I’ve been putting it off for a while now. I know I have a couple things that need to be looked at. Minor basal cell carcinomas. Nothing crazy like a melanoma, at least I don’t think so. I need to make the call and set up an appointment. But I hesitate. No, not because I have white coat syndrome and fear doctors; ok, I do have a touch of the old WCS, but that’s not the problem here. Why am I hesitating then?
Because of trauma. That’s why. A traumatic experience that happened about three years ago.
It was supposed to be a routine appointment. I wasn’t nervous or worried about it at all. I needed more of the cream that was effective in getting rid of the basal cell carcinomas on my skin. I would tell you the name of the cream, but then you’ll look it up and discover that it’s the exact same cream that is used for treating genital warts. I assure you I was not using this cream for genital warts. It was for my basal cell carcinomas. Some sort of immunotherapy stuff. Better than the chemo cream that is often used for basal cells. Or at least in my opinion this immunotherapy stuff is better than the chemo cream.
The appointment was at about 2 o’clock in the afternoon or sometime around then. And we’re not talking at a small neighborhood dermatologist, either. This was at a reputable hospital that I won’t name in a city that I won’t name. In other words, this was a place that didn’t mess around and that’s why I liked them. Every other dermatologist I had been to needed to biopsy everything first and then, one-by-one, they would do a burn and scrape surgery and/or a Mohs surgery and the whole process of removing one basal cell carcinoma, let alone several, seemed to take for eternity. At this unnamed hospital, though? No bullshit, folks. They prescribed me the cream and they basically said put it on everything suspicious and see you in a few months. It was that simple. And, like I said, the cream was effective, too. That’s why I had gone back for this appointment. I needed more of the cream!
Well, as it turned out, there was a price to pay for that cream. A BIG ONE. O Lord!
As soon as I arrived for my appointment at 2pm, it was immediately apparent that they were very busy and behind schedule. I waited for more than a half hour—it could have even been 45 minutes—for them to call my name. This was no problem, though. Waiting for almost an hour was a small price to pay for getting me some of that nice skin cream. The BIGGER price came later. THE BIG ONE.
“Yes, that’s me,” I said and then I followed a nurse down a maze of bright, cold, sterile hallways.
Once in the room, which was basically a former hospital room with an actual bed instead of your typical medical exam table, I had to wait another 20 or 30 minutes to be seen. I think I spent the time listening to a podcast on my iPod or something, but that’s extraneous information that you don’t need to know about.
Eventually, a young, pretty Asian woman came into the room. See, this was a hospital where there are many med students and I think this young pretty Asian was a dermatological med student.
“Hi, Matt,” she said to me. And then she said, “Oh, you’re still dressed?” or something along those lines. Don’t hold me to these exact words because it was three years ago.
Apparently, the nurse who had shown me into the room was supposed to tell me to undress all the way down to my undies and she was probably even supposed to get a johnny for me. Yes, the johnny. If the nurse who had shown me into the room had actually done her job and told me to undress and also handed me a johnny then I would have had plenty of time to disrobe at a comfortable pace, get my druthers about me, put on the johnny and chill for a bit before I was even seen by the doctor or whoever this young pretty Asian was (again, I think she was a med student). Why is this all important?
You will see in just a moment!
So, anyway, I emphasize the fact that this young pretty Asian was in a hurry and waaaaay behind schedule. She didn’t have a moment to waste. So when she told me to undress to my undies and get into a johnny, I had to haul ass getting undressed. She didn’t even leave the room while I stripped down to my boxer briefs. Instead, she hung out in the corner, turned away from me, tapping her foot, checking her watch and twiddling her thumbs. While she HAD given me a johnny to get into once I was undressed, she DID NOT wait for me to get into it. Nope, as soon as I was undressed, she jumped the gun and began checking me over. Again, I stress the fact that she did not wait for me to get into the johnny.
In other words, she took my “boy” by surprise and “he” was confused as to the nature of this situation. Who is my “boy”? Well, without getting too specific, let’s just say he lives “downstairs” in my trousers. You know what I mean? Oh, this is so embarrassing. Should I even continue writing about this? Ok, I will.
While the “situation” was purely medical, my…er…boy…got confused and interpreted the situation as sexual. I had no control over what was happening and this is completely the young pretty Asian med student’s fault for not allowing me to take a few deep breaths and put a johnny on before she began examining every inch of my near-naked body. A professional would have waited for me to put the johnny on, but she apparently couldn’t wait the one or two more seconds it would have taken for me to put said johnny on. No, she basically pounced on me like a jackal as soon as I stripped down to my underoos.
It happened so fast. I swear I had no control over the situation!
She commenced the full body skin exam, analyzing me and making notes and gently touching me here and there. There was some light poking. And…almost…prodding.
I immediately knew that this “situation” was only going to get worse. I was so caught off guard, or, to put it more precisely, my “boy” was caught off guard. I could feel definite movement down there. Something had been activated. Blood was on the move, flowing with purpose. I can stop this, I thought. I’ve stopped it before. Why would this time be any different?
But this time WAS different. Why? Because everything happened sooooooo fast. I didn’t have enough time to take control over what was happening. My boy had a mind of his own. He was so confused. I tried, boy did I try, to talk him down and convince him that this was not what he thought it was.
“Goddammit, boy, this is a dermatologist appointment, not what you think it is!”
“Not now, Matt, I got business to tend to.”
“No, you dummy! Are you hearing me right now?! It’s not what you think it is!”
“Whatever Matt. Silly Matt!”
At that point in time, my boy and I might as well have been two separate entities with two separate brains. There was no convincing him to stand down. There was no turning him back.
The pretty Asian med student kept examining me. And all I could do was stand there, helpless to do anything about my boy whom I could feel continue to grow in length and width.
“Let’s seeeeee,” the med student said. “Oh, you have some acne here. Or is it eczema?” she said. She was referring to bumps she saw on my back.
“Forget about that shit!” I wanted to say. “We got a situation here!”
I could feel things growing and swelling all the more. I did not want to look down and see what-must-have-been a noticeable bulge by now. How obvious was it? Maybe she wouldn’t notice. No, I think it’s obvious, I thought to myself. There’s no way she won’t see this thing.
“Definitely seems to be some kind of rash on your back here,” the young and pretty Asian med student said.
Did she notice yet? Is she freaked out? Or maybe she hasn’t noticed and when she does, she’ll scream and run out of the room. Can I get arrested for this kind of thing? Is it considered an assault?!
“Ok, get on the bed now and lie belly-up,” she said to me.
Oh shit! Now I’m done for!
I headed for the bed, hoping that the walk would maybe cool things down with the boy who lives downstairs in the dark basement. Wasn’t happening, though. I still didn’t even have an ounce of control over my boy. He had usurped my authority. Shit, this was mutiny!
I lay on the bed with my belly up. I could feel the bulge intensify all the more because now not only was I naked except for my undies, but I was lying on a bed in my undies, belly and, thus, bulge-up. How could I blame my boy for mistaking this purely medical situation for something sexual? This couldn’t get any more “hot,” quite frankly. I mean, I was in my boxer briefs, bulge-up, on a bed and there was a pretty young Asian med student essentially “playing doctor” with me or so it felt like. Might as well just address the elephant in the room here and call a spade a spade. This was hot, I tells ya! Hawt!
I finally took a glance down to the situation and my fears were confirmed. There was quite a bulge down there for sure. I don’t think my boy was at 100% at this point, but I couldn’t tell for certain. It felt like he was at the very least 75% activated. But, again, I was in such shock that I felt numb and couldn’t tell for sure. For all I knew I was at complete Washington monument status.
Also, the flap to my fly on my boxer briefs had opened a bit and there was clear…um…jewels on display and I’m talking of the family variety. If I reached down and fixed the flap to my fly, I would have drawn too much attention to the general area. I had no choice but to simply pretend everything was fine and normal. Nothing to see down there! But there was so much to see. Would she see it?! Had she already seen it?!
The pretty, young Asian med student never acknowledged my “boy” in any public manner, ‘public’ meaning she never commented aloud that I had a suspicious bulge, one that had likely manifested due to sexual arousal. I suppose it’s possible she never knew what was going on or at least never thought that anything out-of-the-ordinary was going on. There is probably a .5% chance she just thought I had a big package and that was that. She may never have noticed that the package in my boxer briefs started out small…er…I mean, modest (it’s never “small,” at least not in the way you’re thinking) and then suddenly ended up really big. Yeah, maybe she thought I was big the whole time. Maybe she thought I had a naturally large package, which would be a good thing, I suppose, at least as far as my ego is concerned.
But this is highly unlikely. I think she must have known what was going on (i.e. that I was getting aroused), then hurried to finish up her exam and then quickly left the room. Because this is exactly what she did: she was really rushed in getting the exam done and then she booked it out of there. Granted, she was behind schedule and likely in a rush anyway, but I feel something else was going on. It seemed like she wanted to get the hell out of Dodge ASAP.
“I’ll send the doctor in!” she said as she disappeared into the hallway outside. And then I never saw her again. Also, this is when I realized she wasn’t the real doctor.
A few minutes passed and, by the time the real doctor entered the room, I had calmed myself with deep-breathing exercises and my boy was under control from that point forward. I noticed the (female) doctor was kind of smiley while she spoke with me. I found this odd, because during previous appointments she was usually rather serious and stoic. Had the young pretty Asian med student discussed the “situation” with the doctor beforehand? Did all the dermatological nurses, doctors and med students gather in the back office and have a big laugh over the fact that there was a patient in Room C who had an uncontrollable Iwo Jima memorial moment?
The doctor was in the room for about three minutes and all she did was say that she would prescribe more of the basal cell carcinoma cream that worked for me in the past and that was that. Couldn’t we have just done this over the phone? Why did I have to be humiliated in the process?
Oh, something I forgot to mention is that the doctor had an entourage of med students with her while she was in the room with me. Not the Asian, though, as she was probably crying alone in a bathroom stall somewhere because of the horror I had subjected her to (look, I’m sorry but all she had to do was give me one extra second to put the johnny on and we could have avoided all this). I mention this entourage of med students (all female, by the way) because, when the doctor left the room, I noticed that one of the students was lingering in the corner. I saw her there in my periphery. What did this girl know? I wondered to myself. Had the pretty Asian med student told her all about me? Was she lingering so she could catch a glimpse of the dolphin show taking place in my boxer briefs when I got up to put my clothes on? Or maybe the Asian had raved about how big my package was and she told her fellow med student to stick around, linger in the room with me a while, and then her fellow dermatological colleague would see an amazing North Korean Intercontinental Ballistic Missile parade.
I got up from the bed and walked over to my clothes that were on a chair. I’m not sure if the med student in the corner of the room was checking me out, but I didn’t care anyway. My boy was fully settled down at that point and my degradation had long reached a saturation point where there was no more humiliation I could have possibly felt anymore. “You want to see my package?! Here it is! Tell the whole world! See if I care!”
I left the dermatologist that day completely mortified and, more importantly, completely traumatized. And now I have to go back to the dermatologist; I really have no choice because I know I have at least a couple new basal cell carcinomas. Believe me, I’ve tried every natural approach to getting rid of these basal cells—making homemade creams with baking soda, Vitamin C, A, D etc.—but NONE of them work.
What are the odds that such a mortifying incident may reoccur? Hopefully slim. But I’m still scared, just like any other trauma victim would be. I likely would have been back to the dermatologist already had it not been for the “incident.” I may have even been back several times. I would have kept on top of all my basal cell carcinomas. But, now, I may have allowed some mysterious speck on my body to go unchecked and, who knows, it could be a melanoma. Do you hear me?! I may die of a melanoma. And why?
All because she didn’t wait for me to put the johnny on.
Why didn’t she wait for me to put the johnny on?
MATT BURNS is the author of several novels, including Weird Monster, Supermarket Zombies!and Johnny Cruise. He’s also written numerous memoirs, including GARAGE MOVIE: My Adventures Making Weird Films, MY RAGING CASE OF BEASTIE FEVER, JUNGLE F’NG FEVER: MY 30-YEAR LOVE AFFAIR W/ GUNS N’ ROSES and I TURNED INTO A MISFIT! Check out these books (and many more) on his Amazon author page HERE.
Other trending articles by Matt Burns that may be of interest to you:
A Love Letter to the Emerald Square Mall (about the death of the shopping mall age)
NEVER FORGET the Fun-O-Rama (a traveling carnival memoir)
I Dream of Dream Machine (a memoir of the local video arcade)