this is not a story about how I have scabies

This is not a story about how I have scabies. Namely because I don't have scabies! But I thought I did, which made for a fun weekend.

Ten days ago I was getting ready for bed and Matthew noticed that I had red bumps all over my boobs and stomach. This had escaped my attention how? I do not know. They didn't itch and weren't horribly inflamed and I'm guessing they showed up that day. Whatever, allergic reaction. Goodnight.

Two days later they were horribly inflamed and were starting to itch. They had also spread to my back, my crotch, and were creeping up my shoulders to my neck. I am officially gross. I called my doctor's office - a group practice - and got an appointment for the next day. When I told M who I had an appointment with, he groaned. "I forgot to warn you about her," he said.

Several years ago, Matthew had MRSA and this woman, a nurse practitioner, diagnosed it as herpes and sent him on his way. And not just herpes but herpes in his NOSE. Nose herpes! It was MRSA which, in case you don't know, is a bacterial infection that eats away at your flesh. In fact, just the other day M showed me a pit in his shin where MRSA had gobbled him up.

So I wasn't psyched about baring my chest for this same lady but I felt desperate and went ahead, despite the fact that there are doctors that I surely could have bullied my way into. Regrettably, that makes the fact that I walked out of the clinic angry kind of my fault.

The nurse practitioner asked me a few questions and then said it looks like pityriasis rosea. Pity-wha? She said it usually starts with one larger red patch and then breaks out. Did I have that large initial herald patch? Nope. Oh well, anyway, it's often misdiagnosed as ringworm, she said. She had an intern go get a dermatology book and read aloud from it, punctuating the sentences with, "See? I told you!" Making me feel even less assured of her authority than I already was. You don't need to prove anything to me, lady (Actually you do, but you don't know that) you're just supposed to know what you're talking about.

She said there was nothing I could do except wait for it to go away, which might take a few months. I was all AGH! and then GR! and it was at this point that I put my shirt on and stormed out.

I was going to flash forward a few hours here to when I am at home moping, itchy, and mad at myself but I think I'll mention first the spectacularly irresponsible thing I did. I went to Nordstrom Rack and shopped AKA retail therapy AKA I need more clothes to cover this rash that is threatening to devour my entire body including my face. I already have armwarmers but I'm low on turtlenecks and ski masks. Because I was feeling grossly unattractive, my thoughts were developing along the lines of "Does my rash make me look fat?" Yes, I need a dress or two to cover up my fat, spotted ass.

Look. I have never denied being emotional.

Anyway, it was irresponsible not because of the money spent but because I was trying on clothes, rubbing my disease all over that stuff. Remember, I didn't believe it was pityriasis rosea, I was fixating on shingles, bedbugs, and scabies as new and contagious possibilities. Matthew and I went to dinner that night with Doug and Jacquie and I made a point not to bring up my scabes as I'd started calling them.

M and I started calling each other "scabes" instead of "babes". He gave me a pep talk that started with, "At least there isn't pus..." and he promised it didn't look that bad but given the fact that I have eyes, I knew he was just being nice.

On Saturday night, I wanted to see Jane who was in town but I'd gone into full-blown compulsive itching overtime. I went to the drugstore and stocked up on everything that might make my skin feel better: Calamine, Antihistamine, oatmeal bath packs. Matthew threatened to rub me all over with Tinactin. "What's that for?" I asked. "Jock itch," he said and I squinted meanly at him. And laughed. And then squinted again.

When Jane called I was in my oatmeal bath which, incidentally, was kind of torture. Partly because of my jockitchscabieshingles but also because I don't fit in bathtubs. I have to do yoga to try to get my whole body in the water and then I lie there wondering when it will be over. My child pose for the night was the one I created to get my tits and neck submerged. I flopped on my stomach and turned my head to the side, propping the side of my face up on the tub's incline.

When I finally extracted myself and called Jane back, I realized she was out with Seema, our friend who is a doctor. Yes! I would show Seema the rash and grill her on my prognosis while unwinding with a tasty beer. I meant to do this early in the evening but we got distracted by all the commotion in the street near our table: police interrogations, an unresponsive woman wheeled off on a stretcher, a cop walking by with a full sized stop sign, post, and street sign in his arms that someone ripped out. Kentucky is like that sometimes.

We moved on to our favorite local gay bar, Rosie's Tavern, where our neighbor was working. Shannon bought us a round and complimented me on my dress to which I did not respond, "Thanks, I bought it to hide a disfiguring condition, thanks a lot." Several pints later, I described my situation to Seema and told her I thought it was scabies. She asked if there were grey lines running between the bumps (scabie tunnels). No, I told her, there weren't, Matthew already looked for that with his microscope.

Seema laughed and said something about how special it is that he has a microscope. Oh, I mean, magnifying glass. Not microscope. I maybe should have talked about this when I was a teensie bit more sober instead of yelling over the jukebox about microscopes. She said it sounds like pityriasis rosea which would have been awesome if it were treatable / anyone seemed to know what to do about it.

I called the practice back on Monday and demanded a reference to a dermatologist. I saw the dermatologist. I told him I had an Icelandic honeymoon to go on soon and did not want my being a leper to get us kicked out of the thermal baths. It would be a funny story later but I don't actually want to be banned from the Blue Lagoon. The dermatologist was nice and grandfatherly and said, "What you have is something called pityriasis rosea."


The good news was that even though we don't really know why it strikes - maybe it's viral, maybe not - you don't have to just sit around and take it. I got a shot in the hip, a steroid cream, and an order to get sun. Within a couple of days it was looking a tragillion times better. Yee haw.

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