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Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Psychosomatic Aunt Fanny, or Side Effects May Include…

When I was 24, a woman I worked with went home with news of her son having been sent home from school with the chicken pox.

Within two hours, I had developed itching, raised red dots on my belly and went home, too.

Except I wasn’t really sick.

I’m a compassionate – if paranoid – person. I listen to troubled friends, I nod solemnly to the ranting of the wild-eyed, and I will develop a case of faux chicken pox with the merest suggestion.

I’m here for ya, baby.

I did not have the chicken pox that day (although I did cop a day off even after the doctor pronounced the itching red dots “hives”). I was concerned for my work mate, however; and, perhaps more importantly, I was concerned for myself; for while I’ve been vaccinated, as my friend Mary would say, “like a mo-fackey”, I’ve yet to have even one childhood illness.

Some may call it “hysterical”. I prefer to think of it as “empathetic”.

The body, after all, speaks. Sometimes our legs feel leaden: our body says “don’t go forward”. Sometimes our mouths drop open, aghast: our body says “there’s nothing to say”.

I once almost had a gallbladder removed because of my speaking body.

The pain! The doctor pushed and palpated, scratched himself under the chin and proclaimed that while it didn’t appear to be overly inflamed it was certainly behaving as if it should come out.

“So what’s the downside to not having a gallbladder?” I asked.

“None really,” he said. “And you won’t have the pain any more. Of course, you won’t be able to eat spicy foods…”

I stopped listening after that. A buzz had started up in my ears… No spicy foods? Wait. What? No spicy foods?

No. No, no, no.

I drove away thinking of a life without jalapenos, without Thai peppers.

My phone rang.

I glanced at the screen. It was my boyfriend, a demanding man I could not please.

I didn’t answer it. “That man has become a pain in my side,” I muttered.

And my mind did a double take.

“A pain in my side?” What, not “a pain in my butt”? Not “a pain in my neck”?

No. He was a pain in my side.

I broke up with him that night. I never felt the pain in my side again, and I still have my gallbladder.

And now?

The back of my head has begun to itch. Not always. Not every day. But violently, and with increasing frequency.

I pointed it out to Donna, the woman who cuts my hair.

“What’s on the back of my head?”

She pushed the hair this way and that. “Hey, did you know you have another face back here?”

Donna and I have shared our morbid love of circus freaks.

“I do not!”

“Yeah, but if you did, think of the money you’d make.”

“Seriously. What’s on the back of my head.”

My hair was moved from one side of my head to the other. “Nothing,” she said. “I can see where you’ve been scratching at it, but I don’t see why you’ve been scratching at it...”

She shrugged. “Looks like good scalp to me.”

I showed my new doctor: “Scalp looks to be in good shape. Why are you scratching it?”

Good question.

It’s my body. It’s talking again.

Only what’s it saying?


Molly Potter said...

There's something from your past irritating you?

Pat said...

You need a new shampoo?

The mad woman behind the blog said...

Its saying "be grateful it ain't the butt itching! At least you can pretend to look thoughtful while scratching Me!"

Krëg said...

It's probably a blogging allergy.

Molly Potter said...

I looked it up in my imaginary medical dictionary and it said, 'An urgent need to access a million dollars so that you can have a part share (with Molly) in a hair brusher. It was staring us in the face. So please, Pearl, play the lottery harder.

MJenks said...

I don't know, but every time someone mentions the word "lice", my scalp begins to itch.


Also, you can still eat SOME spicy foods. You can't eat a lot of cheese. Or sushi. But, I can still enjoy a bit of spiciness in my meals.

Flea said...

You're just thinking too hard is all.

I get weird about other people's illnesses - especially my family. I know what it is, though, so when one of them gets a sore throat, then I do immediately, I know mine will pass in half an hour or less. Bizarre. Glad to know I'm not alone.

powdergirl said...

Hey Pearl,

I didn't get any childhood illnesses either, I can hardly wait for the repercussions from that.

And, haha, the body does indeed speak in mysterious ways. I was once engaged to a gorgeous wastrel( I used to get engaged a lot),, I got a tiny wart on my thumb as soon as he put his ring on my finger, and then quit his job. I took this to mean he was looking for a free ride(with benefits) and that my body was dead set against giving him that free ride(or any benefits). Wart disappeared as soon as I gave his ring back.

Kyddryn said...

Sugar the political, econmomic, and social climates in this country have had me scratching my head for ages...welcome to the club!

Shade and Sweetwater,

Ms Sparrow said...

Since you've ruled out cooties in your scalp, it must be psychosomatic! Well, my head itches a lot too so if you ever figure it out, please let me know.

Cloudia said...

Your body is a sweet circus pony!

Aloha, Friend

Comfort Spiral

sage said...

So you can make money being two-faced? I'd never guessed that.

Anything Fits a Naked Man said...

Maybe your body is telling you it's time to get rid of your hair stylist? Once again, you had me laughing all through your hysterical telling of tragic happenings in your life, Thanks!

Ugich Konitari said...

The world finally knows you are a red haired person. Its all that dye you are using and showing up in the photo in the sidebar. Dye causes allergy. Keep scratching, or finally appear to the world as a Red. Yikes, here in India, it means a communist .....

Tempo said...

Ah, it's just cooties..dont let them worry you Pearl. I think there's a bit of the psychosomatic about most of us, witness 'natural' remedies and the placebo effect.

nsiyer said...

All things in life pass. We should not get stuck to them.

Lynda said...

I'm with you Pearl. I have had an itch on the left side of my left foot for years (there is NOTHING there)... often the husband will catch me scratching it and say "you are doing it again". I think it irritates him (most things I do irritate him) I have been trying to tell him for years that it is the spot where my evil twin was attached in the womb. He usually just mutters something under his breath about 'evil twin made it out....' God love him!

Suzanne said...

itching for spring? itching for a vacation?

Madame DeFarge said...

My back starts feeling itchy as soon as I get home. Goodness knows why, but it demands constant scratching.

Jeanie said...

Suzanne may have the answer....you are "itching" for something to happen. Or maybe you just need to use a different shampoo,

Anonymous said...

New hat? New laundry detergent? Sitting with your back to the office door? A puzzle that requires head-scratching?