I am become the rash

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

There are many things I’d like to talk about today. There is Yule Heibel’s post on Foucault and self-exposure, and Mike Golby’s and alembic responses. Yule wrote:

Understand this: whatever is translated into discourse is instrumentalised as social control. It is not the case that chatter about your sexuality or your neuroses or your deepest darkest secrets makes society a freer place. It instead makes it a more fully explored, more discursive place, which in turn contributes to mechanisms of control. People and their exposures are turning into social maps, we’re less multi-dimensional and increasingly flattened into a one-dimensional discursive space.

Which leads one to wonder: how much do we really want to know about each other?

Then there’s the social software folk, who I haven’t pestered for a couple of days. Has anyone but me noticed how they reference each other almost incessantly but rarely reference those on the ‘outside’? It reminds me, somewhat, of how early settlers would pull their wagons into a circle to protect themselves from exposure to attack.

And the day is a beautiful day, with warm weather and beautiful skies still continuing even though rain is predicted every day. I should talk about this. Or better yet, go for a nice long walk somewhere and get away from the re-roofing that is driving me mad. However, I fear that if I open the door, I’ll be exposed to flying debris from the roof.

I could talk about all these things, but I won’t. I am going to talk about my rash, instead.

Though this might fit into the category of things you’d rather not know my life has been compressed down to a single awareness: I am the rash and the rash is me. It has spread now to my torso, including my butt, and down my legs. In fact, the only place not covered is my lower arms and hands and my face and neck.

(Wait, wait! I take that back – in the light of the beautiful day, I noticed forward guards of the rash only inches away from my wrist on my left arm. )

My doctor was out yesterday but the clinic connected me with another. She believes the rash is caused by an allergic reaction to the medicines, and to stop taking all of them (which I had already done). I asked her about the ringing ears, aching joints, and lowered spirits and other effects (in fact, the symptoms I had that led me to the doctor originally and led to this round of medicine), but she said that I can take this up with my doctor at a later time; now I have to focus on the rash.

She didn’t feel that topical creams would work and prescribed Prednisone, a cortisone treatment. She warned that she doesn’t necessarily like to prescribe this medicine because it can cause ulcers, so I have to take it with other medication to hopefully cut down this risk.

As you can imagine, I am not sanguine about yet another medication with serious side effects. Researching it online, I also noticed that many times when a severe rash is treated with Prednisone, when the course of pills is finished, the rash will return. This cycle can continue for several rounds.

I then decided to research more on rashes. When you ask a doctor what causes a rash, he or she will answer that some specific agent will cause it: allergic reactions, certain plants, and certain diseases. But they don’t answer you about why you get a rash.

More playing around with Google and I found a few papers that talked about why a person gets a rash. A rash is your body’s way of trying to eliminate something it’s been exposed to; something that’s toxic to it. You get it because your skin is one of the tissues of the body most susceptible to irritation from toxins, and consequently, the one most likely to react. That’s why you’ll get a rash with an allergic reaction, or from sickness. In fact, when you’re feeling sick and have a fever, or a rash, or sinus effects, this is actually your body’s way of fighting disease.

Rashes, fever, runny noses, flu-like symptoms – rather than be something to fight, necessarily, they should be seen more as friends and allies in the war to stay healthy.

Of course, after reading this I felt less negative about my rash, though the knowledge of the helpfulness of it does not decrease the extreme discomfort from it. But it does me hesitate about taking the medication.

I am not a difficult patient. Truth be told, I have had a remarkably healthy life until fairly recently when I had the problems associated with my gall bladder. (Well, there are the effects of falls during walking; but these injuries can be seen as noble, as compared to sickness.) I have rarely gone into the doctor when sick, preferring to let my body deal with any problems. I haven’t had many antibiotics in the past and consequently feel that this has strengthened my body against future illness.

However, when I have gone in to the doctors I have listened to what they’ve said and taken the pills they’ve given me. Now, though, I have begun to question whether the course the doctor prescribes is the course I want to follow.

I have watched my father as he clings to life at 93, not enjoying much quality of life now, as he takes so many pills during the day that they have to be scheduled and the bottles kept in a large container. Each prescription costs about 130.00 to 150.00 dollars and even his doctor admits that there’s no real evidence that the pills will help Dad’s memory, or his sense of balance, or any other effects my Dad is experiencing.

My father, who worked in a lumber camp in Alaska when he was a kid, and served with the railway as an engineer during the depression; made captain in the field during World War II; was a good cop for 20 years with the State Patrol and also served his country as a fraud investigator, and with the civilian police in Vietnam –my father’s life has now been reduced to an almost obsessive fixation on his health and his medications and his visits to the doctor, and little else.

When I tell people my Dad’s age, they tell me how great he’s lived this long, and how fortunate I am; sometimes I agree, but other times all I can do is look at them. I wonder, in quiet moments, if my father has lived too long, and all the pills are doing is chaining him to a shell he left a long time ago.

But who am I to question my Dad’s doctors? Death is a dark secret that we’re only given the truth of once in our life, and most people would rather cling to life then be initiated into that club. But sometimes there’s a thin, thin line between the two, and for me, life would end when I couldn’t walk through my woods, and smell Spring flowers, or appreciate the wit of my friends and the taste of a really good orange. However, ask me again about life in say, 30 years.

I bought the pills yesterday and should start taking them this morning – taking 12 small pills, all at once. My rash itches, but if you scratch it, it feels like a burn, and looks like one too. The skin is starting to break down in a couple of spots, which leads to a risk of infection. I can get relief in these little pills, though they may start something that leads to other little pills, which lead to other little pills, and so on. Just like with my Dad.

I think that I’ll just let my body do its thing, but I think on the time when I was 12 and was hospitalized because of a severe rash from an allergic reaction, and am reminded that sometimes things break beyond what the body can heal. Exposure can make us stronger, but it can also kill.

One day. I’m going to wait one day and try the various home remedies and cortisone creams one can buy over the counter and just see how it goes. Besides, if I take a steroid, which is what Prednisone is, I won’t be able to compete in the Olympics.

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