Saturday, January 07, 2006

How to start a red hot love affair

I’ve told you about the Scorpio in prior entries – what touches me, worries me, what I treasure about our relationship. My closest friends and (theoretically) thousands (stop snickering) of blog readers are the only people with whom I share these stories. But there are other moments in our history, not quite so romantic….
Insert strumming harp chord here to mark the scene change, as I take you to a day this week and…

Weedy and I are discussing a hypothetical scenario in which I am rushed to the hospital in some unnamed emergency. She wants to know if the Scorpio would come to see me.

(This is an inside-out version of the lottery win discussion that people my age engage in when our friends and loved ones start dropping like flies and we figure we might be next. I’ve had the same discussion with the Scorpio.)

“Yes. I told him if it’s ‘family only’ he’s to tell them he’s my brother. With a straight face.’”

“Well, who’s going to tell him you’re in there?”

“You are. Of course. He already asked me that – who’d tell him - and I said you would. Didn’t I mention it?”

“No.” I burrow for my address book out and dictate three different phone numbers she can try in the event of my imminent demise.

“Not,” I add, “that you’ll call him before you bring my makeup, of course.”

Now, this is patently ridiculous, isn’t it? Assuming I’m in serious condition, possibly with unattractive bottles of fluid running in and out of my body and large beeping monitors hooked up to broadcast my vital signs, wearing one of those cotton dust rags with the little ties, and drooling out of one side of my mouth, lipstick and mascara would almost superficial concern.

And it’s not as if the Scorpio hasn’t seen me with a naked face – and worse. Just before we became lovers, I had developed an interesting condition called, “Allergic Contact Dermatitis,” although it could be better described as “Galloping Eyelid Rot.”

It began as a small itchy red patch on one eyelid. I treated it myself, with vitamin E. “Always treat yourself first,” is my motto. The rot got red, itchier and bigger. My eyelids began to swell. I was having a little hissy fit about my own experienced GP and so I consulted a new Doctor in the practice. And my first warning sign should have been the fact that he consulted a book. And said, “It looks like a yeast infection or an allergy.” A yeast infection? “Or?”

My second warning sign should have been the pharmacist asking with an expression of horror, “Are you sure this cream is for your eyes?

I don’t like to brag, but nobody can ignore a warning sign like me. As the rot spread, from underneath my eyes to my eyebrows, as the swelling increased, I made a visit to my regular doctor, who prescribed another cream that didn’t work and then I turned to the internet. And sure enough! There was a yeast condition that could cause my symptoms. I was not allergic to anything, I knew that much. Yeast it was.

Evening call to the on-call doctor, in which I tell him the doctor’s diagnosis and my own. He’s pretty sure yeast infection is not likely but advises me that it won’t hurt to try regular over the counter vaginal yeast cream. Yada yada, please don’t phone again unless you’re dying. Click.

There’s a limit to how many days you can wear sunglasses after dark without people starting to think you’re a junkie. I had to do something.

Monostat here I come.

The next day, I wake up and open… No, uh-uh. My eyes don’t want to open. I feel my way to the nearest mirror and looking back at me is someone who just lost a prize fight. Although it seems to generally be my face, surrounding my eyes, are red and purple scaly balloons. My eyeballs are little slits, barely visible in the puffage. And that’s when I begin to laugh and laugh.

I shower, dress, and jam on the glasses. I call to say I won’t be in to work. I march myself to the doctor’s office, dramatically haul off the glasses and say, “I’ll wait.” My doctor lets me in after the shortest wait time in history and suddenly is able to give me an immediate referral to a dermatologist.

Makeup is a banned substance for three months. Lipstick, please? “Knock yourself out,” the dermatologist says. Makeup can only be smeared on the inside of the crook of my arm to see what causes welts and scales to appear.
“Meanwhile,” he informs me, “while you’re in the hot phase, you’ll have allergic reactions to things that normally wouldn’t bother you.” Hot phase. Doesn’t feel real hot to me.

And all this time, I’m on the bus, going to work, sitting next to a man who is my idea of a hot phase. I am wearing my bravest red lipstick and my matching red eye tissue is half-hidden by dark glasses.

One day, before I’m healed, I tell him the story, Monostat home remedy and all. I lower my sunglasses so he can see, but I doubt he remembers much because he kept laughing and saying, “Vaginal yeast cream? Vaginal yeast cream – and you actually did it?,” just a little too loudly for comfort.

Neither of us realize that we are about to become lovers in less than five days. This isn’t one of the more common signs of such a thing.

Okay. I guess she can call him if I don’t have makeup. But somebody has to get me something besides that cotton gown, dammit. And make sure you mop up the drool.

And check that they aren’t using anything in the hospital with topical Vitamin E, too. I’m allergic to that.