Be Brave and Tug!
It was always there - itching and burning and bothering me. I didn't know why this particular incision was taking so much longer to heal than I expected it to. I also didn't know why I couldn't stop catching every virus that came into the vicinity. Maybe I was just being impatient, but after two months of feeling lousy, I wanted to feel better so I could move on. I finally decided to go to an acupuncturist to see if she could help.
After describing my pain to her, she asked to look at my incision. As soon as she saw it, she exclaimed, "You still have a stitch in there!"
Shocked, I asked, "Are you sure? Maybe it is a scar."
She shook her head. "No, I'm looking at a black thread with a knot in it."
I couldn't believe my ears. This was the second time a stitch was found since the doctor had "removed" the stitches after a recent surgery. The first stray stitch was discovered when my husband and I had been trying to determine why the wound wasn't healing properly and why I had an infection. Gary pulled it out and the site got well. But we overlooked this second stitch because we hadn't looked hard at the other side of the wound and missed it.
I asked the acupuncturist to pull it out for me, and to her credit, she tried. But it didn't want to slip out easily, and as she didn't want to hurt me, she stopped. I didn't know what to do as I was away from home on business, and my husband wasn't available to help.
The acupuncturist finished inserting the needles for the treatment and then left me in the room to rest. I did what anyone would do under such circumstances; I fell asleep.
I began to dream about the bicycle I had received for Christmas when I was eight. It was a purple banana-seat wonder and came complete with streamers and a basket. I loved my bike and rode it everywhere.
The dream started out wonderfully. I could feel the wind on my face as I rode. I could see my old neighborhood. I could hear the sound of the gravel crunch under my wheels as I streaked up the street. Suddenly, I remembered why I had scars on my knees. One day, I hit a big patch of gravel and tumbled over, getting rocks inside the skin over my kneecaps.
When I came crying at the front door, my mother and grandmother consulted together and determined that someone would have to remove the rocks. (In those days, children didn’t go to doctors for such events. Instead, the closest adult to the child administered first aid.) My mother tried to remove them, but I screamed and wiggled away. Next, my grandmother attempted to remove them, but after she saw that she, too, would fail, she announced that I would have to take them out myself. I took the tweezers willingly, reasoning that at least I could feel where the skin ended and the kneecap began. After my fishing expedition was over, a small mound of gravel sat on the table.
My grandmother beamed at me. “You are so tough," she said. "I don't think I've seen a child as brave as you are."
I felt so proud of myself. I had done something hard and had succeeded.
As soon as this memory ran through my dream, I knew what I needed to do. I needed to pull the stitch out myself.
After I went back to my room, I collected my tweezers and fingernail clippers and went to work. It wasn't easy as the skin had partially grown over the knot. I almost gave up partway through the procedure, thinking that I might have to give up and find a doctor to help me.
But then, my grandmother's voice came to me. "You're tough. You can do this."
I nodded. Yes, I could do it. It was only one stitch.
I grunted and stretched and squirmed. I poked and prodded and pulled. I gritted my teeth and, at last, the foreign object came out. I was free!
Life is like that sometimes. We occasionally find that we have something or someone to remove from our lives. We must remove the stitch or the sore will continue to hurt and ooze. Removing it isn't easy, but once we've finished, we feel relief and pride in ourselves that we were brave enough to do it. We are free to heal. We are free to start over again. We are simply free.
P.S. This is a Best of Ro Muse, written in 2009.
Muse: To be absorbed in one's thoughts; engage in meditation. Not intended to solve the world's problems, another person's problems, or to cover topics completely. One does not have to agree with musings to enjoy them, just as one does not have to be the same as someone else to appreciate who they are.
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