One symptom of my polycythemia vera is itchy skin. All over? two people asked in one day. No, not all over. Not my hands or feet or face or scalp. But just about everywhere else, so much of everywhere else that it seems like everywhere. It stings as well, sometimes as bad as backyard ants that attacked me while I was trying to rescue my sister, who was being dragged by her (unwitting) friends one night through an ant bed. We rushed inside and ran to the bath tub. I ran water all over my legs and R, all over her head, where the ants had nabbed her. This was in Texas, but before the era of Fire Ants, or else we might not be here to recall the event. Today I'm home, trying to take a short nap and my skin is stinging and I already took a 24-hour Zyrtec (which was mislabeled--should be 24-minute) three hours ago. The itch and sting cause panic and weeping and thoughts that it will always be this way, I can't do anything about it, the medicine doesn't work, Atarax was great while it lasted, before it stopped working, I'm helpless; time stops and this becomes my whole life, I can't go anywhere, I can't escape into sleep. I'm living in the moment, can't see beyond it except to an entire life bounded by this, making me unable to leave the house and it's so bad I cancel my therapy appointment later in the afternoon. I try to reorder some gabapentin , but my prescription is outdated, and the gabapentin didn't work anyway, but it was a fleeting reassurance to think about gabapentin, that there might be something out there that I could reach.
That was a couple of weeks ago. I ended up taking more Zyrtec, and I think a benadryl, and I slept three hours. I'd been to a dermatologist who specializes in skin problems caused by non-skin diseases. He was born in Colombia and his father grew up with a kid who always said he wanted to be a writer. Yes. Garcia Marquez. The dermo said that was a 50/50 chance that phototherapy would help, and his people said they'd check with my insurance. Last week I called to see what the insurance decision was and found out it was in my favor! So yesterday I got zapped. I went to a little office without windows with two nice ladies in it in solid-color uniforms. There were three or four big upright tanks (reminding me of the big round French outdoor bathrooms) and I changed into a gown and paper footies and went inside (luckily, the one that was open on the top), wearing stiff dark goggles over my eyes, attached by an elastic strap, my eyes closed. The lady in green set the machine for 38 seconds and I could hear whooshing around me and could see, through my closed lids and the goggles, purple light, and it seemed to last about two minutes. Then the sound and light stopped and I put on my gown and footies and pushed on the metal bar to open the door. I felt like I'd been in Mr. Peabody's WABAC Machine and that I should be stepping out into the 18th century or any other era. But I was back in the office with the Office of the Two Ladies with dream catchers and psoriasis bulletins on the wall. L saw me a few hours later and asked if I was still itching.
I was zapped on Monday and now it's Thursday. I'm taking one-a-day Zyrtec just once a day. But I've also been inside a lot; being outside can make my skin itch because there are so many allergens out there.