things that go bump in the night

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.



  1. Yes, you likely have carpal tunnel from too much typing. Sorry, but your eyesight is next from looking at a computer too much (if that hasn't already happened).

    As far as getting surgery…it'll likely work (but should be the last option). You should also look into other alternatives such as rest coupled with a cortisone shot to relieve the inflammation or anti-inflammatory drugs. Surgery depends on how far advanced the carpal tunnel is and it likely has not advanced to that stage yet.

    If all else fails, drink more…your head will hurt more than your wrist and you won't think about your wrist hurting. From the sound of it, it is more mental than physical at this point.

    As far as the fungus goes, talk to your guys about washing their hands before putting their fingers anywhere…or if there aren't any guys, then wash your hands. For example, Linus licks your hands and you touch yourself there without washing has a high potential to bring on a fungus. Dogs tongues are not as clean as one would think. They breed tremendous amounts of bacteria.

  2. Stephanie, If the bump is on the underside of your wrist and it's hard and doesn't move, it might be a ganglion (I think that's how it's spelled). I've had one for years. When the doctor diagnosed it, he went into a story about how in the "olden" days they called them "bible smashers" because they smashed a bible on your wrist and it was supposed to go away. I was told I could have it removed, but because it's on the underside of my wrist it involves lots of nerve endings and arteries and I just decided to leave it.

    I've had my uncle press down hard on it and it did go away, but it came back…

  3. My roommate had a cyst on her wrist last year, and bumping it hard against something really does work. Her friend whacked it with a book, and it went away. It came back, yes, but then they whacked it again, and it went away again.

    And did you know that those are naked mole rats– not moles? It's just that naked mole rats are my favorite animal. See, I even know their Latin name. Heterocephalus glaber. Go geeky me.

    But they're so cool, because they live in hives like bees, and they have one queen per hive, and her spine elongates so she can bear lots and lots of babies, and all the naked mole rats have 'roles' in the colony…

    They live underground, in Africa. They are stellar.

  4. i like you anyway – with fungus, moles, cysts and whatever. and that is my professional medical opinion. :)

  5. There's this often misdiagnosed rash called Lichen Planus that doctors often think is a fungus. It's not; it's an immune system screw up where your white blood cells attack your own healthy skin cells and eat them. It looks a lot like a rash, and it can clear up with steroids.

    If your "rash" comes back again, have them check for it (they have to biopsy). It's not serious, just weird. I got it on my cheek from my nickel dental work… and it sometimes goes away, sometimes doesn't. It's not contagious, either, nor is it a sign of "dirtyness". It's just a weird chemical fuck up. My hubby gets it on his legs… and it just is a crusty looking red spot. (I know, sounds gross, but really has nothing to do with gross).

  6. I'm with you on the "drink more" tip. I've always believed in the restorative powers of gin (or wine or scotch or cognac).

    I rub a little cognac on my 4 month old's gums (she's teething) and she's good to go for the night.

    Hmmm…I wonder if Social Services will now blacklist me.

  7. Rashes are the worst. The worst. The summer before my senior year of high school I went to Spain. I got bed bugs from the dirty european hotel beds. I showed up at school with red bumps all over my face. Scabes. Everyone kept saying — is that Rose-ay-sha? The word Rosacea brings out a Texas accent in everyone for some reason. And I had to say – "no, it's tiny bugs living inside my face. But, they should suffocate, die, and then fall out soon." That shut them up, but scarred me for life in the process. I am getting itchy just thinking about it. I have to go wash my hands and bleach my linens.

  8. At least it's not a roid. (When my hormones are back in check post-partum, I'll get my blog back up and make YOU giggle for a change…) I've had a ganglian cyst removed from my wrist, twice. Once with a steroid shot, another via surgery. The good news is that it's no big deal and you've got your overall health and brilliant mind still working overtime for you. Oh, and more good news. Physical therapy. Yum.

  9. "Lichen Planus" – Stephanie, 'Kim Wells' knows of what she speaks! You should look into that as a possible diagnosis; being on a systemic anti-fungal is *so* hard on your body and if you don't have to take it then you should get off it. Did the dermatologist do a fungal culture of your rash? I did transcription for a podiatrist for years and he never put someone on Lamisil without a culture to confirm the fungus first. He also ordered liver function tests every 3 months while the patient was taking the Lamisil.

    Once I saw this podiatrist because I had this white, flaky, crumbly stuff on my toes and ankles. I thought it was some sort of creeping crud and was mortified. He told me it was because I was *too* clean, LOL, and all I needed was a good foot/hand cream at bedtime and it would go away.

    Occam's Razor, m'dear. Lichen Planus is waaay less complicated than some fungus and the "cure" is a lot less dangerous. And before even taking oral steroids, try a prescription-strength topical cortisone ointment.

    Take care!

  10. I think I have what you have and hopefully it'll be over come the morning. SPent the last nine months going from doctor todoctor and all I got was that I was crazy. Eventually I found a doctor who listened to me and gave me an oral anti-fungle. Afterwhichthingws seemed to get better. Though it was ponly when I sat infront of a fire did things start really moving. Tea Tree oil helped too. As well as using anti-persperent all over. I think that it's a rampent case of ring worm since I've been told that some of the guys I've been with have come down with it after we've hooked up. Feel free to email me. I got to go on account of I got to get the rest of this crap off!

  11. “What, check your cholesterol? Who does that? I just assume mine is high and order oatmeal.” you have a great sense of humour- thanks.

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