Catching up

We live in strange times... | 17/1/2021


I miss The Before Times...

It's admittedly something of a contrivance to write a "catch up" blog entry when there's nothing much of note to catch up on, but that's how these things work, so...

Firstly, I continue to be deeply enamoured of my new eMTB - it surpasses all of my early expectations, and is, to use the technical term, a bliddy hoot. 

Secondly, I've also - finally - been able to wet a line with my great friend Chris, and we've even actually caught some fish. Nothing of note size-wise, but - given the doom and gloom about the prospect of catching any Pike from my local water - we've both had more than either of us had any right to expect.

We must be really good..!

Unfortunately, both activities have, of necessity, been put on hold - not only because it's cold and wet out (I am an unabashed fair-weather angler; and - as it turns out - a fair-weather cyclist, too); or because there's another lockdown; but because I've been more or less laid-up since the beginning of October by a skin problem which has really put a crimp in my style. 

Long story short, I had a pretty severe outbreak of Urticaria (Hives) in the first week of October - my forearms and lower legs (in particular) flared up really badly. Not to worry, I thought - I've had it before and it goes away in a couple of weeks.

Except this time it hasn't gone away: it's become chronic, and if anything it's got worse over time. Because it itches so badly that I've scratched myself to shreds. 

The thing is, it's impossible not to scratch: the skin is so hypersensitised that the lightest touch - the material of my trouser leg making contact, for example - triggers a rush of histamine into the skin (that's the underlying problem), which can't not be scratched.

And scratched.

And scratched...

I can't overemphasise just how intense the urge to scratch is - the only analogy I can think of is that it's as undeniably imperative as (to channel Swiss Toni) the final moments of making love to a beautiful woman...

Or - to continue the analogy - and to paraphrase Pringles - once you start, you can't stop.

I'm not short of self-discipline or willpower, but this is utterly beyond my control. Numerous times, I've woken up to find myself riving the skin off my shins or forearms, and although I've never been what you'd describe as hirsute, I've scratched all the hair off my lower legs.

And because of the type of Urticaria it seems to have developed into - something called Dermographic Chronic Inducible Urticaria - it's become a self-fulfilling cycle: it's triggered by anything which touches my skin; which makes me itch; which makes me scratch; which is to touch the skin; which triggers further weals; which itch; which make me scratch...

And if I scratch too much the skin starts to weep - which isn't pleasant, either.

It's even on my backside now: try and get through your day without anything coming into contact with your butt. I like sitting down, and it's too cold to walk around naked all day.


I've tried all sorts of treatments - OTC antihistamines. corticosteroids, anti-itching creams, emollient/moisturising creams (which help more than most, because at least they're surprisingly soothing for a while), and at one point I was even on antibiotics because all the scratching had allowed Cellulitis - a potentially serious infection (and nothing to do with Cellulite) - to set in.

And - bad as it is during the day - it's a nightmare at night. Or it would be if I could sleep long enough to have an actual nightmare: I've been chronically sleep-deprived since the first week in October because of this nonsense.

Do you know what? I've had enough of it. I'm hoping for a referral to a consultant dermatologist before much longer, but given the ongoing Covid shenanigans, I consider myself to be a low priority.

Honestly, I feel guilty about feeling sorry for myself, but there's no denying that it's really affecting my quality of life.

But I'll be brave... 

(Added, 23/1/21: as it turns out, I might just have found the Magic Bullet for my dermal distress - Doublebase Flare Relief. It's an emollient (which I already know is a help) but it contains Nicotinamide, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory compound: this means I can use it whenever I want to; and - I'm delighted to say - its effect on my flare-ups has been dramatically beneficial in the short time I've been slapping it on...)

Part of the problem is that it coincides with the latest lockdown: I can deal pretty well with being shut in (it turns out - I know this because I've had plenty time for introspection and self-discovery lately - that I'm a "Social Introvert"; so I'm better wired-up than most to deal with enforced quiet and isolation - I quite like it, really) but it also means there's nothing I can really do to take my mind off it.

And on that...

I'm resolutely a Glass Half-Full kind of bloke ("optimistic introvert" is actually A Thing, apparently), and - having recently gone through the rather tense process of my first over-60 Bowel Cancer Screening test - I realise that things can always be worse.

Still, the stress of waiting two weeks for my result, while being cooped up and unable to distract myself from its potential downside in any meaningful way, has been pretty disagreeable: especially when the only other thing going on in my life is this bloody skin thing.

Thankfully I got the result I was hoping for - "no further tests necessary at this time" - but when this is the only thing to think about for a couple of weeks, it's a lockdown downside which I hadn't really anticipated or appreciated. 

Shows the importance in life of timing, I guess...

Pathetically, that's now me pretty much caught up: I suppose I should mention how disappointed I am that this latest lockdown has, at a stroke, bollocksed up my planned intensive driving course, which I'd booked for February into March (I had such big plans for 2021, all of which were predicated on me finally getting my own wheels); but that's a First World Problem, for sure.

All in all then, things could indeed be worse - but that doesn't mean they couldn't be better...  

Categories: Personal