10 Aug


This was my arm, just one of the places the rash spread. WTF?

Last week, I had a rash. It was really bad.

Let me just say that I must be getting old enough not to care or mature enough to be comfortable in my own (fucking itchy) skin because 10 years ago when I started this site, I would never have started a journal entry admitting to a rash I had. I wasn’t married and that’s not the kind of thing you say when you want the ladies to think you are disease-free and ready to party. (These days I am disease-free, but not at all ready or able to party.)

We’ve come a long way, you and I, so I know that when I tell you that I developed a terrible, itchy rash all over my body, that you won’t automatically assume it involved venereal parts and naughty fluid exchanges. Not that kind of rash.

Of course, that makes it much harder to diagnose. What happened was that on Monday of last week, I got home and noticed a pretty raw, itchy rash on both sides of my neck and along my waistline where you sometimes get those lines if your belt is on too tight. I was wearing a fairly new shirt. It had been washed and worn before, but I figured since we’ve hit triple-degree heat in Austin, it was no big deal.

That night, the rash spread to my stomach, my arms and the tops of my feet and got crazy, stupid itchy. I was scratching all night. I didn’t sleep and kept shuffling to the bathroom to see where it was going. It was like watching those Wargames computers show where all the missiles would hit in a global thermonuclear war. Except all the hot spots were on my person and it sucked.

The next day I worked from home and saw a doctor. They gave me a shot on my ass (yes, bent me over the exam table and put it right on my ass. Not the hip. Not the thigh. Right on my ass.) and prescribed steroids and a cream. They told me it could be a mite (might it?) or an allergic reaction to something, but had no real way of knowing for sure, so the doctor said we should treat both. The medications seemed to do the trick, after I slathered myself in cream and slept in the guest room that night.

By this point, Rebecca hadn’t gotten any rash and Lilly hadn’t either, even though she often sleeps in our bed with us. I hadn’t eaten anything unusual in the days leading to the rash and hadn’t been outside anywhere that I’d be exposed to any weird weeds or plants.

I went to work that Wednesday with the rash fading and the itching going away. I noticed a moldy mug of tea on my desk and got rid of it, wondering if that might have triggered an allergic reaction. Everything seemed fine until I got home and the rash came back full force, and in different areas. It never went near my tenders and biscuits, but it was now on my thighs, the backs of my legs, all around my armpits and, most alarmingly, around the edges of my face. I spent another shitty, sleepless night scratching and being miserable in the guest bed.

I called in sick Thursday and went straight back to the doctor. This time, they prescribed a different cream and a different steroid treatment, but also set me up for a blood test to rule out anything more serious. That was fun, especially when I found out I was being tested for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, presumably the most itchy and spotted of the Rocky Mountain fevers.

Again, it went away. By Friday it was faded and by the weekend it was completely gone. What happened?

The initial round of blood tests came back negative for anything bacterial. A week later, I got a call that the doctor wanted to see me in person to discuss the results of the rest of my blood tests. I tried not to worry or think too much about it, but when you get a phone call like that it’s hard not to imagine the horrible scenarios that could happen in that tiny exam room.

I wondered how I’d react if I found it was something life-threatening or even if I was told, “It’s cholesterol poisoning. You have to never eat a Dorito again.”

After waiting two days to get to an appointment and another hour in the exam room, I was told, cheerily, “You tested negative for syphilis.”

I didn’t know I’d been tested for that. “That’s… good!” I said.

I also tested negative for the Rocky Mountain stuff and for everything else they screened. My white blood cell count wasn’t elevated and everything else was normal. No answers.

Of course, that didn’t stop the Internet, via Twitter and Facebook, from instantly diagnosing me the moment I posted the photo above and said I had a rash. Several said it was a contact allergy, probably poison ivy. Others said it could be a gluten allergy (never mind that I eat wheat bread, rice, pizza and every other starch in the world on a daily basis with no reaction). One person offered (and actually did) send me magic Bentonite clay that is supposed to draw out the ions. Of course. Fucking IONS! The clay got here after the rash was gone, so I didn’t get to test it out for that, unfortunately.

It’s a mystery still and I feel fine now. The rash hasn’t returned. But it made me very aware suddenly of how quickly an unexpected health problem could completely upturn my life. I missed a full day of work and had to work from home a second day so people at my office wouldn’t see my hideous skin-of-fire. I paid about four separate co-pays, which were all cheap, but would have been crazy if I didn’t have decent insurance. And thank goodness it was nothing contagious that the kids might catch. We’re a very healthy family; we hardly ever get sick, but this was a reminder that we often take it for granted that we’re not constantly suffering from some ailment or another.

I mean, it was just a rash. It was itchy and uncomfortable and unsightly and it nearly drove me insane when it spread at one point to the damn palms of my hands to the point where even typing felt horrible.

But it could have been a lot worse.

I mean, damn. Genital warts, you know? Imagine that.

Or don’t. It’s all right. You don’t have to.

6 Responses to “Rash-o-mine”

  1. ackerman.g August 10, 2010 at 9:10 am #

    Omar, that was one of the most entertaining posts I read of yours. Not because of your rash, but because the post was humorous, engaging, clever and all too human. And maybe b/c you wrote about yourself as opposed to tech. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Rocksye Harris-Wyrick August 10, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

    The rash is back

  3. Rocksye Harris-Wyrick August 10, 2010 at 4:47 pm #

    Oops, read below & the article & realized, no rash present currently. Gr

  4. Rocksye Harris-Wyrick August 10, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

    The rash is back??!!!!

  5. Rocksye Harris-Wyrick August 10, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

    Oops, read below & the article & realized, no rash present currently. Great!

  6. Gossamer1013 August 10, 2010 at 6:08 pm #

    Sounds like hives. I hope youre way luckier than I was; steroids pissed mine off.


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