
Yeah right. This thing comes back about yearly. During the first recurrence, I was again in Chicago (travel does something to the monster on my back) and visited my dad's dermatologist. He cut me back open, removed more pus, said he got the sac, but recommended I have them cut me open when it was normal again to make sure the entire sac was gone. Gross! This sac, like, divides and conquers? Ugh. I briefly discussed the surgery with my general practitioner in New York, but you know what? It's really hard to convince oneself that surgery is necessary when everything is fine. Hey, dude, my back is good. No vagina here! I'm sure that last guy got the sac.
After the threat of surgery, I started taking care of this thing myself. Oh god, that sounds so gross. No, what happened is that once I wasn't able to get to the doctor before the thing kind of de-pussed itself on its own. Exploded, kind of. This part of the story is where I venture into true TMI territory, I guess, and we all throw up together. Anyway, after I didn't die on that one, I decided to just buy some big bandages in preparation for any flare-ups, cover the thing when it became a monster, and wait it out. This method has been working pretty well for years. It's safe! I buy the large anti-bacterial band-aids.
So on Friday, my new dermatologist asked me whether I experience acne anywhere other than my face and I was like, "um, well. I kind of had this cyst on my back and it flares up sometimes." With no fanfare, he marched over, yanked the back of my shirt open, peered down for a millisecond, poked my back and said, "Oh, you'll have to have that removed; the sac is still in there." Trust me when I say that, even after years of talking about this cyst, the word "sac" still makes me dry heave a bit. As I left the office, the receptionist scheduled an appointment for sac removal.
And then I was a little sad! Mostly because I have never had surgery except for the removal of my wisdom teeth and I'm of the firm belief that the less surgery, the better. (In reality this is an outpatient procedure and I'm pretty sure it's only going to require another shot or two of local anesthesia, so I should just stop being a crybaby already.) But also... no more little harmless friend who becomes an angry red monster and then settles into back vagina before hibernating again :(
Goodbye, little sac (barf). I hardly knew ye.
I am hoping that Dr. Wilson finally closes my back vagina
(There are youtube videos of cyst removals but I cannot recommend them. The two I watched were really disgusting. I would stick to my story, which has the benefit of a first-person back cyst story, i.e. I didn't see anything.)