Body of Death
No pictures. I promise no pictures.
The poison oak I thought I had turned out to be ringworm. First it was a circle the size of a silver dollar on the knuckles of my left hand, but we live in the woods, and odd spots of poison SOMETHING are commonplace.
The circle got worse, despite the home remedies, until I couldn't leave the house without it bandaged for fear of scaring people. Clay, the doctor said. So I smeared on clay, and it dried out and shrank, back down to the size of a normal hand, but still refusing to heal - deep, peeling, oozing weals.
I had a sore throat and thought it was a cold. It gave me one miserable night, but loaded up on vitamins, I was back at work the next day, thinking I'd kicked it. Then the next night, I got struck with an earache so painful, I wound up deviating from my road trip to find an emergency room. Being allergic to most antibiotics, they gave me the only one I can handle (azithromycin), which took care of the ear infection, but effectively wiped out my immune system, which left me with... ringworm.
Which I thought was something you got from being dirty, and which I also thought was a literal worm. It's somewhat of a relief to find out that it's A. a fungus nearly everyone has, which lies dormant on your skin until you get a cut or a scrape while your immune system is suppressed, and B. a fungus. The lack of resistance offered by my system meant the ringworm sprang to life, all over my feet and lower legs, both hands, and up my arms nearly to the shoulders.
I don't think of myself as being a particularly vain person, nor one over-focused on appearance.
Those of you who know me personally can attest to this. There are plenty of unflattering photos out there of me involved in projects where I'm covered in dirt, paint, flour, and worse, and that's fine, you can wash that off!
But this wouldn't go away, and it was contagious. For two weeks I missed church (including the extra Christmas services), and even though I had time off, I was scared to visit with my friends for fear of passing this on. I missed a party I actually wanted to go to. Going out in public didn't seem smart - as the silver dollar on my hand healed, all the skin peeled. Any change in temperature (in either direction) means it turns purple. The rash everywhere else was salmon-colored and raised, like blotchy hives that wouldn't go away with Benadryl or creams or anything, except... oil and vinegar.
Yes. What ended up working, and what I will remember the smell of for years to come, was a mix of tea tree oil and coconut oil (after washing), tea-tree oil castile soap (for washing off everything else), a beeswax-based yeast-infection potion called "Vag Pack" (you think I would make this up?) smeared on once a day, probiotic capsules made into a paste with water, and straight apple cider vinegar. All of this in turns meant I spent a very fragrant couple of weeks. It was like a blur of sticky, smeary, smelly, tired-out days, and every day passed meant a full load of laundry generated, as I changed sheets and nightclothes daily to prevent spreading the fungus.
There was little point in getting dressed or presentable to go out in public when you stick to everything you touch. Every time I stoked the stoves, a fine layer of ash and dirt would stick to me. Did I mention it itched? Most of the time? And while the antibiotics took care of the one ear, the infection just packed up and went next door to the other ear, lodging firmly in the adenoid? Taking care of myself turned out to be a full-time, exhausting job. (I've written before about how much I want a family, but this was a great time to be single. I would not have been able to take care of them.)
Nearly better now. The silver dollar is currently purple and red because I'm a little cold at work. I wish there'd been some kind of transcendent lesson, a "breakthrough", a moral of the story. Mostly there were just a few big doctor's bills, and me watching an ungodly amount of Netflix. I am grateful for the measure of restored health I currently possess. All I could think about was this. I'm looking forward to church. And hearing out of my ear again.