We’re not quite a week into the new school year, and already we’re settling into a familiar routine. I hear his alarm go off and the sound of Monkey leaping out of bed just seconds before my alarm goes off; in contrast, Chickadee’s first alarm is usually turned off before it has a chance to beep (she’ll turn it off in the wee hours, I suspect), and the second alarm—on a second clock, across the room—goes off ten minutes later.
Monkey is downstairs in about six minutes, bright-eyed and chatty and cheerful. Chickadee won’t follow for at least another fifteen minutes (if not more), and she is often slow and irritable. She’s not much of a morning person. But in her defense, she’s also completely covered in Ye Olde Creeping Crud, and that’s probably not very comfortable. I’ve certainly been crabby over (much) less. (Dear Otto: I love you. Please resist the urge to comment here. Thanks, sweetie! Smooches!)
And we have tried—LORD HOW WE HAVE TRIED—but several weeks ago I had to concede defeat and call the doctor again.
So, to recap: Remember how Chickadee was diagnosed with Molloscum after she returned from her dad’s house covered in a rash? Our family doctor assured us that it was very common and not that big of a deal, and it might itch “just a little” but here, use this cream, and don’t worry, she’ll be fine?
Yeah. Well. We used the cream the doctor gave us, but we also went to the hippie store and got some other things to try. Like neem soap! And colloidal silver ointment! And toe of newt, which is a little slimy but leaves sort of a pretty shimmer. (Hang on a sec. Now I need to sit here and count how many emails I get asking if I RILLY RILLY bought toe of newt. Ah, I love the Internet. Yes I do. Okay, moving on.)
So we had this whole cocktail of skin treatment that she was doing, and the rash would get much better and I would be all “GO TEAM HERBAL! LET’S HUG SOME TREES! NO, WAIT, THAT’S POISON OAK, STOP!” But then we started getting into this very disturbing pattern: The skin behind her knees was clear and pink and normal for the first time in weeks, and then she’d get up the next morning and have TWICE as much crud as she’d had the night before. Or the patches on her elbows would be smoothing out nicely, finally, and she’d come to me before bed and say “my back itches, can you look at it?” and her ENTIRE back would be covered.
It was really disgusting.
And Chickadee, man, the poor child was itchy ALL THE TIME. I was giving her enough Benadryl to keep a horse fairly well stoned, but still she scratched. And bled. And crusted over. And scratched. And so on.
So I called and made her an appointment with a dermatologist, and during the weeks while we waited for the appointment Chickadee got it into her head that maybe her Molloscum was going to be frozen off and she spent that time insisting that SHE WOULD RATHER BE RASHY and NO ONE IS FREEZING ANYTHING ON ME, just in case I tried to pull a fast one, or something. I pointed out that when you have one or two or even ten little wart-like thingies, freezing is an option, but when you’re pretty much covered head to toe I don’t think they go for that. Still, she was pretty worried.
Yesterday we headed to the doctor’s office, which—like all doctors’ offices ’round here—is as far away as possible and tucked into a compound of a hundred offices with suite numbers approximately one inch high and unreadable from the parking lot. By some miracle we arrived on time, checked in, and were actually taken back within a reasonable time period.
The doctor came in and—well, wait. I think it was the doctor. Rather, I sure HOPE it was the doctor. But I don’t really KNOW because she didn’t introduce herself or say hello. Which was extremely strange. She just swept into the room and started asking Chickadee to “show me, darling” where her skin was affected. I explained the Molloscum diagnosis and how she hasn’t been improving. And then the doctor made a sweeping motion with her arm as she declared,
“Yes, well, this is not Molloscum. This is why regular doctors should leave the dermatology to the dermatologists.”
“It’s NOT Molloscum?” I asked. “What is it, then?”
The doctor squinted at Chickie’s elbows a bit more, then checked her knees, then said, “What is different, now, since this started?”
“Different?” I was confused. I’m easily confused, actually.
“Yes, different. THINK. Since this started. This is allergic eczema. She has an allergy. What is different? Has she been eating a lot of something?”
I tried to remember to close my gaping mouth. “Um, well, it’s been about a month… she’s been eating… ummm… kind of a lot of berries, I guess, since it’s summer….”
“Right!” she declared. “She is allergic. No more berries. What about citrus?”
“She drinks orange juice every morning…?”
“Right!” she seemed absolutely gleeful, now. “No more orange juice. She can have apple juice! And bananas. And any kind of melon. But no berries. No citrus. She is allergic.” She stopped to write something down, then looked up again with another pronouncement: “NO KIWI! Not yet, anyway.”
Right. Because my 10-year-old has been gorging on kiwi all month, rather than spotting them at the supermarket and insisting they look like rotten, hairy potatoes.
“Uhhh… shouldn’t we have allergy testing to determine that?” I asked, not exactly a stranger to the Allergy Game, given that Young Master Monkeypants was allergic to everything under the sun for his first two years of life, and a small number of things for the next three years after that.
“Allergy testing is very expensive and annoying,” she said, sort of waving my silliness away. “You cut out berries and citrus and see how she does. Then we decide. But that’s what it is, she has become allergic.”
Guess what Chickadee’s favorite summer treat is? Strawberries.
Guess what else she likes? Blueberries. And raspberries. And pretty much anything else with BERRY in the name.
Chickie was a remarkably good sport about the news—maybe because it came with a prescription for “a nice oil, darling, that will help with the itching”—but I have to say that I walked out of there pretty annoyed. Sure, she MIGHT be allergic to berries. I’m not saying she’s NOT. But the last time I checked, dermatologists were trained in skin disorders, not allergies… or, for that matter, omniscience.
Also, she prescribed a psoriasis treatment intended as scalp oil, for topical treatment. I’m pretty sure my daughter doesn’t have any scalp on her ASS. Oh, well. Maybe it has some toe of newt in it, because it IS pretty shimmery.
This morning’s stomp-and-grump routine was augmented by the addition of “And I can’t even have ORANGE JUICE anymore!” in a plaintive wail. It was very tragic. Even though I gave her some apricot nectar, instead. Because I’m nice that way, when you’re all covered in itchy crud.
Tune in next week for another exciting chapter of As The Rash Spreads!