I have a lumpy head. Or, rather, I had a lumpy head. I just had the last couple removed earlier today. It’s the third time I’ve been in to Doctor Proctor’s minor surgery clinic. He’s a lovely man; very personable, humble and curious. I always feel a bit egotistical during our chats as he cuts open my scalp and pries out sacs of gunk, because he asks me considerate questions and responds so warmly to my responses, and I never really ask anything back because I’m a bit scared to interrupt his work by talking when he didn’t specifically prompt it. And not even because it might impact my scalp, just because I don’t like to interrupt people when they’re working.
By the time it came to today’s appointment, I half wondered what the point was, because I’ve barely noticed these remaining offenders since having the last two removed. They were, of course, removed in order of severity, with the biggest and most painful going first in the most traumatic of the de-cysting procedures, where I even got to enjoy the thrills of cauterisation when I was a bit too bleedy. There’s really nothing quite like the bubbling, hissing, crackling sound of your flesh burning, vibrating against your skull. Now that we were down to the least troublesome, I wondered if removing them was worth the trouble.
I’m not particularly squeamish and, adequately numbed, it’s not like I find the removals especially perturbing. Each time, however, I have found myself with shaky, sweaty hands by the time the stitches are in. It always feels disproportionate to the amount I suffered during the procedure. I mentioned it the first time, in case it was a side effect of the anaesthetic, but it didn’t seem to have a neat explanation. I’ve been trying to dredge up the parts of my degree that taught me about the biological response to pain, so I can speculate on whether, if the pain receptors are blocked, the body still has other ways of knowing it’s been hurt that may result in me having this kind of reaction. Maybe I’m just bluffing myself into thinking I’m fine and the shaking is a manifestation of how fine I’m not.
I’d become quite self-conscious about my lumpy head. Specifically, the idea of a romantic interest feeling them during a moment of intimacy made me squirm. My ex teased me about them and, while I don’t think his intention was to make me feel bad, it pushed on some tender spots around feeling unfeminine and thus unattractive, and created a problem where once there hadn’t been one. Beautiful women don’t have lumpy heads. I was surprised to find myself so affected by an ugly idea like this. It wasn’t the kind of person I thought I was, and it led me to unearthing a bunch of other ugly ideas that I’d pushed down and papered over.
While the lumps were objectively causing pain and discomfort, the blight on my self-esteem was probably the main reason I wanted them gone. It feels like a nice bit of closure to realise that, at the same time as I was going through the process to have these blemishes upon the silhouette of my scalp removed, I was also doing the inner work that disentangled their existence there from my sense of worthiness.
So I guess now all the loose ends have been nicely stitched up.