Modern medicine is wonderful. It truly is. I’ve trudged through so many colds, flus, sprained ankles, broken noses, food poisonings and actual poisonings that I get thank you notes written on the backs of med student loans. By every historical standard I should be dead. But just when I think, “Nick, you’ve done it this time. You knew running in a hurricane was stupid but you just couldn’t resist the siren’s call of puddle-jumping in the subway. You’re a goner for sure,” science grabs me by the hair and yanks me right back into life. Bless those doctors working the emergency ward, because they are miracle workers when it comes to stupidity-induced injuries.
Non emergencies, however, are not their specialty. You don’t see many pictures of me, Culture Shockers, because I fight an ongoing battle with Acne Vulgaris – the grandiose medical term for pizza face. I’ll spare you the gruesome pictures but just imagine my normally fair, Slavic complexion turning the color and consistency of a blood orange.
Where most people might shrug it off and develop a personality, I was obsessed with finding an instant cure. Antibiotics, it turns out, are incredibly effective at killing the germs that cause acne. So long as you replace the bacteria in your gut that help you digest it’s an easy fix (a daily yogurt is enough to solve the deficiency). If you’re a forgetful idiot (like me) then prepare yourself for constant tiredness. If you’re allergic to Tetracyclines in general (me again) then you might find yourself wearing tin foil hats and peeing in jars.
And I’m only half joking. Antibiotic-induced paranoia is a real thing. Coupled with the effects of marijuana (which is basically the second source of air pollution in Boston) it can develop into full-blown panic attacks. Having a hard time focusing in your Chem lecture? Try 20 mg of adrenaline. Sure it might destroy your kidneys and sense of well-being, but the brain memorizes everything in survival mode.
Worst yet, the changes are gradual; the drug is cumulative so it takes months to identify side-effects. That’s also about the time that benefits become visible. Sure, your skin will be flawless but your brain will be marinated in crazy sauce – then the acne will come back.
Not that it’s all bad. I ended up running the 2012 Boston Marathon on a charity bill – not because I felt compelled to better myself or go the distance, but because the 12 or so hours a week it took for me to train was 12 less hours talking to people whom I was convinced thought of me like a freshly laid poo.
*As of publishing this I have since switched medications (and started running in the mornings, which is surprisingly effective – your skin needs sunlight, who knew?) and noticed significant changes for the better. Still, it was a dick of a thing to get through.*
If there’s anyone out there feeling reclusive because of their skin, take my advice: don’t take anyone’s advice on this matter. It’s your body, decide for yourself what does and doesn’t work. Get outside and be social if you can but don’t be afraid to hole yourself up for a while too, at least until you heal.
But never, and I repeat never lose contact. Talk to someone, anyone, be it friends or parents or strangers online just to keep a dialogue. The people who care are the ones who don’t mind not talking face-to-oily face.