So you're good? Great! Now that I've inadvertently reminded you that you can easily take me in a fist fight, let's talk about my bad skin.
Today I went to the dermatologist for the first time in many years. If my blog has not quelled your interest and you still feel the need to talk to me in person, you may have noticed that I have acne on my face and neck. I've always thought my acne could be categorized as severe-- my first dermatologist thought this, too, but chalked it up to the extraordinary hormone production that occurs throughout puberty. I put some goop on my face and started dating girls who saw past my rosacea and into MY HEART and basically forgot about the whole thing. When I was a big, beautiful grown-up, my life would be better, and my complexion would be Claritin-clear.
Chapter-skip ahead to learn that the bigness and beautifulness of Max as a grown-up remains completely divorced from the solving the acne issue-- though he likes to believe the blemishes on his soul are consistently clearing up, the skin legions persist, and persist. Now safely out of puberty at age 22, I'm forced to consider I may have a dreaded case of Grown-Up Acne. It was an overwhelming discovery, considering I only recently forced myself to consider I may have a dreaded case of GROWN-UP!!! CUTE JOKE RIGHT?!?!
Anyway, I went to the dermatologist. The office was cleaner than my face could ever hope to be. A blonde female nurse asked me about past medications, and then a blonde female doctor told me my acne treatment options. She explained my best choices were either birth control or Accutane.
Now, in my recent exploration and subsequent embracing of my masculinity, probably nothing sounds less appealing to me right now than taking estrogen pills. While I admittedly lack any real knowledge about the science behind it, I can anticipate deep shame and confusion about ingesting the very hormone that I regularly feel inclined to overpower with testosterone injections. I'm sure lots of masc-of-center queers (and cis men? SCIENCE SEEMS HARD) take birth control and are completely comfortable with it, but my brain is still a mess of gender sludge, and birth control feels like a variable I'm not prepared to introduce.
That leaves Accutane, a 6 month mega-treament that stops acne production for 5-10 years. When I inquired further, the doctor explained that Accutane is reserved for patients with 'severe nodular acne.' Basically, Accutane is what you use when nothing else works. Because I qualify for Accutane, you could say I qualify as a member of the esteemed Acne Elite.
As the latest member of the Acne Elite, I had to jump through a lot of Acne Elite hoops. Accutane has been known to aggravate depression in patients with histories of mental illness (HEYYYO!), so I have to start seeing a therapist again while on the drug, to make sure I don't go crazy banana king and deliberately Slip on The Big Peel, so to speak. I also got a hefty Accutane manual to go through, titled ISOTRETINOIN EDUCATIONAL KIT FOR FEMALES WHO CAN GET PREGNANT. I am totally fucking serious. Is it just me, or does the government seems suuuuper worried about my unborn child that I definitely don't want to and will not ever give birth to?!
That was a fun part of my discussion with the doctor. She politely asked me if I identified as female, but then remarked that "but, you know, because you ARE female" (AH, YES! FEMALE, TO MY VERY CORE!) I would still need to take pregnancy tests before and during treatment. Accutane has hella side effects, one of the most pressing being potential birth defects for any babies born while Accutane is in the system. Though I tried to explain to the doctor that my current romantic situation is a strictly sperm-free zone, she assured me that all 'females' are required by law to take mad pregnancy tests as we run this gamut. Apparently you have to take TWO different forms of birth control while on Accutane, unless you declare yourself 'abstinent,' which technically, I am! At the moment I am currently abstaining from all penis-endowed individuals. As a vagina-carrier myself, I know this can be an extraordinary concept, especially for the United States government, but onwards I go, radically here, and radically queer.
So, therapy, irrelevant pregnancy tests, got it. I can't really drink on the stuff and have to wear sunscreen up the ass, okay. She tells me I definitely cannot start any kind of hormone treatment for gender biz until after Accutane, which I'm fine with-- I firmly believe that gender manifests far more subtly than anyone will talk about, and I'm interested to see how I feel about my identity once my face undergoes such a dramatic cosmetic change. Testosterone will be there, and maybe when Accutane's over, I'll actually feel ready to make this decision.
In the meantime, though! The one side effect that genuinely willies me out-- BLOOD TESTS. I now have to get one once a month, starting today. Wait, today? Yep, today! Just head on down to the third floor and hand this packet to Allan. He'll know what to do. You can schedule your next appointment at the front desk on your way out. You have a good day now, Max!
Somehow I manage to get myself from the fourteenth floor to the third and actually respond when the nurse at the lab calls my name. The nurse is wearing red, which I can't decide if I appreciate or not. She looks at me sideways as she starts preparing the death trap.
"Yes. I don't freak out or anything, I just get nervous. Yes."
"Don't worry," she says, laughs, actually, did she just laugh at me? "I've only been practicing all day."
I watch her take out a pediatric needle and take a huge sigh of relief. For once, I want to kiss my own small hands.
She can't find a vein she likes in my forearms and finds something better in my wrist. She tells me it'll be worse for me if I don't breathe, because lack of oxygen makes veins collapse and the blood won't flow as quickly. I'm forcing breath in and out of my body but somehow I'm still not breathing, I guess? I can't look anywhere in her direction but I can tell she's frustrated with my performance.
"Hey, Allan? How much blood do I need for this young lady?"
She then looks up at me suspiciously. "Young lady?" she asks me. I inexplicably feel as though I am now flirting.
"Close enough," I choke out.
The nurse furrows her brows for a second then decides not to engage. Close enough?! What kind of sociopath am I?? Close enough? Max Delsohn spends four hundred million lamps worth of verbal light trying to illuminate the masculinity in him, and a medical professional asks him a well-meaning clarifying question and his only response is CLOSE ENOUGH??
The nurse starts asking me about where I'm originally from and I'm so relieved she's dropped the gender talk that my blood starts flowing naturally. "You must be feeling better now," she says kindly, smiling as she stares at the needle in my hand.
All right reader. That's it for me today. I won't start Accutane until September, so let's hug before I get all dried up, in addition to pasty, and finally achieve my final form of uncooked noodle. And don't worry about the stuff people say about Accutane on the Internet. Apparently it's all the rage in Europe!