My skin is not the best skin. In 2021, I had surgery to remove an invasive skin cancer from my nose. I’m committed now to a life of sunscreen. But there was another problem with my skin… one lurking beneath the socks. A brownish-grey discoloration on my feet that was spreading up the back of my legs. The spreading was a big concern, so I sought medical advice.

  • In Q1 2020, a doctor identified it as a classic case of athlete’s foot and prescribed a 2% cortisone concoction, didn’t work.
  • In Q4 2021, a dermatologist identified it as athlete’s foot, prescribed me a $200 anti-fungal ointment, didn’t work.
  • In Q1 2022, that same dermatologist got mad at me for using the whole tube of $200 ointment and told me to refill the prescription. I squeezed out the dregs instead, didn’t work.
  • In Q2 2022, a month later another dermatologist at the same office skipped past the cancer screen and prescribed a $25 anti-fungal cream for the foot issue, didn’t work.
  • In Q4 2022, an allergist saw the discoloration on my legs and prescribed me a $25 antihistamine cream, didn’t work.

Now, Q3 2023, and the problem still hadn’t resolved itself. I’ve been living with this gnawing feeling about the incurable fungus crawling up my legs… that is until I saw a new dermatologist!

After a cancer screening (no cancer, yay!) I explained the athlete’s foot situation. He looked at my legs and said plainly, “That’s not athlete’s foot. It’s Disney Rash.”

Excuse me!? There’s no way “Disney Rash” is real. Sensing my doubt, he explained that Disney Rash is an exercise-induced vascular issue where the heat and blood pumping causes fragile capillaries in the legs to burst, leaving small iron deposits which causes the ruddy discoloration. Not uncommon among visitors to Disneyland, hence the name. The non-exercise-induced version is Shamberg’s disease, that’s what I have.

So… it’s not an incurable fungus crawling up my body after all. It’s my weird skin being weird. What a relief! Shamberg’s disease is an incurable disease, but it’s not life threatening nor a reason to nuke the shower with bleach everyday. Instead of a $200 cream, he prescribed a bottle of over-the-counter Vitamin-C. Incredible.

I bring this up to prove all doctors are lying vipers because if there’s one thing that I believe, it’s that having a pathway forward for you health is life-changing. The difference between having a pathway forward versus no pathway forward is magical and makes me light-headed to think about. Less uncertainty, less shame, less burden. For years I’ve been queasy and embarrassed about the mystery fungus consuming extremities infecting anything it contacts… all for nothing. I’m not a “get a second opinion” guy (or fouth opinion in my case), but I’m sort of turning into one. Even though doctors do a lot of schooling, I’m realizing their experiences inform their intuition, just like regular folks.

Anyways, health. Take care of yourself. Please. Go see a doctor about that weird foot fungus because it might not be a foot fungus at all. This past couple months has driven home to me the idea that good health is fragile. We will all encounter some medical uncertainty in our lives –some trivial, some serious– and my hope is that you find a pathway forward for whatever ails you.