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as seen on phillyBurbs.com

Excising Junior
There's more to life than a knife in the head.

I will long remember '04 as the summer of my antibiotics. I swear I was on them longer than I was off of them throughout the season, which meant very little beer this year for moi.

And it's all "Junior's" fault.

At least that's what I called him. Two of my doctors had another name for the evil clone growing behind my right ear. They called him a sebaceous cyst.

Think of the nastiest pimple on the planet on steroids and you'll begin to fathom the disgusting swelling that summered on my neck like it was the Hamptons.

Actually, it was a return visit.

"Junior" made his first appearance about seven years ago. He started out one morning as just an ordinary pimple but half-way through a work day in the newsroom he ballooned to the size of a golf ball.

Panicked by the rapid growth, I quickly drove to my doctor thinking I was doomed - Must be cancer.

The doctor, who was not much older than me at the time, took one look at it and proclaimed, "Oh, you got a goober back there."

"Uh, Doc," I countered, "Could you be a little bit more specific. For all I know it's a brain tumor that slid across while I was sleeping on my side."

He responded by shoving a scapel into my neck, handing me a piece of gauze, charging me $10 and kicking me out the door.

So, when "Junior" showed up without an invitation this year in early June and started singing "Food around the corner" like a flea on a dog in the cartoons, I thought I knew what to expect.

But my new doctor said he couldn't do anything until the inflammation receded and prescribed the first of several antibiotics. The swelling stopped alright, but just as it began to die down, my ear lobe on top of Junior started to grow.

Two doctor's visits later, Junior and his little brother were still playing musical chairs, when the thought finally occurred to both me and my doctor that this ain't right. Simultaneously and quite coincidentally , I also developed one of the worst cases of laryngitis I've ever had. At least, no one had to hear me complain about the swelling any more.

Good thing I was on those antibiotics.

Two weeks later, I still could barely talk and that's when my regular physician asked me to make an appointment to see an Ears, Nose and Throat specialist.

It took three weeks to get an appointment and by the time the specialist saw me, my throat was still a little raw but I was speaking full sentences again. Junior, however, used the distraction to set up a cabana and lounge by the pool making me feel like Nurse Gollum on "South Park," the lady with a malformed twin growing out the side of her head.

"I can fix that," the specialist said.

And last Tuesday, after yet another course of antibiotics, I showed up at his office bleery-eyed from watching the Eagles destroy the Vikings on Monday Night Football and he shot a derivative of novocaine into my neck.

After feeling the burn for about a minute, my ear suddenly felt disembodied. It wasn't really there and this doctor wasn't really ripping into my flesh, scraping it with a scapel while discussing football. Hey, there's more to life than a knife in the head.

It all felt surreal until a nurse accidentally opened the door, took one look inside, made a face like she was totally grossed out, and closed the door again. I don't blame her. The doctor yanked out a cyst the size of a rolled up dollar and another the size of a dime before finally stitching me up.

Thankfully, the string comes out tomorrow.

Dave Ralis' Pave The Grass column appears on Mondays. You can e-mail him at or call him at 215-269-5051. To read his previous columns, click here.

September 27, 2004