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Stories >> Scabies Visit

Some time in 2002, I got scabies. I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but I'm highly suspicious of the traveling kids who stayed at my house just before I started to feel itchy. At that time, I had health insurance — so I did what I always did: look through the list of insurance-approved doctors and find one with a Jewish name.

If you've never had scabies before, it's bad. I think I might have seriously considered suicide if no treatment had been available, so I was happy when the dermatologist I picked could see me that very day. I rode my bike over to his office, but as soon as I walked in I knew I'd made a mistake. I did not belong in this doctor's office.

The waiting area was immaculate, fresh with a faint scent of cologne. On the table were a number of brochures for laser hair removal or collagen injections. When I told the receptionist that I was there for scabies treatment, he scowled.

I was eventually shown to a room with the requisite coldness, strange leather bed thing, and long roll of butcher paper. After the normal delay, the doctor entered. He did not seem pleased to see me. “Scabies, then?” he frowned. “I think so.” I replied. He looked at my rash under a microscope, confirmed that it was in fact scabies, wrote me a prescription, and told me about the treatment.

I have a number of moles on my back, and since I was there already, I asked him to look at those as well. He decided that one should probably be removed, and said he could do it at that moment. I consented, and he started the task of cutting it off. This whole time I was trying to ask him pretty specific questions about melanoma, but his answers were all absurdly condescending. “You see, melanoma is a type of something we call cancer. Cancer is a condition that affects these other things called cells.” Since he literally had a knife in my back, I gritted my teeth through his pattering.

After he was done, I mentioned “Well, I also have this strange discoloration on my neck.” He looked at it and asked, “Hmm, how long have you had this?” “I don't know, probably about three months now,” I responded. He put on magnifying goggles and looked closer. “Hmmmm...” he intoned. Never taking his eyes off my neck, he reached over with one hand and grabbed a cotton ball, then a bottle of what looked like rubbing alcohol.

He dipped the cotton ball in the contents of the bottle, rubbed it vigorously against my neck, looked at the cotton ball, nodded, showed it to me, and said “dirt.”

I closed my eyes and sighed.

“I don't know what the medical term for that is,” he continued, “but I'd recommend soap.”

At that, he stood up abruptly, walked out, and loudly closed the door behind him.