the pox upon me

Saturday, mar. 15, 2008   |   0 comments
Back in 1990 I was spending my junior year of college in Oxford. I was in the midst of this REALLY HEAVY long distance affair d'heart with this boy in LA. At that point, we were about 6 months into the whole lengthy love letters and brief-yet-meaningful phone calls deal (all very fromage, but I was twenty and sure I was nurturing a bond with my one true love).

Anyhoo, at this point I had been calling him for days during an assortment of odd hours and he was never ever at his dorm (god...remember DORMS?), so I was fairly sure that he had been stepping out on me. I was totally freaked out, feeling nauseated, feverish, boohoo-ey, even itchy. I called and called him, on the hour, off the hour. Finally, he came to his dorm's pay phone. As I watched my $40 worth of phone card tick away (on MY dorm's pay phone), he confessed that he had fallen, hard, for another. My heart BREAKING, I stumbled to my bed, sure I wouldn't make it through the night.

I spent hours writhing, hallucinating, the whole 10 yards. It was really romantic/Madame Bovary. If I wasn't so deeply depressed, I would have been impressed with the depths to which I could sink. But then, oh woe, morning light revealed that I was covered, head to toe, in a gnarly rash. A stumble to the infirmary revealed I wasn't the emotional heavyweight I had imagined but rather an adult sufferer of THE POX. The next day, my gnarly rash had turned into hundreds of these amazing horns--they were multi-colored, like ghoulish candy corn. Murder red at the base, pus yellow at the top. From the neck up, I counted 67 (not included the ones in my mouth or under my mop). I had them on the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet. I also (turn you head if you are queased easily) had them in, over, and around my nether region. And, delightfully, I got my visit from "mr. monthly" that very day, and was informed by the nurse that I couldn't use a tampon because it would burst the pods/horns and cause icky scars or something. I had to resort to a pad, which made me feel like I was re-living my early teen years--so eighties!

The itching was totally off the charts. I was told messing with the pox would lead to herds of scars, so I mime itched: frantic, digging, claw scratching centimeters above my skin, accompanied by intense visualization exercises. When I just couldn't stand it anymore, I indulged on the pox located in my hair, figuring I would probably never be rebel enough to go totally Sinead. Depression and mouth horns prevented all eating for about four days.

It was bad to the bone, manfred man. Wicked.

In addition to the heartache and menstrual bit, it was finals week. In between phantom itching sessions and crying and fasting, I'd have to walk to campus, yelling at people to stay away from me if they were pregnant or never been poxed, then take these bizarre quarantined finals in the nurse's office. All things considered, I felt proud of my barely passing marks.

It took about three months to look even vaguely normal again. And, for a girl firmly on the rebound, having a case of what appeared to be chronic acne really put a cramp in the typical post agonizing break-up spell of wanton living. Feeling ugly, alone, and un-hearted was almost worse than the actual pox. Almost.


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