Monday, March 12, 2012

Paper Skin, Paper Heart



Whilst pink is my favourite colour, I do not want to paint myself pink, let alone deal with an army of invisible ants parading on my skin, forming an ant hill of wavy lines and crisscross patterns on my epidermis.

I am not a physically sensitive person. I have never suffered any symptoms of allergy at all.  But recently I have been mugged by some unknown allergens, that which summons a squadron of histamines in my body to combat against some secret foreign pathogens.

After weeks of procrastination, I decided to finally take some action and consult a doctor.  It took me a while to consult a doctor because I knew the doctor will just discount it as any normal allergy and will give me anti-histamines, which I already am taking.  But my scepticism was proven wrong when the doctor diagnosed me with “dermatographic urticaria” or Dermographism.

Dermographism in simple english literally means skin writing. Its condition is manifested by the protrusion of the mast cells under the skin when an external object comes in contact with the skin.  Membranes surrounding the skin has become weak, therefore a distinct sense of pressure on the skin triggers the histamine to from a defense within that area, thus causing the skin to swell and itch (hives).

It sounds very scientific for my brain to absorb.  And so the doctor tried to explain it by a drawing a picture – on my skin.  When she drew a circle on my arm, after 2 minutes I saw the invisible circle coming to life growing from white to pink on my very skin.  It lasted for an hour, even after I have left the doctor. 

Apparently, this condition affects 5% of the world population. The longevity of this condition may vary.  For some it can last for months, or years, whilst for some it may last their lifetime.  However, this condition is non-debilitating, non-threatening and non-contagious. Little research has been made for this condition and its cure is yet to be discovered.  For now, anti-histamine medications provide temporary relief.

I left the doctor’s room feeling relieved. It then made sense to me how a scratch, a finger stroke, even my watch, including the creases on my bed sheets, and drops of shower create a pattern of pink-toned stripes on my skin.  After having a more general understanding of my condition, I somehow now learn how to mitigate or at least avoid activities that may trigger my super sensitive skin and over-active histamines.

I went home and tested for myself my new-found “talent”.  I wrote on my skin and a few minutes later, I saw the magic come alive in full glory.  Then it suddenly hit me… My body has a message for me:


1)  The Gift of Writing

According to my doctor whilst it cause may be unknown, stress can be a major triggering factor.  Obviously I am under a lot of stress over the loss of my Munchkin.  Somehow this has left me with emotional and physical trauma. 

When my skin feels that it is under pressure, it unleashes its magical ability to transpose my epidermis in to becoming a landscape for writing.  Just as I have a paper skin, I also have a paper heart.   When I am feeling melancholic, I indulge myself to the pleasure of writing, the same way as how other people would indulge themselves with alcohol, food, or drugs.  Writing is my morphine.  I find relief and solace in writing. 

Along with the flow of tears, comes the flow of words.  Writing enables me to organise and process my thoughts - as these musings, right or wrong, may get jumbled in my mind.  As I write, I also speak to myself - making me understand why I feel what I feel. 

This is why, I write more often in this blog when I am in the throes of depression and sadness.  Writing is my outlet, my therapy.  My blog silence generally means that my life is living its normal happy existence.  However, I realised that as the law of attraction suggests, I need to train myself to write more about happy moments and happy thoughts.  Perhaps I will… Perhaps I will… when I get over this emotional tide… Perhaps I will.

2) The Gift of Uniqueness

Actually, when I come to think of it, my allergy is kinda cool.  Only 5% of us in this world have this unique and incredible ability of having a paper skin.  It can be a good talking and show off point on what makes me unique.  If I just know how to draw I can doodle myself and have a temporary tattoo, with no ink!  Maybe I will learn and practice to draw on my skin.  I heard of an artist who also suffers from this condition, she has capitalised on this gift by creating some artwork on her skin and taking pictures of these drawings to put on display in her art shows.

My paper heart tells me that this experience of knowing and loving Munchkin is a gift of experience. It is a wonderful and unique experience. It is filled with beautiful and loving memories.  Sadly they are all now but memories, only to be immortalised by the carvings and writings left in the galleries of my heart. 

Oh, those sweet precious memories… those sweet precious memories!


3) The Gift of Distinction

My paper skin’s sensors only unleash its mast cells when a distinct pressure is applied.  Not any mere contact can cause the formation of hives. 

My paper heart also acts the same way. It has been six years since I broke up with EX, before I met Munchkin.  But in between those six years, I have been casually going out with an extent of guys.  My housemate teases me that she has lost count of them.  Admittedly some of them even make better match for me than Munchkin. However, my paper heart is searching for that distinction, not present in any men. I do not blog about every single detail about each of those men because to me, it is just casual friendship.  I only reserve a space in my paper heart for those men with strong distinction in my heart.

I personally do not know how my heart works – who it chooses to love and how it feels to love.  I rarely fall in love, but when I do, it is deep and lasting. 

Will I ever fall in love again? … Will I ever?


4) The Gift of Restraint

After a general understanding of my paper skin, I have learned not to scratch and entertain the itching sensation caused by the welts.  Whilst it cannot be avoided, it can be controlled.  I acknowledge the burning and itching feeling but I now restrain myself from scratching.  Because scratching can only aggravate it and possibly flare it up, thus prolonging the agony. 

I need to apply this principle to my paper heart. I hate to tell myself, but I know I have to stop reliving the past and accept that they are all but memories, no matter how beautiful and sweet they were.  I need to stop myself from remembering him, recalling the past and reliving those memories - in order for me to move on.  


Over the weekend, me and my housemate watched a comedy show.  It was funny.  But I cried, instead of laugh.  I imagined how it would be like if Munchkin was there with me watching the show.  It would have been funnier.  I was shaking not because of the giggles, but of the sobs.  Sigh!  I know this has got to stop.  Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

I need to train and tame my paper heart.  I really need to… I have to.


5) The Gift of Time

If I do not scratch the welts, within 30 minutes to an hour, the etchings on my paper skin will eventually disappear.  And life goes on.

This is a hope for my paper heart.  I do not know how and I do not know when, but only time can behest when my heart will eventually heal itself.  This is a lesson of patience for me.  I can do nothing but to wait.  After all, good things come to those who patiently wait.

I am taking things one day at a time… one day at a time…

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