Sunday, August 28, 2011

Just When The Cankers Are Disappearing...Scabies!!!

No, I don't have scabies (at least, I don't think I do. More on that in a moment).

So I'm feeling much, much better than I was since my last post. This has been a rough week. Monday through Thursday were days of nearly impossible swallowing and congestion. When I did my show on Wednesday, I was so congested, I felt like I was performing in a bubble. Plus, swallowing was still painful. I felt very detached from the show.

Lidocaine became my new best friend. I had to gargle a mix of lidocaine and Maalox (which, frankly, has the consistency of snot, so, yeah, that was gross). But it did deaden the pain at least for an hour or two, so that was great.

The canker at the top of my tonsil has almost completely disappeared. The one behind my tongue seems to be disappearing, too. Yesterday was my first lidocaine-free day since Monday. It's still a bit uncomfortable to swallow, but not painful. I'm hoping by tomorrow or Tuesday the canker sore will be but a distant memory.

Besides, the cankers having shrunk, I'm just feeling much better than I've felt in a while, so that's great.

Oh, and by the way, I got my blood tested to see why I have been feeling ill these past two weeks. I've had shots and blood taken many times in my life and never had a problem with it. Usually, it's just a small prick, and then you're done. This particular nurse plunged that needle into my arm, then rooted around a while until she could find a vein. It certainly was not the most gentle injection I've ever had.

This, boys and girls, is the result of someone who is not very good at taking blood:

Now we have a scabies scare at work. If you are not familiar with this not-so-lovely condition, you can read about it here. Before I go into more detail, you should know that "scabies" is actually one of my favorite words and certainly my favorite disease/affliction-related word. When someone complains of any ailment, no matter what it is, it is not uncommon for me to jokingly respond, "I bet it's scabies." For example, "My knee hurts." "I bet it's scabies." Or the simpler version: "Boy, my nose is really runny today." "Scabies."

No joke, last year several members of the cast of the show I was in (many of whom are in my current show) entertained ourselves by substituting the word "baby" in common songs with "scabies." Among some of our classic pieces were "You Must Have Had Some Beautiful Scabies," "Scabie Love," "Scabie Face," "Hit Me, Scabies, One More Time," and my personal favorite, "Scary Scabies" (sung to the tune of The Four Seasons' "Sherry Baby").

It turns out that scabies is not nearly as funny when someone you actually know has it. Two days ago one of our cast members was diagnosed with it and announced this fun fact as a precaution to us that we may be infected as well. Scabies is highly contagious, and we have spent quite a run (including rehearsal) with this particular castmate, so it is possible any one of us (or all of us) might have it.

Unfortunately, it's very difficult to detect if you have scabies until you start showing symptoms. Scabies are little mites that burrow into your skin and lay eggs. Once those eggs hatch, the newly-born mites travel around under your skin, leaving rash-like track marks and uncontrollabe itching. It's not at all fun to have (although it's still fun to say).

If your skin is exposed to an infected person's skin, especially for a prolonged period of time, the mites can travel from their body to yours. You can also get it from sharing the same clothes or bed or furniture or, really, anything the infected person has touched. If you are infected, symptoms often don't appear for 4-6 weeks.

Our cast member got it from a roommate who went overseas on vacation and apparently picked it up in Asia. Our castmate, obviously, shares much of the same living space with this individual. The good news is her two other roommates, who also share the space, do not have it.

Our castmate also has been told she's probably been infected for about six or seven weeks now, so if we were infected, too, we would probably be showing signs already (but not necessarily). I also don't have a lot of physical contact, either onstage or off, with this person, so I'm hoping I'm safe. But you never know, and when you work with a tight-knit group of people who are sharing and touching a lot of the same things, there is a risk.

Naturally, we're all a bit skittish. We figure if we have it, it's too late anyway, and we'll just have to be treated once we actually start showing symptoms. We mostly deal with it by trying to have the same sense of humor we had when it was just a silly name and not an actual threat.

Watching how bad the itching is for my friend and fellow castmate (who we are now treating like a friendly leper) is hard, and even harder when we know it could just as easily be our own fate.

I still think scabies is a funny word, but I do wonder how funny it will be should I actually have contracted it. I guess we'll see. Hopefully, I will never know.

Jonah, who I'm visiting for a few days, is naturally concerned as well because he sure doesn't want it. I don't know what to do about it, though. If I have it, I already have it. Let's just hope I don't.

It's interesting how many people in the cast are experiencing psychosomatic itching. I haven't experienced that myself, but the few itches I do have make me think twice.

Funny Scabies:

Not-So-Funny Scabies:

Please, Lord, don't let me have scabies!

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