He's a doctor, and he plays one on tv (or the big screen, whichever)

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Since hitting my thirties forties, my body has gone a wee bit haywire, thanks to a combination of hormonal skirmishes and sour cream and onion potato chips.

To give you an idea, earlier this year I watched a tiny freckle on my collarbone inflate into a horrific skin balloon worthy of its own after school special. Circa 1983.

It was enough to land me an audience with a dermatologist, but not until two months later. The timing turned out to be less than perfect because as it happened, my ghastly growth heroically absconded from my neck exactly one week before my appointment.

It’s like my body isn't even trying to be normal.

Still, I kept my meeting, mostly because I wanted to make sure the rest of my beauty marks weren’t plotting a mutiny, but also because I thought I might be able to talk the good doctor into removing a bothersome bump located just below my left eye, which had been eliciting far too many “here let me get that smudge off of you” gestures from total strangers.

On the morning of my consultation, Geoff offered to drive, in case I inhaled too much rubbing alcohol and became unable to find my way home. Since I am incapable of parallel parking at the best of times, I took him up on his offer.

 In the waiting room, I was able to catch up on my reading while discovering an assortment of disorders and allergies I might start to develop as I age. When the nurse called me in, almost an hour later, I was grateful for the reprieve. That was, until she handed me a disposable sheet and asked me to strip down to my underwear.

“But,” I said, motioning towards my face, “I’m just here for this little bump…”

She left the room with the words “The doctor will be in to see you shortly,” trailing behind her.

As I sat, perched on the examining table, it struck me how utterly freezing the room was. I tried to stay warm by rapidly rubbing my hands together, which might have worked had I not accidentally grabbed and ripped my paper privacy sheet in half. And so, to keep my mind off my nudity, I started to compare the marks on my skin with the images on the posters covering the walls.

After diagnosing myself with several stages of skin cancer, I noticed some pristine utensils sitting on the counter-top in the corner. A syringe and razor blade were accompanied by a stash of cotton balls, paper towels and a tiny bottle of liquid labeled HurtBeGone or NoMorePain or something like that. Really, there was no reason not to feel panic-stricken.

That’s when Val Kilmer walked in.

“Hello,” he said as he reached over to shake my hand, “I’m a major motion picture star from the 80s and 90s and beyond, and I’ll be playing the role of your dermatologist today.”

At least, that’s what I heard.

He had a puzzled look on his face as he glanced at the torn paper sheet no longer covering me in any useful way. Then he proceeded to inspect my collarbone (inflamed mole) and the spot beneath my eye (skin tag). Following that, he asked me to lie face down on the table so he could have a looksee.

That’s when several thoughts occurred to me all at once…

GOOD LORD, a dermatologist is a SKIN doctor. I have skin ALL over my body. I am about to be inspected, close up and my doctor looks like Val Kilmer (post Top Gun). I did not groom today. Wait, is that a magnifying glass? 
At the end of the going-over, my dashing specialist told me that my skin was healthy. He even named a few of my moles and said I should probably keep an eye on them, then he said he’d be right back and left me to get dressed.

I was conflicted. Sure I felt violated but at the same time, I had just been given a clean bill of health, so really… double win!

When he returned, Val Kilmer had a can of liquid nitrogen tucked under his arm. That’s when I noticed he was wearing sandals. He had me hold my eyelid shut with my left hand while he blasted the hell out of a spot mere millimeters from my eye.

“This may or may not work. You’ll know either way in about two weeks,” he said as a slightly icy sensation turned to blazing hot pain.

“Ouch?!” I spat. To which he whispered, “Yes.”

Then he continued to burn my face for several more minutes.

Before I left, we discussed laser surgery which could remove a small spot on my nose that only I can see. In bright sunlight. Wearing three pairs of reading glasses. Val Kilmer told me the surgery might temporarily leave me looking like I have two black eyes, then he proceeded to punch me in the arm show me what to expect in terms of discomfort. I agreed to book an appointment.

After that, he bid me farewell.

Back to the waiting room, Geoff took one look my eye and asked, “Too much rubbing alcohol?”

“Yeah,” I replied, “Something like that.”

Fast-forward several weeks...

The skin tag that had been plaguing me for nearly 4 years first grew to epic proportions and then, without fanfare, disappeared without a trace – kind of like my modesty and now I feel like a movie star.
Thank you Val Kilmer. Thank you.

No, really.