Isn’t this how everyone cleans the kitchen floor?

I recently started seeing a homeopathic medicine practitioner.  On my first visit, she prescribed faerie dust a homeopathic remedy and ordered lots of blood work.

The results?  While not technically deficient in anything, my levels of some micro-nutrients (in this case, iron, zinc, vitamin D, and vitamin B12) came in a bit on the low side of the ranges.  While I would prefer to get all my nutrients through real food, I agreed to go along with a supplementation plan.  Our bodies do not readily absorb the form of iron found in many typical OTC iron supplements (which may explain why my levels were low, despite the fact that I take a multi with “100%” of the RDA of iron).

My doctor initially recommended an iron supplement consisting of fractionated liver bits, but moved on to plan B upon remembering that I’m vegetarian.  What was plan B, you ask?  An atrociously expensive — but supposedly effective — liquid iron supplement.  At the recommended adult dose of 2 teaspoons, twice a day, it costs $1.76/day.  Hmm, now that I’m looking at the numbers, maybe it’s not quite as pricey as I thought, but still not cheap.

They package this magic iron elixir in a bottle that is impossible to pour from without dribbling liquid down the bottle and/or all over the counter.  To make matters worse, the top is a bit tricksy.   So, the other evening, I shake it (as instructed), only to find that the lid was not on tightly.  Expensive liquid iron supplement splashed all over the kitchen floor.  Distress and desperation!  I decided the quantity on the floor was close to my 2 teaspoon dose, and I proceeded to clean up the mess.

A bit extreme?  Yes!  Was the kitchen floor clean?  Probably not.  Matthew grabbed the camera and started snapping these pictures and much laughter followed.  Oh, the frugality!

Disrobed II

Fast forward almost three years to this past December — Christmas, to be more precise.  My special holiday present?  The return of “The Mysterious Torso Itch” (to be read in a deep and ominous tone).  I chalked my 2007 saga up to mostly winter dry skin, very severe winter dry skin, with perhaps some contribution from stress (studying for my MPH comprehensive exams, job hunting, housing hunting).  I blame the hotel whirlpool in Tulsa, OK for triggering my most recent/current bout, which the dry winter air, and yes, perhaps some stress again, perpetuated.

This time, I experimented with a non-petroleum based moisturizing regime, namely, coconut butter, with a bit of olive oil thrown into the mix after a couple months over which the coconut butter alone wasn’t doing the trick.  The Mysterious Torso Itch turned up it’s nose at all of the organic, extra virgin coconut oil and extra virgin, first cold-press olive oil that I threw its way.  The Mysterious Torso Itch was not to be deterred.

Given their utter uselessness three years ago, I skipped the doctors completely this round.

I appropriated my husband’s cozy bathrobe and spent evenings, mornings, and weekends wearing little more than that.  Abandoning the robe to put on real clothes and leave the apartment presented a serious challenge.  Pants were the worst!  What a terrible invention!

About a week ago, I gave up my futile attempts to fall asleep amid the thoughts in my head and the itchies.  I hopped out of bed, walked purposefully over to the lotion (the not organic, definitely petroleum-based lotion), and applied it liberally to my lower back.  “Okay, Back, fine!  For MONTHS I baby you with really nice, simple, all-natural products, but do you get better?  No!  You’re just as itchy as ever.  So here’s some special chemical- and petroleum-laden concoction for your greater pleasure.  Puppy take that!”  I returned to bed, feeling slightly better somehow, though no less itchy.

The good news?  Cold, dry winter air is abating, and “The Mysterious Torso Itch” seems to be slowly packing its bags.  I’m becoming a bit less reluctant to shed the robe and leave the apartment.  If I’m lucky, it will be gone for good, but I’m not holding my breath.

Disrobed I

Three years ago (starting in February 2007), I endured at least 12 weeks of some kind of mysterious skin problem that manifested in a severely itchy torso.  My back and stomach showed no visible indication of a problem (as long as I managed to keep my hands off of them), but nothing brought relief.  I tried the standard, “eliminate products with fragrances, scents, harsh ingredients, etc.” (not that I had used too many things in those categories to start with), along with an intense moisturizing (fragrance-free, for sensitive skin, of course) regime to no avail.

Finally, at my wits’ end and THIS CLOSE to going crazy, I gave in and went to the doctor, where I had to endure lots of questions about what products I used and my skincare routine.  And I was this close to being all, “Hello, I’m not an idiot; I already considered all of those things, why am I paying you to ask me these questions?”  In the end, the doctor had NO CLUE what was going on and suggested I try a 24-hour OTC antihistamine.  Ah, the old, “Let’s throw some drugs at it” solution.  Unfortunately, the OTC antihistamine left my skin problem completely unfazed.  Was it all in my head?

After suffering through a few more weeks, I visited the dermatologist.  You can just reread the above paragraph for a summary of the dermatologist visit, the one difference being that she prescribed a prescription antihistamine.  More drugs!  What a novel idea!  This new “solution” proved as ineffective as the first.  Skin: still itchy.  Me: this close to going over the edge.

During those however-many weeks, I learned how to be creative with the limited subset of my wardrobe that irritated my skin to a lesser extent.  This meant nothing tight (goodbye bra and undies) and mostly cotton.  Sometime in May (or was it June?), after what seemed an eternity of suffering, my mysterious skin problem just went away, and I breathed a great sigh of relief.  I had forgotten what it felt like to NOT have an extremely itchy torso.

Stay tuned for Disrobed II, coming soon to a theater near you.