Friday, January 21, 2011

Hives in Korea

Urticaria, also known as HIVES, is an outbreak of swollen, pale red bumps or plaques (wheals) on the skin that appear suddenly -- either as a result of the body's adverse reaction to certain allergens, or for unknown reasons.

Friday, January 7, 2011, a co-worker showed me around the area after work. We talked, ate at the Lotteria, shopped and then I went home. Later that night, I am talking, on Skype, with a friend and realize I'm scratching my bicep and don't know why. I take off my shirt and see little red spots on the inside of both my arms. They itch. I think... no bugs, no plants, no friends with itching powder. Crap, what is this? After a quick search on WebMD, I self-diagnose it as HIVES.
Great... after all these years of sticking what ever I want into my body, it decides to get picky.  Having a "survival of the fittest" outlook on life, I tell my body, quite bluntly, "You're just going to have to get use to it... Adapt or die."  I'm not sure if he was listening, but for the benefit of us both, he should have been.
(Conversational between me and my body)

Saturday morning, I awake and they have multiplied. They are now down to my wrist and right below my armpit.
Saturday night, hesitant to close my eyes, for fear they may make babies while I'm dreaming, I go to sleep.
Sunday morning, they have spread like the undead in a zombie movie and are now down my sides, around my waist,  on my lower stomach, outer and inner thighs, outer butt, and hamstrings.
I decide I will not give my body the satisfaction of scratching it and use my Miyagi like since of inner peace to dissipate the itch.
Sunday night, after a long day of sightseeing, I return home. As I reach for my shirt bottom, my fingers gently grace the sides of my lower stomach. It feels good.  I pull my shirt over my head and feel invigorated as my shirt rubs against my arms.  Then, I get chills from the friction of my pants and skin rubbing together, as my pants are pulled down. This causes me to lose my inhibitions, and like Pringles, once I popped, I just couldn't stop. I scratched myself violently for almost 5 minutes.  It felt awesome, but the high was short lived. I look up at the mirror to see a naked white man, covered in red scratch marks.  Pitiful... I had become a victim to myself.  I shower and start anew.
Monday morning, even though the hives are still very much alive, they had decided to practice abstinence.
Monday afternoon, I speak with my coworker and boss about my reaction.  I tell them my plan to relieve the itch with allergy medicine and am offered the assistance of my coworker, by my boss.
Monday evening. Coworker and I go to the pharmacy to purchase allergy (al er ge) medicine.  The woman at the counter say take once a day and I begin a medicine regiment that night.
Tuesday. I am still a little itchy around waist and thighs, but forearms look better. I think.
Wednesday. I am still itchy but only when I'm not busy. Forearms look better... Maybe.
Saturday, Jan. 15th - After thinking my body was adjusting, today, after exploring Downtown Gwangju, my hives have inflamed around entire arms and probably more, but I am too afraid to look. I'm sooooww itchy.
Sunday, Jan. 16th - Realizing the allergy medicine is doing nothing to help, and may even be hindering my body's natural process, I leave the remaining 4 doses in the box.
Thursday January 20th - I still have a small expatriate community of hives on the inside of both arms and hip/waist area.  Until my body decides to deport them or their visas expire, we will have to learn to live together. We have already made much progress in the past 2 weeks and maybe, in the end, I will be a better, stronger me, for having met them.


  1. Andrew.. you have truly outdone yourself! bravo

  2. Best line in this whole thing: We will look like an anorexic Will Ferrell. hahaha