Tuesday, August 9, 2011


It began as an annoying itch.

I was used to annoying itches as a child.
I was bothered by eczema.
Really bothered.
Once a doctor suggested to my mother that my eczema might not be allergy related, but psychological.
"She wasn't a month old when it first developed!"
my mother snapped back at him.
To her that was a total insult.
No child of hers could possibly have a mental problem.

I was used to doctor's offices long before the tiny blister appeared.
I liked the way they smelled.
(the doc's office, not the blister)
I was ridiculously fond of the little reflex tester
that looked like a cross between a caveman's stone ax 
and shiny medical device.
our doctor's office had tiny tree frogs all over their landscaping.
It was therefore an excellent place to go.
Too bad my mom insisted on searching me before we left each visit.

I could not understand why the blister...
now forming an icky sappy crust freaked my mother out so badly.
She took one look at it and hit the phone.
she hissed into the speaker end.
No wonder my dad hated his name...
when spoken by my mother,
it always meant that she was upset about something...
and that couldn't be good for him.

Off we went in the old Buick station wagon.
The woman was obviously insanely angry.
Eczema, of the type that I sported
had blisters that were tiny.
They itched like mad.
I was known to rub my toes against my sheets in my sleep
until they were bloody.
Then it all turned sappy and developed crusts that needed to be picked at
and jump started another scratching cycle.

This blister was bigger and uglier.
But gee whiz...
what was the big deal?
The nurse at the front desk
took one look at my mom's face and immediately
escorted us to an exam room.
I thought, looking a other faces of misery...
"Ha. ha! Suckers... me first!"

The doctor confirmed my mother's worst fear...
The world must have spun in her head.
Infant tiger!
To me it sounded cute.
Maybe I'd grow claws and whiskers.
Cool beans!

My mother took it as a personal insult.
She was often insulted by my person.
But this was one that baffled me.
So I had another skin affliction that blistered and made crusts.
Old news!

Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection.
Part of me was always infected due to my scratching.
My brother liked to call me pus bucket.
At age five I lived to dig in the dirt.
Pus happens.

Impetigo is caused by strep or my mother's most hated enemy...
In her head, staph was what DIRTY people got.
My mother battled dirt like it was Hitler.
How dare I get a dirty disease!
It was a commentary on her ability to keep me clean.
She was a failure as a mother.
A monster who allowed her daughter to become 
something only Jesus would dare to touch!

I thought it was kind of cool actually.
I got my very own special bar of soap...
I was given the parental bathtub where no child ever bathed to wash in.
The medicine was pretty tasty
and the cream they applied to it felt cold and tingly.

When my father got home she ranted.
She pointed a finger at me and shook it to accent her horror.
My dad laughed...
"Joyce, she didn't mean to get it."
My mom stomped off to finish cooking diner.
My dad flicked his paper open and began to do his cross word.
"Better not let your mom see you scratching."
he said and silently giggled.

I knew that, but I nodded... and scratched.
I still didn't get her horror.
Impetigo was contagious... and that meant no school...
which meant that Gregory and I could play.
His mom never worried about stuff that was catchy.
If it got Gregory out of her hair, 
that was fine by her.
It wasn't the firs time I'd wished I had a sane mom like Gregory.


  1. I had to look up impetigo (before I read your next paragraph about it being a bacterial infection), and I'd much rather have an infant tiger. I'm sure you would've too!

    How are you now; are there any side effects that have lasted?

  2. Tara- No side effects. Not even scars! As I recall it did not last long... a couple of weeks. No worse than chicken pox. I guess my mom envisioned all 5 of us getting it. What a nightmare that would have been for her! Ha.

    As for the eczema, it went away when I had my first child and has never come back. It was so weird... poof! It went away after making me miserable for 24 years. No scars there either.

  3. I don't want to belittle your mom... goodness knows all of us moms make our own mistakes... but to blame a child for an infection sounds over the top to me. Was there someething else going on at the time that made her go off like that?

  4. Cube- Nope. Just my digging in the dirt all day long. :) That and her war on germs. She was a good mom, but obsessive about clean and having clean children. I used to hate the washcloth she carried in her purse. Any moment it could fly out and wash your face, etc.

  5. My mom let us be piglets all day and then she'd wash us clean. That's how I dealt with my girls. You can't fight entropy because entropy always wins.

  6. Cube- That was the type of mom I wanted! I let my kids get dirty. A dirty kid is usually a happy kid.

  7. Oh good grief - impetigo is so common. And I always figure when my younger son comes in from outside filthy, that he has had a great time. I remember my brothers getting impetigo and putting a pink grainy salve on it their old country doctor concocted himself. Worked like a charm.

  8. secret agent woman- It really wasn't that big of a deal. Not to kid me anyway. No fever, no aches, just itching. More time with Gregory. A pretty good week, all in all.

  9. My father was, and still is, a firm believer that sun and the salt water from the ocean will heal most of what ails you. I remember him advising many times that one child or the other should be thrown into the ocean as therapy ;-)

  10. Cube- Actually your father is right! When my eczema would get really bad, my dad would take everyone to the beach. The salt water had an amazing affect on my troubles. It killed any infection, dried up the runny sap and made the itch stop. I thought it was just a funny happenstance.
    However, several years back, a friend's daughter with serious skin issues found the same thing happened when they moved to Hawaii...
    not only did it help with her skin infections, after 6 months, her skin cleared up completely. She has not had any more trouble since. How weird is that!
    But lol... I used to threaten to sell Bear to the next gypsy that came to town. Eventually she got smart alec about it, so I told her that the gypsy refused to buy her and that was why she was still there. =;]

  11. Sorry your mom was so weird that way. Stinky has super sensitive skin and had dehydrotic (so?) eczema when she was a baby that she had to take steroids for. She just got some other weird itchy rash this week that we'll probably have to get checked out now.

  12. Churlita- I understand my mom's phobia. Her mom had a stroke when she was 13 and it was my mom's job to keep my grandmother clean and keep her from getting bed sores. Her mom's doc really impressed on her the need to be germ free. That's too young for such a big responsibility. We mostly laughed at her paranoia.
    Poor Stinky! I recall clearly the steroids too... which reduce your immunity to infection.
    I hope her new rash goes away quickly! She is such a sweetheart!

  13. I had a long talk with my dad on the phone today (OK it was a political rant) and I reminded him of something else he always told us when we were kids.

    Once you give someone something for free, and then you stop giving it, they will never remember the gift, but only the end of the giving.

    Brings to mind what's going on in England.

    He was touched that I remembered that lesson.

  14. Cube- A rant? Ha! I have those. =:]

    Your dad is a very savvy man! It's the truth on a country sized scale as well as on a personal scale.

    I had a friend who used to borrow constantly from me. She was not good at paying me back, and I would have to remind her, often several times. I began to refuse. That was pretty much the end of our friendship.

  15. I used to butt heads with my dad when I was a kid, but I'm amazed at how much smarter he's grown with age ;-)

  16. Cube- Ha! I know. Me too. I think becoming a parent had a great deal to do with my enlightenment.