Gooseberry Bush and the Angry Itch
For those of you who are looking for an end to my recent adventures in health care, I offer an update. I did get an appointment with a dermatologist. The dermatologist couldn’t tell what the rash was, either, except that it wasn’t a fungal infection or scabies. Well, that’s good. I wouldn’t want either a fungal infection or scabies.
So, my dermatologist told me he thought I was probably having an allergic reaction to my blood pressure medicine (which is known to have rash and cough among its side effects). He told me that if it was just the medicine that he would have my primary care physician change my blood pressure medicine, and I would not need to come back into the office. To be sure, though, he wanted to take a skin biopsy and make an appointment to see me in another nine days.
So, then after I was poked with a local anesthetic, he jabbed me with a tiny apple corer in my right side just between my two lowest rib cages. Then he removed a skin sample for the lab that looked like a potato flake with blood and stitched me up. He used the kind of stitches that dissolve. He made a comment that I don’t bleed, but I sure did get a huge scab from it.
My dermatologist is cute, y’all. But he looks like he was watching Barney when I was taking college courses in English literature.
I asked him to hazard a guess as to what my rash might be. I’m not a hypochondriac. Really, I’m not. I come from a long line of hypochondriacs, but I don’t think it’s hereditary. I was just tired of being one giant walking itch.
When a doctor says that he might need to see me back in his office in nine days, I want to know what kind of a “talk” we might be having. Is it the you have alien parasites in your body kind of talk? Or is it the kind of talk that involves me having to find a home for my dog and make out a will? He gave a couple possibilities, one of which was skin lupus, which could mean I have lupus or could get lupus. The other he made seem like a harmless rash. But he wouldn’t say all the possibilities.
A few days after I went to the dermatologist, lab results came back from the swab that my primary care physician had used to diagnose my yeast infection. And guess what? I don’t have a yeast infection. I have something commonly mistaken for a yeast infection. It’s a bacterial infection called gardnerella.
So, immediately, I get on the internet, where webMD or some such website practically calls me a ho outright. Apparently, you can just get gardnerella. It’s possible. But it’s more likely that you’ve been ho-ing around, and they recommend that women who are diagnosed with gardnerella vaginitis be given a full STD panel. Honestly, for all this anxiety, I should get more sex so it would at least be worth it.
Well, from the gardnerella news to the searching for the rash cause, I had myself worked up into so much of a lather it was a wonder that I survived to make the doctor’s appointment, which was confirmed and not cancelled, thus confirming my worst fears. I look up every cause for rash known to man, and the harmless diagnosis that my doctor gave me as a possibility is something that is sometimes mistaken for syphilis or vice versa.
Syphilis! I had myself convinced that there was a possibility that I was going to die, blind, deaf, and insane for about a day and a half until I remembered that I’ve donated blood to the blood bank since the last time I had sex, and they diagnose syphilis with a blood test, which is why most states make you take a blood test to get a marriage license. Also, the blood bank would have written me about that little public health problem instead of emailing me every few weeks to beg for blood.
Now I’ve never really had an STD scare of any consequence. I’ve gone to the clinic to be tested before. The Rat Bastard and I both got tested and shared our results before I would let him touch me with a ten-foot pole that didn’t have a condom on it, or a six inch one. (Hee, hee.)
I was imagining the embarrassing conversation I was going to have with the cute doctor. I don’t know why it would be embarrassing exactly. It’s not like an STD actually is a moral issue.
I’ve had a couple girlfriends who had herpes, and one caught it the first time she had sex. The herpes germ doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t prefer pre-owned over new vagina. It doesn’t ask you if you’re monogamous or care if you’re in love. It’s not like it takes the time to look through Consumer Reports for ratings or like it cares about the blue book value of the vagina. The herpes virus just says, “Mmmm. Warm, wet cave. Daddy like.”
It’s a cultural thing, though. It is embarrassing to think you might have an STD.
Turns out that the diagnosis is the harmless rash thing. It’s called pityriasis rosea. I’m convinced that the reason they call it that is because everyone pities you for having a rash with no known cause or cure that may not go away for as long as four months. They give you a lotion for the itch, so between that and the antibiotics for the gardnerella, I’m no longer itchy. But then I had a cold sore show up on my upper left lip. So, the herpes virus got me after all.
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