Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In Which I Resemble a Medical Experiment Gone Wrong

Okay, I write this to you with one hand. The other is firmly being sat upon to keep me from using it to scratch my back. My hopes were in vain. Last year, I survived the first two Chinese medicine summer herbal plasters without blisters and just some itching. That changed with treatment 3. Blisters erupted (sorry if that's too much information--apparently the Chinese are the only people in the world who think you can slap a mustard plaster down on exposed skin and survive). Life was miserable for a few weeks. And then it went away. And the memory of the horror receded.

So I wondered this year: would my skin be tougher, having survived Round 1 of The Treatment From Hell? Or would my skin be more sensitive and immediately surrender to freaky science fiction looking, medical mystery status? The latter won. Sunday night was okay, but overnight, while I slept the just sleep of the tired tucked safely in my bed with a certain little piebald kitty on my chest, my back was transformed into something resembling what was probably a common sight during the plague years.

Now, my friend T, who is undergoing this penance, too, and I are modest women of a certain age. But we have been calling each other to exchange horror stories. She stopped by on her way to the grocery store last night, and I immediately whipped up the back of my t-shirt to flash my  beleaguered back to her. There's nothing like a shared nightmare to make all modesty fly out the window. This always happens in science field stations, too. People who were complete strangers a week before will happily discuss things one normally only details to your doctor, like their gastro-intestinal tracts and a catalog of insects which have burrowed into the skin, like lifelong friends and bosom buddies. Two of my coworkers, both mothers and therefore immune to shock, have asked to see my back.

Why do this, you sanely ask? Well, because it did work. While my coworkers were sneezing left and right this spring, I had nary a sniffle. The possibility of having my allergies vanquished for good is too tempting. One coworker asked me which was worth it: enduring this for no sneezing, or just suffering through my allergies but not being so itchy and red and plague victim looking. I have such miserable allergies here, and they last months long. I've decided that sacrificing myself for science is the better option. Stay tuned next spring, when we'll see if the Return of the Allergies occurs. Will Mossy invest in pallets of tissues and Sudafed as in years past, or will she trip lightly through spring, breathing deeply and freely and pitying her snorky friends as they sneeze their way to misery? Only time will tell.

The sad thing is I'm pet-sitting for J, who is off to San Diego to do sciency things. She left me the key to her community pool. But I really don't want to frighten anyone. In general, my pale, pasty, succumbing-to-gravity body would be frightening enough, but right now my back looks like I should be in some isolation ward somewhere. Don't want anyone trying to have me quarantined.

Although more vacation would be nice...

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