This month marks the 15th year that I am writing my column. I don’t know where the time has gone, but I do know that when it comes to writing this weekly article, I always have fun. I’m all about helping students with their personal statements from medical school this week, so I thought I’d dig up an old column from June 2007 whose subject matter is, unfortunately, timeless. It was definitely a close and personal introduction to Kentucky life.
* Please Note: “The Boyfriend,” who went unnamed for years, is my current husband, William.
Hi, I have chiggers. And honestly, I don’t know how I’m going to get out of it. I’m so itchy that I’m one step away from panic. I went camping this weekend at Laurel Lake and had a blast. We pitched a tent, swam almost constantly, ate sunflower seeds and dried beef, and devoured all kinds of tabloid magazines.
When we got back the boyfriend and I sat on the porch, sipped wine, and talked for hours about the great time we had, how lucky we were, about the beauty. Then I woke up Monday morning with a few red bumps. my thighs and behind my knees. I showed it to the boyfriend, who immediately worried that I had poison ivy. His concern, of course, was only to the extent that I could have given him the ivy. He quickly concluded, however, that it was just some sort of bite.
But as the day wore on the bumps turned into welts and soon I had at least one new weld every hour. And, boy, they were itching to me. Burning itch that just kept getting bigger and bigger so that at one point I saw my skin glow as I sat on the corner of 363 and 1006. And, unfortunately, the welts weren’t not in places suitable for scratching in public. No, these chiggers know how to find the hottest places, 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 publisher said. “The only thing that relieves is the clear nail polish. It doesn’t even work very well, but at least you can take it off and have an excuse to scratch yourself.”
So this morning, with a big smile on his face, the boyfriend was standing in the bathroom applying nail polish to my butt, which has six welts. Two more surfaced overnight, convincing me that chiggers seem to have taken up residence in our sheets.
“Yeah, I’ve got about six bites in total,” the boyfriend said casually as he dabbed. “But I don’t seem to react like you. Too bad you’re allergic.” “An Allergic,” by the way, is a hilarious phrase I coined when talking about him and his sensitivity to poison ivy. And now he’s turned the joke on me. This morning I had the courage to search for chiggers online, after waking up with my body almost vibrating, I was so itchy. I was relieved to know that at the very least, I didn’t have any bugs or eggs inside of me, as I believed. Instead, my skin was only liquefied by an enzyme that was also kind enough to provide a straw device for the little fellows to suck on my juice. Pleasant.
And so here I am sitting, at the desk, unable to sleep, unable to stand still, with liquefied skin. I have a feeling that even the pleasure of eating will be diminished because of the distraction. And so here is my plea: if you know of a surefire way to help, please email me. And if anyone has any flowing skirts or dresses that they want to get rid of, give me a call. For the next few weeks, I plan to dress like the tent I bit into.