Scalpels and Scissors

“Bee sting.” That is what the doctor said as he began to numb the skin on my chest around the raised lump, beneath which the chemo port had been implanted almost five years ago. He was the same doctor who had implanted the device, but he looked more than five years older. He understated what I should expect when he began the process. It was not a “bee sting.” It was more like the work of several angry hornets. But the pain subsided quickly, replaced by a tugging sensation as he sliced open my skin and began pulling on the little device.

“Oh, yeah, it’s obviously been five years. It’s taken root.” Or words to that effect. Though the process did not take long, the tugging, jerking, and pulling seemed to last much longer than it really did. And after he removed the device and began suturing beneath the skin to close the wound, I began to feel the needle; each time he stabbed it into the subcutaneous tissue, I felt myself wince.

“Do you feel that?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Hmm, your tissue doesn’t seem to soak up the numbing agent the way it should.”

After the very minor surgery, which lasted no more than ten minutes, the doctor asked whether I was curious about what had been buried beneath my skin for five years. I responded in the affirmative and he showed it to me; a little heart-shaped gadget with a long white tube attached. Pointing to the tube, he said, “The end of this was just this far from the top of your heart.” He illustrated the distance by showing me a tiny space between his thumb and forefinger.

This morning, I feel a constant discomfort where the doctor sliced into me (with scalpels and scissors?), but the pain is minor. The glue he used to seal the exterior of the wound (inside are sutures which will dissolve) should disappear within ten days or so. The only evidence that I had the device implanted in my chest will be a jagged little scar. I do not know why the scar is so jagged; I should ask the doctor/surgeon whether he had been drinking before he performed the procedures.


I will leave in a few minutes for my weekly breakfast with men from church. And a little later today I will drive into town to see my cardiologist for my annual checkup. I hope she does not have in mind subjecting me to a stress echo or other such uncomfortable process/procedure. If she does, I will plead to delay it until the gaping wound in my chest has fully healed…perhaps a month or three from now.


The things on my mind at this very moment do not lend themselves to public disclosure, so I will stop typing and, instead, comb my hair.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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