Whenever I change shoes, I endure a period of time when my feet have to press themselves into the insoles and teach my new chassures their ways. The friction and the emptiness between them leads the balls of my feet to fill with fluid which grow large and painful. Then they pop. An annoying flap of skin hangs in their place.
My mother used to tell me about how Calvin Coolidge’s son died because he popped his own blister with a needle. I have since learned that this isn’t bad if you have a clean needle, but recently I did something very stupid: I stripped the loose skin where the blister had been and paid for it in soreness and risked infection.
Only after I performed my little surgery did I learn that one shouldn’t do that. The skin forms a natural bandage and eventually reconnects with the foot to form a callous. I had to rub the exposed spot with antibiotic ointment and cover it with a bandage. When a large blister formed on the other foot, I left the skin in place, covered the area in ointment, and held it in place with a bandage. Oh, what a difference it made!
My dermatologist had me strip down to my underwear while her nurse watched, then had me lie down on the examination table while she scanned my skin with a black light. The white spots on my well-tanned arms gave her no cause for concern; the moles on my extremities seemed normal. But then she took out a can of freon and sprayed an area on my left cheek bone.
“There was only one pre-cancerous area,” she announced. “It’s gone now.” She went on to explain that it wasn’t unusual for basal cells to form on the left side of the face because that is the unshaded side when we drive. After she told me to make an appointment for next year, she told me to get some sunblock and use it.
Now there is another test that I routinely get: my endocrinologist measures my Vitamin D levels. A few years ago, they were lower than they should be, so she urged me to start taking supplemental doses to bring them up. The main symptom that I felt was a sustained, moderate depression. Weeks after I began taking the extra gel tabs, I started feeling better. I also started wearing shorts when I walked so that a larger area of skin would be exposed to the sun.
We get our Vitamin D from two sources, primarily: fortified milk and the sun. Vitamin D production is our version of photosynthesis. This is why psychiatrists and other doctors recommend that we get enough sunlight. But the recommendation clashes with what the dermatologist wants of us. Too much sunlight gives us skin cancer.