Had to go to a dermatologist the other day. Have two weird things going on… a lession on my inner thigh and a ring rash on my hand.

The lession started over a year ago. My GP gave me a immune system cream that basically caused my immune system to attack the lession (kind of a targeting cream for my immune system). After 30 days the lession was just about bubbled away (it caused a blistering type reaction) but then I noticed a small dime sized rash on my hand.

The lession has grown back and the small rash spread out to a ring-like red rash on the back of my hand. Looked this type of rash up on the net, and it appeared to be a lichen planus.. saw it had something to do with the immune system, put 2 and 2 together (immune system drug, rash developing at end of treatment) and googled lichen planus with the drug name and voila, found a medical paper linking the two (actual medical journal paper – peer reviewed).

Anyhow, my gp tells me he isn't sure what the hand thing is so sends me to a dermatologist. The dermatologist is a guy, and I have a real problem to undress in front of a woman (body image problem)so guy doc was better. And sure enough, the first person to enter my examining room is a female medical student. Sitting there in my underwearwas not very confortable, but decided to just grin and bear it. She goes over my body with a bright light and magnifying glass(as it is my initial exam). Suprisingly, I was not really bothered… thought, okay,this young woman is a doctor/scientist and my skin is the specimen and she is simply observing, taking notes and throwing out questions.

Then in walks the doc. Nice guy; he repeats the whole exam, asks the student what she thinks of the two abnormalities and then talks to her, giving us both a lesson in granular annularis and sebhorrheic keratosis. Then he says to her, 'now we have to make sure it's not something similar, so we have to ask the patient more personal questions'

He then asks me how many sexual partners I've had, when was my last sexual experience, have I ever had a homosexual relationship, and have I ever had sex with a prostitute. I answered the personalquestions without pause, but then shame hit me. Now most guys might be ashamed at having way too many hook-ups or not remembering what happened after a drunken run of weird sex or poor decisions. I got hit by the shame of telling a doctor my age and a medical student less than half my age that I hadn't had much of a sex life.Two women, the wife I seperated from 22 years ago, the other, a friend I spent a couple of nights with 8 years ago. That's it that's all. The doctor wanted a lab test of each of the problems, but was leaning towards the idea of HPV being the cause of my inner thigh lession. That didn't make sense to me, but I was too numb at that point to care.

He left and the student started to take the samples. My earlier friendly demeanour was now cold as I laid there, embarrassed at my answers, at my life, at my loss of feeling like 'just another guy'. I wasn't, I knew I wasn't and now they knew I wasn't. I was again the weird loner, the bell curve outlier, the social freak. For me, to admit my lack of sexual history was very emasculating.

What digs in even more… looking up the HPV hypothesis, it would appear that if the doctor believed me, he would have discounted the possiblity. HPV goes away after a year or two, (especially in guys). Skin effects of HPV do not occur 7 years after sexual contact. So, he must have thought the idea that some guy was sexually inactive for 8 years must be so odd as to be not believed.

So now the initial wave of shame becomes anger, some towards the doctor for not believing me, and some directed at myself for still being sosocially inept and sexually inactive.

And now, having told the world my feelings, I feel a bit better.

I don't expect my friends here will necessarily get this shame thing, but it's real, and it's intensity surprised me the other day. Male ego, shame, body image… nice big crap puzzle for me.

Peace, tout le monde

ps, anyone who actually could read thru all this bs, really should get a medal. Wish I could give you a karmic star.

2 Comments
  1. Solo_Hans 9 years ago

    Thanks Heather. Very kind words and thanks for sharing your experience. Sorry you had to go thru that. It must have been very distressing for you.

    Trex, man whore, no. Shame of being afraid… of rejection, of derision, of being myself. Being 50 and never having had the self confidence to ask a woman out on a date. Being 50 and not having the wherewithal to know how to act in a social get together. Being 50 and still not fitting in.
    Being an adult is rising above fears. Being a man is having confidence in who you are. At least that's my view of it.

    Ive been working on my self image problems for a year and a half now. I do think I have made progress. But experiences like my exam and questions like yours make me look deeper and remind me that decades of thinking negatively can't be overcome easily. Thanks for your comment.

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  2. Solo_Hans 9 years ago

    Thanks for the comment Artist.
    It's not the lack of sexual activity… it's the reason that there's a lack of sexual activity. It was not a choice arising from my sense of personal
    moraliry, but from my fear and poor self-image.

    To those that choose to be celibate or have only 1 partner for religious, moral or just personal preference, I applaud their choice. But that wasn't true in my case.

    Peace

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