I don’t like to think of myself as a procrastinator. However, there are things I tend to avoid. Specifically, I avoid things that I’m sure will lead to some type of physical or emotional pain. After living with and managing fibromyalgia symptoms for over a decade now, my procrastination involves more than simply putting something off because of a short-term inconvenience.
It takes me longer to recover from painful events. Be it a physical pain or an emotional pain (especially when attached to a relationship). I tend to avoid not knowing how long it will take me to feel “normal” again. Will I have the wherewithal to execute the self-care strategies that are needed to ensure a healthy recovery? Who else will be impacted by my recovery time? Who will I disappoint or will see me as weak or unprofessional?
Of course, I don’t always analyze and think through the consequences of acting on an irritation. Sometimes the need to make peace in a situation is worth the cost even if I’m unsure of the price.
When it’s something that must be handled – a big decision or something that cannot wait, I may also avoid thinking it through too much because I know I must take action now. This is not the case with the “little things” – little things that add up over time and eventually weigh me down and take a toll on my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Like in the Princess and the Pea, those of us who are super sensitive can be impacted by something seemingly small that can affect one of our most important self-care rituals – a good night’s sleep!
And when I’m sleep-deprived and living with a dozen little irritations that are inescapable, eventually they take their toll.
The Skin Tag – A Little Irritation That When in the Wrong Place Must Be Removed
I hope my metaphor for this is relatable for some of my readers. Apply it to whatever little irritation you are currently enduring because the cost to deal with it seems too high or not worth the pain that may result from attempting to eliminate it. For my few male readers, you may want to skip reading the details. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
If you haven’t had to suffer a skin tag or one in a most inconvenient place on your body, then please comment below and share your own example.
For me, I haven’t always had skin tags. In our family, moles are our skin “imperfection” and most can be left alone and never bother us. The last time I had a skin abnormality was back in 2013 when I had a small, yet significant Basal Cell Carcinoma removed from my left cheek. The procedure and two-week recovery time traumatized me and has played a part in me avoiding the dermatologist in the past two years.
When our world forever changed due to Covid-19 last year after I’d already missed my last skin check, I was not about to add on one more factor to the mounting anxiety, isolation, and other factors I was barely handling. I didn’t have anything I was super concerned about, but the skin tags that had been multiplying beneath my bra lines were starting to become a problem. A couple of them had already snagged on a bra strap and torn. Ladies, by the beginning of 2021, I was at the point where I didn’t even want to wear a bra at all!
Thankfully, I’m small chested and winter months allowed for strategic layering while around the house. As a mom of three grown boys who also occasionally bring a friend in the house without warning, I needed to be prepared at all times!
With a New Year and motivation to make some lasting changes, I finally made a dermatologist appointment and tried not to think too much about the possible outcome. After nearly three years since my last skin check, there was the possibility she would find something else that should be removed and biopsied. But I stayed focused on the purpose of the appointment – to remove the little irritations and trust her judgement for anything else needing removed or biopsied (whether or not I was aware of the problem).
I was, after all, planning on spending another spring and summer working in my yard for at least a couple of hours a day and I knew I needed the accountability to protect my skin in the process.
Short-term Recovery Still Overwhelmed Me
Well, it took two appointments to handle everything. In total, I had three moles removed for biopsy and approximately eight skin tags frozen with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy). Thankfully, the biopsies all came back benign.
However, that was the least of my worries.
Warning, some of the details to follow are slightly graphic, but important to my metaphor.
The locations of the moles my dermatologist removed were in the worst possible locations. One that was located right in between my shoulder blades had to be “punched” out and required stitches. For over two weeks, I couldn’t move my arms certain ways or the stitches would pull with the sharp pain of a needle being poked into my back. I had to have my husband or any one of my kids who happened to be available remove the bandage and apply ointment twice a day.
On one occasion about a week after it was removed, the pain got significantly worse on non-stop. After my daughter took a look, she’d found one of my fallen head hairs had wrapped around the stitches and got caught under some of the fluid that had dried around the surgery site. My daughter had to take tweezers and pull the hair out without the advantage of any sort of topical pain relief. It was not fun, but necessary unless I wanted to make a trip to urgent care.
The other two moles removed were shaven and located behind one of my knees and along my usual underwear line. I won’t go into details on those, but the constant pain involved if I bent my knee or hip a certain way took its toll on my already over-active nerves for the weeks following.
Having the skin tags removed was a different, yet equally painful experience and I avoided wearing a bra for over a week afterward. Some of them are still healing and itching a bit. But as of today, the areas where I had moles removed are almost fully healed.
Don’t Let Little Irritations Pile Up!
When I had the skin tags and moles removed, I realized there were other little irritations piling up in my life that need to be removed – even if the process was painful and came at a cost. I forgot to mention that my health insurance plan did not cover one dollar of the procedures!
I suppose it started around the beginning of 2020 that my husband and I have allowed a small, yet steady stream of compromises in our home and among our grown boys still living with us. Choosing our battles seems like the logical choice with so many unknowns in the world. We let things slide, looked the other way, and focused on things that were “easier” to control on a daily basis. Be it immoral choices or piles of dishes, clothes, car parts, and other seen and unseen messes – none of our sons realized what a toll the accumulation of these “little irritations” were having on their mom or dad or their parents’ marriage.
My husband is also an avoider for different reasons. Nevertheless, I got to a point where I could not take it anymore and required his help and cooperation to finally take a stand and take steps to remove the things that were causing problems.
How I wish the consequences of other people’s choices and my need for them to see their affect on me was as obvious as a pencil-eraser-sized wound in my back! I wish it didn’t take a complete emotional break down (or three) that resulted in weeks of recovery (chronic fatigue and insomnia amplified to levels I haven’t felt since our relocation to Idaho from California in 2016) for a few of them to understand how their onslaught of choices over the course of the past year has taken a toll on me.
Living at True Peace With Others Always Comes with a Cost
Because we are still working out ways to heal and restore the areas that require removal, a price, and an unknown amount of time for full recovery, I will save the conclusion for a different post.
For now, I can say I have some level of relief in my spirit. The hardest part is done – the conversations necessary for living at peace with my family members have occurred. The problems have at least been brought to the surface and steps are being made to resolve them. Unlike the simple procedure of removing a mole or skin tag, locating the true sources that led to a string of poor life choices and their consequences for some in our household take longer to eliminate.
As the full verses of Hebrews 12:14-15 (ESV) states:
“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled…”
Hebrews 12:14-15 (ESV)