Bust A Cap(illary)

The term “leaky capillaries” has to be among the grossest in existence. But perhaps that was by design, to complement the sight of the skin phenomenon with a phrase that was equally as foul. Gordon Brampton ought to know—he had seen his fair share of them. He just never thought he would become among that share. As a dermatologist in Dublin, it was a running joke that people with broken capillaries were what kept the lights on at a dermatologist’s office. Leaky capillaries, however, were something else. Better known as pigmented purpura. Or Schamberg’s disease…to the dermatologists who respected instead of resented (a.k.a. were jealous of) Jay Frank Schamberg, the man who first described what the condition was in 1901. Who knows how long pigmented purpura had been around before that point? Schamberg just happened to be the lucky bastard to further his career by encountering and documenting it.

Gordon still hoped that he, too, would one day have a skin condition named after him. Though he knew it was a long shot. Every skin anomaly on this Earth seemed to have been well-accounted for. And each time he thought he might have stumbled onto something new, he came to find that there it was: already locked and loaded in the proverbial “dermatology bible.” He had always prided himself, however, on being the smoothest, most immaculate-skinned dermatologist in Dublin. Everyone else didn’t seem to bother to use the tools at their own disposal. Never correcting their facial “impurities” stemmed from years of hard, sustained drinking. Alas, while Gordon might have been able to laser away the broken capillaries that appeared on his face, he could not do the same to the “leaky” capillaries that began to announce themselves in patchy swatches all over the bottom of his legs. As he was well-aware, there was no “known” cause for these sudden flare-ups. The only “explanation” was that, for whatever reason, the capillaries just at the surface of the skin would get inflamed, prompting a resultant leaking of red blood cells into the neighboring tissues. This, in turn, left a rusty-hued redness behind that could last indeterminately. Or leave as quickly as it came. There was no real rhyme or reason, and that’s what Gordon hated perhaps most of all about the condition.

In most other medical sciences, there was always a highly-detailed cause. A logical reason for every condition. Not in this case. Everything was pure speculation. And that’s what drove Gordon to the brink as he proceeded to investigate further into the matter by experimenting on his own body. At first, he believed that certain fabrics pressed against the skin could be a cause. An “irritant.” Wearing pants that were too tight as opposed to loose-fitting might also be a factor. Yet all of that was negated when considering that pigmented purpura was something that more commonly occurred in men as opposed to women. And since women were more prone to wearing tight clothing (including, what else, tights) made of synthetic fabrics, his sartorial theory felt paper-thin. As paper-thin as an elderly person’s skin, as a matter of fact. But he couldn’t deal with that vision at the moment—all he could see was the rust-toned mass on the right side of his calf area. He imagined the sadistic fun his red blood cells were having as they released their iron directly into the surface of his epidermis. Making a mockery of Gordon and his role as a dermatologist, useless to him in a situation like this.

Other theories he had heard about with regard to cause included “immune system response” or “poor circulation,” which meant the person in question was potentially not active enough. But Gordon was always moving. He exercised regularly to offset his drinking addiction. Which he could at least take comfort in as a reason for the broken capillaries that appeared on his face. But leaky capillaries, oh, how infernal they were. He would have preferred them to just be broken as well. It would’ve made the cosmetic treatment so much less frustrating and futile. He supposed he could’ve continued on pretending to ignore their existence on his legs were it not for the fact that every bird he brought home to shag made a comment about it. Asking him what it was and touching the area like it was some kind of grotesque novelty. Upon seeing it, they would always seem to leave soon after, never to be heard from again. Maybe they thought it was a genetic condition that could be passed down to any potential children they might have with Gordon. But no, as far as anyone could tell, pigmented purpura was not related to genetic heritage. Sometimes he wondered if he should lead with that, but then, there was always the hope they might not notice the angry red splotch or splotches. They never failed to of course. And when he tried to conceal them with especially high socks, he then ran the risk of being talked about as the freak who fucked with socks on.

What was the solution, then? Gordon was truly at his wit’s end, and felt increasingly unfit to be a dermatologist if he couldn’t solve this issue. So he decided he would have to do so by more unconventional methods: by busting a cap(illary) on his own ass. No, he wasn’t going to shoot himself in the legs, per se. But he was going to beat the shit out of them with a mallet to render the leaky capillaries broken. Like all violent plans, however, it didn’t take very long for things to go extremely awry. As Gordon knocked back swig after swig of Jameson to help numb himself via “liquid courage,” he found it surprisingly easy to inflict harm upon his own body. Yet he hadn’t accounted for his neighbor in the apartment next door overhearing the commotion and calling the police as a result. The nosy fucking biddy. It figured that acts of “goodwill” only seemed to transpire when you didn’t want them. So it was that before he could finish, well, “breaking himself” (or at least his blood cells), Garda interrupted him. Allowed to burst into Gordon’s home under suspicion of harm being done, the sight they beheld was truly gobsmacking. A naked bald man sitting cross-legged with a mallet in his hand and an empty bottle of Jameson next to him.

It also didn’t take long for the two officers who had been called to the scene to notice that Gordon’s legs were bloody pulps. If they hadn’t come when they did, he might have crippled himself entirely. On the way to being taken to the hospital, one of the gardaí inveigled Gordon to explain why he did what he did. To which the officer’s expression softened and then shifted to one of outright pity, as though he didn’t want to say what he was about to next, but felt that he had to. “Y’know, me sister had that as well. She got herself a bit of that ultraviolet light therapy done on it and it hasn’t been back since. That was five years ago now.” Gordon said nothing. The officer concluded, “Maybe you ought to think of gettin’ the same thing done.”


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