…voodoo that i do

Midway through an illness is a bad time to discover allergies to a medication. An itching episode ensues and I wonder if it’s the illness or the meds. Bugs are an integral part of life, but images of them crawling all over, should be a side effect of stronger medicine than cough syrup.

Dandelions are fondly remembered as one of my first allergies and fuchsia-dyed pistachios brought on rashes of the same color. If there had been a medical allergist available in my youth, I could have paid for his cabin cruiser.

Far from being a sickly child, my parents knew before the specialists, that my reactions were excitement related—too much of anything brought on hives. It’s a great evasion tool for a kid, “I think this broccoli is making my throat itch…”

My small town doctor—the last, best physician in the industry—prescribed avoidance therapy. Pistachios were an easy miss but back before herbicides, dandelions weren’t, so I spent a lot of time with my best buddy Benadryl[1], sitting in the evening chill, breathing deep and humming calm mantras.

I’ve discovered more things that make me itch as I age, but it’s never something to my advantage like dust mites or animals. “Oh shucks, can’t do dusting or pets. Tichoo! Tichoo!”
Due to a physician aversion, (I must be allergic to them) I don’t do conventional scratch tests—instead I do an itch test. When I swell up and prickle unceasingly, the quest for the culprit begins!

To me:
Tonight a combination of parsley and latex[2] made me the gyrating life of the party with my red face and full-body itch. Last week it was mango. What’s up with me! T.

Anaphalaxysis, (that means itching and swelling unto death) is a side effect of some of my allergies, but I’ve only had to resort to the shot once or twice. The hyped up feeling and buzzing, twitching aftereffects make it almost worthwhile.

Reality Bite: Allergies are contagious. The husband just woke with a full-body antibiotic rash. I tried to convince him that it was sympathy pains, akin to the weight gain he suffered while we were pregnant.[3] Both itching, Terribly T

[1] Brand name meaning “just-be-glad-we-renamed-it.”
[2] Don’t you know that’s how they invented Playtex?
[3] Men! What does it mean when they stare at you with that furrowed brow while shaking their heads side to side?

…witch doctor

I’m now allergic to all the good stuff—codeine, and all its derivatives, so I’ll never make a good addict. But, they aren’t on my list of self-meds anyway. I’ve limited myself to what medical doctors call OTC’s. (Over-the-counters. Just picture a desperate me hurdling over the counter after them.)

I’m forced to self-diagnose because doctors are the only vocation that avoid their busiest working hours. The world gets sick after five on Thursday, all day Friday, and every weekend… so doctors go golfing.

They universally object to house calls between the hours of midnight and four, and that’s why I self-diagnose—and because a woman’s primary physician tends to specialize below the belt and my pet illness, strep, isn’t in their area, so rather than keep four or five different specialists on retainer, I practice “physician heal thyself.”[2]

While medical doctors don’t worry too much about people treating themselves to a selection of colorful bottles from a drug store, it’s surprising how nervous they get when they find out that you are dabbling in alternative remedies—particularly when it involves veterinary meds.

To me,
As the niece of two nurses, who are the children of a nurse, who is the daughter of a nurse, the daughter will be well suited to fill my shoes… I hope she does it quickly, before I’m sick in them. Is that too many details? T.

I'm the family’s certified witch doctor and can usually diagnose the entire tribe, but if it’s a tough bug, I probe the children’s pediatrician at their disease-of-the-month visit, and then I perform my own voodoo, mixing, measuring and dispensing the medicinal concoctions.

Then getting the medicine down the throat involves performing another convoluted song and dance of contortionistic[2] mumbo-jumbo until the patient convulses with laughter and the mouth is wide open.

To me,
At preschool pick-up, I mention how sick I’ve been all week and a friend asks, “Did your husband have to take time off? Are you still driving the children? Have you seen a doctor? Are you getting any rest? Does your husband cook? Can you breathe yet?”

To each question, I snort no, and then she nods knowingly, “So, things went on the same as usual?” T.

Sickness can’t get us down! Women aren’t allowed to succumb to sickness. We must stuff another packet of tissues, a barf bag and a wider variety of self-meds in our purses and go about the business of busi-ness.

Reality Bites! Another girlfriend who had cancer, once said, “It doesn’t make any difference, you are expected to just go on …unless you die.”

[1] Sounds like Shakespeare, doesn’t it? We’ll blame him til someone else calls and claims credit.
[2] It’s not a word? How can that not be a word?