Red Rash of Death or Minor Skin Irritation?

Written By Emily

I’m a worrier–a mild hypochondriac. I blame my father. When I’m feeling sick or have a strange symptom, I always call my dad. There is something comforting about talking to a fellow over-reactor. He’s usually suffered from the same thing two days before and is prepared to counsel me. Or by the time I hang up the phone, he will have developed the same symptoms, too. Misery loves company, right?

So when I spontaneously grew a strange itchy rash on my jaw that began to swell and spread all over my face, I took a picture and sent it to Dad. Technology is AWESOME for hypochondriacs. This was his response:

where r u? get to er.

I love him.

I DID NOT go to the ER (truth be told, I hate going to the doctor), but I did look online. After ruling out boils; carbuncles; pus-filled sacs; and acne, it was evident to me I was suffering from one of the following: rubella, liver failure, aseptic meningitis, or a rare skin disorder only found in children 5 years of age or younger or in people who have traveled overseas (I, of course, have not).

I applied some ointment and stayed awake all night ruminating about my condition. And in fear, I started to sweat. Another symptom.

In the morning, seeing less of my face and more of the rash, I took my pathetic self to the open-all-of-the-time clinic for small children, the elderly, and my comrades in worry.

Having endured an hour and a half there, I’m not sure which is worse: the computer or the clinic.

A good old-fashioned list will help me make this decision in the future when I get a splinter that I think may require amputation.


Web Search: I can search from the comforts of my own home, comfort that includes but is not limited to: “MAAAAAHMEEE! Sylvie stinks! Mommy, I need a snack! I SPILLED MY JUICE! Shadow needs food. Mooomeeee, Sylvie is licking the dog. I CAN’T BUILD A CASTLE OUT OF PLAY-DOH BY MYSELF! Stop hitting me with that sword!” Do they not see the rash taking over my face like parasitic barnacles?!

Clinic: If my husband is home to watch the kids, I can sit in silence at the clinic. That’s like a present! But there are other people’s children, sick children with cheeks glistening and shellacked from mucusy secretions. Or those children who see their sick mother’s weakness and are taking over the waiting room while she watches with glassy eyes.


Web Search: There are no awkward exchanges. There is no embarrassment. I am anonymous. Everyone, even the guy who typed his rash symptoms in the “face” section when he should have typed them in a very different section, even he is anonymous. Thankfully.

Clinic: There’s the elderly man with his gown opened in the front sitting across from me. He’s embarrassed that his curtain is open. I’m embarrassed my curtain is open, but neither of us can move, so we pretend not to see each other. Horrible. I’ll probably run into him at the grocery store tomorrow.


Web Search: I have the entire world at my fingertips with detailed research and case studies…including the case where that one guy who had an untreated rash had to have his face removed. That happens?! I’m next.

Clinic: The doctor, although in the room, is not really present. Is it me or is she staying by the curtain because she fears I’m contagious? And does she have her driver’s license, yet? How can she be practicing medicine? Aren’t there at least 10 years of school involved? Clearly my extensive online research makes me more qualified to diagnose this. Just give me your scrip sheet, doc.


Clinic: There’s weighing involved. There’s weighing involved? It’s a face rash. Oh, good. I have to stand on the scale, but you’ll just trust me on the height? In that case, I’m 6’ 2”. That thermometer better go in my mouth.

Web Search: No scale. No measuring. No real solution.


Clinic: Although you might think so, the threadbare curtain shielding your room from my room, it’s not soundproof. So when you reveal those intimate details with the nurse, you know, the ones about the consistency and frequency of your bowel movements, I heard that. Good thing there is no possible way you heard about my face rash and the specifics of my medical history and my social security number that I shared even though no one asked.

Web Search: No one will ever connect the specifics of my symptoms with me…including a doctor.

Well, it’s pretty clear that it’s a toss up.

In most cases, I’ll discuss with Dad and worry until my symptoms subside. In some cases, I’ll do some research. In this case, I’ll take the steroids I was prescribed and wear cowl necks and scarves I can pull over my face if I have to leave the house before my rash surrenders.

Maybe it’s best winter has decided to stick around…

Categories: Emily

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6 replies

  1. Yeah. Get to the ER.

  2. You are the best. You’ll be happy to know I’ve ruled out Rubella.

  3. Again, I stand with benign neglect. Rash, what rash? I don’t see a rash…

  4. Hilariously written but I do hope you are completely recovered by now!! As silly as it sound, I personally use nappy rash cream like Sudocrem (A&D ointment in the US?) on anything rash-y coming up and usually works magic! If it is good enough for a baby’s bottom, it must be good for anyone’s skin! : D

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