I’ve been absent from life/work/blogging for the past month after a series of health issues knocked the wind out of my sails and infused my life with a shit storm of Victorian-era drama.
I had decided that in 2016 I would approach life with the level of fearlessness normally reserved for four year old’s learning gymnastics. I was determined to tackle life like it was a pummel horse and make it my bitch. Live with an open heart, an open mind, with absolutely no fear of getting hurt!
I got back into the dating game, stacked my schedule with invitations from friends and gave up bread and cheese. For three weeks, I was on top of the world. I had a renewed sense of what I hoped was an adorable enthusiasm for life. I spoke in cliches, I was Pinteresting positive affirmations, I ate salad without croutons… I was a completely different person!
After a few weeks I hit my first road bump in the dating world, and decided to grant myself the luxury of two weekends completely devoted to “healing” aka drinking my troubles away with my girlfriends.
My liver and I were in the middle of getting over someone when the father of one of my best friend’s passed away. To say we were devastated would be an understatement. My optimism, hopefulness and determination to find happiness was completely derailed by this loss, and I was just on the periphery; watching someone I love very much grieve was and is unbearable. It was sobering (literally) to have perspective on my troubles when someone dear to me had just lost so much.
I did my best to support my friend but on the morning of the celebration of life, I woke up to find my face covered in red welts. My forehead to my chest was peppered with red dots, and larger hives. I began to frantically scratch my skin, pressing my face against anything cold in hopes of a temporary relief from the heat my cheeks were radiating. With only hours before the service, I did the only thing I could think of: Free base Benedryl and paint on the foundation.
I looked in the mirror before leaving for the service and was horrified. I looked like I was the “after” photo in a “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign, clawing at my face, I was an apparition from the future warning young children not to try meth. I managed to make it through the celebration without drawing blood, distracted only by my need to keep my friend’s glass filled to the brim with wine.
The next day, the rash crept down my chest, onto my stomach, and onto each arm. I sat in bed icing my body, convinced I was either a) allergic to my late twenties or b) morphing into the Elephant Man. My throat began to tighten, and I broke out into a fever that had me hallucinating that Colors of the Wind was playing on a constant loop.
The next day, having absolutely no strength, I begged my mother to forego work and take me to the doctors. I sat down in the examining room and started to cry. “I normally have really good skin!” I wailed. “Nothing I do will make it go away!”
“You have strep throat,”said the doctor . “You’ll be off work for a few days.”
Like an insensitive Stevie Wonder fan, I implored him to reconsider his diagnosis. “Look at me! Look at my skin! Are you blind? This isn’t strep. This is much worse!”
“You have Scarlet Fever. A form of strep. The rash will go away in a few weeks. It’ll take a while, and peel. Take these for a week and you should be good to go.” He jotted down a prescription for antibiotics. “You don’t work with the public do you?
I left feeling like Beth March in Little Women after a visit to the Hummels. I felt so strange. Weak. Someone send for Marmie!
My boss was kind, but couldn’t veil the fact that he considered me a rat potentially carrying the plague to infect our office. “Maybe you just stay in bed. Yeah…just, don’t come to the office, OK?”
I spent an entire week in bed. A week after the rash outbreak, my skin was finally clearing up. I decided to shower and join my friends to see my sister perform with her burlesque troop. I was tired, but excited to be back among the living. I decided to reward myself with a glass of wine, for putting on pants and not scaring away humans with my appearance.
I woke up the next day with swollen eyes, and a new batch of hives all over my body.
It was official. I was allergic to fun.
It turns out, not only did I have Scarlet Fever, but I had a red wine allergy. Something I didn’t clue in on until later that week when I decided to reward myself AGAIN with another glass of wine, this time for making it to work like a healthy, normal, functioning member of society. Another bout of hives and my best performance as an extra on Breaking Bad and it was confirmed that I, Elizabeth Regina Di Filippo, am forsaken by God, or a god, probably Bacchus.
No more red wine.
No more clear skin.
No more wearing make-up without looking like I’m just getting a handle on my 12 steps.
Some co-workers have affectionately began calling me Miss Scarlet, and quite frankly, My Dear, I want to go home to Tara and hide under a duvet burrito for the next four weeks until my skin can return to normal.
I’m not quite 100%, but I’m doing much better. I’m dealing with my fear of all things red the only way I know how, by completely avoiding all clothing, food and most importantly, wine with so much as a pinkish tinge.
It’s going to be a long road to recovery, but I think I can manage.
After all, tomorrow is another day!