While the dermatologist cuts away at my skin, he often jokes about how jealous he must make my boyfriend. He’s right; my boyfriend wants to be the one wielding the knife. After all, those biweekly trips to slice and dice my face, dick and balls are a painful and bloody ritual. It’s a real test of my nerves to watch the blade approach my crotch, watch the molluscum that covers an ever-increasing part of my body get cut away, watch the dark red flow of blood mixed with bits of flesh go down my legs.

My lover and I are into SM. If the cuts and screams that take place in my doctor’s office were taking place by candlelight in our bedroom, it could be a really hot scene. A test of commitment, strength and sacrifice as I surrendered my body to my lover’s will. How he would love to see me hold still for him, let myself be scarred for his pleasure.

But these cuts I endure on such a regular basis are a sign of devotion not to him and our relationship, but to my own vain sense of looks. Molluscum (caused by the virus Molluscum contagiosum) is a type of bulbous growth that somewhat resembles a milky wart. The condition won’t kill a person, but they can spread everywhere--sometimes at an alarmingly fast pace--and each one can grow bigger and bigger and bigger. I have nightmares of grape-sized molluscum all over my face.

The things terrify me. I don’t want to be ugly. I don’t want to look like the Elephant Man. I don’t want to look anything less than picture-perfect. And believe me, when you have 40 or 50 bumps all over your face, you don’t look perfect. When I really want to get scared, I think about what would happen if I took a guy home to have sex, and once my clothing was off he found these growths all over my dick. Bye-bye, blow job.

It just won’t do, so I willingly go under the knife. The visits used to last five minutes, but as my T-cells have declined, the length of the visits has gone up. Now I get 20 minutes of scraping. That’s all I can endure.

I used to approach the visits with a sense of manly challenge. I was going to kill those molluscum, wipe them out of existence--or at least off my body. The pain was bearable at first, because I had all those endorphins kicking around my body from the sense of battle: The showdown of me vs. the evil enemy out ot eat away at my good looks. But now, three and a half years later, it’s pretty clear who’s winning this war, and it ain’t me. And so my resolve has started to slip away. I ask for anasthetic now.

My lover and I talk about having him do the procedures. He has come to the doctor with me a few times to watch. Jeff, even the friendly, cheerful dermatologist, lets my boyfriend get in really close to see exactly how the knife is held, how the wrist is flicked to make the cuts. We’ve even procured the equipment we need, resourceful guys that we are.

My lover and I already share acts of pain and submission of our own choosing and find them exciting. Many times we have proudly displayed the by-products of these rituals: Cuts, bruises, scrapes and welts. They are a sign of commitment, a symbol of strength. But he molluscum isn’t a test of my choosing, and it’s difficult to enjoy the trials it brings.

To the outside world, one scar may look just like another, but for me the reason the scar exists makes a difference. The pain I might endure to please my lover is not the same pain I experience when fighting the molluscum--even, I suspect, if my lover controlled the knife and the two cuts appeared to be outwardly the same. Right now, I just can’t do it. I can’t turn a medial procedure into a sex scene. I wish I could. I’d save myself a lot of money, increase my sex life and improve my looks all at the same time. Talk about a whopper of a value.

The scars molluscum leaves behind aren’t that big; they aren’t disfiguring. Yet while the scars may be small, their symbolism is huge. The molluscum represents a challenge: The probably inevitably decline in my looks and health. I know I need to face this challenge directly and overcome my fears enough to be OK with myself no matter how I look. Turning the cutting of each molluscum into a sexual scene would be a powerful step in that direction. It would turn fear into joy and turn something that detracts from my sense of wholeness into a bonding experience with my lover.