Just beneath the surface of normal

My Body Is Trying to Kill Me

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I don’t know how I wound up being a “weird health problems” blog, but there’s also no denying that people searching “ripping off a bandaid eyelid” wind up here. I didn’t mean to. It’s just sort of my life. My body seems determined to prank me at any moment, especially when I least expect it – ESPECIALLY especially when I’m still on the rebound from something else. My body evidently never learned not to kick people when they’re down.

So here’s what happened: it’s been slower than I expected getting my energy back after the surgery. As such, I’ve been skipping the gym. Well, I went one time but I started pouring sweat when my heart rate got up to 102, which I took as a pretty good indication that I was still in the recovery/gratuitous couch-sitting phase.

Unfortunately, couch-sitting is my primary muscle spasm trigger. So yesterday I started getting that feeling in my leg that says my muscles have pushed a nerve against the wall of my pelvis and are robbing it at gunpoint. My skin hurts just to touch it; imagine having an ice cream headache on the skin of your inner thigh, and just sitting on the cold toilet seat makes you cry out. It’s like that for a couple days. It blows, but usually it blows over. I do lots of stretches and life goes on.

This time it was especially bad, mostly because it’s been a long time since it happened. Going to the gym and doing a lot of core exercises on the mat has really changed the way I hold my body, and I had all but forgotten the special joy of wearing a hair-shirt – well, hair-pants – made out of wires. Still, I have tools, so I used them.

I did my stretches. Not much happened.

I took some ibuprofen. Maybe a little better.

I avoided sitting. Meh.

I went desperately to the internet. There I found the suggestion of capsaicin cream. YES! We have that! Jim uses it for the arthritis in his pinkie, and he says it works great! So I slathered some on my low back and inner thigh, careful to avoid burning my lady bits with cream of hot-ass-pepper. I washed my hands carefully, so I wouldn’t accidentally get some in my eye. I felt very proactive and competent. I rearranged the kitchen drawers. It was awesome. But…

You know how there’s always that moment upon which pivots a very different set of outcomes? Like when Donna Noble turns a different direction and ends up not meeting the Doctor so that the aliens can eat her future? Yeah, so my moment was this: I took a shower.

I thought it would be nice, you see. I thought the warm water and the massaging shower head might be nice to soothe the muscle that is crushing my femoral nerve in its meaty fist. What I found instead was that if I wanted the rest of my body to be warm enough, the inflamed parts of my leg had to feel like they were bathing in hot lava. I chalked it up to nerve sensitivity, aborted the shower and got dressed.

But even after I got dressed, the burning remained. Like that time I grabbed a cast iron skillet out of the oven with my bare hands and no matter what I did, it burned. I lay down, and it burned. I moved around, it burned. There was no escaping the burning. I called my doctor and got fit in for tomorrow and went back to the internet desperate for more information on what the hell was happening and how I might make it stop right now. The words “kill it with fire” ricocheted pointlessly through my head. I kept checking my skin to see if maybe I’m getting shingles, but it kept looking pastily, gelatinously normal.

Around this time, Jim ambled upstairs after his conference call, and I told him what happened. He winced. And then he said unto me, “yeah, its the capsaicin. That’s exactly what happens when I wash my hands with it on. It’ll go away eventually.”

All I can think of to say in response is, who DOES this?! Why would anyone manufacture something to make the pain stop, which then makes it feel like burning hellfire as soon as it gets wet? That’s not painkiller, that’s the fucking plot of Gremlins! WHO DOES THIS?!

“Hi, I’m here for your massage, but first let me just wash my hands and grab a little midnight snack.”


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