So what’s the fallout from all this?
Suffering. Stress. Isolation.
I’m living in the shell of the lovely home I shared with my late mother since 1990. I’ve lost most of my furniture, all my carpeting, curtains, and clothing, spent thousands, lost weight, sleep, sanity, dignity, and the simple comfort of human company, and I’m now at my wits' end.
This famous painting captures it perfectly:
The Scream by Edvard Munch. Image from edvard-munch.com
All these plugs and their occupants make my life hell with constant tickle, pop, and painful hair-tug sensations.
Here’s how my day goes:
- Go to bed. I’ll wake up to visit the bathroom from 2-4 hours later and be unable to go back to sleep because my mind races as though I’d been given amphetamines. Immediately, the tickle sensations start on my legs, anus, groin, abdomen, chest, shoulders, arms, and back, then face, scalp, and neck. It’s not a huge level of activity – just enough to keep me awake. (About one tickle every five minutes). The most sleep I’ve had was six hours.
- Get up exhausted. The activity drops to a lower level and I experience the only few hours of relative peace I’ll get for the day. (About one tickle every 10 minutes).
- Around 2-3 pm it ramps to a higher level and continues to get worse. (About one tickle every three minutes).
- About an hour before dusk all hell breaks loose and continues till about midnight or 1.00 am. (One or more tickles every 5-30 seconds). I’ll explain these activity timings laters.
- Shortly after nightfall, my eyes and nose start to stream incessantly.
- Midnight I shave my scalp and face with Total Shaving Solution, and apply Gillette Moisturiser with Aloe Vera. This seems to dampen the tickle onslaught. Now I can sleep. For a while. (One tickle every 20 minutes or so).
This is how my life has been for more than two years now. And it’s not just tickles and pops – there are also painful stinging sensations associated with hair follicles all over my body (possible explanation for this later).
I also have a very strange skin sensation – if I drag a finger across my skin, then take it away, I can still feel that drag/touch for about five seconds after. The sensation is like there’s a “web” in my skin. If you’ve ever dressed up as a bank robber for Hallowe’en and worn a pair of ladies’ hose over your head, then you know the feeling. This seems to be supported by many of the images of filamentous skin in the “In Skin” sub-gallery in the “Skin Deep” main gallery.
Three times, the linings of both my nostrils have hardened and detached (images can be found in this same sub-gallery).
Despite the moisturiser (I’ve tried three different ones), my skin everywhere is dry, flaking, itchy, and hot. I’m a walking snow-storm. I tried not showering for three months (yes, I know) to see if that would help but it didn’t make any difference.
I can’t finish the novel the Arts Council of Ireland awarded me a Bursary in Literature to write. I can’t write a note of music. I can do nothing productive at all with this going on.
I don’t socialise any longer because I’m afraid of passing this on through contact with others.
Things I’ve tried for the tickles (all applied body-wide):
- Neem oil diluted with almond oil. Didn’t work – these things seemed to thrive on it.
- Tea tree oil lotion 15%. Didn’t work.
- Kleen Green enzyme cleanser. Didn’t work against these.
- Derbac M. Didn’t work. Tried it twice.
- Lyclear Dermal Cream. Didn’t work. I got tickles 20 minutes after I applied it. Tried it twice.
- Soap with 10% flowers of sulphur BP. Doesn’t work. I still use it though.
- Two different benzodiazepam-based sleeping tablets (Zimovane was one, I can’t remember the other). Didn’t work.
- Vallergan Forte. Normally prescribed for severe eczema. Worked for a short while, then stopped.
- Xanax. Didn’t work.
- Cannabis. Worked for a short while, then stopped.
- If I take 10 mg of Valium when I wake to visit the bathroom, I can sometimes get back to sleep after an hour or so. Mostly it’s just a doze, however. Somewhat helpful but I’m still constantly exhausted.
This isn’t the only pestilence I’ve had to contend with over the past two and a half years. I’ve also had bedbugs, fleas, scabies, pinworm, tiny green and brown arachnids living in my mattress which I couldn’t identify, the smallest white fly I’ve ever seen, and even (unbelievably) froghoppers. And these are just the ones I know about.
Such a thing seems impossible, doesn’t it?
Read on to continue the story...