No problem, said the dermatologist, we’ll just inject a little steroid right there and it should clear up. And she was all ready to stick a needle in the side of my neck immediately, until I said, “Whoa. Whoa. Whoooooaaa.”
Look, I tried to explain in a way to encourage as few questions as possible, I need to know what kind of steroid, I need to check it out, there are things I’m not allowed to take as an athlete.
She still had a lot of questions. It’s a totally fine steroid, it shouldn’t be a problem, she said, it’d be just like if I gave you a steroid cream.
Also not allowed, I said.
Really?? she said, who knew.
Apparently, not doctors.
I went down another Googling hole then. Turns out there is a WADA-associated website and a phone number where you can check your prescription, which is good, fantastic, so great. Of course, it takes no liability for anything it or you might get wrong, but still. Helpful. (Side point here: Do you want to guess what is the most frequently searched substance on the site? Causes the most questions? Marijuana. To be fair, with the widespread legalization and inevitable proliferation, I’ve got some questions about the effects of secondhand smoke too.)
And, yeah, sure, all of this is unlikely to be or cause an issue for me. I’m just trying to treat this weird bump of scar tissue. I’m not racing triathlon for months. Who cares about me anyway. But I want to be sure, like really sure.
As far as I could tell from the Googling, the steroid (Kenalog) is used in dermatology as a mild anti-inflammatory to clear up rashes or allergic reactions. And, oh yeah, also used in some stronger variation — I don’t know, I’m not a scientist — by sketchy athletes to inject intravenously or straight into their muscles/joints during long competitions as a performance enhancer. See: the Tour de France. Because people are insane. (There’s going to be some cycling douche now on Twitter who’s going to be all snide about the fact that I didn’t know this before, because that’s basically what Twitter is for.)
I spent some time confirming that 1. It’s totally allowed out of competition, 2. It’s always permitted locally topically or subcutaneously (injected just under the skin), which was what I’d be getting, and 3. The version I’d be taking was some tiny fraction of the dosage that’s a problem anyway. Having satisfied myself that I was following both the spirit and the letter of the law, I went back this week to get the injection and the bump has already started to go away.
But, like, whoa. This whole thing is stressful.
[None of which is to offer any kind of an excuse for anyone. But is simply my experience, which people should talk more openly about in the first place, so the whole topic would become more transparent, which then makes it easier to address and tackle head-on, instead of being shadowy and mysterious — the mystery being half of my problem in the first place anyway.]