"Let's try an experiment."
If My Love had said those words to me, I would have been intrigued.
If she said them shortly after Anne Hathaway or that Goth chick from "NSCI" had wandered into our bedroom, I'd be wildly intrigued.
I’d also probably be deep in the throes of R.E.M. sleep.
To make matters worse, the doc held up an index finger and walked around behind me. This is a universal cause for alarm in any guy over age 40 in a doctor's office. However, I relaxed when that finger started running up, down and across my back rather than down near my Lesser Antilles region.
"Interesting," he said.
"I just wrote your name on your back with my finger, and it's showing up in a nice red rash," he said
The rash was why I was there in the first place.
A few days earlier, I had noticed long, diagonal red streaks in parallel lines from my lower rib cage up my sides. I had just come out of a hot shower and my skin was already suffering from the normal dryness that comes from having electric baseboard heat in an exceptionally frigid New England winter, so I figured I must have scrubbed myself a little too hard while soaping up and left finger marks.
The lines never went away, though. Then more of them, plus some brilliant blotches resembling spaghetti-splatter, started to appear on my arms, back and sides.
Naturally, I made the mistake of first turning to the Internet.
The digital information age has given us many great things, some of them not even porn-related, but WebMD's Symptom Checker is obviously a tool of white-coated terrorists. Within a few minutes of pointing and clicking, I found might have leprosy, consumption and a few miscellaneous strains of VD. This, of course, gave me another symptom: panic attack.
Calmed down, I sought My Love and said to her the words nobody ever wants to hear from their spouse:
"Hey, hun – what do you make of this rash?"
She gave it a good look, asked a few questions and concluded definitively that it "may or may not be shingles." With two kids in the house, including one with a rare autoimmune disease, this was the one diagnosis I really didn't want.
OK, I really didn’t want leprosy, consumption and VD, either, but you know what I mean.
My Love, who had shingles as a child, advised me to wait until Monday before going to the doctor to see if got any better since I didn't have any of the really bad symptoms like pain, burning, chills and – no joke –genital lesions.
Immediately, I found an on-call doctor. As much as I love my wife and value her insight, she has a pretty bad track record on dispensing medical advice, like the time she suggested I pop a blood blister until my fingernail then I ended up in the ER in need of a tetanus shot.
Anyway, the doc with the creative finger quickly ruled out shingles and said I definitely had the telltale signs of a simple allergic reaction.
"Are you allergic to anything already?" he said.
"Penicillin," I said.
"How do you know that?" he asked, as every doctor I've ever told this does, in a suspicious tone that implies I enjoy lying about the fact that the most basic of the world's antibiotics could kill me.
"That is what I've been told since I was a kid, and I've never wanted to try to prove that wrong," I said. "What else?"
Then we ran through a laundry list of suspects.
New laundry detergent? Nope.
Change in brand of soap? Nope.
Eating any odd or usual foods for late? Nope.
"In fact, if been eating less of everything to try to lose some weight," I said. "The only other really different thing that's been going on in my life is I switched from regular fish oil pills to those red krill oil ones because I heard they may better for my borderline cholesterol."
He looked at me seriously … as in, "Seriously, you haven't figured this out on your own? Don't you think the word 'red' might have tipped you off?"
A two-week course of prednisone and a change back to boring ol' fish oil pills later, and I'm a changed man -- changed from red back to my normal pasty shade of skin health.