So, here's a quick little story during my lunch break. A few of you might know about this all ready:
A couple of months ago I noticed a very painful lump in my right armpit. It hurt like a son of a gun. I thought it must have been an ingrown hair or something, so I (stupidly) ignored it and it went away. Then last month, just before vacation, the same thing. I talked to Andrew about it and decided if it came back again, I'd go to the doctor.
One can't be too careful about lumps, especially considering my family history: My mom died after fighting breast cancer 9 years ago.
So, this month, another painful lump, but in my left armpit. It hurt really, really bad. It started on Tuesday night. Wednesday morning I got up, called the office and said, "Sorry, I won't be in until I see my doctor this morning."
I marched myself down to the clinic where my doctor was on duty. After about an hour in the waiting room (being entertained by cranky toddlers, a man with a bloody bandaged hand and Mr. Happy, who was falling asleep in the chair beside me) I got in to see the doctor. I'd like to preface this story by saying that my doctor has a weird sense of humour. It makes visits with him very interesting.
I described the situation, how the lumps had come back and were painful, etc. He felt it and asked,
"Do you wear antiperspirant?"
Me: Um, yeah.
Doc: Do you work out?
Me: Well, no, but I commute to work on my bicycle.
Doc: You need to sweat. You've got an inflamed sweat gland. No more antiperspirant. No one cares if you smell while you're working out! And shaving under your arms is aggravating it.
Me: *shock* It's a sweat gland?
Me: Really? Oh. *thinking* I bet my backpack aggravates it too.
Me: So, you're telling me that I should just ditch the antiperspirant, and let the hair grow in?
Doc: You could braid it. *laughing*
Doc: I saw it on TV. A man lifted his arms, *gestures with his own arms* and there was this long hair, all braided. It was a joke. *more laughter*
Me: Ok. Heh heh.
Doc: You'll be fine. Just sweat.
Me: Ok, but I'm going back to work and telling everyone I have a rash. I don't know that I want to tell them I'm going to be the smelly person in the office.
I've been antiperspirant free since Wednesday morning. The lump is completely gone. I've also been without deoderant since then too (haven't had time to get to the store), so I've been using my Bath and Body works cream (coconut lime verbena - yum) and, so far, everything is hunky dorey in the pit-stink department.
The doctor did tell me to keep an eye on the situation. And I definitely will. He mentioned the word "hydradenitis" (or hidradenitis) which is a condition that affects 1-2% of the population, mostly women. It's a apocrine (sweat) gland disorder that causes the glands to become inflamed and eventually form lesions and scars. I certainly hope it's not that, because it's painful and I don't like pain, but I'm mentioning it here for the sake of public awareness: this is a condition which is often undiagnosed because people are embarrassed by it.
This whole thing has made me more aware of just how nasty anti-perspirant is. As human beings we are meant to sweat, but as North American women every ad we see on TV tells us that we should strive to be delicate, dry, and fresh as flowers. I've never been a delicate flower in my life (ok, I pretend to be one so that Andrew will carry the laundry downstairs, but hey, that fall left me with a teensy phobia), so why am I smearing this stuff under my arms?
We'll just have to wait and see how long I can hold out this way before I can no longer stand the smell of my own body.
*It'll help you decide where to sit at KOL