The Answer to the Dots: Derm Weighs In!

I took my crazy Rachel body to the dermatologist’s this morning, in order to ascertain what the fudgie-the-whale is going on with my weird leg spots. Thankfully, my husband was able to take yet another morning off, despite it being another week of his new faculty orientation. A side note about that whole thing is how silly the military is about some things: why is he having to spend weeks orienteering himself to a campus at which he just spent his last full year? I’m pretty sure he knows where all the bathrooms are, and how to find the library?

I know I’ve mentioned the leg torture machine, here and there. This is the CPM machine, with my leg bending at 70-degrees. I have to use it 6-hours a day. I put my leg in, and it bends my leg to a prescribed degree, then bends it back to neutral, over and over again, until the end of time. It’s truly the best time ever.

I know I’ve mentioned the leg torture machine, here and there. This is the CPM machine, with my leg bending at 70-degrees. I have to use it 6-hours a day. I put my leg in, and it bends my leg to a prescribed degree, then bends it back to neutral, over and over again, until the end of time. It’s truly the best time ever.

 

I’ve been out of the “working” world for so long, that I get ambitious for a 9 am appointment, thinking that I can shower and get my makeup on, you know, look human, beforehand. I get the idea that if I get up at 7-7:30, I can accomplish the goal of leaving by 8:30, and be on time. Like always though, I left in sweatpants and a t-shirt, with my teeth brushed, and nothing more.

 

Honestly, if I had to get a real job again, I think it would be tragic for everyone. The poor peoples of the public sphere would be forced to see me straggly-haired and hideous, because I simply cannot stop snooze-buttoning, and/or I would drive my family crazy with flurrying around the house to get public-ready.

 

One of my favorite pictures of Mew from this week. He is a super anti-social cat, but he adores me, and his evening snuggles against my chest. This is his jealous face when I dared to give Bear a little scratch during Mew’s time. I thought it was adorable. My favorite part of this photo was that when I showed it to Bryon, he totally didn’t get it. He was like, “What? it’s the cats??” Non-cat people don’t get their little personalities. I think I might be crazy, and recognizing it is the first sign. I don’t want to do anything about it, but I do recognize it.

One of my favorite pictures of Mew from this week. He is a super anti-social cat, but he adores me, and his evening snuggles against my chest. This is his jealous face when I dared to give Bear a little scratch during Mew’s time. I thought it was adorable. My favorite part of this photo was that when I showed it to Bryon, he totally didn’t get it. He was like, “What? it’s the cats??” Non-cat people don’t get their little personalities. I think I might be crazy, and recognizing it is the first sign. I don’t want to do anything about it, but I do recognize it.

Anyway, back to the dermatologist! I couldn’t believe how busy this place was for a 9 am appointment! She’d already seen and cleared patients before we’d gotten there. I’m impressed with someone who is up and working before 9 am, on a Monday morning (back to my previous morning laziness). One thing chronic illness will get you, if you can afford it, (thank goodness for that!) is the ability to sleep in, on a Monday morning, without judgement.

 

The best part of this appointment was that it was totally unnecessary. But, of course I couldn’t cancel it because of the whole, “we’ll charge you $50 if you don’t cancel it by 5 pm the day before,” which was Friday. This is what my leg looked like this morning when we went in, despite the hideousness that it was last week:

Two things come to mind when i see this: first, i’m almost healed from the plague I had last week: and second, I used to have wicked calf muscles. Damn, it’s going to take a lot of work to get back to normal. Don’t surgeons know that I’m over 40. It takes 10x the amount of work to gain muscle and tone we lose when we lose it! Gaaaah! Not looking forward to this

Two things come to mind when i see this: first, i’m almost healed from the plague I had last week: and second, I used to have wicked calf muscles. Damn, it’s going to take a lot of work to get back to normal. Don’t surgeons know that I’m over 40. It takes 10x the amount of work to gain muscle and tone we lose when we lose it! Gaaaah! Not looking forward to this


I was pretty sure that this was going to be a waste of time, or that worse, she was going to be willing to take a biopsy, “just in case.” No one wants their skin sliced and diced just for the hell of it. Instead, she was the common-sense fairy, sent to deliver the most ridiculous diagnosis I’ve ever heard, and to both put all my fears to rest, and to make me feel like I’m, indeed, the most broken body in the universe.

All prepped for slicing and dicing me, if the need arose. Phew. It did not.

All prepped for slicing and dicing me, if the need arose. Phew. It did not.

 

I had an allergic reaction to, wait for it…Cold.

 

I did not have frost-bite. Apparently, that presents differently, so let’s be exceptionally clear. I had an allergic reaction to cold. She had a complicated name to what the rash is called, with the suffix “dermis” in there somewhere. I tried to file it away for this very purpose, so I could sound smart and official; however, I forgot it before I even left the exam room.

 

Me: What did she call it, exactly?

Bryon: I don’t know? Something medical.

Me: You are not helpful.

Bryon: Never said I was.

 

Anyway, all the other potential diagnoses were complete garbage. Shingles doesn’t go away that quickly. Vasculitis doesn’t start with a bug-bite presentation the way this did. Frostbite, right out. This was an allergic reaction, and it was specifically obvious to cold being present on my skin 24/7. Apparently, the histamines just build up, and build up, and then say, “nope, had enough.”

 

Oddly enough, I was pretty sure it wasn’t frostbite to begin with, as I’ve had frostbite on my face before, from headaches and ice packs on my face, forehead and jaws. When headaches go on for days, sometimes the ice sits there for hours upon hours and I get patches of frostbite. It’s normally just red and patchy. It never looks like what happened on my leg. I was willing to believe the marks on my leg showed up in the “shape” of the ice placed on the area, but it still seemed a little far-fetched. So, I’m glad I have an easier to believe diagnosis; even if it is a silly one.

 

Oh, and apparently, it’s quite unusual. Yep, of course it is. When she said that, I was like, duh!

 

So, moving forward I have to remember that I am technically “allergic” to the cold, and I should be careful of over-exposure. I plan to use this to my advantage, pushing my “allergy” as a reason to avoid cold weather activities which I already loathe. There shall be no snow shoveling (as if Bryon would let me), no sledding, no snow….fill in the blank, of any kind. There shall be no winter’ing. In other words, I shall forever forth experience winter indoors, from the warmth of the fireplace, waiting to greet my boy with hot chocolate, as he comes in, pink-cheeked and wet with the moisture of hell-season.

 

Allergies. The perfect excuse to avoid something we hate anyway. Can I be allergic to uncomfortable conversations, social situations, and meeting new people?

 

In totally unrelated news, when we arrived home from our excursion to the dermatologist, I discovered that the cats had some sort of extreme play session that landed this toy, which came from downstairs, into the toilet, upstairs. I’m not sure if this means they really had a raucous good time; or, if they are telling me that they hate this toy so much that they had to deeply coordinate this maneuver to throw it out. Either way, it’s now in the trash. Crazy cats. With their crazy cat lady mama.

For some reason, two of my three cats are obsessed with this toilet. No matter how much fresh water they have, they drink out of it. When they aren’t drinking out of it, they are examining it. When I’m on it, they are watching. When I’m not, they are wondering when I’ll be on it next. Cats are weird.

For some reason, two of my three cats are obsessed with this toilet. No matter how much fresh water they have, they drink out of it. When they aren’t drinking out of it, they are examining it. When I’m on it, they are watching. When I’m not, they are wondering when I’ll be on it next. Cats are weird.

 

Oh…and at least this time, for a weird dermatology thing, we didn’t get caught, “humping,” as my son says, like at the lip biopsy appointment a few months back. Nope. On our best behavior.

 

I’m having a hard time transitioning my writing from M.A./Ph.D writing to undergrad. So my paper topic is way too big and too in-depth for a 15-page paper. I have an outline/plan for what could amount for a dissertation or a book. My professor keeps telling me so, and to narrow. I know I need to! But, this weekend, working on the big picture took me two solid days. This was the result: judgemental kitties who didn’t get enough attention while i worked away at my lap desk. Sorry Homer and Bear. Lots of treats coming your way.

I’m having a hard time transitioning my writing from M.A./Ph.D writing to undergrad. So my paper topic is way too big and too in-depth for a 15-page paper. I have an outline/plan for what could amount for a dissertation or a book. My professor keeps telling me so, and to narrow. I know I need to! But, this weekend, working on the big picture took me two solid days. This was the result: judgemental kitties who didn’t get enough attention while i worked away at my lap desk. Sorry Homer and Bear. Lots of treats coming your way.

 

When the Sun's a Black Hole

What no one tells you, when you finally get a diagnosis of a weird disorder, is that things like Chiari don’t like to play alone. “Yaaaaay!” You think to yourself, when the doctor gives you the grim news that you need brain surgery. Sure, that’s fucked up, but it means that you have hope of feeling better; and more, it means that you actually have been feeling like the shit you’ve been describing for months (or years) prior, and someone finally believes you. More, it means that the doctor believes you. He can point to it on an MRI, a tangible result. But, he neglects to tell you that the thing that you have, it’s just the beginning.

I learned this week that meds that I get to take forever, or maybe not (who the hell knows, anymore?) have made me allergic to the sun. I remember seeing a documentary once, when I was a kid, about a child whose mother had to keep her kid inside, twenty-four hours a day, shades drawn, because even a sliver of light would cause him to blister and peel, screeching in agony. Is this my future? I hope not! And, it’s likely not.

The other day, I was outside painting (working on a large sign for my boy, for Autism Awareness day—which he didn’t appreciate enough, but I’m not complaining—okay, I am), and noticed that my arms were itchy, and covered in red bumps. Since it was especially on my hands, I have enjoyed the three days since, trying to hide my hands from the public, so they don’t think I have a communicable disease, like the measles, when I do things, like complete a credit card transaction. Nothing says, “I’m not a leper,” like cramming your thumbs into the sleeves of your shirt, on an 80-degree day, and pretending it’s normal.

This is a damn big sign, right? Lots of time outside painting, lots of work, and it got over 150 nails with lights threaded through it too. He does actually love it. I just require a ton of praise for anything I do. I'm hard to please.

This is a damn big sign, right? Lots of time outside painting, lots of work, and it got over 150 nails with lights threaded through it too. He does actually love it. I just require a ton of praise for anything I do. I'm hard to please.

I’m really fair-skinned, and I’m always the first to burn. I don’t tan, I burn. Apparently, I’m Irish? I’m not even really sure. I’m one of those American mutt-breeds, with no real link to ancestry, except that I’m 100% positive that I’m Dutch. Do the Dutch burn?

Anyway, I’m careful to use sunblock; I cover up with lots of clothing, and even wear a hat. Yet, it was so warm, I took off my paint shirt, and worked out there in just a t-shirt, working away. In almost no time, I was covered in welts, not just the telltale ache of a burn.

I look forward to wearing flattering SPF50 or higher sun protective clothing. You know the type, right? Either flowing sundresses that look like they belong on The Golden Girls (don’t get me wrong, I love the GGs), or camp shirts that make me look like a park ranger (again, not that I don’t like park rangers, I’m just not one). I’ve acquiesced to a floppy hat, but I feel like this is a bridge too far. We’re going to Universal Studios this week, to celebrate the boy’s birthday, and I was literally browsing Amazon, trying to figure out ways to accessorize an SPF potato sack shirt with a belt. Help me.

A few days later though, the meds became too much. The rash was growing, instead of receding, and I’d not been in the sun any additional time. Plus, I was feeling terrible. I kept repeating how I just couldn’t put my finger on what felt terrible, just that I felt so awful. If you’d have asked, I’d have said that even my fingernails felt icky. All I wanted to do was lie down, but even that felt yucky.

I don’t read side effect lists of medications when I start them anymore, because I’m a hypochondriac. If it says that it’s possible to become spontaneously pregnant with a whale, I’ll be sure to birth the world’s first human-whale hybrid, on the spot. So, I usually give a med a fair shake, and then if I feel iffy after a while, I check into it.

This had been over a week, so I looked at the list, and under the, “if these side effects happen, stop immediately and contact your doctor,” were rash that looks like red pinprick dots, feeling sick all over, and irrational anger. Did I not mention that the sight of my husband made me so angry that I was having trouble restraining myself from not punching him in the face? My husband, who happens to be the most perfect partner in the world, and I wanted to smack him, just for asking, “what’s wrong? Why are you so mad at me?” I don’t know! But, stop being!

Do you like my "Honey, I'm the toilet, and getting ready to shower, but look at this rash that I'm suddenly, and immediately so concerned about that I couldn't wait for a more appropriate time to photograph it, and tell me what you think," photo? What? You've never texted your husband from the toilet? Okay, then you are a better, and classier person than I. So yeah, that's my bra on the floor, and those are my legs. And that's my hideous rash, and my dry hand, with all the moisture sucked out of it from painting a wooden board for three days on end. Meh, I text my hubby on the toilet. I could do worse things. I could've slapped him for existing.

Do you like my "Honey, I'm the toilet, and getting ready to shower, but look at this rash that I'm suddenly, and immediately so concerned about that I couldn't wait for a more appropriate time to photograph it, and tell me what you think," photo? What? You've never texted your husband from the toilet? Okay, then you are a better, and classier person than I. So yeah, that's my bra on the floor, and those are my legs. And that's my hideous rash, and my dry hand, with all the moisture sucked out of it from painting a wooden board for three days on end. Meh, I text my hubby on the toilet. I could do worse things. I could've slapped him for existing.

Yeah, so I’ve stopped that drug. I’m hoping that I’m allergic to the drug, and not the sun. I also hope that I'm not allergic to existing in the same house as my husband.  It would suck to be allergic to the sun. I've been off of it for almost 48 hours now, and I can already tolerate my husband's breathing much, much better, so thins are looking up.