Hi everyone! Your Faithful Correspondent here, covered in head-to-toe lesions. No, I’m not reporting from the Egypt of Moses and the Ten Plagues, just good old Chicago. Yes, it’s summer and I can’t show any leg, because I am disfigured. My good friend Mycobacterium leprae and I are just chilling, watching the girls in short skirts go by, feeling suicidal. Thankfully, according to my family physician, Dr. Google Health, advances in modern medical science have made “isolation of victims in “leper colonies” unnecessary.” Woohoo! This means I and my “disfiguring skin sores, nerve damage, and progressive debilitation” can still be the life of the party! What’s that? Your superhero-themed bash on Saturday is “canceled”? HAHA yeah right, you old trickster! I’ll be there, swaddled in mummy wrappings, as–wait for it–Leper Girl! Dun dun dun, aren’t I so deliciously Masque of the Red Death?
What’s that? You want to be a leper, too? Fabulous! Pull up an armchair, light another languorous cigarette (pff, lung cancer? leprosy will get you first!), and follow my easy step-by-step guide to becoming besties with M. Leprae.
1) Wake up one morning with itchy red bumps all over your legs and arms.
2) Test several theories. Allergies? Shaving irritation? Bed bugs? No? HELLS BELLS! Leprosy it is!
3) Run to the nearest pharmacy. Grab a kindly-looking, doctorish-seeming Indian man. Point to your arm and scream “HOW CAN I GET RID OF THIS?”
4) Self-conscious? Not anymore. Remember, every second you delay is another second the deadly virus eats away at your flesh.
5) Allow kindly, vaguely doctorish Indian man to lead you to the antihistamines and hydrocortisones. Sob quietly; buy whatever he places in your spotty, rotting hands.
6) Do not be alarmed if you lose a finger while purchasing Benadryl. This is a common side effect.
7) Take cold oatmeal baths several times a day. Look into the murky water and sob quietly over the wreckage of your life. Wow, if you bury your arms in the water, it looks like you don’t have any arms! … Oh wait.
8) Scream at your boyfriend. Helpful phrases: “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND ME!” “THIS ISN’T NORMAL!” “WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?” “I AM NOT BEAUTIFUL, STOP SAYING THAT!”
9) Perhaps now would be a good time to hire a maid. Ask her to rub aloe vera over your remaining limbs. Your boyfriend will not do it.
10) Sob quietly, and let the tears pour out of the cavities that once were your eyes.
(In all seriousness, Dr. Google, what is this horrible rash on my arms and legs and how can I get rid of it?!?)