Remember a few months back, on my Magical Michigan Mystery Tour, when I was battling my lip gloss for the rights over the good and evil of my upper lip? And remember how I said that it was getting better, but I was bummed because I couldn’t really wear lip gloss anymore?
It didn’t really get better.
It kind of/sort of/almost got better completely, but even at its best there was still a faint redness above my upper lip. At its worst it was red and garish and unsightly, peeling and chapped-looking and simply just bothersome because I’m incredibly vain and LO! HOW I MISS LIPGLOSS, THE PERFECT PIECE DE RESISTANCE TO MY MAKEUP ROUTINE.
I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell. This whole thing just gets me very worked up.
Over the following months after I wrote that blog post, I visited the dermatologist approximately 17.659 times to try and figure out what the shit was wrong with my upper lip. The rest of my skin? Fine. Nothing to worry about. But above my upper lip? Mayhem.
We tried multiple creams, a course of antibiotics, avoidance of all things lip-cosmetic related, save for Aquaphor, which seems to be the only thing that doesn’t make my upper lip go totally bizonkers. And while I made a fine new friend in one of the nurses through my visits to the dermatologist’s office *hi, Sue!*, the rest of the visits, creams, et al did fucking nothing.
After scratching their heads awhile, the staff in the derm’s office were all, “Ermm…maybe you should see an allergist?”
So I went to see an allergist.
And guess what?
It turns out I’m allergic to EVERYTHING!
If you’ve ever been allergy tested, then none of what I’m about to say will shock or surprise you, but rather might just make you feel a little uncomfortable at the memory. If you’ve never been allergy tested….WELL.
Hope you like being covered in magic marker.
And feeling really itchy and not be able to do anything about it.
As I sat in a very small, thinly walled exam room, I watched as very nice nurse made marks on my forearm with a purple marker. This isn’t so bad, I thought to myself, even while eyeing the cases of blue pricky-looking things sitting next to her. When she went for the blue pricky-looking things and started poking them in my arm, that wasn’t so bad either.
The bitch of it all came in a delayed response. One line of blue pricky things down the length of the arm, and as the nurse started the next row, the first row started heating up and itching like mad.
“Don’t scratch it,” the nurse warned. “Don’t touch it.”
Was that when I started whimpering like a puppy with a small bladder weighing the consequences of getting hit on the nose with a newspaper? Entirely possible. Because of course as soon as she said that I wanted nothing more than to scratch the ever-living shit out of my arm, which was getting worse by the second, now that she’d completed the eleventeen rows of pinpricks with different allergens just underneath my skin.
So not touching that for 20 minutes, and instead flailing and flopping it around in the air because for some reason that seemed to help, while I watched my arm go read and bumpy was AWESOME. Is a good party trick, I’ll have to show you sometime.
When the nurse came back and started measuring the bumps that reacted to the pinpricks, the doctor joined her. They both stared at my arm for a moment before staring at me with confused looks on their faces as if to say, “How the shit are you still standing up, and how has your head/eyes/skin not exploded because you are allergic to just about every goddamned thing we pricked you with except mold. Which is good because have you looked in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator lately? We have. Your landlord called. You’re totally going to lose your deposit if you ever move out because they need to replace the fridge, it’s growing a new breed of Lilliputians.”
And then she wrote me a prescription for Allegra.
And then the real real bitch of it all began.
Because have you ever been patch-tested? No? Oh, well let me tell you how it goes: they make up 80 patches and stick them on your back. And then they use a football field worth of medical tape to cover the patches so they don’t come off, because the patches need to stay on for 48 hours.
And you’re not allowed to get that area wet, re: no showering.
And it’s June.
Have I ever mentioned that I live in a swamp?
“And try not to sweat, either,” the kind nurse told me.
“Um, okay,” I replied. Clearly she did not understand the magnitude of her request. This is me we are talking about, people. I raise my arm to scratch my ear and I break out in a sweat.
And it’s DC. In June. It bears mentioning again.
And so began another two days, until I went back on Wednesday. At which point: Hi!-YOOOOO! Break out the purple magic markers again, everyone! As the patches came off, the nurse drew purple boxes over my pale, freckled back where they had been, complete with corresponding numbers. On Friday, after the elements that had been on the patches had had a full 96 hours to seethe and incubate and fester and possibly cause a reaction to my skin, the doctor would be able to tell me what the fuck caused all this nonsense above my upper lip in the first place.
On Friday, the day of the big reveal, having spent five days sponge-bathing and trying not to sweat my purple boxes onto any of my clothes too badly, the cause of my random reaction on my upper lip was discovered.
Balsam of Peru.
But it’s not definite.
Said the doctor.
But that’s the only patch that my skin slightly reacted with. Kind of.
Everything else was fine.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? is what I know you are probably thinking. I know I was. Am.
No, Interwebers, I kid you not.
So essentially, we’re back to the drawing board, though I am now back at said drawing board armed with a thick list of “safe products,” which I will be scouring on my next trip to CVS. I’M NOT GOING DOWN WITHOUT A FIGHT YOU….TREE.
TAKE THAT, YOU BALSAM OF PERU ASSHAT.
Meanwhile, don’t be alarmed if you see a tall, freckle-faced sweaty mess walking the streets of DC with her hand over her mouth, probably tripping over random bits of nothing because walking with her hand over her mouth tends to throw off her sense of sight, which is wonky, at best, to begin with, but whatever because oh my Christ have you seen what’s going on above my upper lip?
I don’t want to talk about it.
I’ll let you know how next month’s follow up with the allergist goes.