For those that have participated in sex, scares do pose worry. I have had sex. Yes, truly! Also, for those in the non-virgin know, scares are mathematically a possibility. When my period is 30 minutes late, my skin breaks out in hives. I am a practicing hypochondriac, so I make it a clinical urgency to stress out about everything. Living with someone that thinks she "caught AIDS" because she touched a wet doorknob tends to rub off on you. I'm not a whore, but I feel it my duty to keep free clinic workers employed, and I schedule regular appointments to get tested. Lupus is a silent killer; one can never be too careful. I was booking my big gay cruise for this coming October when last February's memories slapped me hard in the groin. About one year ago this month I endured the worst scare of my life, and I've witnessed Lindsey Lohan without panties.
Fresh off my Caribbean cruise over 2010's New Year's, I walked around with the bronzed aplomb of a young Tara Reid. I had consumed mostly vodka on this adventure, so instead of gaining weight like the fat, redneck masses on oceanic pleasure vessels, I rode the high of dehydration and thinned, sun-kissed cheeks. My personal elation grew to preposterous levels as I planned a trip to Los Angeles to visit a good friend in a few weeks' time. What I mean to say is, I conspired to fly across the country to get some booty. If I managed to see some sights, that was just gravy.
Three days before my departure to Mexico (a.k.a. California), I had concluded my nightly ritual of scrubbing clean in the shower, washing away the stench of disappointment and my work’s fluorescent lighting. I caught a quick glimpse of my thigh, mid-towel rub, and I noticed what looked like the chicken pox in a small area about five inches above my knee and six inches to the left of my penis. Please do not be so crass as to figure out my anatomy based on those measurements. I was flummoxed. Chicken pox as an adult, for a second time, could not answer this quandary. My mind briskly jumped to herpes, naturally, because it is most common on the lower thigh. Shivering in the steaming hot water, I dashed out of the shower and sprinted across my tiny living room, naked, forced open my laptop and located the nearest dermatologist's office online. Only in New York would their office be open at 7:30 pm. I dialed in a panic and spoke to a husky-voiced woman manning the front desk. I offered her sexual favors if she could slide me into the first appointment the following morning for the doctor to look at what I impetuously WebMD-iagnosed as herpes. She obliged.
The dermatologist was Asian, and the lovely Asian populace champions one of the stereotypes I hold dear. Smartness. I felt relieved in his small, capable hands. Dr. Asian assessed the area and entertained my concern as I recounted the previous night's events. With all the bedside manner of a cactus, he said it could be herpes before he scraped the skin and spread my flesh on a petri dish for testing. Results to return in 5 business days. I was crestfallen. He should have offered a different diagnosis, whether it be a heat rash or something exotic like poison ivy, yet I received no charity...I would not forget this at the next all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet I patronized. I barely zipped up my slacks by the time my life began to swirl in front of me, and I crawled outside the office and up the street. I then dialed my mother.
"Don't panic, but I think I might need to kill myself," I informed her. I explained the situation and glossed over how I could possibly contract this "thing." Los Angeles was now out of the question. I could not fulfill my duties in a spectacular fashion while under this kind of pressure. The gauze and ace bandage was really quite tight around my leg. I told mama that I was under self-imposed suicide watch, so I needed to cancel LA and fly to Atlanta so I could be comforted and observed. In between downing Xanax three at a time and guzzling margaritas (Mexican retreats and drinks are an obvious escape), I snapped pictures of the area on my Blackberry and sent them to several expert friends to gamble on a diagnosis. I also finagled an appointment to see my childhood and early-teen dermatologist. My friend in LA, obviously dismayed yet sincerely concerned, understood my change in itineraries.
On a blue-balled Delta flight, I landed back in Atlanta. Depression overwhelmed me, and in an effort to reduce the risk of fainting, I ate food nonstop. My mother tried to convince me that herpes did not look like my skin blight, as she handed me a pickle. My youngest sibling, in his honeymoon phase with Google Images, touted that his extensive online research and the fact that the question spot was on my leg brought him to shingles. Since he was not Asian in the least, I refused to heed his conclusions.
I managed to hang on to my existence until the day of my doctor's visit. Much like the first horror, I set the scene and disrobed. My childhood derm-igod knew in an instant what was wrong. He corroborated my brother's theory. Diagnosis: shingles. Of course, the jubilation on my face could not emerge until I saw some papers, so I asked him to kindly take the razor and scrape my leg and send it off to the lab. He also explained that the overwhelming stress of moving cities, changing jobs and having to find a new hair stylist caused this situation. Four days later, the results proved shingles was the culprit. At 27 years old, an old-person’s disease almost killed me.
Knowing that life is precious with little time to stress soberly, I quickly quaffed three shots of Ketel One, grabbed a Xanax for the road and booked another trip to Los Angeles.