Itchy and Scratchy

Chicken or fish?

I look at the array of food on the Cathay Pacific Business Class trolley after already having given my order. Mm, should have gone for the chicken.

My sea-perch with mushroom and some sticky black sauce looked OK arranged artistically on the square trendy plate but its effect on my palate was less than aesthetic: more pretty than tasty. Regret. Nostalgia for what you never had.

The flight was to LA, with a connecting flight on AA on to Boston. I'd bumped myself up a class on frequent flier points, but when I got to LA I found that American Airlines refused to accept the Cathay issued up-grade voucher. "We don't accept vouchers. It must be a new ticket. They should know that." Do'h, 5 hours across the USA in cattle after much more relaxed 11 hours across the Pacific Ocean. I hoped that my points weren't going to be deducted after all. I mentally composed my letter of complaint to Cathay: "Lift your game" is the must-use phrase when conversing with airlines.

As I sat squashed into my undersized seat, I realized that I had been scratching at my tummy at the level of my belt-line. Hey, I am itchy here! I went to the bathroom - at least they gave me an aisle seat - and pulled my overhanging belly up to look in the mirror. A red angry patch with lots of welts ran across the top of my pubes.


Allergic reaction. Histamine release. I scratched at the back of my thumb as I wondered what to do. Another pale elevation of tissue fluid against a background of bright red skin on my episthenar.

Rapidly getting worse. I tried to avoid scratching as this would only release more histamine. So I sat and squirmed in agony as I tried to suppress my urge to rip all my clothes off and run naked down the aisle, flailing at my immune-response ravaged skin. As I said, I was in an aisle-seat, so doing so would have only minimally inconvenienced the other passengers...

When we finally landed at Logan I was like a one-armed man with the crabs, as they say, except I had two arms and didn't have crab-lice, I had sea-perch.


It took three days for those hives to go down to point of being able to concentrate on anything else. I was practically bathing in anti-histamine creams and gels and nodding off during the training as I had been scoffing Claritin at double the recommended dose (the only reason Claritin is called "non-drowsy" is because the dose of active ingredient is too low to be really effective - half the actual effect is placebo/self-hypnosis...)

For about three years afterwards I suffered from intermittent hives. Usually just one or two would appear randomly. Often on my hands.

I also developed pressure sensitivity on my skin. All over. For a while, even my watch was annoying me. But there were more serious consequences.

Every time I had a serious massage, a pressure-point massage, one with lots of squeezing of my legs and arms I would develop an itchiness on each limb a few minutes after the masseuese/masseur had finished with it. I just had to scratch.

My Hong Kong doctor just shrugged her tiny Scottish shoulders. "There's naught we can do. I canna give y'an anti-histamine injection every time you go for a wee massage, laddie. Ye'll just hev ta put up wi' it. It's in yer system now..."

And so it was until maybe two years ago, when the sensitivity slowly abated so as to be practically gone. And no more spontaneous hives.


On Saturday night I went to the Carnivale Party at the Hollandse Club, courtesy of my Philip's connections most of whom get membership as part of their employment package. I had eaten earlier, but still gobbled a few snacks as we knocked back our jugs of margaritas. Chicken balls, some unidentifiable croquettes...

Next morning I woke early, realising I had been scratching at myself in my sleep. My chest, back of my neck, my legs, my arms, the top of my pubes. Red itchiness everywhere. I put it down to all the tiny multicolored glitter specks that we had been dowsed in accidentally as one guy covered his feather boa hat (no prizes for guessing who I am talking about!) in three small bottles of glitter.

I showered and rinsed. Still itchy. Still could see the odd sparkle on my skin.

Slowly waking out of my hangover, I packed for Bangkok.

Scratching occasionally all the way over and in the taxi, I arrived in Sukhomivt and immediately went in search of a good foot massage and not a dodgy half-foot (6") massage. My feet have been playing up for the past few months, really sore balls of my feet, numb toes, can only get comfortable in runners or sandals with lots of arch support to take the pressure off my toes. Yes I know, I am falling apart. I thought a massage might help.

Within minutes of starting the massage, the sole of the foot she has just been probing with a small stick started to get REALLY itchy. My calf and knee where she has been delving and kneading are also starting to give tingles of incipient itchiness... The itchiness follows her around my body about three minutes delayed, left to right, foot, leg, arm...

Guess what's back? That fucking annoying skin hyper-sensitivity...

Was it the chicken or the croquettes?



Posted by: expat@large on Mar 13, 06 | 9:47 am | Profile


that's a total arse, poor bugger.

The way I see it you have two options, rip off all your clothes and live out in the open on a bed of Pandan leaves with a pondan for company.


Write and perform in a medical musical about the experience of having hives in economy class called the Singing Radiologist, the instant fame making your a cause celebre amongst dermatologists.

Posted by: TheOriginalTrousersnake on Mar 13, 06 | 3:19 pm

I'm in Thailand, the word you are looking for is katooey - pondan refers to Malays or Indonesians of the ambiguous variety, yeah? Not that I would know the difference...

Posted by: expat@large on Mar 13, 06 | 11:01 pm

relax lah, all sister have tit and very nice man! Someone told me Katooey literally translates as "other type of woman" or "third type of woman". How very practical!

Posted by: TheOriginalTrousersnake on Mar 14, 06 | 7:56 am

What's the second type of woman again? Woman who likes woman?

I like the woman who likes pompoey! (fat belly)

Posted by: expat@large on Mar 14, 06 | 9:17 am

Never write of this again. My hair itches.

Posted by: Tom on Mar 16, 06 | 4:37 am


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