I’m digging deep this week to maintain my sunny regards. This is one of those weeks where you either laugh or cry, and I’m trying really hard to laugh more. I have Scabies. Trust me, I’m way more grossed out than you are.
I will probably never know for sure where I came into contact with the mites that cause Scabies, but in some fashion, I either had skin-to-skin contact with an infected person (gag), or I used unclean sheets or towels somewhere (double gag). When the doctor diagnosed me, his first question was: “do you travel much”? That is when I knew I was in trouble.
Scabies is caused by mites that are past from human host to host. Pets can get it too, but from what I’ve read the man-eaters don’t cross over to eat beast. For me, Scabies first appeared as a very dry skin rash on my leg that itched a lot, especially at night. And since it is winter, my self-diagnosis seemed plausible, so I moisturized morning, noon and night. But, alas, Dr. Me lacks all the training of a healthcare professional and missed some tell-tail signals that something bigger was brewing.
Lesson 1 – Listen to My Body
I have this tendency to say, “It’s not that bad. It’s just a sports injury, I’m just a little wheezy, it’s just dry skin”, when really my body is saying collapsed hip, asthma attack, Scabies. Sooner, than later, I really hope to learn the lesson to take my own health more seriously.
I have read about those people who say “it’s only a small lump” and ignore it and I wonder who these fools are until I then realize I could easily be one of them.
But life is busy, and it is hard for me to know when something crosses the line from being a minor annoyance to becoming a chronic problem. With the Scabies, I knew when both legs had exploded in a bumpy rash that closely resembled goose bumps and itched so badly at night that tearing my skin off seemed like good option.
Lesson 2 – Cleanliness is Virtuous
It’s a slimy world with germs and mites and virus. And, there isn’t enough antibacterial gel to combat it all, so I don’t even try. I accept some degree of dirt in my life as normal.
But, when it comes to my home, this is my sanctuary, the single place where I can strive for a higher standard. I know people cleaner than me, but here is a brief glimpse of my playbook:
• There are no dishes or food left out, ever
• The counters and stovetop are always wiped clean
• I vacuum the inside of my drawers and wipe down refrigerator shelves
• I’m someone who changes filters, gets vents cleaned, has the carpet shampooed
• A professional service deep cleans every other week
• Sheets are changed weekly, towels changed often
• My closet is color coded…. (that is more about organization than cleanliness, but it does demonstrate the level of my up-tightness)
So, knowing that I have infected my clean home with contagious dirty mites makes my stomach churn. I’m washing, dry cleaning, quarantining, vacuuming, and freezing mites and eggs from everything I’ve touched. If there was a gold medal awarded for laundry as an endurance activity, I’m a serious contender.
As a victim of Scabies, which I contracted from no fault of my own, I feel disgusting. I can’t help but think that someone else’s carelessness did this to me. And, I’m fighting to clean up this mess and carry on.
Lesson 3 – Opaque Tights Rule
So what if it is 80-degrees this April in Southern California; I’m wearing black opaque tights. This is both a health and a vanity thing. I won’t allow my legs to touch anything for obvious reasons. And, I don’t want anyone to see me like this.
On the positive side, the control top of my tights does hold in the new jelly bean belly that I developed from the pity party I hosted for myself…
Lesson 4 – My Husband is Amazing
I already knew this one. But, as a damsel in distress, I gave Hubby yet another opportunity to demonstrate his amazing kindness. It goes without saying I have exposed him too. And, instead of getting all weirded out, he is my biggest supporter.
Last night, as I lay with cold compress on my bites trying not to itch myself to a bloody pulp, he was researching home remedies to supplement my prescription treatments. Tea tree oil, bleach bath – these were sounding like legitimate alternatives in that hour of need.
But what really helped most was his hug. Never mind that he will probably get Scabies too, he reached out and hugged me and told me everything is going to be okay. And I know he’s right.
Lesson 5 – Keep Traveling
It is tempting to retreat to my home and lock the doors and never want to leave. This is so vulgar. But, I won’t be doing that.
I am not someone who would risk infecting a housekeeper or a future hotel guest. But when the Scabies are absolutely and positively gone I will be “itching” for my next adventure.
Because, for me, the upside to travel far outweighs the risk. Diarrhea, constipation, bed bugs, Scabies, pick-pockets, scam artists: I’ve been there and done that. And, I’ve also seen the Eiffel Tower and eaten gelato in Rome and swam with whale sharks in Mexico and skied in Banff National Park. For everything I’ve seen and done, I am forever changed by having seen it and done it. And I “mite” run into trouble here and there, but that is ultimately all just a part of my wonderful journey.