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Anna in the United Kingdom: Chapter 6: My lumps :-)
"So I have this rash..." I said to the doctor, who was looking slightly disgustedly at my arm. Little wonder. During my last days in Oxford, a strange set of welts had started to appear on my upper right arm, getting worse in Brighton, slowly spreading down my arm and wrist, onto my hand and fingers, and a few scattered on my other arm near the elbow, and a few around my knees. Refusing to be abated by both the prescription antihistamines and the antibacterial cream I'd brought from New Zealand, I was starting to get concerned, when they started to rear into ugly angry blisters (not to mention being blimmin' itchy and sore). I'd washed every item of clothing I'd bought in case it was the washing powder or bugs, including drycleaning my brand new jacket I'd bought in Oxford Street. The last straw was when they started to appear on my neck, palm and face, and so, my first day in London, I decided I needed to go to the doctor. This is no easy task in London, you have to be registered to a certain district, and feeling down and cross and ugly and itchy, I was incredibly grateful I was staying with Vasi and Nivi, who not only phoned round to try and sort the red tape out for me, but also accompanied me to the doctors surgery, Nivi waiting a large chunk of the time in the waiting room (2 hours!) with me, and, most gratefully, they also didn't recoil in horror at the growing disfigurement on my skin. I would have. It was awful.
The doctor, and the second doctor she got in for a second opinion, didn't know what it was. Great. I hadn't had contact with animals, caught something nasty at a hostel, and yet the rash could be an extreme reaction to something I'd touched, like a plant, or eaten, but its centring on my arm, and the fact I had none on my torso, were a mystery. The only good thing was that I was still in an English speaking country, so could at least explain what was happening to me without difficulty! A course of new antihistamines was prescribed, but after talking to Jo, another kiwi friend in London, who is also a pharmacist, in her opinion, plus a self-diagnosis via the internet, I decided I may have had shingles, which is chicken-pox-for-those-who've-had-chicken-pox, bought on potentially by being run-down, and usually concentrated around one nerve ending (hence mainly around my arm). After about 12 days, with seemingly no effect by the new antihistamines, the welt/blisters began to subside, although I still have scars, which look like bad acne scars. Awesome.
The doctor had just looked up at me after my diatribe, and said wryly, "I see. Well; welcome to England..."
Posted on 20 May 2007 by Anna
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