Wednesday, June 20, 2007


The good news is that I can still eat Chinese food---I'm not having an allergic outbreak of hives because of something weird in the Buddhist Delight. The bad news? It's not hives. How I wish it were hives. Hives can be cured with a short burst of steroids and a strict avoidance of the trigger allergen. Other than the fear of developing a resemblance to the East German women's swim team, it's a pretty quick fix. What I have, on the other hand, something called pityriasis, likes to linger. It hangs around for, say, 4-16 weeks. You heard me. Between 1 and 4 months. But, the doctor tells me, all chipper, it goes away by itself! There's no cure! Try not to scratch and make it infected! I guess you won't be wearing a bikini anytime soon! [Slim chance of that, but definitely not now.] Try not to get overheated! [Um. Summer. Northeast. 1930's house, no air conditioning?]

If this isn't the cosmic kick in the head that I've been anticipating, I'm not sure what is. It's all part of a larger pattern, really. Not a pattern of periodic medical grossness, although I do have a charming history of that. Rather, it's a pattern wherein I push myself too far for too long, and then have some sort of major bodily malfunction. I get the impression that for most people, when they work too hard, get too stressed, don't sleep enough--essentially do all of those things that shred one's immunities---they get sick. Immediately. And that's the cue to slow down. It's never worked like that for me: I've almost always been able to push through til the end of the task, semester, etc., but then I get hit with the big whammy. In college, it was like clockwork. I'd spend the last month of the semester eating coffee grounds and writing papers all night, I'd turn everything in, drive home for break, and by the next morning I was sick. The best time was when I had worked my ass off on a 35 page paper on Kristeva and Tristram Shandy (because that's just the kind of little prat that I was), made it the 4 hour drive home and ended up with a 104 degree fever. Boiled my brain better than Revolution in Poetic Language, that did.

So clearly I've learned nothing in the last 10 years. I still think that I can drive myself past all reasonable limits and it will be okay. Sure! Why not teach a full semester, be an administrator, run a speakers' series, give a conference paper, teach an intensive summer class, go to a workshop in the Midwest. You can work for six months without a break! What's the worst that could happen?

For the next 1-4 months, I 'll look like a leper, but only underneath my clothes, which is one small saving grace. Very small. Pityriasis is apparently also common in dogs and bears. Do you think they push themselves too hard too?

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Blogger Ashley said...

Would it make you feel at all better to know that I had a mild case of that during my first few months of college? Nothing like acquiring the nickname "Rashley" to make a girl popular on campus.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 9:00:00 AM  
Blogger kfluff said...

It does indeed make me feel better, although I'm sorry for that nickname. Truly wretched, that. Give me the hard truth---how long til it went away?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Ashley said...

Oh, a couple of months, I think. Definitely not 4, which is heartening, I guess?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger the Truth Hz said...

oh no! I'm sorry;; it even has the word "pity" in it==I think the only consulation, as the description of pityriasis details, is that your body still considers itself "adolescent or young adult."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 3:21:00 PM  
Blogger Sisyphus said...

Oh no! I hope you get all better soon. Permission to read a trashy novel with a fancy fruit smoothie granted. (Unless, of course, you are allowed to have alcohol with whatever medication you're on ---- in that case have a daquiri).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 4:02:00 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

My former longtime suffered from pityriasis when he was in art school. He still has hangups about it, hates his skin. Hope you don't go that route ... and hope you relax.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 7:50:00 PM  
Blogger kfluff said...

Ash and Beth--I don't know why it makes me feel better that other people have been similarly afflicted. Where's my compassion? And yet, it's nice to know that I'm not the only pariah in the place. The jury is still out, B., on the skin-hating. We'll see how it looks when it clears up!

Sisyphus--welcome! And thanks for the sympathy. No medication to worry about, so I may drown myself in fruity drinks and trashy novels (perhaps even a bit of Buffy fan fiction--that certainly qualifies as trashy!).

Hz--good catch on the "pity" part. It may be a young adult thing, but it also resembles second stage syphilis symptoms. Let's hope I'm in the former category and not the latter.

Friday, June 22, 2007 8:29:00 AM  

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