My former boss thought the rash on the inside of my left ankle was a tattoo until I tilted it toward her as I mouthed “in late… doctor” while she was on her phone. I first noticed the rash three years ago. I know what you’re thinking–what the hell is she waiting for, it to fall off? Well it had been moving around, surfacing over to the right, and sometimes lower down. I’d had it under control, using half empty tubes of steroid creams from trips to Mexico where heat rash had infested my forearms. I web-md’d my way to a feeling of “it’s under control.”
Maybe it was from Linus. I stopped him from licking the area, shooing him away. “Leave it.” Which only made him want to lick it more. Dogs can smell cancer. Sometimes I lie naked on the bed and instruct Linus to, “Go on. Find the cancer. Lick the cancer.” I’m quite sure there’s not cancer up my nose. But he’d go to town on my foot. I used the Benedryl stick, abused the Calamine lotion, and ruled out poison ivy. Then it began to wake me; I had to scratch it. It was time for a doctor.
You can’t go to a regular doctor because they only handle colds, ear infections, and most of the things you catch as a child. I don’t really get what primary health physicians do besides give referrals. What, check your cholesterol? Who does that? I just assume mine is high and order oatmeal. The foot rash meant business; it meant a specialist. Fine, the dermatologist, close enough.
So I’m in a waiting room chockfull of tweenagers on Acutane and middle-aged expressionless women in pointy shoes. Well fcuk it. I’m here. They might as well survey my body for suspicious moles.
There’s not a worse word for a heavy freckle than a mole. Moles are small hairybugfinders that eat their weight worth of beady grubs and wheely earthworms; they burrow and have snouts. So now, I’m not just a woman with a rash; I’m a woman peppered with moles and a rash. And people with rashes are dirty.
Add insult to injury, now I’ve got to get naked. And let’s face it. Dermatologists aren’t accustomed to naked. They see a bit of acne or treat some dry skin. They discuss wrinkles and options. They don’t see breasts and vaginas on a regular basis.
“Hi, I’m here to get naked so you can survey my body for irregular cancer spots then stare and scrape at my feet.” How do they eat dinner? Then I leave with a tube and a piece of paper. “Blood test.” Because they don’t take blood at the dermatologist’s office. I told you; dermatologists aren’t real doctors.
Now I have to go to a lab. It’s a shade away from Clinic. I faint when I donate blood and when I visit the gynecologist. It’s fear. They need to check my liver to ensure I can take the fungus pill. I’m sorry, what? Fungus? Okay, now I’m a dirty-rash-mole-girl with fungus. It gets worse.
On Lamisil, you can’t have alcohol. I’m dirty-rash-mole-fungus-girl with the shakes, and now I’ve got to sober up and face it.
In my sober days, the itching dissipates. Fine, no rash and seltzer with lime on the rocks. Except now, in my early to rise mornings, I’m noticing a new bump. It’s not a rash; it’s a hard knot in my wrist. Something went bump in the night.
It wasn’t some drunken bruise. I developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; I was certain. At work I wore a wrist brace and shot down Advil with my AM latte. The swelling wasn’t giving way. I went to bed with fungus and awoke with a syndrome. It was growing.
“It’s a cyst.” “A boil.” Holy motherfcuker. It’s worse than a mole; it’s a cyst. “You should really see a doctor.”
“Linus, smell this. Is it cancer?” Fuck it. I need a drink. Screw my liver.
And I got soused, and then inadvertently banged my syndromed wrist against a wall. “Damn that’s going to hurt tomorrow.”
In the morning, the bump was gone. I continued to press on the area to see if it had moved, like the rash had. It felt a bit like a flattened gummy bear under my skin. Excellent. Rash gone, bump gone. Cured.
The bump on my wrist is back now. I’m told it will continue to come back unless I get it removed. I’m getting old. Suddenly there are "procedures." I’ll have a scar, stitches, and downtime of my right hand (and I’m no lefty). I mean, moles, cysts, fungus. At this rate, the next bump in the middle of the night will be another ailment instead of a wakeup call from a man in my bed.