I’ve been away from this here blog for a while, and for good reason! I’m going to tell you a tale, so get yourself a cuppa somethin’ and pull up a chair.
I think my last post was about pumpkins and October. Well in early October, an evil, itchy phenomenon took over my skin. I itched and scratched for 6 weeks. Six. Weeks. I woke up every night by 3am ON FIRE, then plodded to the kitchen where I rubbed ice on my skin for a half hour or more until the fire died down and I thought I could try to sleep again (which rarely happened). I went to my family doctor who said, “You have hives. Don’t know how you got them. You probably won’t find out what caused this. Take these 2 over-the-counter antihistamines and call me if it never goes away.” That did nothing.
Since the medical route had offered oh so many solutions, I decided to ask the internet, which told me 176 different things. I altered my diet, giving up everything remotely tasty. I lost 10 pounds. I changed laundry detergent, stopped taking some supplements, tried taking other suggested supplements, changed soaps, quit using lotion, tried olive oil, tried coconut oil, started and stopped a dozen other possible causes and stood on one foot while rubbing my tummy and patting my head (I kid). I even flew to Seattle to see an alternative medicine practitioner we know. I was covered in sores and I was desperate. We had noticed that every time I sat on furniture, I itched. I thought it was because body heat was exacerbating the rash, but then one afternoon, I went to Google with itch+rash+furniture and the internet gave me an earful! I learned about something people all across Europe have nicknamed “sofa dermatitis”, and remembered that a little while back, a white, crystalline powder that I thought was silica gel, had spilled out of a packet in the bottom of my desk chair onto the rug below. I cleaned it up and didn’t think anything of it. Turns out it wasn’t silica gel, but an anti-mold chemical that is often used in and on furniture and textiles that are shipped from overseas (mostly China). It’s been banned in the European Union because it caused medical problems for thousands, but is still legal for imports to the US. Because it had spilled, gone airborne and permeated both the fibers of my chair and the rug under my desk, where I sat every day, I had become super sensitized to it. My body had enough and pitched a fit.
It would seem that getting rid of the chair and rug would be the end of it. Not so. The sores did begin to heal and I itched a little less, but there were still random triggers that made no sense. I did more and more research. Apparently this particular chemical evaporates and goes airborne when it is heated (body heat, ray of sunshine, etc.) and floats around for a while until it cools, recondenses and then lands wherever it pleases, permeating other soft fibers. It was everywhere in our house. Oh and did I mention that it doesn’t wash out?
Instead of decorating for Christmas, we moved out of our house for three weeks, replaced all the carpet, hired a restoration company to HEPA filter the air (took 3 days for full exchange), got the ducts cleaned and said goodbye to most every textile we owned. Hello capsule wardrobe…hello capsule household! It’s hard to describe the stress and confusion this caused us because there are no specialists who know exactly what to do about such a bizarre situation. If you’ve had a fire or flood or burglary, there are resources (there’s insurance!) and your family and friends can comprehend what you’re telling them. I’m not saying that I think this was more difficult than those aforementioned calamities, just not as cut and dry since no one in the US has ever heard of dimethyl fumarate.
Ok, I need to stop reliving this right now because retelling it is makes me shudder.
This, or course, isn’t the worst thing that can happen, and we have SO MUCH to be thankful for, not the least of which is a refocused appreciation of what’s really essential. God is also, always, so near and attentive when things are hard and confusing. Ever noticed that?
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; stuck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8
I am happy to report that my skin is clear and I can once again sleep through the night. I’m thankful every day. That’s enough for now.