Like the hundreds of millions (billions?) of people that have come before me, I am seeing the signs of aging in my body. Nowhere has it been more obvious than my skin. It's still subtle, but I notice the sun damage and wrinkles these days. In addition to the normal aging stuff, I've developed a couple of other skin issues. I had a splotch on my left forearm that had gotten very dry and scaly and had developed some redness and inflammation that itched sometimes. The area has also lost some pigmentation. I've been treating it with moisturizers, special soap and over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream, but it's never gone away entirely in over two years.
I also had a few skin tags in my armpit areas. If you don't know what skin tags are or what they look like, they are basically like a fleshy mole. They start out very small and gradually get bigger. I only had one that was even really visible, but it was gross and I wanted it removed.
Next on the list was some scalp bumps that I've started developing. It could be that they were always there and I just started noticing them because I'm going bald and started cutting my hair very short. That and some forehead acne that seems impossible to get rid of.
None of these are major issues. In fact, all are very, very common and don't represent any major health risk. Nevertheless, I was somewhat self conscious about them.
I don't go to doctors very often. Fortunately I don't need to because I very rarely get sick or have any health issues. I don't like going to the doctor because I'm a control freak and because I'm modest. I would have a very hard time looking someone, even a doctor, in the face and telling them that I had some cloudy discharge in my urine, for example. I was once asked by a doctor when I was around 19 if I was sexually active. I think I actually shit in my pants when I was asked that question. For one thing, I didn't really know what "sexually active" meant. Does oral sex count? Or is it only intercourse? I wasn't about to ask any questions to clarify because that would have given away exactly in what ways I was sexually active. Anyway, I was horrified and maybe more embarrassed than I've ever been in my life. This tells a little about my feelings toward doctors and receiving medical treatment.
Audra was really behind me going to the dermatologist. Not because she was tired of looking at the skin tag under my arm, but because she thought my not going when I needed to and my whole attitude about the thing was silly. She even found the doctor and scheduled the appointment for me.
The doctor was an oldish woman, which was pretty much perfect for me, given my feelings on the subject. I pretty much expected to have to strip down and get inspected for any suspicious-looking things on my skin. I'm 35, after all, and I've spent a good deal of time in the sun, so skin cancer is not out of the realm of possibilities for me. Anyway, I was prepared for that.
So I go to the doctor's office, which was an ordeal in itself because it was located in the Houston medical center, which is larger than the downtown of a mid-sized city. Plus, there's tons of one way streets and the light rail line runs through there, which fucks everything up. You can't turn right or left off of the main street that bisects the medical center. Well, I finally found the building and found a parking spot and made my way to the right office. I handed over all of my paperwork to the receptionist and waited a few minutes before they called me back. A nurse took me into an examination room and started asking me a bunch of questions, which I answered. (She did not, however, ask me if I was sexually active.) Then she told me to prepare to remove my shirt so the doctor could examine me. I thought to myself, "What does 'prepare' to remove my shirt actually mean? Should I go ahead and take it off, or would that be weird? I decided to split the difference and I took off my dress shirt and left on my undershirt. Right before she walked out of the room she told me that the doctor had a resident with her and asked me if I had a problem with that. I played it cool and said I didn't have a problem with it, but in my mind I'm thinking, "Fuck me. I only planned on the old lady. A resident is likely to be a young person, probably younger than me."
So while I'm sitting there dreading having to discuss and literally shine a light on the most deformed and hideous parts of my body the door opens and in walks a sweet looking old lady and an Erin Andrews look-a-like. I don't know if I actually spoke the words, "FUCK MY LIFE," or if I just thought them really loudly. But I'm pretty sure everyone in the room heard me.
The doctor introduces herself and then Erin Andrews introduces herself as "Dr. First Name." I was sitting in a chair by the wall and Dr. Erin Andrews pats the examination table to show me that I need to get up there.
I was trapped.
I sat on the examination table and the doctor asked me, "So what can we do for you today?" So I proceeded to describe all of the diseased, deformed and hideous things about my skin. What the fuck else was I supposed to do? Point to an ingrown hair and say, "Just this, please"? They told me to take off my shirt and the two of them, Dr. Sweet Old Lady and Dr. Erin Andrews, literally busted out magnifying glasses and spotlights to examine my skin. I could feel every molecule of fat on my body, every dead hair follicle on my head. It was awesome.
I tried to make the most of it. I knew I was fucked anyway, so I tried to joke around a bit and keep it light; make some conversation. I mean fuckit; I'm a happily married man now who's way past his prime physically. I should be able to admit that and be okay with it.
I talked about my grandfather who is a dermatologist and all of the samples of sunscreen I used to get from him when I was a kid and how he would always tell me, "Reapply! Reapply!" when talking about sunscreen. They asked what I did for a living and I jokingly told them that I was an attorney who specialized in suing dermatologists. When Dr. Sweet Old Lady was actually cutting the skin tags off, Dr. Erin Andrews was leaning over me watching the procedure and she would wince every time the doctor snipped or stuck me with a needle. I joked that she was grimacing more than I was.
Once that was done the doctor gave me some samples and some prescriptions. She explained some more things about my various conditions, thanked me and I thanked them and then they left.
***Come to find out, all of the hot female medical students go into dermatology. If I'd have known that I might've made an educated call and objected to the resident.