Good Ol’ Scaly-Six-Toes Rosch

Some stories require a little TMI in order to pack a true punch. And thus, I’ll have to cop to this: I have possibly either eczema or psoriasis. It drives me f’in crazy even as skin poachers from the east to west coasts tell me, “Oh, yours is very mild.” Easy for them to say–I suspect they all save the best treatments (eczema, acne, rosacea) for themselves in order to create some sort of bizarre ruling class of super-skinned Dr. Zizmors. They are oh-so-fond of telling me things like, “You should try and relax more, don’t stress as much, don’t take hot showers, get a bit more vitamin D.” Some years ago the woman who delivered this information and other profound thoughts on how to control it finished all of these informative tid-bits with comma sugar, baby, or honey. It was a good trick–she had me nodding along like a calf being led to slaughter. “Keep the eczema-ed reeling,” they say, in their secret posh clubhouses where they rub themselves in only the finest working lotions and creams.

The only true cure I’ve ever come upon was living in the sweet, sweet humidity and sunshine that Costa Rica provided me. Add that to the list of reasons I wish we’d never left. So far, Los Angeles hasn’t gifted me the same. So two days ago, you’d have found me making my case to yet another dermi in suite 101 of one of those classic health professional office blocks. A nice lady–aren’t they all–and I went in simply to show her the flare-up and ask that she kindly deliver me a script for the same spray I’ve been using for years with some success. It should have been a transaction as easy as ordering my daily Venti iced-coffee at StarBucks (though I’ve found that to be considerably more trying so far away from the East-Coast work ethic I admire more and more daily). Did I leave after just a short visit with the means to a medicine I so desperately craved? No.

Somehow, and as a gratefully recovering alcoholic I’ll take my part in it all, I let her talk me into experimenting with the supposedly latest and greatest snake oil. “You can just grab it at the pharmacy across the street. Super easy, and here’s a card that will let you pay nothing for the first batch.” She said. She didn’t use the word “batch.” But I am. Call it whatever you want to call it, doesn’t change the fact that the pharmacy she sent me to had to special order it. At the time this was all happening, I hadn’t the time to process it as anything more than a terrible inconvenience. With the gift of hind-sight and a quick recap of the days events with my favorite suspicious aloysius conversationalist, Ariele, I came to realize what I’d really just been signed up for:

Have you seen the film Side Effects? Doesn’t really matter. All you really need to know is: Big Pharma loves money. And part of their plan to get more of it is to sell you drugs. That’s not being conspiratorial, that’s just business. Yes sir, they’ve got something that will help you, and like the stink under your arms, they’d prefer what ever ails you never really go away because that’d prevent you from being a repeat customer. I don’t begrudge them that. That’s business. That’s as much on us for not doing due-diligence in taking care of our own shit before it becomes problematic.

Now then, back to me–this whole damn site is about me, save a post or two, and here’s what I’m getting at: My new dermi, like any other doctor, probably likes money too. And I’m quite positive that I’ve only been given this new miracle cure for free, on her recommendation, because somewhere, someone is paying her to make that selection. My tried and true Clobex isn’t filling her coffers with new shoe money. I saw her shoes. They didn’t look cheap. What really tipped me off to the fact that I’d become yet another guinea pig was when she asked me to return in just three short weeks to see how it was going with this new elixer. “Odd,” I thought. “Usually I just spray a few times a day for a few weeks and it goes away, what’s to see in three weeks?” Well, the answer seems simple now: I’m part of a clinical trial of something that might possibly have me growing a sixth toe before summer’s end. And that three week check-in is necessary for her to make sure I’m not and, far more importantly,  that three week check-in is necessary for her to document the results so she can tell the company who cranks it out how well it’s doing, so that in turn, she can get some of that shoe money.

So, in about a month, god willing or devil be damned, I’ll be either eczema free once again or still covered in it with six toes on each foot, while that elite class of fair skinned snake-oil-salesmen and the companies who pay them snarf my hard earned (now heavily taxed by the state of California–hey, where’s it all going btw California, where?) dough.

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The Nicest Skin Poacher Ever

Just a few months ago, I finally got around to having a long-overdue full-body skin cancer screening. I apologize for whatever mental images of me that might provide you. Like the tree I fell from, I am a man of many freckles and moles. And somewhere, buried in the complex history of the extended family, I believe there has been melanoma–and so, I’m never really super keen on getting checked out, for fear of what they might find. This time around, after an exam that included lab results concerning two, I was given a clean bill of health yet again.

“Yes! Another year, free of worry.” I thought.

At least ‘free of worry’ regarding my moles, until of course, a few days before the next exam that I had planned on having with the very doctor I’d just seen around the same time next year. I liked her bedside manner–it was an appropriate mix of motherly caring, put-off and disgusted girlfriend, genuinely interested scientist, and awkward first-time stand-up comedian.

“Good for me,” I thought. “Hard to find a Dermi you can trust.”

Even our recent decision to move didn’t phase me. I surmised that Boston would be close enough to head back specifically to see her. The whole experience had been just that good. Plus, she’d made me promise to come back in a year to see her again, and I had. And this Dermi, in my opinion, was a real keeper. Or so I thought.

Last week, I received a letter from the clinic that she was a part of. The note was brief, and I am paraphrasing here, but it read, “Dr. X, has decided to leave us. She will be opening a practice elsewhere, etc. But, we’d still appreciate your business.” I was simultaneously crushed that she’d decided to go and elated that she too, like me, had decided to call it quits for a bit on NYC.

“Maybe she’s even going to Boston,” I thought. “Wouldn’t that be something?”

A few days later though, while going through paperwork to dispose of before our move, I reread the letter from the clinic. What it said hadn’t changed, not one bit. But, upon this second examination of the words they’d use to explain her absence, I began to formulate a new theory of what had occurred–why they dismissed her, what she had been up to, and how the letter itself was just their way of sweeping the whole ugly affair under the proverbial rug.

Instantaneously, I came to believe the following: She had never had a license, hadn’t even gone to school, had tricked the other doctors who owned that clinic into hiring her with the same bedside manner shenanigans I mentioned before, she loved other people’s moles, maybe their skin, she collected moles and skin bits, moles were like her trophies, she wasn’t a serial killer yet, but you could be sure they’d found tons of small pieces of her former patient’s bodies in the refrigerator of her small studio apartment on the Lower East Side, and in due time, just shaving pieces of moles off for keep sakes hadn’t been enough, a loud scream had occurred from a room at the clinic, and the other staffers ran in, only to find her having attempted to shave a patient’s head or other limb clean off.

Given the other resident Doctors’ oversight, it makes sense that they’d make the claim that “she’d decided to move on.” Obviously right? They aren’t going to pen a letter detailing what you and I now know really happened. Fortunately, I know how to read between the lines, and read between them I do.

Perhaps less fortunately though, I now worry that the entirety of my two visits with her, in which she most definitely took those two little pieces of me with her for her frozen collection at home, was all for not–at least as it pertains to my clean-bill of health, I mean, she’ll have them to pet and love on still.

And so, I’ll have to be a bit more careful in selecting the next Dermi, because ZocDoc.com, really doesn’t detail this sort of thing.