Day #3/46 of my Lenten journey of stories.
Today I saw Shaggy (not his real name), 40 years old. Shaggy was jolly, with a big smile; generously proportioned; and I would later come to find out, a hugger. He came in today to discuss some ‘pelotas,’ or ‘balls.’ Not his genitalia, but some balls in his skin, what we like to refer to as ‘nodules.’ He had one on his chest, and one on his back.
Mostly, I enjoy evaluating nodules. They are nice and objective, you can usually see them and feel them, and most of the time they don’t turn out to be too terrible. Unless they are Cancer, of course, and then they suck. The majority of people come to the doctor to make sure their nodules aren’t cancer (or giant maggots, see Day 2). This was also the case with Shaggy.
“Well, Shaggy, why don’t you show me where this lump is on your chest,” said I (except in my crappy Spanish, which means that what Shaggy heard was: ‘you show me ball in chest, lady!’) Shaggy pointed to a visible bulge just below his sternum (that’s the plate of bone in front, where all the ribs connect). Indeed, I could see a doughy lump just at the end of his sternum. I then advised Shaggy that I would be palpating (touching) the lesion. I examined the lump thoroughly and instantly knew what we were dealing with. In dramatic fashion, I exclaimed, ‘Great Scott, Shaggy! You. Have. A… Xiphoid Process!!
Yes, Shaggy. I’m afraid I have to inform you that you, indeed, have a rather prominent xiphoid process, which is the bony protuberance at the end of your sternum. I went on to tell Shaggy that, on the bright side, everyone has one and they are actually a part of normal anatomy. Once he stopped shaking (and sobbing), he was quite relieved.
We went on to examine his other nodule, which turned out to be… a LIPOMA! we’ll explain that another day. Suffice it to say, also NOT cancer.
Shaggy was ecstatic that neither of his pelotas were anything bad, and then the hugging commenced. He was kind of an infectious chap, so I hugged him back fairly enthusiastically. We exchanged “DIOS LE BENDIGA’s” (God Bless you) and he skipped away down the hall.
Now, everyone, I want you to take your right hand and touch your belly-button. Leave it there. Now, slowly push down deep, then lift up and move closer to your chest, and push down deep again. Work you way up toward your chest in this fashion until you hit a pointy, hard, triangular shaped protrusion. Bam! that’s your xiphoid process. I just saved you a 2 hour visit to the doctor’s office (I’ve seen no less than 3 people over the last 15 years with this same concern. After age 40 it can calcify a bit, and feel more substantial).
Photo of the day:
Every Summer there is a 1 mile and 5k jungle race, sponsored by our Hospital. It’ an ‘out-and-back,’ here’s the start/finish. Afterward, there’s a fun awards ceremony, complete with cool Schwag that visiting teams bring down for the kids. Lots of fun…
43 days to go…