I am experiencing very palpably the literal meaning of being “thin skinned” this week. All the areas where my skin is thinnest (eyes, lips, fingers, and other more delicate spots) are inflamed.
I’m beating back some kind of this autoimmune response to having some pets in the house with everything I’ve got, and have thus far kept it from cascading but only just. It’s taken a lot of pharmaceutical intervention. I’m high on anti-histamines, cranky from the itchy, and fearful it’s already turned into a systemic infection.
I’ve got some animal allergies that I’ve kept from being isolating and overwhelming by simply not keeping pets inside. I can usually tolerate some exposure if I’m very careful with hygiene. Please ask me about my psychotic indoor clothing routine. And yes it was developed with an allergist hospitalist when I was 15. I’m beyond embarrassed by it.
I suppose this approach might make more sense if you knew that I’ve had my immune system rebooted with drugs as diverse as cyclosporine (they use that for organ transplants) and chemotherapy injections (methotrexate the WWI superstar).
I take regular immuno-suppression for ankylosing spondylitis which is functionally psoriatic arthritis in my spine. I have inflammation inside my body & outside on my skin depending on the flares. And I’ve done everything I can for it from allergy shots to 4 separate daily antihistamines
I am more reactive to my environment than your typical take a Benadryl allergy type. If you’ve seen that video going around of the 300mg THC pizza joint and thought “what the fuck who has that kind of tolerance” well I’ve got that kinda tolerable but with allergy medication. I can toss back 100mg of Benadryl and remain conscious.
I’ve got no Darwinian explanation for how someone like me is an end point for evolution except that we must value the extremely sensitive for some less legible but nevertheless crucial pro-social function. Maybe we spot the danger sooner? I truly do not know.
But I am thin skinned. I’ve been trying to manage additional allergen exposure all week as we’ve had dogs in the house that I very much would like to be able to tolerate.
I really thought with proper medication and cleaning I could keep reactions to a minimum. I didn’t want to make it a thing. And it would seem the reward for being thin skinned is actually having to inconvenience people by telling them that my having thin skin has consequences.
It’s unlikely I can get my symptoms down without having a total reprieve but we’ve done what we can. We didn’t resort to steroids so it could have been worse. Though part of me wishes we had as some skin is beyond uncomfortable.
I feel both embarrassed and frustrated that no one noticed my discomfort till I had to say I can’t tolerate it any more.
It makes me feel like I don’t matter unless I come with a story of misery and pain. Having to speak up for needs with extremely firm uncrossable lines always feels like abandonment to me. I wish people would see the discomfort, misery and isolation isn’t a choice so much as a medical necessity. I do my best to manage it but it’s easier when it’s a shared priority.