Have I Said This Before?

April 6, 2011 at 1:43 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
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It never rains, but it pours.

I got a call from Detroit on my office phone.  “Did you get my text?”

Well, no, obviously I didn’t.  Because if I did, I would have called right away, or left, or something.  She’s in the hospital.  Stomach pains and eventually some vomiting.

My fear–aside from the most obvious of things–is that they’ll need to do surgery at some point.  My other fear is that she’ll just have to live with it, and be increasingly debilitated as time goes by.

But she said not to worry about leaving right away and coming to the hospital just yet.  She’s familiar with the routine.  I think she feels if she acts like it’s not a big deal, then it won’t be, and she’ll be okay.

Then I get a call from the ex-wife.  Did I get her message the other day about Mitchell?  He cut his hair really short, pierced his tongue, and wants to put gauges in his ears.  Christ in a side car.  Yes, I got that message.  Yes, I’m going to have a talk with him.

Well, never mind that.  My daughter Miranda fell at school.  She’s been having problems with her knee post-surgery.  It seems like she can feel a pin coming loose.  Her knees are giving out on occasion.

Linda can’t leave to pick her up, because she obviously wants to dump all this on me.  I barely have gas money to get home, much less–

“I’ll take care of it.”

I check my bank accounts.  One has 9 dollars, one has 8.  I’m driving the big truck, which gets phenomenally bad gas mileage.  I have a shitty check waiting for me at Pizza Hut, and a check for 9 dollars from ATT, God love em.  For what, I have no idea.

Between a dozen phone calls on my ride home–I left work early–I get someone to get her a ride home and leave a message for the doctor to call me back for an appointment.

Once I’m at home, I am informed that the gas is turned off.   Outside, the sky is blue and clear; it’s a gorgeous spring day.

The doctor’s office calls back finally, and I make an appointment for Saturday.  I did not know they Saturday appointments, but this is a good thing.  I can pick her up Friday night, have her spend the night, take her to the doctor in the morning, and then take her home.  And then go finish this project at Bunny’s house that she already paid me for.

A few minutes later, the big bad bill collector from the doctor’s office calls me.  I owe some money.  They had been billing the wrong insurance company–their fault, I’m sure–and I owe 330 dollars.  They want me to make a payment on it when I come in.  I’ll try.  I’ll really, really try.

It’s starting to hail.


Tag, You’re It!

January 11, 2011 at 9:19 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
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I don’t know if I ever posted this–and if I did, it was five years ago and unfinished.  I found it recently, dusted it off, finished it, and now present it to you for your dining pleasure…

Tag, You’re It!

I have had this problem, this medical thing going on, for most of my adult life. Which–to be fair–even though I am forty, has only been going on for about five years. Males mature later in life than females. I stand by that.

Anyway, this thing I have is skin tags. Barely noticeable and easily forgettable at first, over time they have grown in both size and number to become a real nuisance, albeit a non-life-threatening one. Right now I am torn between writing this and not, because how do you make something like this interesting, never mind funny?

But let’s go back. Shortly after I broke up with my old girlfriend (and she is old, too! Ba-dum, ting!) and started going out with my (new? newer? Less old?) current girlfriend who would become my wife and then my ex-wife, she wanted me to go to the doctor because I had these things growing on my inner thigh. She thought they were genital warts, and blamed my old girlfriend, the skank. Nice. I wanted to tell her that it was probably the girlfriend before that one, because she was a real ho, but I realized just in time (before my mouth opened) that women don’t want to hear this. Oh, they think they do. But they really don’t.

I had no insurance at the time, so we went to the county hospital outpatient service:  The free clinic.

Typically, you have to wait a long time in a place like that, but it wasn’t so bad. I got in there about nine am, and they got to me by three in the afternoon the same day. I was pretty happy. I was even happier when I saw my doctor:  Hot, blonde, female.  No lie.  A hot blond urologist. In other words, she was a dick doctor.

(And here I have to insert (ha-ha, “insert”) one of my favorite jokes: A gynecologist comes home from work after a long day doing God knows what, to be greeted by his wife,who was wearing sleek, sheer lingerie; there were candles lit, champagne on ice, and Barry White playing on the stereo. He says to her, “I swear to God, Honey, if I have to look at one more—“)

Imagine a woman doctor in that position, and how hard (tee-hee, “hard”) it might be to impress her. . .

So I take off my pants, as instructed, trying not to think about it too much. I was at this time in my early twenties, when I could do push-ups with no hands at the slightest provocation. She takes the little freezey tool thing, after examining the marks, and says they are skin tags, not warts. Sigh of relief, and a slight stinging sensation as she freezes these things, and we’re done.

At least, I thought we were done. As I stand and then begin to pull up my pants, she says to me, with her back turned to me to hide her smirk, “I need you to take down your shorts now because we check everyone for venereal disease.” So I pull my underwear down as she moves into position, kneeling in front of me. This is known as the honey spot. As I straighten back up and before I have a chance to look at what she is doing and react, she takes a long, thin, q-tip looking thing and grabs my wa-hoo like it’s our fourth date and shoves the thing into MY thing.

I know, right?

I try to argue my point in the most reasonable fashion about the extreme discomfort this is causing, as well as embarrassment for me, not to mention destroying all of my fantasies about this occasion, as well as causing a lasting psychosis about women in this position in front of me, but all that would come out of my mouth amid the screams and the drool was, “Hey! He-Hey! HEY! What the–? HEY!

And then it was over. Sullenly, I pulled up my pants, realizing I’m not going to get the obligatory what-have-you, and ask, “What the hell was that all about?”

She explained that it is best to catch them (the victim) before they have any idea what is going on, otherwise they won’t hold still for it. She looked me in the eyes, with a gaze that was both haunting and penetrating. She had the eyes of a woman who has seen what I have to offer, and is completely unimpressed, and perhaps a little sympathetic. Which I did NOT want. “Am I right?” She asks.

And let’s just leave it at that, shall we? Moving on. . ..


Another time, a few years later—

And look, I don’t remember exactly when. I could strain my brain really hard and estimate it, and be within three years. Or I could just tell you I did that when actually I’m just guessing, and say it was. . . twelve years ago. Yeah, I looked it up. I went to a dermatologist because I had a lot (I thought) of skin tags on my neck, and maybe some on my inner thigh, I don’t remember. He froze them off and billed me. I may not have ever paid that bill. I remember him being impatient when I was hesitant about showing the ones between my legs, and thinking, you know, I took a shower and put on clean underwear for you. I just as easily could have…done the opposite.

But I guess it’s enough that I didn’t pay the bill. I showed him.


And here we are today.

I had lots and lots and lots of these things, these tiny little mutant attachments to my skin. I didn’t feel quite like the elephant man, but I was very self-conscious about it. I always wore a shirt, did not want to go to the beach or the pool, and didn’t really even want to wear a shirt without a collar, because that helped to cover them up. But now, I had a new job and new insurance, so I figured I would see what is covered.

Not much, as it turns out. This is all considered cosmetic. But still, I figured I would go, get an estimate, then come up with some money and get it done. Well, getting a hold of the doctor’s office to begin with turned out to be a game of cat-and-mouse. They had office hours Tuesday afternoon most days, never on Wednesday, first of the month somewhere else, and lunch from 11am to 1pm the next day. Closed on Monday all week. Leave a message, but don’t count on a return call.

I finally got in to see him, in a satellite office, and realized that he travels around a lot from office to office. Is he the only friggin dermatologists in the metro area?  Well, dude, we just don’t know. I go in and sit on the table. He comes in, and as he is asking me stuff, grabs something off the wall connected to a cable, then begins to attack me with it. It’s a fucking soldering iron!

That is the essence of it, anyway. He said the way they used to do–freeze them off–didn’t work as well, and left marks. The burning, that works. I had over a hundred of them on my neck. Imagine, just imagine, someone coming at you with a soldering iron, and touching you with it over 100 times. The prisoners in Abu Grebe got massages with happy endings in comparison. I should explain, the tags themselves have no nerve endings–so he said–but are connected directly to the skin, and the best place to burn them is at the root, near the skin. So he is hitting that every time. I started to see stars. I thought I was going to pass out. I needed something to bite. It was the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. Ever.

He apologized several times, explained that most doctors would want to do it a different way, and charge about 1500 dollars for it, and the insurance won’t cover it because its cosmetic. This was the only way. It hurt so much I started to laugh in disbelief at how much it hurt. And probably for about fifteen minutes this went on. He continued to apologize, and I understood, although I still wanted to punch him and stab him with the soldering iron. In the face.

I showed him the ones under my arms, and he said, let’s do that next time, you’ve had enough pain already…So I didn’t have to kill him. For now.

And then, it took about a week for them to fall off, like rotting fruit. It was kind of disgusting. Luckily, I wear shirts with collars, so most of it went unnoticed. But finally they were gone. A few very small ones remained, that he missed, but honestly—over a hundred? That’s a lot.  I felt like a new man, like hundreds of tiny little weights had been lifted from my body.

I made another appointment for the ones under my arms. The doctor explained briefly that I should get this certain medicine from the pharmacy, a cream to cover the area, like a topical analgesic to make it less painful.

But it was still scary, and without much provocation, I missed the next appointment, I was running late, and didn’t really try to hard to make it. But I called and made a new appointment, and went in. I had the cream, so I went to the bathroom to apply it to my underarms, and then put my shirt back on. I didn’t realize this was defeating the purpose, and I had missed some important steps. He had actually told me to apply it and cover the area with plastic wrap so that it would stay on the skin, not soak in, and not be absorbed by my shirt. So by the time I got in to see him, I essentially had  full sensitivity in that area.

He examined them and said, these are too big to burn off, so I’m going to have to cut them off. No sweat. I thought, It had to better than burning them off, right?  Right?

He grabbed a tool that looked like a tool that I have in my own tool box, except mine were more rusty. It looked like a wire cutter.

And my skin tags were the wires.

It’s hard to believe the sheer number of the things I had on my skin. For instance, before he burned off hundreds of them. How is that possible? It just is. Although scientists and doctors claim to not know the exact cause of them, I do know they happen to appear where one is more likely to sweat: The back of my neck, my inner thigh and ass-crack, and—

Under my arms.

The ones under my arms were the worst. And beyond appearances, they were a nuisance. They would catch and snag on my clothes, causing discomfort on a daily basis. Under my arm they were bigger as well. Over the rest of my body, they were the size of…I don’t know—a BB, maybe: From a .177 caliber BB up to a .22 caliber pellet. The ones under my arm were, on average, the size of a raisin. Some were bigger and similar in color to a raisin as well. You can see how a woman might find all of that so very attractive.

So the doc comes at me with the wire cutters. I have my shirt off, my arm up over my head, holding it with my other hand, and my face turned away. As near as I can tell, the technique for removing these is to place the blades of the wire cutter around the skin tag–carefully so that he only has the tag and not my regular skin—and in one smooth motion squeeze and yank.

I think he might have been throwing the skin tags against the wall, like pasta.

Remember, we’re not using anesthetic. I sure as shit didn’t forget.

A few months prior to this, I thought that burning them off with a soldering iron was the worst pain I had ever felt. Well, it’s true, and up to that point it was.  It was about a 12 on the pain scale from 1 to 10.

This was about a 15. And the scale is not linear.  The doctor rolled up a wad of paper towels and shoved them in my mouth to bite down on. I swear to God. If he had pulled out some leeches I would have thought I had traveled back in time a few hundred years.

I would also like to remind you how sensitive the area under the arms is to begin with. If you want to get all cocky about how you can take it, let me pinch you under your arm, you fucker. After you stop crying and pitching a fit, I’ll do it about 60 more times under that arm, and then another 70 under the other.

He apologized while he was doing this as well…but I wasn’t feeling his sorrow. Maybe he liked it. Maybe he was like the dentist in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

This went on for probably half an hour. It was horrible, and I wasn’t laughing in pain this time. But the aftermath—the aftermath was just pathetic.

After he was done—and maybe before he was done—he got some gauze and bandages to sort of stop the bleeding. “Sort of.” When he was done, he had me sit in another exam room with a roll of paper towels—I still had my shirt off—and apply general pressure to stop the bleeding. Questions occur to me now that did not occur to me then:

Why was I bleeding so much? I imagine because I take a lot of ibuprofen for knee pain, and it is a blood thinner.

No, I mean, why did I have so many open wounds? Wasn’t he just clipping the tags?  Yeah, if you go deep enough, into the root, you get into the skin.

Then why didn’t he—how’s about bandaging me up better with gauze and tape, et cetera? Well, I’m thinking the guy might not have really been a doctor. He might have been an apprentice electrician that was just really handy with the wire cutters and soldering iron.

Seriously, is this a common medical practice in the 21st century? Well, Dude–again–we just don’t know.

I sat for about 45 minutes, I think. The bleeding finally stopped out of boredom.  The doctor gave me a supply of gauze and electrical tape and sent me on my way.


Later, at home, I needed my wife to redress my wounds. I was still not sure of how bad it was—I can’t see under my arms very well—but I got an indication of the true severity when she declined to do it because she was too grossed out.

Well, lucky for her my whole reason for doing this was to improve my looks so I would have a better shot at picking up chicks. My son redressed them for me instead; being a psychopath, he wasn’t as squeamish.

At some point I did get up and look at the wounds in the mirror. It was incredible. There were dozens and dozens of open cuts, and places where the skin was just missing. Some of those were as big as a nickel, and triangle-shaped to match the profile of the wire cutters. I looked like I had been mauled by a bear.

A bear with a medical degree.

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