Monday, November 21, 2022

A Disease of its Own Kind 

Tormentors in the eighth circle of hell? Yes, that seems about right.

They call it chronic spontaneous idiopathic cholinergic urticaria.

Chronic, meaning, you’ve got it for good, mate.

Spontaneous, meaning it can happen at any time.

Idiopathic, meaning without rhyme or reason.

Cholinergic, relating to nerve cells.

Urticaria, that’s the hives bit.

Put it together and what have you got? Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo. No, you do not have bibbidi-bobbidi-boo. You’ve got terrible hives that can happen any time, without a reason, forever. That’s what I’ve got. I recently read about a woman’s experience with this strange condition that essentially is your immune system going all batty, firing off an allergic reaction to things that shouldn’t cause allergic reactions. Things like cold, heat, vibrations, loud noises, looking at goldfish for too long… OK not that one, but all the others, yes. What I could relate to more than anything in this article wasn’t the hives itself, or the confusion of why she was getting them, or even the suddenness of its appearance, what I could really relate to more than any of that, was how trivial everyone else seemed to treat it. Not just that being a bit itchy was trivial, but that the whole thing was somehow funny, unlikely, unbelievable and completely misunderstood. No matter how many times she told people, and no matter how she explained how she felt, the closest anyone came to anything approaching understanding what she was going through was confusion and disbelief.

I’ve described the worst of my hives as some kind of strange electrical storm that took over my skin and was a combination of psoriasis, eczema, the worst sunburn you’ve ever had, with occasional bouts of being attacked by murder hornets. I would be lying if I said there weren’t moments I was brought to tears, panic, and sheer anger. There was a period of several months where I doubt I slept more than an hour at any time. Weirdly, I thank all the gods for the pandemic because just as the world came to a standstill, when were were told to stay inside, avoid other people and when work slowed to a crawl, that was exactly what I needed. When wearing clothing is painful, or you are embarrassed by just how much of your skin is falling off your forehead, or when your eyelashes are full of dead skin, or your arms are covered in claw marks like telltale signs of self-harm, the one thing you don’t want to do, is see other people. Other people can go to hell.

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Monday, November 07, 2022

Craving Comfort 

Ratty is here to tell you, it will be alright.

One day last week, a migraine settled its haze over me and I submitted to it. I didn't need a weighted blanket but a warm compress and time to lie still were my self-care techniques.

When I emerged from the spider hole of my head, still groggy, I craved fat, salt, and sugar or a remedy I call The Cure. I ordered a bacon cheese burger with fries and immediately purchased a packaged cupcake. I'm not sure why, but despite feeling queasy from the pain in my head, I usually feel like vomiting at the sight of fresh fruit, or gagging at the thought of a green salad, but my mouth waters for anything greasy, salty or sweet. Then, once sated, I can sink further into the couch and listen to a podcast or watch a familiar film.

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Friday, November 04, 2022

Seen in October 

This Nile looks far too lovely to be deadly.

I'm not a fan of horror as a genre. Horror movies always feel like they are out to deceive the audience, yet I enjoy a thriller and tales of the supernatural. I watched a couple of horror-adjacent flicks to get in the Halloween mood but ended the month seeking the comfort of an old favourite and a war movie as a precursor to November.

Death on the Nile

Another one of those star-studded, luxuriously filmed period Hercule Poirot/Agatha Christie murder mysteries from Kenneth Branagh (who previously did The Murder on the Orient Express). There is an enjoyable ease of this kind of entertainment, a drawing room comfort of a puzzle that will be completed before the night is done.

Bradley Cooper in Nightmare Alley.

Nightmare Alley

A remake of a 1940s noir film from Guillermo Del Toro. Bradley Cooper plays Stan, a man with a secret in his past who has come to find work in a carnie show where he finds love and a calling. He learns/steals a "mentalist act" and despite warnings not to take it too far, he takes it too far. Stan, along with his lady love, played by Mara Rooney, takes the act mainstream where he finds a new kind of crowd, yet as Stan admits, "Same grift, different threads." He isn't the only one playing a grift, he just doesn't know it yet.

Werewolves Within

There was something off about this horror, scare-fest, comedy: it wasn't that horrific, scary or funny. Despite a talented cast this movie-based-on-a-videogame doesn't stray too far from what's expected of it and what's expected of it wasn't too much.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Adults Only 

Nowadays, everyone knows the Emperor has no clothes, and no one cares.

It felt a little wrong, if not illegal, to drop an envelope containing "bio-samples" in the post. It almost seemed like I was mailing a vengeful letter to a perceived enemy. "Imagine their surprise when they open this envelope and find fecal samples!" – as if I was a sort of lazy thirteen-year-old Count of Monte Cristo plotting my enemy's comeuppance. I'd once heard of a fellow who had for years collected his fingernail clippings and a bag of his own hair with the sole purpose of putting the collection into a paper bag and setting it on fire on the doorstep of his ex-wife. Apparently, he had heard that burning nail clippings and hair smelled horrible, and he was planning this juvenile revenge until the day he died.

Yet, I was not mailing a letter bomb to a spurned lover or adversary but rather passing another cairn of life on the road to adulthood. Doing your taxes, buying life insurance, having a retirement savings plan, paying a mortgage, creating a will and now completing a colorectal cancer screening test are all markers of my increasingly undeniable advancing age. The test itself is easier to do than you think but just as icky as you might imagine. Still, the symbolism of it is hard to miss. Strangely, other signs of advanced adulthood such as balding, (in truth my hair has never looked better by its very absence), or a greying beard (more distinguished looking and safer than smoking a pipe), haven't really affected me.

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