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Hive Mind
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Yesterday, I got hives. It started with itching arms in the afternoon, and got steadily worse, but I didn't think much of it, just figured I had a couple of mosquito bites, nothing to worry about. But around 11 p.m. I started itching ferociously, and took off my robe to find dozens of raised white, red-rimmed bumps all over my arms and torso, like I'd been devoured by mosquitoes. The bumps came in a variety of sizes, including one on my upper arm that was nearly an inch across. Heather took good care of me, giving me various anti-itch and anti-rash medications, which helped ease the urge to scratch my arms bloody with a wire brush. We looked up hives in her home-medicine manual to try to find possible causes. Apart from the expected ones -- allergic reactions, poison ivy, etc. -- hives are also caused by heat, cold, stress, the pressure of clothing, and the ever-popular "often no cause can be determined." That seems to be the case here. I haven't eaten anything unusual, come into contact with any unusual plants, or experienced more than the usual amount of stress. Mystery hives!

I slept on the couch -- we were afraid I might have something contagious, and didn't want Heather to catch it -- and by morning, all the bumps were gone, except for a couple of small ones on my forearm. They were gone all day, and then made a reappearance for a few hours this evening. After a brief period of ferocious annoyance, I basically ignored them -- if you don't stand up to them, hives will walk all over you! -- and they've pretty much gone away now. They got worse the more I worried about them. I don't know what the precipitating cause was, but they're now at least partly stress-activated. Freaky. Itchy. It sucks.

So add this to the list of ailments recently suffered in the PrattShaw household! (Granted, it's mostly the cats that have suffered, but still.) Ringworm. Conjunctivitis. Stomach flu. Migraines. Fainting. And now hives! It's times like these I'm glad I'm not a religious man. If I were, I'd have to assume someone up there vaguely disliked me.

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