My thing has a thing.

thing-makerFor three years I have been growing something on my back.

Generally growing has sort of positive associations, like gardens, and audience, and account balance. When it changes from growth to growths, though, it becomes quite less appealing.

It started out like a little bump, and its position just in from my shoulder blade makes it difficult for me to see so I ignored it, even though once or twice it caught on my sweater.

That first summer we were having a picnic on the beach with great local food, including blueberries. I was lying on my stomach, thinking how rarely I ever enjoy the sunshine, but this particular day had the right amount of breeze and I was properly screened so I was digging my toes in the sand and really quite relaxed. The kids were old enough to not IMMEDIATELY drown, and we were there with another family so there were three adult eyes. Well six really. Six adult eyes on the kids and I could just check out.

So after just a minute or so there was a sand spray and the kid who I had not birthed reached out and said ‘Hey Anna, you have a blueberry on your back.”

At first I was confused, then as I started to explain that it was attached to me he began to try to pick it off. That didn’t go well for anyone. He shrieked. I stifled my shriek. I spent the next 15 minutes covering up and waiting on hold with the dermatologists office.

When I went in for the appointment they were treating me with the seriousness reserved for people who have had bits of themselves cut out and analyzed. We had what seemed to me like an absurd 5 minute conversation about the location of my last surgery and the location of this new growth while I sat on the exam table fully clothed. I went from feeling 100% certain that this growth had nothing at all to do with what they had removed, to like, 98% certain and it was as if they were trying to get me to submit. OK, OK I am going to be an interesting case. I kept asking why they didn’t just look, because I still have a scar the size of a wooly caterpillar from the last go round, but they seemed to want to “more talk about it” as my 18 month old Leo would say.

When I was finally begowned and ungowned they were disappointed. Not only was this new growth NOT on the location of the last questionable area (which they could see because of the clear scar from the last surgery) but this growth is, like, TOTALLY benign.

So my blueberry and I left the office.

The following summer it was no longer a blueberry, but truly more like a grape and it was freaking Steve out. He kept saying: “don’t you want to cut that thing off?” and I kept saying, its sort of like my sister that I never had. Like if I had eaten my twin in utero and now she was just popping out to say hi.

He stopped asking and just quietly unwound the hairs that had twisted themselves around my sisters neck.

Sure there was a time I tried to cover my sister up with a bandaid due to the cut of my dress that one time a year that I go out in fancy clothes and even the biggest bandaid couldn’t cover her up. But other than that she is just back on my back chilling, and I have been gifted and cursed with a really low level of vanity. Live and let live. So we have gone on about our things, my thing and I.

Everything changed last month. Steve, who has been studiously avoiding mention of and contact with the thing told me simply that I should get two mirrors together and check things out. I didn’t know that he was being literal. The grape has a blueberry. Its a small, local blueberry, but there it is. I’m not sure if it is like a head on a body, or asexual reproduction, or what, but it signals the end of our time together. Sororicide. Not just a fun cocktail anymore.

Any of you growing anything (or anyone) special these days?

If you want to read more about skin I recommend this wonderful essay “The private life of skin” by Hester Kaplan. David Foster Wallace , author of the weepingly funny “A supposedly fun thing I will never do again” chose Hester’s skin piece as one of his top ten essays ever written. Requires registration but you can read it for free.

Published by

Anna Palmer

Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble,, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at

24 thoughts on “My thing has a thing.”

  1. Yup, just had two growths removed from my face. Now walking around with two scabs on my face but that is still better then the growths. Happy to have them gone. It was actually much easier then I thought it would be to get them removed. I also had some shit cut out of my leg a few months ago. Isn’t getting old fun?

  2. Anna, you are a woman after my family’s own heart. They all like to talk about things that are either growing on them, or better yet, coming out of them. I’d be happy to adopt you should your family ever throw you out.

  3. I love this so much. It reminds me of how, before my ex-sister-in-law married her husband, we were warned to STOP TALKING ABOUT MEDICAL ODDITIES OVER DINNER because his family was nice and didn’t go in for that sort of thing. I’m pretty sure he’s come around, tho’.

  4. Be thankful the blueberry sisters are on your back. I have an ongoing battle with scaly patches of actinic keratosis (pre-cancerous growths) on my face. I regularly get them burned/frozen off and they return. I’m now entirely sun-phobic, but it’s too late for my translucent Irish skin.

  5. I can not tell you where I have a thing growing, but I was told by two doctors that it is from an ingrown hair and that removing it would cause more problems than leaving it. Then the other day I read about shit that happens when we women “groom” and that’s one of the things that could happen. I mean, who wants a lump on the hoo-ha? So next derm visit i’m asking her if she can remove it without disaster. Ok so I just told you where. I’m sure it’s TMI….

  6. I haven’t any growths but I do have one rather persistent black hair that insists on growing out of the middle of my cheek – I pluck this one hair out and back it comes the next day, same place. Very frustrating & I just have to keep plucking as my vanity OCD couldn’t bear to let it run riot!

  7. You should give a framed copy of this post to your dermatologist to put up in his waiting room – I am sure it will make many people’s waiting time less stressful. If I was a dermatologist, I would put it up in my office.

  8. How strange! I have no real suggestions for what this is but, as it is multiplying, I have to ask…did you get it wet? Feed it after midnight? Is the second one less cute and fluffy than the first?? Just call it a ‘nubbin’ like Chandler did with his third nipple in Friends – ‘nubbin’ can pretty much cover anything!

  9. “Like if I had eaten my twin in utero and now she was just popping out to say hi.”
    I am still convulsing over that line! I had a thing on my shoulder that was chemically “burned off” twice and variously diagnosed as a mole, a skin tag and scar tissue, but never a sister, dang! Meanwhile, years later, when I realized it had gotten much bigger, I started picking at it and the whole thing came off and has never returned. The doc said, “Hmm, I don’t really know what that was, but it’s gone now.” Inspired such confidence in our health care system!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.