Thursday, August 25, 2005


In Which I Get Under My Own Skin...

My skin is SUCH a drama queen.

You'd think it would be content with its ranking as Largest Organ Of My Body (true for everybody, by the way. Sorry guys), but no. It's always got to act up, remind me that it's there.

As a child my skin was so dry in the winter that I couldn't take a bath like normal kids. If I did, I'd wake in the middle of the night scratching great red patches of dry skin so much I'd actually draw blood. So instead, I abluted myself every night with an off-putting cleanser supplied by my pediatrician. Though skin-friendly, this unguentary substance was offensive in every other way, smelling like a cross between kerosene and spoiled fruit, and having an appearance and consistency that reminded my father--for so he would confide later--of the semen of a large farm animal.

You were supposed to slather this milky, viscous goop on, wait a moment, then wipe it off, much as if it were a staining gel for furniture. No matter how thoroughly I wiped this stuff off, though, trace elements of the goop remained so that, within a few moments, a strange translucent film would manifest on my body. My brother started calling me "the ghost." Had he known what my father thought of the stuff, I'm sure he would have called me something much worse.

I outgrew the worst of my skin's eczematic tendencies at 12, just in time for puberty. Boy, did my skin have fun with that. Of course, when the adolescent hormonal turbines begin their keening start-up whine, everyone expects a few side effects. Pimples, for example. But I didn't get the usual adolescent acne, oh no. Thanks to my skin, I wound up with freakish mutant acne. Every square inch of flesh on my upper arms and torso became so inflamed that merely tapping me on the shoulder or slapping me on the back produced brutal agony.

And my face! I wish there was a way to put this delicately--because I know many of you unwisely choose to eat or drink while reading--but my face was one great oozing mass, each pore so densely, painfully packed with whiteheads that the merest smile or furrowing of a brow could unexpectedly cause a high-pressure jet of pus to shoot out from my head at distances of up to 18 inches. I can only thank God this never happened while I was at school (although it did happen once while I was arguing with my brother, and he got sprayed in the face. He didn't know whether to be revulsed or impressed).

Yes, let's ALL have a collective "Ewww."

By the time I was 16, the problem was so pronounced, so uncontrollable, so completely offensive to everyone but our blind neighbor, that my choices were reduced to:

A. Walking around with an Elephant Man style mask over my head


B. Seeking the intervention of a dermatologist

Though my brother lobbied on my behalf for the first choice, my mom ruled in favor of B. In truth, I'd have gone to a specialist sooner, but this was a period in time where my father's employment in construction was so erratic that we didn't have adequate health insurance to cover what would have been an otherwise expensive out-of-pocket proposition. So we had to wait until the benefits from his latest job had kicked in.

(If the future should ever turn bleak and I find myself penniless and destitute, huddled with my family under a ragged tarp beneath an overpass, and it should transpire that my teen son or daughter inherited the dramatic tendencies of my dermis, let the record show that I will sell my bone marrow, put a kidney on eBay, even cash in on my comic books before I would let my children suffer one day of the four years of sebaceous indignity I endured at the hands of my skin.)

Eventually, after a long war of attrition fought with the assistance of the benzoyl peroxide family and massive doses of tetracycline, the tide of battle turned and I entered my 20s--okay, my mid 20s--more or less unblemished.

That's when the moles attacked.

This is not to say I didn't have problems with moles before. I did (and soon I'll tell you way more than you want to know about it). They just weren't what you could call traditional problems. Well, that all changed in the 1990s and continues to this day. If my struggle against freakish mutant acne was a war, this latest attack by my skin could best be described as a terrorist action. Over the past decade, I have gone months, even years, living out my peaceful if clumsy existence. Then out of nowhere, a terrorist cell activates in some mole on my body, and an innocent, unobtrusive mark, having no value or purpose--beyond perhaps allowing my family to identify me in the event of death involving the removal of my head and hands--suddenly pulses with suspicious intent.

Case in point:

Seventy-two hours ago, I was sitting in my office, typing, typing, typing, when my assistant popped in, dropped off something, then stopped and said, really casually:

"You got blood on your neck." And left.

Oh, bug bite, I thought, putting my hand to the slightly irritated spot on my neck.

Imagine, then, the jump-up, shove-the-seat-back, squawking surprise when my hand came away a bright and shining red.

Touching my neck seemed to activate a pressure sensitive switch in my platelets, because they all went to the "off" position and now I could feel blood freely coursing down my back.

I must have cut quite a figure as I dashed past the conference room where a bunch of editors were meeting. Crazily, I wished I had thought to ask our copy editor--the one who keeps a toy fireman's axe in her office--to chase behind me.

In the men's room, guys leapt aside as I careened to the sink. No one asked me if I was okay, they all just vanished, no doubt sprinting the length of the corridor outside so they wouldn't have to hear the thud as my clammy self sprawled to the floor of the john.

I moved my soggy red collar aside to see what the hell was going on. What could it be? One helluva mosquito? Ninja blow-dart assassins? Misplaced stigmata?

Nope. It was another damn mole.

Thirty-some years that thing has been on the back of my neck. I've scratched it by accident thousands of times, rubbed it raw with the 100-grit towels my mom used to keep in the bathroom, had countless barbers apply countless scissors and clippers to it, and never once has it bled. Now, with no provocation, it starts impersonating one of the more hemophiliac members of the Russian aristocracy.

Stuffing an entire dispenser's worth of paper towels down the back of my shirt, I squelched home and called a local dermatologist. When I said I needed to see someone, the gum-popping receptionist informed me I couldn't get in for a month. As she made the appointment, she asked why I was coming in. I described the mole, lingering in particular on the part about the freshet of blood coming in such effusiveness that it had now dampened the waistband of my underwear.

She, like all of you, made a distracted little squeak of disgust, then transferred me to a nurse who, after a few questions, told me to come in first thing the next morning.

I always get worried when medical personnel rearrange their schedules to accommodate me...

Hope all is okey....
You mentioned acne and moles. Any worts? Those things you to haunt me, but we had them removed. I actually managed (this is gross) to bite one off to where it would never come back.


Goodluck with the Doctor!
People, its true! The kid really did splooge me with zit juice. Without touching his face. He could have been on Thats Incredible!

And from now on, I'm calling you Spunky!

Yr. Brother
I am sitting at my desk eating COCONUT CREAM PIE and this is what I get..I dont know which one of you three made me laugh harder or grossed me out the worst.

MM- I am glad you are going to have that checked. I have had two skin cancers removed already. Gotta watch that stuff.
MM, I was a little ahead of you on the collective Ewww...sorry.

And KFarmer, what are you doing eating Coconut Cream Pus...I mean Pie while reading MM. That my friend is a recipe for disaster.
Okay, I must admit that your entry today was funny as usual, but I laughed way harder at the brotherly comments - "The kid really did splooge me with zit juice." *bwahahahahaha*

For some reason, you guys remind of something straight out of a Stephen King novel today. Maybe it's the combo of nasty pus-talk, humor, blood, and daily trials and tribulations...
And don't forget that dash of inbred New England weirdness, dusty, always important in a King novel, and in the lives of these two.

Dude, i love the vocab: unguentery, abluted, eczematic. Anyone else wrote like this I'd say they were showing off but you make it sound so natural and funny. And I'm not even sure what they mean or if you made em up.

Off to

Friend of yr. bro (u kno who)
I've just not trusted dermatologists on the whole. You can't trust alot of people where I live. I'd rather deal with what I have now than get another one of thier topical creams.

Hope everything's okay and relatively painless (If not totally) The thought of all that blood coming from someone's neck is horrifying. Even moreso that it comes from a mole. But then, I guess if anyone DID ask you you could tell them it was just a mere assassination attempt.

Holy Mole-y. Sorry.

Hope you're OK. I'm approaching 30 and still see the dermatologist. GOOD LUCK
Oh, man. I feel this. I, too, have the drama queen skin, although I appear to just be running with the eczema. I've had the full-on Elephant Man Freddie Krueger eczema on my face a few times in my life, so I know the feeling. It's vicious.

My best to your mole.
Wow. I just wanted to say, I hope you're okay.
Hey MM,

Hope you're doing better. I could regale you with tales of my dermatological days but they aren't as dramatic as yours. Suffice to say, I've switched from seeing a dermatologist for the normal teen issues (acne) to seeing one for adult issues (especially adult issues for those of us who grew up in the Southwest US with ancestors from Northern Europe) which is to say, having spots burned off my face. So far, had two cases of skin cancer removed also, and I'm younger than you. I'm doing slightly better than my father did due to the use of sunscreen (and I'm SLIGHTLY but only slightly less fair skinned than he was) but I really should have used the stuff growing up. Of course, he never used it, or wore a hat, so I suppose he thought I didn't need to bother with it either. Oh least I wasn't an avid pool user in my youth so I can just keep a close eye on my face for the most part. I've never had mole issues although I did have some fun with a benign cyst a few years ago.
I sympathize re: the mole. I've got one on my right cheek, right in prime shaving real estate. The last thing I ever want is for the razor to cut that because, if it does, it'll bleed heavily for an hour (literally).
Hope all is well. Great post. While my acne wasn't horrible, it never went away either. And actually, once I turned 30 it got worse. This guy though is a genius. Since following his plan I have skin I am proud of for once. I plan to teach this method to my kids.
This is turning into an Austin Powers movie in my mind.......moley, moley moley!

Thank the Gods for lasers!

I guess I should cough up the $50 and get my kid the ProActive he's been begging me for then? Right.
Today was a burger king double cheese burger. And yes, it is now partially on my 17" screen.

I should know better than to drink OR eat while reading your blogs.

And to those who are suffering from skin issues, I have news for you guys. Read carefully.

You are most probably going to the wrong doctor.

Most skin problems are not caused by skin issues. Yes it is the skin that is sensitive, but the cause of that sensitiveness is within your blood. It could be hormonal imbalance? to what we asian term as "dirty" blood.

Which basically means that your blood is either too acidic or the flip side too alkalic. Normally my guess will be acidic, because of the meat we consume.

Drinking lots of water helps keep the acidic level down, but the better method is to take in your calciums. Calcium is taken from our bones to tackle this kind of issue. But sometimes its just not enough, so you might want to look into it.

Blood test does not check for this kind of stuffs.

And how do I know all this?
I have the same problem. My friends has the same problem. And we have recovered based on proper diets and a good control of meat consumtion.

Meat is a killer in more ways then one.

I love my burger kings, but one will have to be moderate when you are "aged".

Just my two cents.

Now I will have to clean those greesy meats off my monitor.
To say that your skin situation reached maximum grossocity would be a gross misunderestimatoriation.
amazing how much blood those moles can produce, ain't it?? hope you check out fine
Per the teenage stuff: suffice it to say that one of the first things my grandmother or my dad says upon seeing me these days: "Oh, good. Your complexion is so nice" It's as if they fear a reversion more than I do.

Oh, and I can't tell you how much I absolutely delight in the fact that the axe chase crossed your mind in that moment. The things that you can think in the oddest thousandth of a second...
Imagine if you were afflicted with this sort of mole (scroll down a bit):

(thank god for small favors?)
Dude, I would love to have seen that zit-spray...that's awesome.

Yes, I do need help...
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Looking for testicular cancer information I came across this post. I totally agree with you and would feel the same way!

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