Friday, March 16, 2012

sweating the small stuff

Some things we like to talk about that no one wants to hear:

1) Dreams (the kind that happen while you sleep, i.e. "I had the craziest dream last night. There was this dog on a skateboard who was actually my dad. I'm pretty sure he was wearing a monocle and there was a parrot on his shoulder...")

2) Happy romantic relationships

3) Nebulous health problems (to be clear: "so I have this weird rash on my earlobe that only flares up when the temperature is between 69-72 degrees and the moon is waning" vs. "I have cancer").

Since I rarely remember my dreams, numbers two and three are the pertinent ones here, which are part of the reason things have been so quiet at the Hollywood Librarian. The boring truth is that I don't have anything interesting to say.

On two separate occasions last Sunday, I started talking about the thing I know better than to talk about with casual acquaintances: my throat. Both times, it was unsolicited. As the words dropped from my sickly maw, the voice in my head begged me to shut the fuck up, and eventually my mouth took the hint. But it's hard not to talk about the one thing you spend too much time thinking about.

Now it's your turn, dear reader. So I have this problem with my throat....

I first noticed it back in November. At that time, it was a small lesion or patch, which would occasionally feel irritated. Since I've been back from Costa Rica, other lesions have appeared, mostly on my soft palate. These come and go. I've also developed what looks like a throat rash -- tiny red bumps -- on my soft palate and uvula, but also occasionally on the the roof of my mouth. Sometimes small clear blisters form. I experience cycles of healing and flare-ups though the rash is constant. Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it doesn't, but it's always there. In the months I've been living with this, I haven't been able to pinpoint a trigger, and it's driving me batty.

One ENT told me that it's probably a virus and it will probably go away eventually.


"I see these things sometimes. It should run its course."

"How long will that take?"

"Months?" he said with a shrug.

It's already been months, and it doesn't seem to be improving. Yesterday, wanting a second opinion, I saw another ENT, who told me to stop using Listerine. He also offered this advice:

"How often do you look into your mouth?


"Why don't we cut that back to twice a month?"

I've spent a lot of my time Googling symptoms rather than reading or writing or doing anything productive or creative. It's not constructive, and I realize that stress can exacerbate a condition like this. There are far worse afflictions than a chronic sore throat, but I'm hung up on the idea that this is my body's way of telling me something isn't right here, and maybe it's linked to some of my other malfunctions, and why can't a doctor connect the dots already?

Instead of reading books at night, I've spent too much time in front of the bathroom mirror, examining my throat with my repurposed booklight. It illuminates the constellations of tiny bumps and blisters. I track their movements, searching for signs and symbols, trying to divine some meaning from it all. And I feel fortunate that I get to curl up next to someone who listens to all the daily developments in my throat and pretends, admirably, not to be bored.