Many months ago during advanced training I found myself trudging through exhaustion in one of our "war weeks." Think Hell Week, I suppose. Finally, after nearly 24 hours of non-stop drills and hiking and carrying loaded stretchers and all types of worst case scenario preparation, we were given a few hours to sleep. I plopped down in a forest with my platoon, fully geared up and ready to pass out. Helmet on head (forbidden to remove), combat vest strapped tight, gun tucked under my arm - pass out I did.
I'm not sure what happened, if anything happened at all at the moment that woke me, but I opened my eyes an hour later to a certain degree of pain. On my left shoulder, towards the back, there was a slight stinging. I pulled the shoulder straps of my vest to the side, pulled my shirt off the area as far as possible, and there on my skin was a raised, bloody bump. I just kinda looked at it for a few minutes.
"What the hell is that?"
The first thing that went through my mind was that I was stung by a bee, or even worse, a scorpion. Eventually I rubbed the bump, and there seemed to be something underneath the skin. I felt like I could move some large, straight, hard chunk of hidden something or other. Despite playing with this thing for a solid hour, missing a most important amount of sleep, I didn't see anything come out. Except blood, of course. And some pus. It was pretty gross.
It wasn't until a few days later that I realized another possibility. My hypochondriac mind reminded myself, much to my dismay, that years ago I had to have a mole removed because I ripped it and that could potentially start cancer growth (namely, melanoma). The more I thought about it, the more it seemed plausible: the shoulder straps of my vest rub that area constantly, and between all the stretchers resting on my shoulder, as well as hundreds of pounds in waterpacks and enormous backpacks full of ammo and food and gear, well, there's no reason that a mole couldn't have been traumatized.
A normal person would have seen a doctor right away. I am in an army run by Israelis, however. I'm pretty sure they don't believe in diseases here, cancer included. I knew not to even ask about some weird bump that sometimes bleeds, sometimes dries up and peels a layer of skin off. Yeah, that sounds pretty bad, right? Crap. What was I going to do? I figured I'd just wait it out...
But then, two days ago, the bump was raised again. I kinda just moved it around, and some pus came out. Gross, sorry, but bear with me. Then some blood came out. A day passed, and the thing looked terrifying! It was raised pretty high, scabbed over, and obviously had both blood and pus underneath. Honestly, I was starting to worry that maybe indeed I had something serious on my hands. What the hell would I do about it? If the doctor in the army dismissed my 101.2 degree fever by telling me to rest, no medicine included, what would they say about a bump? I know: it's a pimple. Bastards.
Well, with all that worry, I finally got home this afternoon. After taking my shirt off in order to take a shower, I glanced at the scabbed bump. I figured I'd be 15 and play with it. I peeled the scab off, and a small amount of pus oozed out. Awesome. And then, for no reason at all, I figured I'd touch around the sides. So as I barely pressed a side, out squirts a long, thin, sharp thorn. It was like Old Faithful how fast that thing flew out. It kinda even scared me to see some foreign, alien object shoot from my flesh.
Whew. We're talking about more than four months of suppressed worrying here, people! Today, I tell you, is a good day!