Surprise Skin Biopsies are Not a Fun Way to Spend a Thursday Morning.

I had shingles. It was awful. For those of you lucky enough to not know what shingles is, it’s just the chicken pox virus (which lurks around your body after you’ve had chickenpox), making an appearance again when your immune system is off guard due to stress or other issues. My immune system has been crappy to begin with, thanks to my sickly babyhood, and after getting booted from law school I was understandably stressed. So one day I noticed some skin lesions on my hip. In a band, not crossing my middle. My mom checked it out (she’s a doctor), and said it was shingles due to stress and would go away in a couple days. 

First of all, I had assumed that shingles was an old people illness. Nope. Apparently 22-year-olds with cruddy immune systems can get it too. So I had shingles. And in a few days, did it clear up? Hell no. It got worse. That’s not a thing that should happen. My mother made a few phone calls, and got me an appointment with a dermatologist for yesterday. The cool thing is, he’s got a four month waiting list for appointments, but since he was one of my mother’s professors in med school, he was able to see me right away. Perks of being a doctor’s kid. 

So I went to see this guy.First thing that happened was my mother had sent a note for him. I am twenty two and my mother sent a note. Then, the nurse handed me a paper shirt. It’s motherfucking FEBRUARY in motherfucking Ohio and these motherfuckers want me to wear a motherfucking SHIRT made out of motherfucking PAPER. Nevertheless, I needed to find out what was wrong with me so I put on the paper shirt. 

The dermatologist walked in a few rounds of Candy Crush later, and was very intrigued by this rash, and quite frankly stumped. He left the room for a second, and came back with a very large needle. 

“We’re gonna do a skin biopsy!”

“You’re gonna do a WHAT?!?!”

This man was far too excited to take a chunk out of my skin. He made me lay down, and I clutched his nurse’s hand as he stuck a needle full of anesthetic into my side. It was a punch biopsy, so he literally PUNCHED A HOLE INTO MY SKIN to get at the sample. Now, both my parents are doctors, so my childhood memories are a little more traumatic than usual. This biopsy reminded me of the time my dad brought home a bag of potatoes and some very large needles, and taught us all how to do biopsies right there n the kitchen counter. So I knew exactly what was happening near my hip. 

I began to feel a little faint, and the nurse set a cold pack on me. That helped, but not very much. I casually mentioned (amid dry coughs) that I hadn’t eaten yet that day, so the nurse decided that was why I was feeling faint (and not the chunk of skin being removed from my side) and offered me some crackers. But I can’t have crackers, I mumbled, I have a gluten thing…

Okay no crackers. They sent someone down to the geriatric unit next door and came up with some juice. After dumping that down my throat and handing me another cold pack (it’s FEBRUARY OH MY GOD), the nurse helped me sit up and get to the chair so I could start the process of putting my clothes back on to go home. 

Nope. Didn’t happen. 

Nurse glanced at me as I said I didn’t feel right, and dove to catch me as I nearly tumbled out of my chair. She put me back on the table and brought me more juice, and then they kept me there for an extra hour to make sure I was okay before I drove home. 

Now I have a suture in my side that keeps bleeding and my mother has to remove it in two weeks. It itches and I can’t scratch it or look at it without feeling faint. I guess medical school will never be an option for me…

I still think that man was all too excited to take a chunk of my skin. 

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