Over the last year, my body has undergone subtle changes. We take you now inside my last visit with my allergy immunologist, who treats my rare skin disease Mastocytosis. He is a wonderful doctor but one who may be used to bending his ear a little more for acute patients.
Upon examination, he gently scratches my forearm with the double swipe of a metal instrument to provoke Darier’s sign. Whealing, itching, and swelling infiltrate the localized area. This is a pathogenic sign that the mass production of histamine in my body is poised for immediate release.
He remarks, “Your body is very sensitive.”
I said, “You do not know the extent of it.”
I explained, “Since my last annaul examination with you, normal every day occurrences have developed a negative impact. I can’t lean on anything because the pressure becomes too great. It hurts when my fingers go through my scalp to wash my hair. Socks that I have worn in seem like they fit too tight. The jet stream of the shower head pummels my body. Sleeping on my stomach feels like it lights my organs on fire. I constantly switch sleeping positions in bed to alleviate the pain. A ten-pound weight at the gym feels like a 20 pounder. Sitting too long is uncomfortable. I find myself unconsciously standing to avoid contact with anything. When I bump into an object, the body part coming into contact hurts deeply and for an inordinate amount of time."
I read his body language. I knew that the moment I stopped complaining I was going to get the patented speech about reducing the amount of stress in my life since stressors play a role in manufacturing histamine and making my disease worse. I didn’t get his undivided attention until I added, “My wife’s touch sometimes hurts.”
He grabbed his prescription pad, ordering me to undergo a Dexascan and bloodwork to shed some light on the problem. People often ponder the question: Which of your six senses would you give up first? In the last year, I have arrived at an answer that has everything to do with my skin disease. Hands down, the sense that I would sacrifice would be touch. It pains me just to say so.