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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

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?


Shelly said...

Every year of the 29 years I taught, the school conducted annual piojo (lice) checks on the students. I always ended those days with a tremendously itchy scalp and a crawling feeling through my hair. By last period on those days, I had to have the nurse check my head, too, jut to reassure myself I was bug free. The last year, she finally told me, "I think you just like free scalp massages."

Gol dang it...just typing this and now my head is itching.

vanilla said...

Mama used to have a saying for most any kind of "itch." For instance, palm itches, you'll get money, nose itches, company's coming. I've forgotten most of them, since they never seemed to portend anything anyway. Sorry I can't help you with the itchy head.

Furry Bottoms said...

Somebody in your proximity has lice?
But your hairdresser would have seen that.

Perhaps you have someone from the other head thinking about you.

Furry Bottoms said...

Erh that made no sense. I meant to say, perhaps you have someone from the other SIDE thinking of you.

Furry Bottoms said...

like if you're walking down the street and suddenly you see a dime or a penny or some shiny coin, that means someone in heaven is looking out for you. Thats something someone told me.

Pearl said...

Shelly, oooh, it had better NOT be piojo! (New word for the day!)

vanilla, I thought if your nose itched you were going to kiss a fool?!

Furry, that made me laugh. If someone on the other side is thinking of me, then I'd prefer them throwing coins in my path to random itching. :-)

savannah said...

i think you should either change shampoos or cut your hair! :) that'll be 150usd, please. xoxoxoxo

Chicken said...

I don't know, but I think you should go home and rest immediately until the answer comes to you.

Dawn@Lighten Up! said...

I like it. Pain in the side? Lose the boyfriend. Not the jalapeƱos! Absolutely not!

jenny_o said...

It's either dry skin or an overabundance of questions about your new job. Take two litres of water, follow Chicken's advice, and call us in the morning.

Joanne Noragon said...

I'm your second opinion to jenny-o. Just do it.

Delores said...

Not to worry...it's just your head expanding to hold all this new information.

bill lisleman said...

hairdresser with a sense of humor - they are the best.
Do you wear a wool hat?
Has the cat been in the hat?
Been to a flea circus lately?
Call the head scratch hotline, ask for the headmaster.
Blog more, take you mind off of it.

Buttons said...

Glad the getting rid of the boyfriend worked instead of the gall bladder. HUM itchy head is that like if your right hand is itchy it means you are going to receive money. My Grandma was Irish she had a million of those sayings. Itchy head maybe you are going to get a new hat. Guess I should have listened to my Grandma she knew:) Hug

Elephant's Child said...

Love Chicken's advice. Perfect for almost every occasion. And drat you, my head is itching now. Sympathetic itches I can do without.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
It's the intellect...fluttering about like a madwoman. YAM xx

NanaDiana said...

That someone has gotten under your collar? Just a thought!

NanaDiana said...

That someone has gotten under your collar? Just a thought!

Christian at Point Counter-Point Point Point said...

My wife is the same way and fully admits it. And if you are anything like her I'm assuming you'll start scratching your head within 2 minutes of reading the last word in this comment. Lice.

Geo. said...

Good Lord, I've been ordering piojo at a local restaurant for years! Never asked what it was.

Gigi said...

Between the post and the comments - I can't breathe! I wonder what that means?

Saimi said...

Im in agreement of the mention of lice and yep, like everybody else, my head will itch for days. Being a preschool teacher we have had little heads infected with the nasty creatures - each time I was convinced I was infected too - never was, but you couldn't tell my head that.

Glad you kept your Gallbladder!

Lee said...

Oh! Dear! That could be a very embarrassing malady to have..."compassionate paranoia"; not chicken pox or lice! ;)

River said...

It's your brain trying to break free. Do you need to let loose with some extra creativity that might be brewing in there? Another chapbook perhaps? With recipes?
(I'm not hinting, really I'm not).
I can live without jalapenos. I can even live without all the milder chillies, they cause my rosacea to flare up so bad.

Haddock said...

Ha ha ... like that.... broke up with him and the pain in the side has gone.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

The concept of faux chicken pox is interesting - I guess it's completely psychosomatic? Kind of like a husband having "sympathy labor pains"? I have heard of that before and they say it happens with empathetic people.

Daisy said...

I think your head is itching because you have so many thoughts in that head of yours! :D

lgsquirrel said...

What IS your body saying? Gee, it's a real puzzle. Makes you want to scratch your head .......hey!

Suldog said...

I had a girlfriend similar to your boyfriend. Instead of a pain in the side, I got heartburn. It was an almost daily thing, which I assumed was caused by eating too much spicy food. Once we broke up, my heartburn disappeared. True story. As they say, some folks get ulcers while others are carriers.