This month marks year 15 that I’ve been writing my column. I’m not sure where the time has gone but I do know that when it comes to writing this weekly piece, I always have a ball. I’m knee-deep in helping students with their med school personal statements this week, so I thought I’d dig up an old column from June 2007 whose topic is, unfortunately, timeless. It was definitely an up-close-and-personal introduction to Kentucky life.
*Please note: “The boyfriend,” who was nameless for years, is my now-husband, William.
Hi, I have chiggers. And I don’t, honestly, know how I’m going to make it. I am so itchy I am one baby step away from panic.
I went camping this weekend at Laurel Lake and enjoyed myself tremendously. We pitched a tent, swam almost constantly, ate sunflower seeds and beef jerky, and devoured all manner of tabloid magazine.
When we got back, the boyfriend and I sat in the porch, sipped wine and talked for hours about what a good time we had, how lucky we were, how beautiful it was.
Then I woke up Monday morning with a few red bumps on my thighs and behind my knees. I showed the boyfriend, who was immediately concerned I had poison ivy. His concern, of course, was only to the extent that I might have given the ivy to him.
He quickly concluded, however, they were just some type of bite.
But as the day wore on, the bumps turned into weals and soon I was getting at least one new welt every hour.
And, boy, they were itchy. Itchy in a fiery way that just grew and grew and grew so that at one point I actually saw my skin spark while I was sitting at the corner of Ky. 363 and 1006. And, unfortunately, the welts were not in places appropriate for public scratching. No, those chiggers sure do know how to find the warmest spots, don’t they?
I showed the women in the newsroom some of the bumps behind my knees and was quickly diagnosed: chiggers. Bad case of chiggers.
“Nothing helps,” the editor said. “The only thing that gives some relief is clear nail polish. It doesn’t even work that well, but at least you can pick it off and have an excuse to scratch.”
So this morning, with a huge smile on his face, the boyfriend stood in the bathroom applying nail polish on my bum, which has six welts. Two more surfaced overnight, convincing me that chiggers seem to have taken up residence in our sheets.
“Yeah, I have about six bites total,” the boyfriend said casually while he dabbed. “But I don’t seem to react to them like you do. Too bad you’re An Allergic.”
“An Allergic,” by the way, is a hilarious phrase I coined when talking about him and how sensitive he is to poison ivy.
And now he’s turned the joke on me.
This morning, I was brave enough to look up chiggers online, after awakening with my body nearly vibrating it was so itchy. I was relieved to know that, at the very least, I don’t have actual bugs or eggs inside me, as I believed. Instead, my skin has only been liquefied by an enzyme that was also kind enough to provide a straw apparatus for the little buggers to suck my juices.
And so here I sit, at the office, unable to sleep, unable to sit still, with liquefied skin. I have a feeling even the pleasure of eating is going to be dimmed due to the distraction. And so here is my plea: If you know a surefire way to help, please e-mail me. And if anyone has any floaty skirts or dresses they want to get rid of, call me up. For the next few weeks, I plan on dressing like the tent I got bit in.