Wednesday, October 26, 2005

You might want to put those crisps down...

So at 9.15 this morning I was sitting in the waiting area of the Phototherapy department at the local hospital, watching with horror as the nurse gave the UVA-protective goggles a cursory wipe with a cloth. I may have a skin condition myself but believe me, that doesn't mean I want to have something previously worn by a man so flaky that it seemed unlikely he would even exist by the time he'd shrugged himself back into his smelly anorak and velcroed his (and I'm quoting the nurse here) "weepy" feet back into his sandals, next to my face. The choice was not mine, however, and twenty minutes later I was chanting my mantra ("new Faith shoes, new Faith shoes, new Faith shoes") to myself while breathing through my mouth and resolutely not thinking about scabs. I'd like to say at this point that nobody is to feel guilty for an involuntary "euurgh" at the mention of a skin condition. I know how you feel. It ain't pretty, and it's not something anyone likes to see. Well, try sitting in the waiting room of a Dermatology clinic as pictures of scabs, sores and scales loom over you and pale, fidgety people deposit gentle drifts of skin over themselves, the furniture and anything within a metre radius. I've had moderate (by that I mean I'm not actually so bad as to have you averting your eyes while speaking to me) problems with my hands for about twenty years now and I've heard it all. People asking if I've been burned, if it's contagious, people visibly wincing. I can't actually quite believe I'm posting this, even though most of you are relative strangers, as I'm so used to not talking about it. When shopping, I habitually pay for purchases with plastic as, even as I'm sympathising as I know how they must feel, I'm tired of shop assistants looking uncomfortable as they deposit change into my hand. I'm struggling with how to verbalise how tiring and embarrassing it is living with a visible problem like this, and even as I'm typing I'm remembering the exhausted, weeping paraplegic girl I watched crossing the Nicaraguan jungle in a wheelchair on BBC2 last night and marvelling at my capacity for self-pity. When people get to know me it becomes easier and I'm indebted to the Other Half for his patience and his ability to restrain cries of "uurgh, don't put those near that" in, ahem, intimate situations. He's encouraged me to seek further professional help and I'm finally at the stage where I can hope for remission or, at the very outer edge of hope, permanent respite.

Oh bugger, I got all carried away then and forgot the point of the story, which was this:

While I was dreading the scab/goggle thing, a not-unattractive young man came in for his treatment. The nurses weren't quite ready, so he popped into the loo. The loo that was separated from the waiting area by a single door. The proximity to his fellow flakers didn't, however, diminish his apparent urgency and within minutes of his heading cheerfully off down the corridor toward the light-units the rest of us were coughing slightly and pretending not to notice the smell of somebody else's insides.

In light of that whole post I'd like to apologise to anyone who may have been eating. I bet you'd given up by about the third sentence.

Right, now I've alienated you all, I'll be off.


Blogger Tabby Rabbit chimed in with...

>>Right, now I've alienated you all, I'll be off<<

Surely not - made of harder stuff than that. Or perhaps just me - I had impertigo at junior school and for several years after I was known as 'Scabby' (and I studied pathology - never got the 'eurgh' factor about flesh and stuff).

Hmm, perhaps these aren't the sort of things I should be discussing. I'll get my coat..

26 October, 2005 23:37  
Blogger Whinger chimed in with...

20 years is a long time, so I see no need to think you are exaggerating the self-pity. It cannot be easy, though I won't pretend to know the extent.

Perhaps dye your hair pink again and give the curious tellers something else to look at for a bit?

Gross to the dermatology office experience.

27 October, 2005 00:03  
Blogger Meegan chimed in with...

Oh, jeez, that waiting room does not sound like a fun place to be, for more ways than one. I'm sorry you had to be there (although I did enjoy this entry -- and isn't that what life is all about these days? Getting good material for our blogs?)

27 October, 2005 04:49  
Blogger elvira black chimed in with...

Weeping feet?! Or is it feet that make you weep? Either which way, it gave me pause...

27 October, 2005 06:54  
Blogger Juggling Mother chimed in with...

Mr A was probably the bloke before you, alhough there is an awful lot of him to flake off, he does tend to leave little piles of himself everywhere he goes! It's not fun. Especially as me and the vacuum cleaner do nat have a very close relationship most of the time:-)

Sounds like they may be able to fix you, which is great news. Mr A has just officially been classed as "unresponsive to treatment", although he currently has nice smmoth skin for the first time in three years following a particularly boring stay in hospital earlier this month.

I think people really underestimate how much physical looks can affect the way we are treated. We all like ti think we don't discriminate, but we invariably do (until we have time to assimilat it anyway).

27 October, 2005 07:41  
Blogger Lee chimed in with...

Marvellous post, dear girl! And thankfully, I'd just finished the granola bar...


27 October, 2005 09:01  
Blogger car01 chimed in with...

Oh dear, you have to stop with the amusing posts; I've just had to pretend to my marvellous colleagues that I was having a coughing fit really instead of sniggering at your post. They now think I'm bonkers. Strike that - they now think I'm even more bonkers than usual.

Know where you're at with the nasty skin condition; I've had (and continue to have) bits that flake, weep or pustulate on a seemingly random basis. Doesn't help either when one of your dear colleagues gives you fleas.

27 October, 2005 10:07  
Blogger Donna chimed in with...

Is it just me, or does everyone else now want to chant "Carol's a fleabag .... Carol's a fleabag ..."

Actually, I was friends with the fleabag in our year at school. I felt I had to be cos we shared the same Surname (Smith). What was that all about??

Oh, and you still haven't put me off your Cottage Pie.

27 October, 2005 10:52  
Blogger Who is this Dave? chimed in with...

I had childhood exzema which was extremely painful apparently (images of screaming baby) and still suffer a bit.

Still, I don't suppose you want either sympathy or empathy from me, do you?

27 October, 2005 11:02  
Blogger FUNKYBROWNCHICK chimed in with...

"[M]arvelling at my capacity for self-pity ..."

First, thanks for sharing so honestly and openly in this post. Next, I don't think that you should feel any guilt at all. Well, maybe a little, but don't let it overwhelm you.

On a trip to Europe to visit friends, a friend's boyfriend outed himself (to me, my friend already knew) as a recovering heroin addict. I had just finished complaining about whether or not I would have enough time and money to tack a visit Germany onto my current trip. (It's not everyday that I'm in Europe. So, if I didn't make the trip to Germany, I probably wouldn't see my friends there until several years later.)

The friend's boyfriend outed himself and then said, "so, if your biggest worry at the moment is whether or not you're going to go to Germany on holiday, count yourself among the very fortune."

I'll always remember that --- and, the extreme level of guilt that I felt. But, I don't know where the line is. On the one hand (no pun intended) I think we all have to keep self-pity in check vis-a-vis *real* pain and suffering throughout the world and, on the other hand, we have to allow ourselves the right to feel *real* emotions that are uniquely ours. You know what I mean?

It's like One-Eyed-Jack tells Two-Eyed Jill that she doesn't know true suffering, only to have Blind-Man-Joe tell Jack to shut the fuck up.


PS: And, yes, I went to Germany. :)

27 October, 2005 12:38  
Blogger Lippy chimed in with...

Half the battle of coping with not being utterly perfect is being able to laugh at one's imperfections. Which is why I'm often regarded as completely hysterical.

27 October, 2005 12:56  
Blogger Urban Chick chimed in with...

your name is carol?

that's not what you told me, fifi honeybell

a little honestly amongst blogging buddies wouldn't go amiss, you know...

tsk tsk

27 October, 2005 13:18  
Blogger Urban Chick chimed in with...

of course i meant 'honesty'

(gosh, it's so annoying when one is taking the moral high horse and one makes flaring errers...]

27 October, 2005 13:19  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

uc - are you drunk again? WTF are you on about? is it me? have i missed summat?

27 October, 2005 13:39  
Blogger Who is this Dave? chimed in with...

UC, I assume the opening of round brackets, and closing of square {and the spelling mistake] were ironic, but thought I'd point them out anyway, because dear Surly (who I am going to speak kindly of in my blog tomorrow} expects me to be like that, even though I'm really a kindly old codger.

And yes, Car01 is indeed called Carol. Was that such a surprise?

27 October, 2005 13:40  
Blogger Who is this Dave? chimed in with...

I expect I should have said 'of whom I am going to speak kindly' then.

Nice grey-haired gentleman wanders off, tugging at his cardigan...

27 October, 2005 13:45  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

blimey dave, you'll do anything to direct traffic your way, won't you?

uc - please explain yourself.

27 October, 2005 13:48  
Blogger Who is this Dave? chimed in with...

No Surly, you've explained the concept to me enough times. I honestly really wasn't trying to pimp. Thanks for not commenting about yesterday's post, btw.

27 October, 2005 13:59  
Blogger JonnyB chimed in with...

This is completely and utterly unrelated, but you have the best strapline that's ever been on a blog ever in the world.

27 October, 2005 14:24  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

jonnyb - welcome, and thank you *blushes prettily* if you click through, it explains a little more..

dave - i'm not the bitch you seem to think i am. what did you expect - a damning critique of a heartfelt poem and some "hilarious" comments about depression?

27 October, 2005 14:39  
Blogger Who is this Dave? chimed in with...

I've never thought of you as a bitch. I was, in all seriousness, thanking you for being sensitive and not making those comments. OK?

Can we kiss and make up please? I don't like fighting. My post tomorrow refers to a comment you made in August where you called me a 'mate'.

27 October, 2005 15:01  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

no fighting talk intended - i'm just a bit tired of it, that's all...

27 October, 2005 15:44  
Anonymous Pat chimed in with...

Is it allergy based? Can you put your hands in water? What is the treatment? Don't answer if you don't want to . Genuinely interested.

27 October, 2005 15:59  
Blogger Donna chimed in with...

For christ's sake Dave [no pun intended] STOP PIMPING YOUR BLOG - it's really fucking annoying ...

27 October, 2005 16:16  
Blogger Wyndham chimed in with...

Crikey, it's all going on, isn't it?

27 October, 2005 16:37  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

pat, since you asked (brace yourself) - it's not an allergy, apparently i'm not allergic to anything. the treatment is weird. i have to sit with my hands in a special solution for fifteen minutes, then let them dry for five. then i get to go on the light machine (it's uva, hence the goggles) for a whole thirty seconds. i get to do this twice a week for ten to fifteen weeks, and the exposure to the uva will increase as we go on.

i feel for poor old mr aginoth who's been classed as "non-responsive to treatment". my next step, should the light treatment not work, is tablets that could damage my liver which would mean regular blood tests and, more importantly, no more drinking beer....unthinkable. who's going to embarrass themsleves with unco-ordinated dancing and falling over of a friday night if i'm not around to do it?

27 October, 2005 16:38  
Blogger Urban Chick chimed in with...

donna said the post made her want to say 'carol's a fleabag'

**ducks to avoid flying vegetables**

27 October, 2005 16:42  
Blogger Kellycat chimed in with...

SG - You only have to ask.

27 October, 2005 16:46  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

um, that's because carol said that someone from her work gave her fleas. you are drunk, aren't you?


27 October, 2005 16:48  
Blogger Urban Chick chimed in with...

this is what happens when i only read every second comment...


27 October, 2005 17:00  
Blogger Aginoth chimed in with...

HI surly Chick...First I presume you have Psoriasis (Like Me) That would be Methotrexate I assume they want to put you on?

I started taking them 5 weeks ago, side-effects are not to bad, bit of drowsiness for a day each week (take 1 dose of 15mg a week)

If I'm right and it is P come and see us at Psoriasis Help Organisation UK join the forums, there are a few thousand of us from the UK on there all with Big bad P to varying degrees of flakiness, I have found it to be very supportive and helpful, I'm sure you would too :o)

I have linked/blogrolled you on my site btw.

27 October, 2005 17:16  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

uc - you are a silly sausage.

mr a - welcome, and thank you.

27 October, 2005 19:52  
Blogger Liz chimed in with...

Hi girly girl

See how afflicted we are? Migraines and skin conditions.

I vote we leave our crummy jobs and run away to somewhere where we can be pampered and cared for without looming posters and thoughts about bugs in your brain and taking medication to turn you into Mutant Liz.


27 October, 2005 21:34  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

liz, where do i sign? and please do explain the pic of the sitting in the basket. i love it very much.

27 October, 2005 22:00  
Blogger GreatSheElephant chimed in with...

I'm all in favour of a bit of self pity. stollie, your friend's boyfriend has no manners. Whatever his situation, he has no right to TELL you that your concerns are less important than his. Desist from feeling guilty henceforth.

28 October, 2005 08:16  
Blogger spindleshanks chimed in with...

he broke the poo rule. never poo in a public toilet unless there is a whole corridor between you and the public. and even then only in the most emergency of situations. geez - doesn't everyone know that?
Hey, I have psoriasis too - in my fingernails so no sexy stuck on diamantes for me. also i have psoriatic arthritis. it's a bummer, but not bad at the moment. i won't take the drugs because mostly i don't. esp not drugs that suppress my immune system. it seems counter intuitive but i'm sure it works for many.

28 October, 2005 20:56  
Blogger surly girl chimed in with...

spindly - finally someone understood that he broke the poo rule. i thank you.

psoriatic arthritis sounds like a bastard. i know i get off lightly with my hands - it's just that i'm a self-pitying witch and i feel compelled to make people feel sorry for me.

can you tell i'm pissed off? the other half is stuck in madrid, possibly until tuesday, and it's rant or cry, i'm afraid....

28 October, 2005 21:01  
Blogger essgee chimed in with...

My thing is with people with dandruff. I find myself putting my hand over my mouth and breathing through my fingers in case I inhale some of their flakes.

03 November, 2005 00:00  

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