Thursday, June 30, 2011
Exactly one month ago, I was on a ferry between the Outer Banks of North Carolina and mainland Wilmington when my collarbone started to itch.
Sunburn, I thought.
But by the time our plane landed at La Guardia, the itching had spread -- across my chest, and down my arms, and onto my scalp and neck and ears. Fingers of raised, red irritation had begun to appear on my ankles and wrists. Worse, both Brad and the middle-aged stranger at the end of our row had both started to peer at my face in a disconcerting way.
The stranger was also a nurse.
"Honey," she said. "Are you allergic to anything?"
That was the beginning. I like to imagine what happened next from Brad's point of view: returning home, ordering pizza, and ultimately falling asleep next to a wife who was slightly splotchy, itchy and drowsy but otherwise none the worse for wear...
...and waking up to a lurching, swollen, unrecognizable creature who looked like an escaped extra from "Killer Bees 2: The Bumblebee Wrath".
I was stumbling around in the hallway with both my eyes swollen shut when he came out of the bathroom.
"I think I need to go to the hospital," I said.
Brad's reply, I believe, was, "GAAAAH!"
And so began the Days of Our Hives.
There is not much to be said about the Days of Our Hives. Except, you know, I had hives! I was given drugs! I came to the end of one round of steroids, only to somehow re-trigger a new allergic reaction! I was given more drugs!
The hives were always moving around, making a slow migration from one part to the next. On one day, they covered every inch of my torso with the exception of my right boob. The next, they crept in from the sides of my face until I appeared to be wearing a lucha libre mask made out of Rash. GORGEOUS. I scratched my legs and arms until the blood vessels burst and my skin was on fire, which was still less agonizing than the itching. I also enjoyed long naps in the afternoon, an inability to focus, and spontaneous crying jags during which I tearfully informed Brad that if this was going to be my life from now on, I was counting on him to murder me.
I also went to doctors. The best thing about an allergic reaction is how everyone wants to remind you that you are the one that caused it.
"What did you eat?" they ask. "Shellfish? Peanuts? Did you use a new shampoo? What did you drink? What did you touch?"
And then: "What do you mean, you don't know?"
Here's a fun exercise: Go on vacation to a location that requires a minimum of 8 hours of travel. Come back. Wait two days. Now try to remember everything you consumed or came into contact with in the past 72 hours.
If you can do this, congratulations.
If you can do this with a drug-addled brain and a full-body rash, fuck you. Liar.
...But that's all over now.
And since I'm sick of talking about hives, I'll leave you with this, instead. We're settling in to the new apartment, and our pretty new bedroom wasn't such a bad place to be an invalid.
Although it looks much, much better without a weeping, rash-covered woman sprawled on top of the duvet.