Your Epidermis is Showing

I’ve heard that regular exercise and strength building are supposed to improve your balance and by extension make you less clumsy. Allegedly. I’ve never been “fit” but I exercise pretty regularly, and my balance is pretty good and improving. I always have been and even with improved fitness, remain clumsy, so I’m pretty skeptical about that claim.

I had my annual dermatology appointment this week. I know most people don’t regularly see a dermatologist, but I have had cousins on both sides of the family with melanoma and even though I love summer, I burn like a marshmallow. I’m white and fluffy, and if you don’t pay close attention, I prepare New York for the coming of Zuul suddenly and thoroughly burn, and then, once cooled, the burned part peels off and I go back to being very white. I take sun protection and marshmallows very seriously.

roasting marshmallow
It me!

The first time I saw this dermatologist, he laughed at me. In his defense, he tried not to, and he really is very professional. But shortly before that appointment, I had accidentally scratched myself in my sleep. Not like “Look at Uncle Joey scratching himself in his sleep, hahaha gross!” I had fallen asleep with my hand under my face, and when I do this, occasionally something triggers the lingering, dormant traces of that infant reflex that makes a baby grab onto anything you put in their palm. Most of the time the scratch just wakes me up and I think “Oh, shit! I think I drew blood this time!” and then I touch my face and, finding it dry, go back to sleep. Except this one time, I actually drew blood. It was just a little scratch, no longer than half an inch. But, like any good physician, my dermatologist asked about the injury, and when I explained I had scratched my face in my sleep, he tried and failed to suppress a little laugh and explained that’s usually only a problem for infants.

So you can imagine my chagrin when, the day before my appointment this year, I again injured myself like the clumsy child that I apparently still am. And of course, it’s precisely the kind of injury that a dermatologist is going to ask about.

I scraped my knee on a retaining wall. I wasn’t running away from a villain, or racing to save a puppy from traffic. It wasn’t a new retaining wall or unfamiliar territory. I was just thinking about some plot hole in the movie Aliens (which we had just watched), and wasn’t paying attention to where I was walking. And now I have an angry strawberry on my leg.

For a strawberry, it’s shaped suspiciously like a banana…

My wonderful, sweet husband, gave me the benefit of the doubt. I exclaimed an expletive, and he assumed I couldn’t have run into the wall. I must have been bitten or stung by something. Sorry to disappoint you, babe. I actually am that stupid sometimes.

The doctor didn’t laugh at me this time. I guess knee scrapes are (understandably) more common than reflexively scratching your face in your sleep. Or maybe, if someone scratches their face in their sleep, of course they’re always going to come in with minor injuries. The reaction seems a little backwards though. It feels more acceptable to laugh at someone for doing something completely preventable, like walking into a clearly visible wall, than for something they can’t help and only do in an unconscious state. Okay, I guess the face scratching is technically preventable, but I’m not going to wear mittens to bed. Honestly, that would probably just result in the mitten material making a strawberry on the side of my face when my hand spasms shut, and that seems worse.

Be careful out there. Wear your sunscreen no matter what color your skin is. Sun hats and UPF clothing are your friends. And don’t let the retaining walls jump out to bite you, I hear the heat makes them aggressive this time of year.

2 thoughts on “Your Epidermis is Showing

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  1. Cute stream-of-conscience thoughts . For me the small injuries to one’s legs are real. The slightest scratch, bump or cut results in weeks of healing and antibiotics! (Due to age, poor circulation and blood thinners!). I have not, however, been known to scratch myself in my sleep! Clumsiness is common and often worsens with age and poor balance!

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