02 May 2008

The B side - now with legs!

This is the cheery post where I make you lot think I really am unhinged. [Hi, dahlings! *waves sanely*]

Wilkepedia defines Schizophrenia as a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a mental illness characterized by impairments in the perception or expression of reality. In Portuguese we will sometimes, when referring to the dissociative ability of keeping two things that can't by rights be kept apart in our mind separated, say something like I schizophrenise well in that respect. Well, dahlings, I do schizophrenise well. And if that last post was hard to write bcs I felt I was exposing myself fully, this one is impossible to bcs it's all abt the greys and the white, the pure, bright as snow white.

Let's start with: right now, were a man to shrink - in whichever way - at the sight of me I'd probably just say Oh grow up and leave. If he had been overly dramatic in his disgust I might knee him in the groin, just to make a point, bcs really, manners are pretty. And I doubt I'd even be much traumatised at that moment. The hardest bit to explain is why, even though what I wrote yesterday is absolutely true, and this is where you'll laugh at me, it isn't really bcs the overwhelming majority of my days are like today, can't-be-bothered-abt-my-skin days. It happens cyclically, on days like yesterday I will indeed revise my past and wonder what is wrong with males. And when they do happen that's all I see, it's all-encompassing, pervasive, that's the only thing I am, pink liquen. I will never say that the taking off of clothes isn't met with some trepidation, it always is, I have fetching extra bits. You cannot be prevented from entering pools, have colleagues refuse to wear communal wetsuits, have people physically recoil in horror, without being branded for life. It resurfaces, you never forget and I think this is the very terrible thing abt psoriasis, it does look like something possibly contagious, people will often act accordingly. On those days my soul has had enough all these men, all these people, all these then-not-so-traumatising traumas, coalesce, much like my lesions, and form a lump at the base of my throat and I wear my sadness the way my skin wears me, deeply, scarringly. Being treated like an infectious public health risk in need of containment... Words fail me, it is heartbreaking, you can never get used to it regardless of how much you know the ones treating you like that are awash in their limitless fear. The sadness is mostly not present but it is always a possibility, and you never know when it's going to grab you by the throat, just that it will, again, at some point.

And yet I just re-read my post and thought What the fuck, who are you? and that is absolutely the wrong reaction bcs this you is me as well, it's simply a me that doesn't often see the light of day. I have maybe 2 or 3 of these moments a year, tops. Mostly I don't mind when people stare at my hands, I will go to the beach and bare it all without batting an eye for more than a few seconds [there's always some bracing needed][also for the bum, there's a bum, A BUM! A bum like no other!], I will answer questions and not feel hurt or even resigned, and I only lash out if someone's behaviour is really innapropriate but I am not even hurt then so much as aggravated that people can be so rude. There was this bloke who was pursuing me a few years ago and at first I thought he was sort of cute. But he was fucked up in so many tiny ways it was one of the weirdest times in my life. He spent a lot of time at an outside cafe bcs he was recovering from a serious lung disease that was all hush-hush and I had a translation job to finish so we'd both sit together with our laptops. He had turned 40 and was very disappointed in himself bcs he hadn't managed to start wearing suits daily yet. And he was serious, it truly caused him grief, being 40 means you need to look a certain way and he couldn't bring himself to. God. He was uptight and conservative and not particularly attractive altogether even though he had a lovely smile and laughter so yes, in the beginning I fancied him. Then at his place one day he told me he'd started trimming his pubic hairs to close-extinction ever since, wait for it, he'd gone to bed with some woman and she was all clean-shaven and he asked why and she replied it was out of consideration for the long-suffering men who wound up having to do things in that vicinity [all filthy, surely], she wouldn't want their experience marred by, *gasp*, a pube, there, of all places! And he felt shame, oh the shame that he'd been inflicting his pubic inconveniences on women all these years!, so he now trimmed them properly. By this time my life was flashing in reverse bfr my eyes, phobic men are terrible news and just plain batty and my antennae were whirring so much I could have levitated out the window and it's a shame I didn't bcs it got much worse when he enthusiastically jumped up, unbuckled his belt and started unbuttoning his trousers so I quickly jumped to my feet too and half screamed "What are you doing??" and he said, with this Obviously look abt him, "I'm going to show you how tidy it looks" and I said "Oh no you're NOT!" but yeah, it didn't end there, I should have left then, who flashes pubic trimming at others out of the blue, but I think I was shell-shocked. It ended a short while later when he spotted my open bag and there was a panty liner in it. You know, the pads women use on a daily basis, or when they're expecting their period? One look at it and he goes mental, "WHAT IS THAT??", and what a stupid question really, since it's so obvious, "A panty liner?" I say, "OMG YOU NEED TO USE THAT??" he says. How unfortunate for him to have come across the one woman on the planet who isn't hermetically sealed, the poor baby. That was it for me. But this bloke, I know it, would have been unable to cope with my skin, he was exactly that sort. So this is as as close as I came and it didn't even bother me bcs I wasn't invested in him in any way nor did I, to be honest, much care for his opinions anyway, it just gave me a story to giggle over with my girlfriends and my mates. As expected, abt a year after that we ran into each other at a packed outside cafe and the first thing he does after kissy-kissing me is take a quick look at my hands, cringe and then say "Oh, you still have that", so I very loudly replied "Why yes but it's much better now, HOW'S YOUR TUBERCULOSIS, ALL CLEARED?" And then he looked pissy. Tosser.

I don't know how I strayed so far from the point of this post, I suppose it's bcs this bloke's story was too delicious to pass up. I really am never ashamed of my skin, even when I feel like apologising - God! - it's only bcs I am causing you unduly mental distress, but even then I'm not ashamed. And I am one of the lucky ones. It is a mild case, yes, and my skin responds well not only to sun but also to warmth alone. My knees rarely itch (twice a year, maybe?) and even then it goes away fast. My hands do hurt during Winter, the lesions are always exposed and particularly at vet school I cannot always wear fleece gloves or avoid detergents and such so they become violently purple and scream for days on end, and the skin sometimes cracks and yes, it's unpleasant but not really bad. I don't leave flakes everywhere I go, I can wear black, I have shitty knee joints but no real joint problems, I don't look reptilian so I don't have to choose btwn that and the chemotherapy that will clear it but may give me skin or liver cancer, alopecia, hypertrichosis or mutant babis should I get pregnant in the next 5 years, I don't have pustules filled with pus, I don't have flaking lesions around my anus or other very heartbreaking and painful locations, I do wear t-shirts and bare my midriff, I invariably find it sweet when people forward me emails abt the newest cure [note: please do not ever say "cure" to our faces though, we will claw your eyes out], and I am so careful to avoid cuts and burns (they always turn into lesions) that it's become second nature and not even really something I think about.

The Pride saw fit to now bring you this Kumbaya moment:
Have we bonded yet? We'd better have, that picture took a lot of dexterity. Psoriasis and a limb, oh my. AND, am giving you my worst knee cum lower leg, mind. Next I'll post pictures of my bum, attain nirvana and come back as a rainbow. [And, just like I saw on a t-shirt on the telly, should my body disgust you just sod off, am not feeling fragile like yesterday and can't be bothered with weaklings anyway.]

So, to sum it up:
  1. Days like yesterday exist and are the pits, but they're also very rare and I am more likely to bite than to cry when someone is innapropriate - in my mind a far more well-adjusted response (and I haven't cried over my skin in decades btw, sheer waste of moisture it would be, the Fremens have taught me well).
  2. A pube gets stuck, pluck it out, move on. No need for therapy, the end of the world it ain't.

18 furballs:

Shoe said...

Firstly, I want to say that I was worried my comment yesterday would seem dismissive, and I TRULY did not mean it to seem that way at ALL. It was more that I was wanting to give you MY honest personal reaction. And I am well aware that my honest reaction has nothing whatsoEVER to do with the very real inconvenience, pain, and shittiness caused by both the affliction and the stupidity of shallow people.

MY reaction to seeing your knee is to want to SOOTHE it for you, which of course is impossible and a reaction of wanting to nurture you. But that concerns me as well, because does that mean I seem pitying? Siiigh.

You however, continue to amaze and impress me with your intelligence and willingness to share your vulnerabilities. Amazing.

Lioness said...

I know you, so I know what you meant, was just thinking abt other people with visible blemishes, it was a smalll craft warning, if you will. I have never understood this pitying thing, it's a post I have wanted to write for years now. I mean, no need for pity at all but people who say "I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me" are beyond my understanding, if something bad happens to me, and there is not one good thing abt psoriasis, how could you not feel sorry I have to live with this? Go ahead and feel sorry in the sense that it's a shame, it doesn't make me Little Timmy, it simply means you love me and wish my life were easier and good on every level, and it also speaks loads of you that you can be empathetic.

Sharing my vulnerabilities allows me to ruminate, to process them. Ultimately, it makes me stronger. That's EXACTLY how it works.

And did you see the post I wrote?? WHY SO SERIOUS, WOMAN? No worries, really.

José said...

Ah! Ninguém é um bloco de cimento perfeito delineado. Todos nós temos outras caras, que emergem de tempos a tempos. Não tem que se justificar.

Essa do tratamento capilar por consideração com os eventuais utilizadores até nem está mal visto, não senhor...
Deve é fazer uma comichão dos diabos, né?

Ah,ah!!! Eu já suspeitava!... nada de piercings!... Mais uma para o Yom Kippur...

Bom... a continuar a série de fotos com a prometida e vamos ter que classificar o blog para mais de 18 anos.

Ps. Quero fazer a declaração formal de que já ultrapassei os 18 anos!

Nancy said...

Jose......I agree, pictures of her bum would probably mean restricting this blog to over 18's.

Lioness, you are truely a wonder. You handle the difficulties of a chronic condition with grace and style.

And, there is that benefit...the one that means that shallow, vain or stupid people will stay away without you having to hit them over the head. And they'll never know what they missed, the poor dumb sons'a'bitches...

QuietusLeo said...

I once had a girlfriend, a real nutcase I might add, who would say that she doesn't believe in self-pity. One who wallows in self-pity doesn't deserve my pity. Despite her cuckoo-ess I agree. We all have those days and I think you courageous for revealing your feelings. To put things in perspective and to see how the difficulties in life can be managed see two of my favorite bloggers: My Shrapnell and Boobs, Injuries & Dr. Pepper

Diana said...


You and he were sitting at an outdoor cafe and he just started showing you his freshly groomed wares?

I'm guessing that's all the punishment needed, to be doomed to BE him.

Dexter Colt said...

"Next I'll post pictures of my bum, attain nirvana and come back as a rainbow."

THAT...made me laugh so uncontrollably. I don't even know why?! It just caught me by surprise. You're gifted in the writing department. It does amaze me that you can so exhaustively express yourself in blog form. I have so much trouble beyond 200 words...

Sometimes I find it hard to reply to your posts. Not because I don't have anything to say, but because they make me think of so much to say. I often feel like my comments are diminishing in some fashion, and I HOPE that you never feel that way.

Anyway, I could never fully understand the weight of your "pink panther" days, but I hope it means something when I say I don't find your condition alarming or cause for retreat. That feels like a weak response [to me]. But, I just want you to know that there are people [like me] who don't over-react.

And, tidy pubes? What exactly does that entail? Groomed garden or barren field?

Lioness said...

José, isto não sou eu a justificar-me de todo, nem tenho porquê, isto sou só eu e o meu blog. Escrevo coisas por causa de coisas, e as coisas que escrevo fazem-me escrever outras, tout court. O Yom Kippur dá jeito, sim.

Nancy, I'm not sure "grace" is the right way to describe the things I tell them when they really aggravate me, but thanks, will take it! (What are you doing to me, Portuguese-weise, how??)

Quietusleo, I gave me some time bfr replying to your comment to cool off my head, I know you didn't mean it like that but it hit a lot of wrong keys for me. I don't make it a habit of wallowing in self-pity, pity in general is vastly overestimated, I think, but even if I did, I don't think that the other post was me having one of those days. This is part of why we are so defensive and also part of why it takes so little for the spines to pop up for protection, the sadness is huge sometimes, you're a doctor, you know how fast lesions appear and join together, you know how easy it is to go from mild to 90% covered in a fortnight - or week, and I don't go around obsessing abt it but watchign their progression and refusal to disappear certainly makes me very aware of the sword hanging over my head. And I believe I have a right to that sadness, to that fear and then other darker ones, and when I'm writing to try and diminish them it's not fair to have it described as a self-pity bcs it takes away that right and replaces it with my acting in a way that is inappropriate - and it really isn't. I know people with less lesions than me whose lives are destroyed by psoriasis, and I just feel sorry for them, I don't judge them or think they're overreacting bcs I don't have their bodies and mind, they do, and it sometimes is very hard to cope and maybe they have been treated like lepers even more than me.

I don't need to put things in perspective, I'm very lucid most of the time abt everything and I can only live my life, not that of others, and to be told that especially after this post is very hard to take, especially bcs it has happened in the past and always come from people with intact skin, but your being a doctor meant i was unprepared for it bcs surely YOU will have seen first hand how devastating it can be. I will clik on the links if they are a good read but whatever I may find, it doesn't diminish my right to grieve the fact that I have a disease that is unpredictable and fulminating in its evolution at times, and that causes people to feel disgusted by me on a regular basis.

Regarding how the difficulties in my life can be managed, I have unfortunately had loads of time to leanr it, I actually have a whole category devoted to that, it's called "Uzi my Tig". I am not being overly dramatic when I say I often thought I wouldn't make it out of it all whole, sane, and yet not once did it occur to me to think "Why Me?", I'm very aware that it happened to him, I was collateral damage.

I am trying to be as neutral as possible but surely you see why it smarted so much? I am doing my best to cope with what I have, and reading I felt like I was indulging in feelings I had no right to.

Diana, dahling, you missed the bit where I said we were at his place. He'd die if he ever so much as bared his stomach at an outside cafe, he's very proper. Didn't make it any less traumatising for me though, the outside cafe would have avoided it all.

Lioness said...

Dexter, oh thanks, I was so proud of it when I re-read it and found it (am not always aware of what I've written) and no one else noticed, all so serious! That would be one fab super power to have wouldn't it, the power to make others laugh uncontrollably, I love it. Your neighbours will be putting together a petition any day now. But honestly, I do it bcs I must and bcs I've learnt it works. But saying it implies being willing to bare the side to those beady eyes, you filtre and control yourself too much for it - not in the sense of you should open up more, everyone knows by now what they're comfortable with, but too much in the sense that it makes it impossible for there to be a lot of words. God knows it's not bcs you don't have enough to say, dude, I got proof!

And I don't see how you can NOT know by now (it's been 4 years!) that a) you don't need to filtre with me, I get you, as you'd say, always have and b) you could write a comment the size of a post and I'd love it. Not only bcs I love comments, long comments too, even on other blogs (I always go back to read them and I particularly love when people start talking to each other) but also bcs I never feel diminished by anything you say, ever, you comment like you talk, how do you NOT know that by now? [That being said, I also find it hard to comment at times but only bcs I'm reconciling D. and C. and A. and it's hard to see the line where what would be appropriate for A. might not be appropriate for D. on your blog - and I sometimes feel I might have crossed it and it's only by sheer mind control that you don't receive a "log of wood" repeat. So, I HOPE too you know I don't mean for that to happen] [Should it.].

It's not a weak response, it's EXACTLY what we need to hear, in its apparent simplicity, and every time someone says it I know I am not disgusting them and never will, hopefully, and you don't know quite how grateful I am and that information is stored away, in a Penguin Trunk, and when the bad days happen sometimes those trunks, which hold these things you find weak, make me strong enough to make the pink liquen retreat faster. Don't underestimate it, I don't.

Aah, now, I was fortunate enough to have been able to avoid the flashing of the nether lands but from what he said it was groomed garden, carefully obtained through scissoring, not barren field. Though I dare say he may have evolved (devolved?) into the barren sort by now bcs pubes are shameful and disgusting you know, full stop.

[Re writing too much, have you SEEN the size of this reply?? So really, no worries.]

QuietusLeo said...

I must apologize. Rereading my comment embarrassed me. I really goofed this time. In my own completely tactless fashion I insulted you. I really put my foot in my keyboard. I beg forgiveness, Beg! I'm on my knees! Begging! I was actually trying to show my utmost admiration for your courage not only in exposing yourself but for not succumbing to all you've been through. I intended to convey that your first post worried me and that I was happy that you had recovered in the second. I had no intention of implying that you were wallowing in self-pity. On the contrary, I was trying to warn against it. But more to the point, I mean to warn the rest of us useless louts (mainly me) against pitying someone instead of empathizing. I certainly don't presume to judge and I didn't mean to imply that you shouldn't feel sadness, pain or fear. I didn't explain correctly what I really meant. So I retract everything I wrote and I'll try it again. (God help me.)
I believe that when one pities another person, one in a sense "looks down" upon that person. I don't want to pity anyone because I don't want to put myself above that person. In this profession, one of the greatest pitfalls is letting one's ego run rampant. So I always check myself on that point.
Another point is that if I try to understand another person's pain or suffering there is a chance that I might better treat that person.
Again, please forgive this wretch his failings, I'm sorry, sorry sorry.
N.B. - I've reread this comment about a million times and I'm still not completely satisfied but it's getting late. I must remind myself that "preview" is my friend.

Lioness said...

I knew you didn't mean it the way you wrote it, I knew you were trying to help but yes, the way it was written was a bit too much for me. This comment is much better indeed! :) You didn't insult me, that wasn't it exactly, but you did aggravate me loads - not a particularly hard thing to do when it comes to psoriasis bcs, and this is at the core of it all, even on very good days it doesn't take much. I wrote my reply not only bcs I needed to, for me, but also bcs you are a doctor, and you will from time to time come across patients with psoriasis. I know a lot of doctors and a fair share of imbecilic dermathologists even but with doctors we do always expect them to be better informed and chances are, if these people come across you, they are already at a disadvantage bcs they're ill and if they're having a small psoriatic moment on top of that being told abt perspective and handling life's hardship might just break them. (Or your head, I know how I myself have reacted in the past to medical inanities.) So no worries, no real harm done other than making me fume, but if this could avoid others real hurt during bad days, well, it might not have been a bad thing to happen.

QuietusLeo said...

You'll have to take my word for this: I'm usually not such an insensitive idiot.
But I have to know: Am I forgiven?

Lioness said...

I believe you but dude, wasn't that obvious?? Of course you are! No worries.

QuietusLeo said...

Praise the Lord!
And of course it wasn't obvious: I'm a typical male neanderthal, I don't have the capacity to read minds or between the lines.

JoeinVegas said...

OH, I saw the picture downloading and was so hoping it was of your bum, the under 18s be darned (if there are any).
But yes, if you ever figure out how to come back as a rainbow please let the rest of us know, me mainly so that I can avoid it.
But I understand the guys it does not bother, they are with you for you and everybody is different. It doesn't bother me either.

José said...

Este tema é evidentemente sensível e não é fácil de abordá-lo, mesmo que com pinças, sem correr o risco de ser mal entendido.
O "justificar" levaria a uma conversa longa sobre as motivações de quem escreve um blog, mas também de quem o lê.
A conversa seria muito longa e ainda mais interessante, mas não é esta a melhor oportunidade.
É impressão minha ou há mais anglos a perceber português? Que bom!

sometimes known as Viscondessa said...

José, we all understand Portuguese, didn't you know that? It's a rampant effort to produce English-Portuguese bilinguals everywhere. (Or maybe we're all Portuguese *pretending* to be English speakers! How about that?)

Or maybe it's just that the Lioness knows (attracts?) people who can function in both of those particular languages...

José said...

Ah, Viscondessa!
mas certamente que V. Exª, com esse nick, só poderá ser Portuguese speaker!