Hivey New Years
It’s New Year’s Day 2016 and I’m home, as I have been all week, covered in hives, or a rash, or shingles, or something that hasn’t quite been diagnosed but is thoroughly unpleasant.
We returned from our Christmas trip to visit Colin’s family in Pacific Grove on Sunday and I woke up on Monday with a swollen eye and a light rash under my chin. On Tuesday, he drove me to the doctor who declared “probably allergies” (to what, we don’t know) and gave me a shot of prednisone in the butt and a six day follow up course of oral steroids. On Thursday, I was worse and we were back at the doctors with rash now on my abdomen, arm, and leg. My doctor walked into the room and made this face:
She looked very closely at all my itchy red bumps, asked a second doctor to come look, and then sent in a nurse with a camera to take pictures to email to the dermatologists. It being 4 o’clock in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve, they were already out partying, so we’re waiting for their expert opinions to come in on Monday.
In the meantime, I’m continuing my oral steroids, but we’ve covered all the bases with antibiotics (in case it’s a bacterial infection, which seems unlikely) and anti-virals (in case it’s shingles, which seems increasingly likely) and a prescription oral anti-itch/histamine/anxiety drug (for symptom relief that isn’t very relieving). I’m taking long, hot showers (I swear I’m in love with my shower wand more now than ever) and apply cold packs to my face and neck in order to resist the urge to itch.
Oddly enough, my ‘meditative discipline'(such as it is) has been the biggest help there. Observe the sensations without responding to them. Be mindful of what my hands are trying to do automatically and remain still. Know that the sensations are impermanent, they come and go, fade and return. Breathe. Focus on something else and let it hold my attention until the itch fades into the background. Repeat.
I just find it a somewhat odd way to ring in the new year. I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning between sipping coffee, crunching on toast, and popping four different prescription meds in one go. Some people went out, some people stayed in, but they’re all posting their New Year’s wishes and resolutions. I’m just trying to resist the urge to peel all the skin off my face and neck just to get some relief.
There’s no moral or conclusion to this story. It’s very much ‘to be continued…’ and I’m on standby for urgent care of the emergency room if things get scary over the holiday weekend.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in serious pain or danger. No fever, not shortness of breath, no fatigue (aside from what comes with the benadryl I take to get any sleep). The hydoxyzine I’ve been given for anti-itch also acts as an anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic medication, so my mood isn’t all that bad. I’m Netflix binging and I completed an entire series of scifi novels (The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey). I have Colin to bring me food and basically look worried (he’s handsome so it’s cute when he looks worried). The dog and cat are keeping me company on the couch.
But it’s a little sureal and discouraging. Time is now measured in how long until my next dose of whatever it is and I just wish any of it was doing any good. The rash is still spreading and it still itches, but between all the meds I’m hopeful that it will start to resolve soon. In the meantime, if anyone has some serious home remedy for a magic anti-itch cream, I’ d love to hear it.