So then…my daughter Chloe, age 14, and I enter the lush plush offices of Dr. Blake, dermatologist extraordinaire, with some trepidation.
Oh, don’t get me wrong – I LOVE Dr. Blake. He’s up on the latest techniques and buys the newest high-tech gadgets.
But Dr. Blake doesn’t take insurance so I know this visit will set me back a cool $200 bucks – which is why we only visit him when his trailblazing expertise is required.
As I sign in, Chloe sprawls on the reception area couch and whispers loudly, “Is it impolite if I lay down here and sleep a little?”
“Oh my God, yes, you slug! Sit up straight and play on your phone like a normal person!”
It’s Spring Break so she’d rather be sleeping in than visiting the doctor, but I’m concerned about a rash she developed on the front of her neck, just above her collar bone, a few weeks ago.
(We’d already visited our regular dermatologist TWICE, who prescribed TWO different ointments – which didn’t work.)
Four weeks later, it’s still there! And NOW there’s a similar brown rash on her ankles!
So I’ve whipped myself into a frenzy because I’m convinced that this rash is merely the EXTERNAL manifestation of something very SERIOUSLY wrong with her INTERNAL organs.
Hence the visit to the expensive Dr. Blake. He ushers us into the inner sanctum of his high-tech Star Trek-like offices. He puts on his super-awesome magnifying laser goggles WITH lights – and leans in to examine the neck rash.
My heart’s pounding, eager to know the diagnosis.
He reaches toward the tray of silver gleaming equipment, each tool more modern and sleek than the next.
He grabs a cotton ball with alcohol and rubs her neck firmly – and the rash DISAPPEARS.
Let me say that again. He rubs alcohol on the rash – AND IT DISAPPEARS.
Now he rubs alcohol on her ankles and THOSE rashes disappear.
He says, “With dry skin, it’s important to clean well with soap and water when showering.”
She didn’t have a flesh-eating bacterial virus inflammation?
She was just…DIRTY?
He has the good sense to look down discreetly to jot notes in the file, while I shoot a withering glare to my daughter that could melt ALL of her skin into a puddle on the floor.
“Are you kidding me, Chloe? We had to come all the way to the DOCTOR’S OFFICE to find out you don’t SHOWER properly?”
She has the good sense to look sheepish.
(And I assure you — she DOES shower, but evidently needs to apply a bit more enthusiasm to the task. And to be fair, it was a patch of stubborn dirt, on very dry skin — but STILL.)
She stammers, “Well…I…um…I…”
I burst out laughing. “You don’t work in a coal mine, for God’s sake!”
I sigh dramatically and gather up our purses and sweaters, waiting for Dr. Blake to finish up the paperwork.
He frowns indecisively at the form and murmurs, “There doesn’t seem to be a code for ‘dirt.’”
“OH MY GOD! Do you hear that, Chloe? Do you hear that?” I ask, laughing. “He can’t even find a place on the medical form to code this visit! This is so EMBARRASSING!”
She’s giggling –
He’s chuckling –
And I’m laughing – while simultaneously dying of humiliation – knowing full well he’ll be talking about this at dinner tonight. “Oh, Mavis, you had to see this frantic mother worried her daughter had some disfiguring skin disease — but it turns out her daughter was just dirty!! Hahaha! Pass the Chablis.”
Good Lord! You’d think we were train hobos with no access to indoor plumbing.
I’m absolutely mortified, but every time I look at her, and her rash-free neck, I just crack up laughing!
So here is my PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:
If YOUR child develops a rash –
You could follow MY brilliant plan to rack up THREE doctor visits, $200 plus two $30 co-pays, and FOUR weeks of medical anxiety –
or you could – you know, try a little SOAP AND WATER.
As for me, I might swing by the fire department for Chloe’s daily cleansing…
— Darcy Perdu
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(PLEASE share an embarrassing story about your child so I’ll feel better about myself! Or perhaps a comical visit to the doctor? Something shower-related?)