Two nights ago, something terrible happened. I developed a large pimple on my back and discovered two sets of bites on my chest. Now to some, a large pimple is not the end of the world. And truly it isn’t. However it’s a bit out of the ordinary for me.
You see, my mother married my father for his nicely shaped nose. It was her plan that her child would have a nice schnoz. But she kept procreating with him for his good skin, hence my sister Diana. It goes without saying that my mother is very vain. The GoFundMe page for her campaign to get a facelift can be found here.
Anyway, the pimple was upsetting, but was the least of my worries. The two sets of bug bites on the other hand brought back my PTSD. Three years ago we had bed bugs. THREE TIMES. I’m going to let the horrific nature of that statement sink in for a little bit before I go on.
The first time was when I was three months pregnant. The second time was six days after Mini-Tex was born and we realized that our apartment building was crawling with them. The third time was a day after the second heat treatment didn’t work.
(And yes, the heat treatments are the only solution that works. Anyone who tells you otherwise is riddled with bugs and living in denial. Once upon a time pest companies used powerful chemicals that caused three headed babies and made kangaroos birth eight toed porcupines in a painful abuse of nature. Those super powerful sprays worked but this hasn’t been the case since “Silent Spring” was published. Now they apply something that’s like Nix shampoo. Wholly ineffective but smells good. Also doesn’t cause babies that look like multi-limbed Hindu gods.)
It would seem that heat treatments were designed for places that aren’t -50 Celsius in the winter. Following this, my little family decided to box up our things and live out of a beat up duffel bag like the dirty, transient people that we clearly were based on the repeated infestations.
Since our third and successful heat treatment, I’ve been a little crazy. And by a little, I mean sometimes I make John Nash look sane. I freeze library books for a week. Anything that comes from secondhand stores is promptly thrown in the dryer for thirty minutes. If it’s plastic, I clean the item with all of the vigor and enthusiasm of Mr. Clean demonstrating the effectiveness of his newest product. These acts of quasi cleanliness of course shock the hell out of anyone who knows me. In the three years since having bedbugs, I’ve ripped apart more hotel rooms than Johnny Depp. The difference is; I put them back together.
The discovery of the bites threw me into a panic. Tex, of course. was on call at the hospital. That’s always where my husband is when anything important happens. During the apocalypse, try his pager; Mini-Tex and I will be sheltering underground somewhere and I of course will have forgotten my phone. So Tex was away, leaving no one to help me, or calm me in my bedbug bitten, acne ridden state.
What followed was a four hour assault on our beds, linens and washing machine. Not one to let the fact that I’m enormously fat and in no condition to be throwing mattresses over my shoulder like matchsticks, I set about stripping all of the beds. (That was my pregnancy announcement for all you readers, because nothing goes together quite like pestilence and replicating oneself. It’s like PB and J really.)
I carefully peeled back mattress covers. I hoisted box springs over my head and studied them like ancient runes. I chucked pillowcases into the drum of our washer with so much animosity that one would have thought they wronged my mother. (No doubt by insinuating that she looked a day over 38.)
At midnight I fell into an anxiety fueled stupor, reliving the horrible weeks following my son’s birth in my head. Being a reasonable person, I of course did not blame my spouse or intimate that he was lazy and awful in any way for not being there to assist me. And I definitely did not send eight texts to this effect because as we’ve established, I am both a reasonable and loving person.
The next morning, the pimple was throbbing. This was the pimple to rule them all. This was my comeuppance for having nice skin throughout high school, my karmic, dermatologic reckoning. Two years ago, I lanced a pimple for Tex. I sent him a message saying that he was to return the favor as soon as he got home.
The pain of my pimple got worse over the course of the day. In my head I pictured all of the bacteria living in the pimple copulating and partying wildly like it was spring break in Panama. During noon hour yoga, I counted down the hours until Tex would lance it. After yoga, I began counting the minutes, picturing my pimple’s demise with the same joy that oppressed people must feel about the murder of their tyrant.
Finally, I could wait no longer and biked Mini-Tex and myself to the park by the hospital to wait for my husband and his happy, stabby scalpel. Only this is what happened instead when he arrived at the playground.
Tex – That isn’t a pimple, its herpes.
Unwashed – Did you just tell me that I have herpes IN A PARK??!
Tex – It’s better known as shingles but yes, all those spots are Herpes zoster.
Unwashed – I have three pieces of bad news for you: 1. You’re wrong 2. We have bedbugs- those are bedbug bites and finally 3. You married someone who now has bad skin and you’re stuck with me and my pustules forever. Now please be a dear and lance the painful bit on my back.
Tex refused. Presumably because he had stopped loving me once he discovered I had bad skin. Next, he tried a different tactic; he got out his phone and showed me pictures of people with shingles and those with bedbug bites.
It was in that moment that I understood how my husband felt when he went to the abstract modern art exhibition with me. Upon discovering me on the verge of happy tears in front of a streaky, colourful painting depicting a garden he whispered “Are you seeing the faces in the coffee grounds?” and then left to find a coffee place.
Tex ~Holding up a picture of a person with shingles~ “Do you see the verticules?”
(Verticules may be a made up word. Whatever he said sounded a lot like that though.)
Unwashed – “No, it’s a gross picture of a person’s skin.”
Tex ~Holding up a picture of bedbug bites~ “Look at the difference in distribution.”
Unwashed – “That is also a gross picture of a person’s skin. Please put your phone away and lance my back.”
Then we decided to give it a rest until Tex wised up and realized I was right, so we headed to the mall to look at the blow up Halloween decorations. Because nothing distracts from pain better than forcing your terrified toddler to touch a vampire Minion. En route, the pain in my back which had been growing all day began to creep up my neck.
Unwashed – “For serious, you need to lance my back. The pain is in my neck now. Also we need to look up where the nearest exterminator is.”
Tex – “You need to go to emerg.”
An hour later, a doctor who works with Tex asked me why my doctor-at-home wasn’t working. Then she suggested that I try turning him off and back on again. After that, she gave me a prescription for an anti-viral to treat shingles and instructions to feed Tex better so he would be an actual doctor to me. She was super confused when I all but bear hugged her out of relief that the spots weren’t bedbug bites. Really, she could have said anything short of “cancer” and as long as it wasn’t bedbugs I would have done an end zone dance of elation.
The pharmacist gave me a joke of a prescription: two giant horse pills that I was to take three times a day for a week. My response was “Sir, do you actually expect me to do that? I couldn’t even remember my birth control pills that were once a day! There was a reason I was five months pregnant at my wedding.” In other news, I now can’t go back to the pharmacy.
Fresh off the high of discovering that we don’t have bedbugs again, I decided to look into this whole “shingles” business and Googled “Shingles in thirty year old”. This was a mistake. As poor a physician as I make, Dr. Google is worse. Apparently shingles pain can become so bad if you get it in your eyes that people commit suicide. That is possibly even scarier than vampire Minions.
I have it easy. My husband caught the infection before most people even know they’re sick. Also it’s on my back, not in my eyes. Consequently my nerve pain amounts to extreme itchiness. Rather than reaching for a gun, I want to find a grizzled oak tree to rub myself up against like a bear.
As it is, I’m going to finally retire to bed- to use Tex as a human scratching post. It’s his punishment for not letting his pregnant, shingles ridden wife turn on the air conditioning in October. For serious, it’s 74 degrees Fahrenheit in here. It’s a sauna, I half expect to hear rocks hissing in the corner and while beer-bellied, hairy men air out their manboobs on my living room couch. And there, while rubbing my husband’s shoulder blades against my rash, I will sleep the contented sleep of one who merely has nerve pain and not a bedbug infestation.
For those of you who actually clicked on the link to my mother’s alleged Go Fund Me facelift page, you will note there is no such site. I debated creating one in jest but decided that it was too mean and was also nervous that people might donate because unlike my mother, I like her face just the way it is. I think she looks lovely. To quote Shane Koyczan, Canada’s premier poet (meaning that no one has any clue who he is), “[Childrens’] definition of the word beauty begins with “Mom”.”