Lumpy and Me: a medical friendship

IMAGE: University of Liverpool Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Flickr CC
Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an Iron Range blogger, author, radio producer and columnist for the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

I don’t go to the doctor often. When I do it’s usually for checkups, strep throat or depression. Never anything cool.

But this summer I suffered an honest-to-god sports injury. A manly-man wound that caused me to scowl and whine a lot, just like an old jock.

Our little leaguer Doug really came on strong as a hitter this year. So strong that he pelted a hard line drive off my shin when I was throwing batting practice. I didn’t even swear! At least, not until I had to go to the doctor two weeks later because it still hurt like a son of a bleep.

The doctor called it a bone bruise. I will henceforth refer to it as “Lumpy.”

Bone bruises can take a couple months to heal. So, Lumpy and I have been spending a lot of time together. He sleeps in. I get up and go about my business. But by late afternoon he wakes up and starts barking at the moon. He’s like a college roommate who parties when you’re trying to write. And just like such a roommate, he eventually opened up and barfed green stuff all over the place. Back to the clinic.

The doctor called it a skin infection. Lumpy needed meds.

At least I was meeting people. Getting out of the house a bit. The day I went to the clinic was very busy. There wasn’t a line so much as an aggregation of humanity crowded around the reception desk. As a result, an impromptu social system quickly formed.

We were all on our honor to respect the order. People who had been there the longest came to distrust and fear the teeming masses pouring through the doors. The newcomers immediately resented the unfriendly front-of-the-liners. One shambling line-cutter’s violation of the unspoken rules produced audible gasps and hisses. A man in a trucker hat even called out, “Boy, it takes all kinds,” loud enough for us all to hear.

Was this some parable for the immigration debate? Our seeming hopeless distrust of one another belying the fact that we are all the same: common strangers with medical problems. Only time separated us, our arrival a function of the quality of our parking spot or who got the red light on 37th Street.

Hard to grasp that when you’re in pain, though. I had Lumpy. What throbbing, oozing ailments befell these others? Goodness knows.

It was after this second visit that Lumpy had to wear clothes. A bandage wrapped around my leg. And that was a relief, both for me and the people in my life. Prior to this, co-workers had abandoned traditional greetings for a sort of horrified audible grimace. Now, as far as they know, I’m just waiting for the swelling to go down on a new tattoo. How cool is that? Pretty cool, right? Not nearly as gross as an infected soft tissue injury.

Lumpy and I both know that this friendship can’t last forever. And frankly, we’re both starting to doubt it was much of a friendship to begin with. He makes me limp and I rub anti-bacterial ointments all over him. I think that makes us frenemies.

One secret to happiness is to surround yourself with characters who make you feel good. I can’t say that describes Lumpy. Nevertheless, they say whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I learned several important lessons from Lumpy.

  1. If it looks weird, go to the doctor sooner than later.
  2. Actually do the things the doctor says to do.
  3. Finally, look alive out there. The ball comes fast.

Goodbye, Lumpy. No really, it’s time to go.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio. This piece first appeared in the Sunday, July 28, 2019 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune.


  1. I can relate to this so much that I just kept laughing.

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