Wednesday, January 27, 2010

accustomed to poison, by degrees.

hiking along the big sur coast a while back, i took this photo of some poison oak. pretty, isn't it? shiny, beautiful colors. i avoided it like the plague. didn't touch it, step in it, or brush up against it.

or so i thought:

it all started early one morning last week. five or six small, no...tiny "spider bites." shortly after they appeared they began to itch. and itch. and ITCH.

i was so mad at spiders. i've always been good to spiders. respectful, anyway. why would they come after me now, in the middle of the night? spiders are bitches.

then the little bites grew. in size and numbers. and intensity. by the third night, the itching was more intense and painful than any i've ever felt. (ala district 9 i wanted to rip through my skin to what i was certain were the alien bits underneath.)

i decided these couldn't be spider bites.

over the course of the week, as any human with access to the interweb should do, i self-diagnosed: 1) bed bugs, 2) shingles, and 3) scabies.

bed bugs occur to me because i live in new york city. i've blamed bed bugs for everything from playing loud hip-hop music outside our living room window to hiding my keys.

shingles sounds bad but didn't seem out of the question because, like many of you, i have the herp and every so often find that the city of elyria, ohio has packed up and moved to my right philtral column. (lazy wells is getting a cold sore just reading this.) i thought shingles was caused by that same herp-monster. (it's actually caused by the chicken pox virus.)

now. scabies.

listen, for those of you cocking an eyebrow, my friend the interweb says you can get scabies from bedding – sheets, comforters, pillows – and i've slept in about thirty different beds in the last four months. so i phoned a dermatologist friend. unbeknownst to me, the entire conversation was in code:

"have you, uhhh... have you engaged in anything that might lead to your having scabies?" the dermo asks.

"hell yes!" i shout. "twenty, thirty times."

(long, uncomfortable beat)

dermo: "does rob know about this?"

"of course!" i said, "he's been there for most of it."

cut to the chase: i don't have scabies.

finally, today, an actual live-and-in-person dermatologist doctor-type diagnosed, within seconds, poison oak.

poison oak?

"that's classic poison oak" she said. i made her repeat it about four times. i need repetition. i need repetition. the doctor obliged, gave me a prescription for a mega-ultra-cortisone cream, and sent me packing. tonight? it feels better.

here's one of the fascinating things i learned about bed bugs shingles scabies poison oak: none of the home remedies – including cold compresses, benadryl gel, cortisone creams, baking soda paste, calamine lotion, and even my own urine – worked. not a one. i did discover, however, that it is not as easy as you might think to pee on the inside of your own arm.

what worked amazingly well was running almost unbearably hot water over the affected area for about two minutes. while the water was basically cooking my arm, the area itched worse than ever causing me to shriek in pain, waking several neighbors and local sleeping animals. once the water torture was over there was absolutely no itching for anywhere from 6 to 8 hours. 6 to 8 hours. hot water draws out the histamine in your system which, among other things, causes your skin to itch. it takes your body 6-8 hours to regenerate this histamine, leading to an itch-free night of sleep.

so. spiders? sorry for dissing you, spiders. you're the shit. keep killing flies and little gnats. to all my rashy friends, stop peeing on yourself and start a-cookin'.

and stay away from that pretty, shiny plant. it's a bitch.

1 comment:

  1. Lols I have learned much, though I don't know if we have that stuff here in Australia.


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