Monday, July 11, 2011

Runaway imagination heads up mountain instead of molehill

As long as I can remember, I’ve been the proud owner of an overactive imagination. While at first blush this seems like it would be a blessing, it can also be a curse.

Don’t get me wrong: I love that my imagination has served me well over the years as a writer, but its dark side comes out every now and then with bewildering results.

You’ve heard the saying “Making a mountain out of a molehill?” Well the same is true for me when it comes to health issues … a cough can turn into an untreatable case of tuberculosis in my mind in no time at all.

This brings me to last Wednesday. I started the day thinking to myself, “Look, I got a mosquito bite last night. Wow it’s itchy.” But sadly, that is not where that thought ended.

Wednesday 7 a.m.: Woke up to an itchy forearm and a red swollen dot. Ah, yes … sat out well into the evening with the family on the patio last night. Note to self: Must put some sort of ointment on it to make the itching go away.

Wednesday Noon: Wow, this thing is really itchy and … if I’m not mistaken … yes, I have two of them. Hmmm…I don’t believe mosquito bites spread nor duplicate, so it must be something else. But what?

Thursday 2 a.m.: Thanks to Google Images, I am afraid to fall asleep. I conducted an in-depth investigative search for the last two hours on scabies, flea bites and ticks. The pictures were horrifying, especially the magnified photos of these actual bugs that invade the skin, sometimes completely moving in not unlike a freeloading relative or similar. Our cat Sabrina, who was sleeping soundly next to me, was swiftly ejected from the bed and room altogether as I’m sure this is all her doing and she’s using us as her “host family” for all kinds of invisible bugs. Sure, she’s cute, but I’ve seen the bugs that are capable of living on her and they are most decidedly NOT. Note to self: Must wash sheets in extremely hot water first thing tomorrow.

Friday 7 a.m.: Gaaaaaa! Dots have spread all over my forearm and are bubbling up and oozing. This is a first. I’ve never had that happen before with a mosquito bite. So in Hugh-Laurie-as-Dr. House fashion I am crossing that off my list of “possible diagnoses.”

This brings us to scabies. I believe that is what sailors used to get on ships, right? Because they didn’t eat enough vegetables or some such. Or is that scurvy? Either way, I haven’t been on the open seas anytime lately, so that one’s off the list as well.

Friday 5 p.m.: Complained to my husband that the itching was becoming unbearable. “What IS IT?” I yelled across the table at him as I thrust my arm under his nose.

He thought for a few moments then said, “I heard they’ve seen quite a resurgence of E-bola virus at Mercy lately. Maybe it’s that.”

“SERIOUSLY?” I asked, wide-eyed.

“No,” he said, grinning.

He can be quite unsupportive sometimes.

Sunday Noon: Had lunch with another couple after church. He’s an OB/GYN so when he sat down to join us I thrust my arm across the table and said, “What is this, scabies?” He shook his head no. “Flea bites?” “No,” he said. “They don’t’ usually swell up like that. I think it’s poison oak.”

Oh my. Anything with “poison” in the title can’t be good, right? Let me think: I had been weeding just days earlier. And we had gone on a hike up Table Rock Mountain last weekend. This guy may know his stuff after all, I thought. (Note to self: Must hire gardener and lawn service as I am clearly developing a severe reaction to poison oak.)

My husband leaned over to me and whispered, “Here comes the waitress to take our order. Maybe you can show HER your arm and see what she thinks.”

It’s official: My husband’s mocking me.

Monday Noon. In showing my arm to co-workers at work (I can be quite persistent) one savior of a woman said, “Yes, that’s poison oak and I have the stuff you need at my desk. Come by.”

Let’s just say, I am a huge fan of Cal-Dry and a certain co-worker (you know who you are) and am now itch-free.

But just knowing it could have been worse makes me nervous and unsettled. I can’t help it.

If I could just use this nervous energy toward good I could light a whole city. Or write a few novels. Or make a mountain out of a mole hill. I just never know which way it’ll go.

Speaking of mole hills, I’ve had this really weird-looking mole on my leg…

Eileen Burmeister lives, works and obsesses over skin eruptions in Roseburg. She can be reached at

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