The discolor purple
It began in early July as Jen-X and I toweled off after a swim at Church Pond.
“What’s that?” she said.
“What’s what?” I said.
“That thing on your side,” she said. “It looks like a bruise.”
“I got a bruise on my side?”
“Yeah, a big one,” she said. “I can’t believe you didn’t notice it.”
She pointed at it and I tried to look, but couldn’t see it — at least not without dislocating my C6.
And now at The Ole Swimming Hole we had a Norman-Rockwell-Meets-2020 Moment: She grabbed her phone and took a pic.
So how big was the “bruise”?
Well, when doctors describe the size of something anatomical, they do it in metric terms. When The Great Unwashed do it, it’s in fruit, vegetable or nut equivalents. (“Damn, I swear that ole boy hadda wart on his face as big as a grape.”) But given my literary proclivities, and pretenses, I’ll say it was as big as a 1950s paperback book. It was also a lurid shade of purple found on those paperbacks’ covers.
“Holy moly!” I said.
“So how’d you get that?” she asked.
“No idea,” I said, poking it. “Plus, it doesn’t hurt.”
“So maybe it’s not a bruise,” she said.
“Maybe,” I said. “But if it is, it’ll change colors and fade in a day or so.”
Unfortunately, it did neither.
A person of interest
Luckily, My Brother the Doctor was in town, so I sought his professional opinion.
He checked it out for a bit, frowned, and then said, “Interesting.”
“Interesting” — I hate that word. By itself, it means nothing. Instead, it’s the verbal equivalent of a bureaucrat: While it has a job to do, all it really does it take up space.
“He’s an interesting guy.” “We had an interesting time.” “I’ve always found her poetry interesting.” Each time it’s used, it’s so meaningless you have to ask for clarification, which is exactly what I did with my bro.
“The hell does that mean?” I said.
“It means I’ve never seen anything like that before,” he said.
While he clarified his use of the word, I still had no idea what that thing was.
I waited another month to see if it’d go away, and when it didn’t, I had my GP, Beth Bartos-Martin, give it a look-see.
“Interesting,” she said.
Oh no, I thought, not this again. But I was more civil asking for clarification.
“Uh … in what way?” I said.
“Well,” she said, “I’ve never seen something like that before.”
Ah, deja vu, where is thy sting?
“But I can tell you it’s not any of the known bad ones,” she said.
This was intended as reassurance, though given my inherent fatalism, it was anything but. According to conventional wisdom, if a medico sees some condition and knows it’s not any of the bad ones, then it must be a mild or harmless one. But to my way of thinking, it could just as easily be some rare and horrible one they’ve NEVER seen.
A resolution … and a rocker
My next step was to have it seen by a dermatologist, which, had Jay Federman still been in business, would’ve been no sweat. But since he was retired, I had no idea where to go. I did, however, know whom to ask — my pal Jack Drury. It seems every other time I talk to him he’s about to have his hide examined, so I knew he could recommend a dermatologist. He could, and it was Dr. Dejordy in Plattsburgh. By the time I got to my appointment, I had additional spots on my arms.
Doc DJ took a good look, poked and prodded a bit, and then, in keeping with current medical protocol, said, “Interesting.”
“Oh?” I said.
“Yeah,” he said. “I don’t know what that is.”
Well, join the crowd, I thought.
“But,” he continued, bright boychik that he is, “I think it’s morphea.”
He flew out of the office, then flew back, an open medical book in his hand.
“Here,” he said, pointing at a picture. It was of various morphea manifestations, none of which looked familiar. In fact, the only familiar thing was one of them looked like the profile of Abraham Lincoln, but I kept that bit of esoterica to myself.
I asked him what morphea was. He explained it was a rare condition, thought to be auto-immune, and (the one I have, at least) is essentially harmless. He’d have to do a biopsy to confirm it, but the worst result would be a faint white scar.
A faint white scar? I almost burst into hysterical laughter. I’ve had an appendectomy, a bypass and a hip replacement — my bod looks like what wasn’t flayed was fileted. I’d consider a new scar, especially a faint white one, a beauty mark.
When the results of the biopsy came back, they confirmed Doc DJ’s diagnosis. He gave me a mega-steroid cream, which is making the spots fade.
But even if the spot is gone, something permanent has resulted from it.
The legendary musician Jimi Hendrix ushered in psychedelic rock with his song “Purple Haze.” I modestly proclaim I have created a new genre of music, Geriatric Rock, with my song, “Purple Spot.” Mark my words, it is destined to be THE karaoke hit at Wrinkle City.
It is, of course, to the tune of “Purple Haze,” and it goes as follows:
Dark purple spot, there on my side,
Six inches high, four inches wide.
It just appeared one summer day
And then refused to go away.
More purple spots came on my arms,
Messin’ with my naked charms,
Makin’ me all kinds of shy,
Scuse me, I think I’m gonna cry.
Oh no …
Asked dermatologist what I could do,
But even he didn’t have a clue.
He said just wait patiently
For the results of the bi-op-sy.
I always heard that life’s unfair,
And it sure ’nuff is, on Medicare.
No crueler hand is dealt by fate
Than ending up a ward of the state.
I’m a mess of nerves all day and night,
Freaked right out and wound uptight.
But I’m gonna face it like a man
And hope I’m covered by my own health plan.