The Thing Is with Steve Canavan

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It was a very sad day yesterday for I had to say my final goodbye to a long-standing acquaintance of mine.

Sid - the cyst I’ve had growing on the side of my head since circa 2001 (I gave him a name because he’s been with me a long time and we’ve grown fond of each other) - is no longer.

He was lopped off at my local GPs in quite brutal manner, so brutal in fact that I had to check the doctor’s name wasn’t Pierrepoint.

Initially, I didn’t mind having a cyst. It was kind of comforting. When i was having a bad day at work or suffering some serious issue in my personal life - say if we’d run out of milk and I wanted a brew - I’d sit and gently stroke my lump and it felt oddly reassuring.

I’d obviously had him checked out by the docs, as you would if you found a lump growing on your body. ’Nothing serious, just a cyst,’ my GP told me.

And so that was that, I let him be.

But in the last couple of years, clearly not content with remaining a small insignificant cyst on the side of my head, he decided he wanted a little more excitement and began to grow.

So much so that it was starting to get embarrassing.

You could clearly see it through my hair and I’d noticed, when out shopping or walking in the street, passers-by were beginning to nudge each other and whisper things like, ‘what in god’s name has that guy got on the side of his head?’ One child actually cried and hid behind his mother.

Things came to a, well, head, last month, when as my barber was giving me my usual short back and sides, his clippers became lodged in my lump.

The barber - helped by a colleague - spent a full five minutes attempting to tug it free while I winced in agony and a roomful of waiting customers looked on in sort of macabre fascination. One even filmed it and put it on Youtube.

Enough was clearly enough, so I went back to the docs and declared that I wanted the thing taken off.

Yesterday was the day of the procedure and, slightly disappointingly, it was a lot more straightforward than I’d feared.

I thought it would be a major operation and that I’d have to spend at least five days in hospital and perhaps walk with a limp forever afterwards.

But as it was, it was done at the GPs - not by a special highly-trained crack team at the local hospital as I’d hoped - and was done and dusted in about 20 minutes.

That’s not to say it wasn’t a tad unnerving.

On arriving at the doctors - and after checking-in by tapping my details into a computer located at the front desk (what happened to receptionists?) - I was called in by a girl who looked about 12 -years-old.

‘I normally work in the office but we’re short-staffed today so I’m helping the doctor,’ she explained. I looked at her closely to see if this were some kind of practical joke. It wasn’t.

The doctor, I’m pleased to report though, was a trained GP, or at least he looked like one - he was wearing some little plastic gloves (the type you use to fill up your car with petrol if you don’t want to exacerbate your eczema) and a big blue gown, so he clearly knew what he was doing.

“This shouldn’t take long,” he said, “you just need to sign this form”.

It was a consent form. ‘What are the risks?’ I enquired.

“Bleeding, infection,” he replied.

‘Phew, not death then’, I joked.

“Only if my hand slips,” he remarked, though he said it without even the vaguest hint of a smile and while looking at me in an odd way, which unsettled me slightly.

I then lay on my side on a hard plastic chair, directly facing the 12-year-old who was laying out a long line of medical implements, one of which looked uncannily like a penknife, except much more lethal.

‘What’s that?’ I asked.

“It’s what we cut you open with,” said the doctor, who I can only assume was off on the day of the ‘Reassuring Your Patients’ course.

The worst part about the procedure was the local anaesthetic, which involved being jabbed in the head three times.

That, of course, numbed the area and allowed the doc to get slashing with his knife. I couldn’t feel a thing but I had a cracking view of the amount of blood oozing out, which the 12-year-old mopped up with what appeared to be some Andrex toilet roll, perhaps left over from the gents.

Eventually, after a lot of pushing and prodding, the doctor said, “here she comes” - as though he were describing his wife returning from work - and, a moment later, held in front of me a sort of small pale object that looked not unlike a butter bean. “That’s the cyst,” he said.

I asked if I could keep it for posterity - perhaps in a jar, pickled, on the lounge mantelpiece - but he said they had to send it away for tests.

I had to have two stitches in my head and was then free to go.

It feels weird having no lump there and I’ll miss Sid dreadfully, but at least going to the barbers will now be slightly less embarrassing.