One time someone was talking to me about hives---ya know, an allergic reaction where you get red and itchy welts all over your skin---and because I had never had hives before, I interrupted and said, "I don't believe in hives. Maybe that's why I've never had them."
I was just kidding around with this person, pretending to not be sympathetic to her hive story---her story about her fear of getting hives, that is. It just seemed silly to me to fear hives just because she had seen them on someone else or read about them. There are enough things to worry about, and hives weren't on my list yet.
These are the good hives...
So two days later they installed this new printer at work. I mean a real printing press of sorts, with real ink to run envelopes and cards through. This was to be our copy shop's tiny attempt to compete with actual print shops. So we all learned how to use the machine and started pumping envelopes through, filling the store with yet another toxic fume (but such a fine smell) to kill us all later in life...
Copy shop moves into the future with an actual printing press.
This was the day that I discovered I'm allergic to fresh ink. Or I became allergic to ink that day. In any case, you can imagine the inconvenience this caused in my particular job. It wasn't so bad for yet another chemical in the office to make my nose run, but once I began to touch envelopes or anything that went thru the new machine, I felt like someone was rubbing hot steel wool pads on my face. My eyes felt fat, which was a great new sensation.
Steel wool: not for faces anymore...
I asked the girl next to me, "Is my face red?"
She looked up from what she was doing and laughed at me.
I looked in a hallway mirror and found several big red blotches on my face, and my eyelids were swollen. For fuck sake. I washed my face with cold water and tried to keep going. See, at this point it was not quite sinking in that there was something in the room I shouldn't be touching or I wouldn't have been back at the machine. This was my first encounter with something being banned from my fingertips.
Another good type of hive.
Anyways, my face became intolerable, and it was embarrassing on top of that, so my boss excused me. On my way home I went up to the pharmacist and pointed to my face, and he gave me some kind of lotion and said to take two Benadryl pills. I took one pill and went to bed.
In the middle of the night I kept waking up feeling super hot and itchy. Now the whole damn bed felt like steel wool, and it seemed like someone was squeezing my throat. Finally I got up at about 4 in the morning and looked in the bathroom mirror. Hives from head to toe. I looked like a monster. And I didn't care if it was making things worse---I wanted to tear all my skin off.
For a split second I considered calling my boyfriend for a ride to the emergency room, but I used to be hell-bent on doing everything myself, so I didn't call anyone. I drove to the hospital and sat scaring folks in the waiting room for about five minutes before a nurse whisked me to an exam room, out of sight.
This nurse turned out to be one of the rudest nurses I've ever had, by the way. I know I looked really gross, and I think that actually annoyed her. I tried to make some funnies about my situation, "Hey, I think I have mosquitos in my apartment..." and she just shook her head, "These are obviously NOT mosquito bites." When she couldn't get the IV in my hand after three rough attempts, she angrily lectured me that I hadn't been still, and she sent in someone else to do it. Correctly. Nicely.
"It's your fault that the IV hurts."
The real fun was sitting there in a stupid hospital gown and having a group of medical students paraded through to look at me. Handsome young fellows that were my age. Geez. The doctor joked around, "Looks like you might be a little allergic to something! Haha," and the students laughed with him. Then he tells the students, "This is the worst case of hives I've ever seen." Hahaha....
"Damn, you look funny!"
So there you have it. If you say "I don't believe in hives," you have signed yourself up for the worst case of hives the doctor has ever seen. At least I had. No stupid remark goes unpunished in my world.
In any case, the cure was more Benadryl, and a shot in my hip. I don't know what the shot was, but it hurt like injecting acid, and then my hip felt like it had been hit by a car. They let me sit there for 15 minutes to make sure there was no reaction to the shots, and then they let me go.
Syringe of paralyzing poison.
I don't know if it was considered a reaction, but I could hardly fucking use that leg to get back to my car. It was stiff, and my hip was so sore that it hurt too bad to bring my leg forward, and that's a really necessary action in the process of walking. I dragged myself along a railing that was luckily installed along the whole length of the hospital, but when I reached the parking lot I was shit out of luck.
See, you don't appreciate your legs till they don't work anymore, and at this point a simple flat place like a parking lot becomes a sea of desperation. I dragged my dead leg for what seemed like an eternity. It felt like when you let a little kid sit on your foot and then try to walk with them clinging to your leg. It was like that, only also painful. How much can my damn leg weigh, anyways? 100 pounds? I just know that dragging it made the other leg really really tired, and if my car had been twenty feet further the good leg would have crapped out as well.
Actual leg-baby was more like a 50-pounder...
At my car I realized that I couldn't lift up my right leg to step into the car. Not at all. So I had to turn and sit, and then pick that leg up and put it inside. Foot still works...step on the gas... Hooray! I've escaped the hospital. I drove home as the sun was coming up, and I'd be heading back to work in just a couple hours.
Damn that machine, though. I wouldn't touch it again, and I announced as much. Oddly I had two more giant outbreaks of hives that week anyways, which seemed exceedingly unfair---I'd learned my lesson: yes, the freaking hives do exist, my friend. OK.