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Monday, September 30, 2013

Chicken Hickeys

“ An inefficient virus kills its host. A clever virus stays with it. ”   James Lovelock

My Chicken Hickey has returned.

For the third time in my life now, I've had a shingles outbreak. For those who don't know what that means, basically when you get chicken pox as a kid your immune system defeats it in most places. Occasionally, they miss a spot or two and the virus goes dormant. These dormant places are next to nerves.

When you are stressed, the virus (known as zoster) sees your immune system is taxed and it wakes back up, angering the nerve and causing stripey lesions on your skin, oddly on only one side of the body. Its the same virus as chicken pox, from your initial infection as a child, but it behaves very differently and takes weeks to go away again. Unlike chicken pox, which resolves in under a week.

Some people are lucky enough to get it on their chest or even their arms. The really fucked people get it on their face and around their eyes.  Mine appears on my neck in true moderately fucked fashion. Not the best place, but at least I can still see.

It fools you by acting like its a zit. You try to pop it, nothing comes out. You think, wow thats odd.  It then gets angry and red. You think, wow I must have pissed that zit off by trying to pop it too soon. My bad Mr. Zit, I'll let to your brew a little longer, no need to get so angry. When the redness doesn't go down, you think wow my neck skin sure is sensitive. You put neosporin on it and go to bed thinking it will be gone in the morning. Wake up, its still there but theres obviously nothing in it. Shit. Ok more neosporin and vow not to touch it or pick at it that day. Wake up on day three. Its bigger. You put some make up over it and think what. the. hell It's a good thing I'm not dating.  Day four rolls by and its now long and red and really raised. Its brought a friend with it today. The friend is a red flag. You finally remember, oh yeah I'm carrying Zoster. Wee fucking wee. I can stop saying wow now.

Then the bastard starts to itch. If  you are really lucky, it will give you horrendous nerve pain in your jaw and teeth like it did the second time I had it. You can't scratch it, cause well, its your fucking neck and the skin there is like rice paper and we aren't trying to make the spot bigger by raking our flesh off.

The best you can do is stand in the shower with your neck up to the nozzle and let 130deg water hit it for an hour to kill the itch. How do kids do this chicken pox shit?? I can't imagine my whole body feeling like that. I can however, remember my mother screaming at me frantically to stop scratching while my sister and I sat in the bathtub. Hey sis,  you know how you say you're too young to remember all the fun stuff we did together as kids? Well thats the kind of things you missed.

Far worse things are to come however. See, the first few days the thing looks like a zit. Hell it even fools me at first as I just illustrated. The subsequent days it looks like a bad evil zit to the general public. The kind people will notice and feel sorry for you, but not say anything about. Or maybe they think you picked at it like some meth addict. Who knows. The point is they try to ignore it.  After all acne is sad, and you are to be pitied at this point..

Thing is when we hit about 7 days in, it will look like a hickey. I'll know when I've arrived at that point because the comments will start. Generally they are people I know or kinda know and they get a free science lession about the life cycle of chicken pox. But the bad comments always come from people I don't know...

 The first time I had shingles. I was a cashier at Petsmart. I helped hundreds of people a day and the looks I was getting were quite spectacular. I was about 20 years old, pretty, and in a menial job so it was plausible that I'd come to work like that. This guy made a joke about my hickey and what a fun night I must have had. (which is ironic because I'm pretty certain the volatile relationship with my then boyfriend is what triggered it) Har har. I told him it wasn't a hickey it was just acne from hell. (I didn't know at the time what shingles was and still had bad skin back then). He laughed and basically called me a liar. I insisted. He laughed harder. I insisted again. He laughed.

There's no real moral to that story except that some guys are jerks who will laugh at you.

The second time I had shingles, It was just after my split from Kev and my stress levels from moving repeatedly and dealing with a freaked out diarhea dog and a screaming-destroy-the-carpet-lost-your-deposit-cat were sky high.  Thus It got much larger and eventually looked like a bonafide "rash" and only one person commented on it, and not to my face. This time I was preemptive however and told everyone that I had a thing. It was going to grow. It wasn't contagious, and no I didn't make out with an overzealous teenager.  He was able to explain on my behalf to the commenter.

This time remains to be seen. I take peace in the fact that its really uncommon to have this more than three times tops. But then again it was uncommon for me to have it as a young adult anyway, so perhaps I'm just a freak of nature.

 Either way, I like talking about my odd bits, chronic dormant viruses and all.

But if I have to defend myself as "not having a hickey" at 31 years old. I may have to smack a' bitch. Or at least rub my neck on them.

That is all.

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