On Saturday my 10-month-old woke up with a rash all over her torso and neck. I did a quick interweb search for rashes and found myself confused, disgusted and questioning every possible cause – food allergy, virus, diaper rash, full moon.
There was only one logical thing to do – call the family doctor. Also known as my brother.
Despite living 1500 miles away, my brother has seen more of my rashes and skin ailments, and fielded more of my random medical questions, than any other physician in my lifetime. Having a doctor in the family is a dream come true for a hypochondriac like myself.
Throw my mother and sister in the mix, and this guy deserves some sort of humanitarian award for the hundreds of illnesses – or lack thereof – he has diagnosed by phone for us.
Case in point: This weekend my mother was visiting. Yesterday she hobbled into the kitchen and explained that she had a sliver in the bottom of her foot. She was clearly concerned and in pain, and probably envisioning an infection or amputation in the near future.
She did not want to attempt removal for fear it would hamper her ability to maneuver in the airport that afternoon. I convinced her to let me look, secretly hoping for an opportunity to use my tweezers. As I peered closely at the protruding poker, I realized it was not a sliver, but an eyelash. That’s right – an eyelash. I gave it a slight pull – really more of a wipe – and voila, my mother was healed.
If I had not been there to solve this medical crisis, it’s not too much of a stretch to assume there would have been a call to my brother from the airport.
As if having a family of alarmists isn’t enough, my brother is blessed with two sisters who between us have the most sensitive skin on the planet. You cannot imagine the number of photos I have emailed or texted him of inflamed rashes and pussing blisters. I wish I could say they were contracted from something exciting, like touching a wild plant while on safari, or a male stripper while in Vegas, but no – most of them were caused by boring things like band-aids or surgical tape.
Occasionally I feel guilty that I never call my brother to chat about regular things like the weather or a great new movie.
But then I tell myself that maybe I’m doing him a favor. I am giving him the opportunity to test his medical know-how and experiment with treatment options! Surely having rashy relatives is almost as good as having a cadaver in his basement. Almost.
My brother is coming to visit later this week. I’m excited to spend quality time with him outside the context of my ailments. It will be good for him to see that I am not always slathered in hydrocortisone cream. I am more than just an allergic reaction waiting to happen.
But if I’m being honest, I am also making a list of medical questions about myself and my family just in case there’s a lull in the conversation. Because seriously – what the hell is that rash on my husband’s eye? And why do my feet always tingle? Does this bump on my daughter’s arm look normal?