I Got A Rash

A rash appeared in my armpit one day. I realize that this sentence contains not one, but two, unpleasant words, but all of these words are true.

At first, I thought it was just razor burn, but the rash wasn’t really located in the area that oppressed post-feminists like myself continue to shave. Then, I thought it might be a bug bite or a welt, but it wasn’t localized. I immediately panicked, as my first medical question is always, “Could this be deadly?”

Was the rash going to kill me in the next 24 hours? I tried to remember if I had ever heard anyone say, “And he died, tragically, exactly 24 hours after the rash appeared.” No, I decided. If this rash were to portend my imminent death, then I would be a medical anomaly, the odds of which are extremely low to vanishing, and likely equal to those of being struck by lightning, or having sex with Matthew McConaughey while also being able to convince him to remain in character as Wooderson from Dazed & Confused.

Having concluded that if death were fast approaching, it would not be rash-caused, I continued to investigate. What could the rash be? Lacking the stomach to Google “rash” and see the rashes of others, I instead decided to use EmilyMD, a far less rich resource than WebMD.

EmilyMD is the fictional doctor inside of me. She is an amalgam of all the doctors on the medical dramas I watched as a child. My family would watch M*A*S*H and, later, ER, then walk around the house holding our hands up, pretending we had just scrubbed for surgery like Hawkeye, or Dr. Benton. From watching these programs and going to the doctor a Jewish amount, I can almost practice medicine on myself.

I pondered my diagnosis. It could be Lyme disease, but I had not seen any evidence of an armpit-burrowing tick. And did I feel Lyme disease-y? No, I did not.

Ringworm? I was unsure of what that actually was, but I hadn’t been wrestling—at least in any official sense.

It could be a fungus, but it didn’t seem that way. It just didn’t seem like a fungus.

Ebola? No, it was not Ebola.

Communist shrapnel? No, I was not on M*A*S*H.

Having ruled out Ebola and shrapnel, my mind began to turn to more disturbing thoughts. Exotic diseases, or ones with research foundations. But no ad on the subway had ever said, GET YOUR RASH CHECKED OUT, OR YOU MAY DIE OF YOUR RASH DECISION. No, there had been no relevant pun-grasping public service campaign that I could recall.

Not a medical ailment serious enough to warrant a public service campaign, I reasoned. Signs were pointing toward “probably not deadly,” to maybe even, “potentially unactionable.”

I concluded my rash was a message from inside my body and mind that all was not completely well. Something was out of whack. Its provenance was not yet known to me, but its sudden departure would be a harbinger of improvement.

With patience and perseverance, I would unravel this medical mystery. It might be cured by an ointment you order online that is a drugstore ointment, but in a stronger concentration. It might respond to just the right flavor of kombucha.

I had once seen a book in someone’s van that said, “Patient, Heal Thyself!”

“Body, Heal Thyself!” I exhorted, unscrewing the lid on the coconut oil.

After my first question, “Could this be deadly?” my next¬†question is always, “Is there any reason NOT to put coconut oil on it?”


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