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Sunday, February 12, 2012

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?

39 comments:

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Maybe I could give you my gout. I could use a break from it. Since you seem so willing to take on others miseries and all... You just have a warm heart Pearl, you care about people to the point where you are willing to take on their pain. Now, about that gout...left foot bunion joint and big toe...burning like hedoublehockeysticks..can't put weight on it, can't get a shoe on. Off you go now. Ah...I feel better already.

Silliyak said...

Your final question is a head scratcher for sure, hmm

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Maybe you have, like, invisible lice or something. Hey, it could happen!

Joanne said...

Something going on you really don't understand? Aside from the scratching. You know the old saws about scratching your head in puzzlement, wonder, amazement....good luck.

Douglas said...

Head lice know how to hide.

jabblog said...

Have you checked Liza Bean and Dolly Squeakers for fleas??

Austan said...

Change shampoos? Wearing hats? New pillows? Or is something from the past niggling at you?

esbboston said...

Have you shared a hat with anyone? It is hat season.

I like jalapenos but they are not nice to me any more.

I changed Cooper's flea collar a few weeks ago. I was one month late, which is a rarity for me, but it is winter time and he hadn't been scratching more than normal.

It is Mini-sota cold here today with snow. Actually I didn't check your temperature yet to see if thats true, I think we are in the teens.

esbboston said...

I was wrong, you are colder at the moment, but in two hours we will be the same, how eXciting! (ha) I am warm inside in bed where I belong. I hear wind blowing ....

Belle said...

I find the story about your pain in the side fascinating. It is strange how our emotions affect us in our bodies. It is also a pain in the ass or side or whatever.

Robbie Grey said...

You can't eat spicy food if your gallbladder's gone?!? Madness. I'd opt to be shot first.

esbboston said...

I figured out a solution to your problem: I braved the cold just long enough to get a fudgesicle for myself and Beggin' Strips for Cooper. Oh, your solution, I almost forgot, sorry. Shave your head, wrap up in a couple of sheets, and then ask for donations at the airport. Don't forget to take a musical instroooment and a container for donations.

powdergirl said...

Heh. Same here. About a hundred years ago I was engaged to a guy who I had no business being engaged to. From the moment I said I'd marry him, I had a wart, yes, A WART, on my thumb knuckle. My body knew he was less a Prince and more a frog immediately. Dropped the fiance, tadaa, wart disappeared. Win win. funny thing how the body knows more than the head and heart sometimes : )

Laraine Eddington said...

I've contracted and beaten empathetic cancer several times now.

fishducky said...

So that's why my head stopped itching--THANK YOU!! Now there's a little crick in my left shoulder--if you wouldn't mind...........

Eva Gallant said...

My left knee is still bothering me from my fall on the ice. would you mind......?

Seriously, our bodies do talk to us sometimes. I wish mine would remind me not to eat so much!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Heated indoor air is so dry it can cause itching. But on the head? I dunno, I tell you.

JohnD said...

Don't worry your little head about nothing. It's just a mild reaction to where the government secretly implanted their monitoring chip while you slept!

jenny_o said...

Hmm. I hesitate to blame ANYthing on female midlife, and yet I have to say that I started with the itchy scalp about when I was your age. I also noticed my formerly oily skin drying up phenomenally. Even if you've always had normal or dry skin, perhaps it's getting dryer too?

Or maybe you really do need to "wash that (pesky whatever) right outta your haaiiiiirr..." as the ad used to go :)

IndigoWrath said...

Hey Pearl! Yes, the body speaks to us in a myriad of subtle ways. If you were DREAMING about scratching your head, it apparently means: "strangers are annoying you by their flattering attentions, which you will feel are only shown to win favors from you." So I'd best be off. Indigo

Dr Zibbs said...

Man you get a lot of comments!

mrwriteon said...

My doctor uncle had a med school friend who ultimately had to drop out because he aquired the symptoms of every illness and condition they were studying. It all left him a basketcase of hysterical hypochondria.

Roses said...

Yeah about that...

*scratches head*

I had a small boy you remember. Scratching head always means check for lice.

*scratches head*

Thanks for that reminder.

Argent said...

Just the mention of fleas has me scratching but beyond that I don't care enough to be empathetic.

Invisible lice sound nasty though, you should get some invisible shampoo for that.

Argent said...

Just the mention of fleas has me scratching but beyond that I don't care enough to be empathetic.

Invisible lice sound nasty though, you should get some invisible shampoo for that.

Dee said...

Dum! Da Dum Dum! Ah ha! Mystery theater. What does the character "Scalp" have to say? That is the question around which this play will revolve!

Peace.

Gigi said...

Great now MY head is itchy! Apparently, I am as empathetic as you - who would have thunk it?

klahanie said...

Ah well, every time I scratch my head, I get a splinter. And would you believe that um "Fanny" has a rather different meaning in lil' ol England? Have no idea why I mentioned that...
I know what I shall do now...hey great posting! Thanks for sharing!
:)

bruce said...

it is the dry cold that is causing your itching.

take two weeks in the Bahamas
and call me in the morning.
run off with some hot mama's
your itching will stop...

hmmm...not much rhymes with morning...

doctor Bruce...

(kinda like doctor Seuss, but without the mad rhyming skills and notoriety...so really not like Dr Seuss at all...)

Rita said...

I have enough health issues. I'd be in really terrible, terrible shape if I started taking on other people's. Or--have I already and that's why I'm in terrible shape? LOL! ;)

HermanTurnip said...

Did you have sympathetic chicken pox? Perhaps psychosomatic pox? Can a hypochondriac come down with a case of imaginary pox?

Ya know, I'm suddenly feeling a tad itchy. I think I better call in sick tomorrow....just in case.

lime said...

you sure there isn't an extra face back there whispering those thoughts in your ear?

Pat Tillett said...

I'm sure that itching is nothing to worry about! Probably just crabs...

Daisy said...

Our bodies know ... glad you got rid of the boyfriend. He might have taken your time away from blogging!

River said...

I've had an itching spot on my scalp for years now. Always the same spot, but there's nothing there. Changing shampoos and conditioners has had no effect, new pillows, washing my hats, nothing changes, the itch is still there. And so very annoying.

BamaTrav said...

The back of your head needs something apparently.

WrathofDawn said...

I used to have 'mystery pains' when I was married. Knees, back, head, you name it... roaming pain every day.

Got divorced and PRESTO CHANGO! Pain gone.

Our bodies. THEY KNOW.

Pat said...

Now you've got me scratching - thanks a bunch.

Susan in the Boonies said...

It must mean SOMETHING!

You're not two-faced. I know it, intuitively.

Your psyche has an itch that needs scratchin'?

Don't go there. Whatever you do. DON'T DO IT.