brothercyst: a sad, true story

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

a sad, true story

in college i dated this girl.

a couple days into it, she touched that spot on my throat where the throat meets the chest, under the Adam's apple, the little hollow there, and said, "birthmark."

i said, "Really, I have a birthmark?"

She said, "It's light - it's not like a mole or anything - the skin is just darker in a patch. A birthmark."

i said, "I never really looked closely."

then I forgot about it.

Over the next couple months, every once in a while she would offhandedly touch that spot and say, "birthmark."

Then one day I remembered to look at it in the mirror. I rubbed it with soap and it washed off. It was just dirt.


Ian said...

That little spot is called the sternal notch. It's a useful landmark for putting in a subclavian central venous catheter (i.e. a long, thick IV going into a large vein under the collar bone). As an intern I put in about twenty such central lines, palpating the sternal notch each time. I didn't check for birthmarks, though.

A few centimeters above the sternal notch, immediately below the Adam's apple, is another indentation, a shallower one, where the cricothyroid membrane is located. This can be pierced quickly to gain access to an obstructed airway and save somebody's life. Once I wrote a story about doing such a "slash trach," as it's called in the business, on a stranger in a restaurant in Paris. It's still on the Internet somewhere, in my medical school's journal. They publish everything they receive. Literally. The funny thing is, in my story, I didn't even do it right. The dude whose throat I cut open would have died because I screwed it up and didn't put anything in the hole to keep it open.

Thank goodness for fiction.

Gene said...


NickAntosca said...


Tracheotomies are gross.