It’s Hump Day and Angela Jin is back with some musings from a publishing intern’s desktop. Last week she invoked the Hollywood blockbuster, ‘I Am Legend’ to illustrate life in 2020 for this twenty-something. In this week’s post her life could be mistaken for a tragic plot-line from Itchy and Scratchy. What has all this to do with a plate of mouth-watering chilly prawns cooked up by Angela’s mum? Read on and weep.

I have eczema*. Up until 4 months ago, I did not have eczema.

(Is this information I want on the internet? I don’t care. I have very strong feelings about this and this needs to be said.)

I had no idea what triggered that breakout but my God, that initially tiny rash spread all over my body in three, four days. Of course, it was aided by the fact that I am a scratcher. If I am itchy anywhere, I’m going to attack it with my finger nails. I have no self-control over poking and squeezing a skin problem and potentially making it worse.

It took me a week and a half to go see a dermatologist and get much needed medical attention and cream. Because it was just a rash, right? It’ll go away tomorrow. It couldn’t be eczema because…well, it just couldn’t be…eczema, right? People don’t just get eczema.

Except apparently, they totally do. I’m one of them. I have Adult-onset Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema). It sucks.

Do you know how livid I am? I had gone 25 years without a single flareup and for my 26th birthday, my body gives me this? ECZEMA?! Now I have to be hypervigilant about skin care and cleanliness? Look, if I want to rub dirt into my pores and stew in my own sweat, I shouldn’t have to expect retribution from my skin. It’s ridiculous.

By the way, having a glowing red rash in the middle of a global pandemic isn’t a cute look. Not that it’s ever a cute look, but right now, I don’t want any visible symptoms of anything outside of normal. I went grocery shopping, all red and swollen and flaky, praying that no one would think I was the carrier of anything contagious.

Why can’t eczema be more like my Adult-onset Shellfish Allergy? Very mild and nearly invisible.

Oh my God, I can’t believe I developed a shellfish allergy in my 20s! That’s so unfair. What is the point? Why is this happening? Granted, I appear to only be affected when I eat prawns and the allergic reaction is actually very mild, but still… WHAT. THE. HECK?!

And I loved prawns! Now I get slightly nauseous even looking at a prawn dish and it’s terrible because my mother makes a great stir fried prawn, and I’ve had to tell her that I’d prefer not eating it anymore because it makes my body feel weird. Ugh!

If I had been (mildly) allergic to prawns since infancy, if I had been denied the opportunity to become attached to this ingredient, I would not have known the loss that I feel today.

I wish my immune system would stop going into overdrive when it comes into contact with certain things. That’s all allergies are, right? I’m also very allergic to pollen, cats and dust. I’ve had to make peace with certain decisions; blooming flowers and springtime make me a little more miserable than allergy-free people; I’m never going to own a cat (hypoallergenic pets are a lie!). And I never do the cleaning and dusting around the house.

That last one is not so bad.

I have 3 different types of anti-histamine on my bedside table. I cannot even imagine what my life would be like living in a time without modern medicine. And now I can only hope that I don’t develop anymore allergies. KNOCKING ON ALL THE WOOD IN MY PRESENCE RIGHT NOW! 

*The word eczema appears 8 (now 9) times in this post. I didn’t spell it correctly even once. Thanks spellcheck!