I’m sitting in the local urgent care center with a washcloth wadded up and held in place by a pair of boxer briefs. This is meant to stop the flow of blood that would otherwise have stained my jeans on the way here. I’ve done something dumb and it’s hard to believe that I still do these kinds of dumb things.
We spent the weekend at Hershey Park and did a lot of walking. I was feeling a fair bit of irritation in the nether regions because I had a sizable skin tag – emphasis on the past tense. I have discovered that self surgery is ill-advised.
As I checked in they asked me when my last tetanus shot had been and I was able to answer June of 2015. That was the last time I went to the emergency room after slicing my finger instead of green peppers. We were at the beach and I’d had three or four negronis in about a half hour while I was getting ready to make dinner. I haven’t had an occasional to go to the ER or an Urgent Care clinic since I quit drinking.
So what the hell happened tonight?
I was restless and irritable after getting home from the trip. The should have been fun, but really it wasn’t. The weather has been cold and it snowed. We probably should have known that an amusement park was not a good plan. But, we went anyway.
I had visions of us riding roller coasters in lightly falling snow at night while the park was lit with Christmas lights. I had visions of hot chocolate and good cheer. I had visions of lots of smiles. But apparently the park can’t run the roller coasters when it’s less than 40°. Something about hydraulics not working properly — you know, safety. Not to mention it wasn’t a lightly falling snowfall — it was snowing hard. And it was windy. It was bitter. So, it really wasn’t the weekend to be at the park.
Since the roller coasters weren’t in operation, my son was having none of it. He was miserable and he made sure we were miserable too. Every few minutes he asked me what the temperature was, in hopes that it had risen above 40. When he wasn’t asking about the temperature, he was telling us how rotten it was that he couldn’t ride the coasters, and most importantly that we were idiots. Ah, preteen angst.
To be fair, we had a few good times. We rode the bumper cars, we went on an indoor coaster, we played some of the games — but mostly it was a slog. A lot of walking around in the cold.
So, when we got home, I had this irritated skin tag that was hurting and I decided that I’d cut it off. That was the easy part. A quick pinch and a slice with a new razor blade and it was off.
An hour later it was still bleeding and my wife was urging me to go get it taken care of properly. I resisted. I mean, I always resist the things that I know I need to do whether it’s going to the doctor, getting the oil changed, or getting to the grocery store before we are out of milk.
But it became abundantly clear that the bleeding wasn’t gonna stop despite my best efforts. So I packed my loins and hit the road.
After an hour or so at the urgent care clinic, I walked out with a single suture and a little less pride. Mercifully, the doctor hadn’t given me a lecture about performing surgery on my own body. She actually advised an alternate method of removing skin tags in the future — though I have sworn that I’ll let the professionals do it next time.
I know that my rash decision was triggered by my mood. I wanted to take things into my own hands and solve this pesky little problem. Make it go away. Right then, right there.
Interestingly, this is not too far from how I responded to things that I didn’t like when I was drinking. I’d tried to handle things right then and right there by having a drink to ease the pain. The theory was that I could just make it all go away with a drink.
But just as taking a drink often not only didn’t solve things, but made them worse, this decision had done the same. There’s a lesson in here — quick solutions and taking things into my own hands rarely works.
I’d have been much better off to have relaxed a bit. Maybe listened to some music or meditated. That skin tag had been on the inside of my thigh for years and while it had been minority irritating — and certainly unsightly — it wasn’t something that needed to be addressed in the heat of the moment.
Practicing the pause is something that I’m not good at. It’s something that I strive toward. Pausing is a goal. I recently had a rough night with the boy that had resulted in a lot of yelling on my part. The morning after that night, I got up and intentionally started the day with a meditation on conflict de-escalation.
The meditation recommended noticing the pause when you inhale and before you exhale, and then the pause after you exhale but before you inhale. I’m not always good at remembering to do this, but with some effort, some work, I can get better.
Inhale. Pause. Exhale. Pause. Inhale.