There’s a hole in my leg, long filled with granulation tissue – a small, circular scar. An area of my lower left leg began swelling one day; I noticed it in a bathroom stall at school. It was slightly warm and a little bit painful on palpation. By the time I got home, the swelling had grown considerably larger.
The emergency doctor first tried giving me antibiotics. I learn later, in medical school, that abscesses form capsules around themselves, effectively isolating them from the body’s vascularity. Oral medications, after being absorbed into the hepatic circulation and being filtered by the liver, obligately travel through the systemic blood. Of course, the antibiotic didn’t work. I spent another later night in the ER and watched in fascination as they drew an X with a small scalpel and squeezed out the pus. “You should go into healthcare,” my nurse told me.
In the years between then and my first classroom exposure to the pathology of ulcers, I lost a best friend, a long-term partner, and reconnected with people I’d previously fallen out with or hadn’t gotten to know properly the first time. My larger friend group shifted and changed – some stopped speaking to certain members; people left and formed their own groups; I met other people and gradually amalgamated into their social structures.
I make friends slowly. Consequentially, I also tend to lose friends slowly. There are only a few individuals I was once close to that are ‘permanently’ gone from my life. These are abscesses of sorts – emotional abscesses. Some have long since emptied on their own; others are fresh enough to cause a discomfort I try to medicate in a variety of ways, knowing full well that it won’t work. Presumably, like the doctor who first prescribed me that antibiotic, I know better. An abscess requires draining order to heal.