Posts Tagged ‘itching’

The Beginning Of My Long, Long Endgame

07 Sep


Is There A Doctor In The House?


Going, going, gone. Here's a letter I wrote a couple weeks ago to an occupational medicine MD practicing at George Washington University Hospital in Foggy Bottom. It got a response. I landed an appointment, but as with four previous doctors all I got for my energies was blank indifference. They didn't even want to hear my symptoms or look at my skin. No blood test. Nor diagnosis. Nary a molecule of relief. I DID have to shell out for a co-pay, however, FIVE TIMES, por nada.

Now I'm on my sixth doctor. A vivacious young Iranian-American woman, whose father is a noted surgeon who fled with his family including a very young daughter, the Khomeini Revolution in 1979. That daughter, now Dr. Pantea Tamjidi, my wife's dermatologist, once experienced a very similar allergic reaction, is now on the case. Finally! Moving into my fifth month of this health crisis. My life has been miserable. Can't even wear clothing. Hair follicles feel like steel wool, clothing pressing down into skin, Flesh burns like windburn. Sleep patterns horrible. My work sporadic in the meantime. Symptoms began in West Virginia, and I have since broken lease, and moved from Wheeling back to DC, but this plague continues. Feels like the beginning of a long, long endgame. Find out results of blood tests tomorrow. She suspects a thyroid problem.

Dear Dr. Guidotti,

I was referred to you by a friend working with PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility). I am not a public employee, but I seem to be suffering from toxic exposure to fiberglass insulation, lead paint, black mold disease, singularly, a combination of these, or something else entirely. Please allow me to briefly describe my situation, as neither my regular internal medicine MD, nor two epidemiologists showed any interest in hearing the roll call of my symptoms, much less any contributing details of my case.

I spent 16 weeks (March 12-July 6) in a house where a large swath of exposed dirty fiberglass insulation was discovered three or four inches from the intake filter of the ventilation system in the 15th week. I had the fiberglass covered with duct tape by the superintendent of the unit, but I had by this time developed a contact allergic reaction to any personal effect which had been exposed to sixteen weeks of dust. Very old windows with confirmed lead paint issues sprayed around the room small particles evidenced by carpet debris and collected piles of chips on the wood floors. While no evidence of black mold has been found, the locale where my contamination allegedly originated (Wheeling, WV) is home to a rather prominent black mold clean-up industry due to frequent flooding in the area.

Frankly, I exhibited no symptoms until the third or fourth week of living in this unit, nor did I suspect ANY problem with the air or my body at this time. Within a week, however, of installing a window AC unit, I began noticing first this rather minor but persistent itching from what felt like pricking, or stiff bristles digging, or being propelled into my skin and clothing. At some point on this timeline, I noticed how much crud I had begun digging out of my eyes each morning.

A reasonably intelligent person, I tried to discover the origin of these symptoms without being an alarmist, but after twelve weeks of skin irritation about the arms, legs, torso, and face, and this rather odd twitching about the face and eyes, and inconclusive guesswork as to its causes, I was forced to leave the unit. I have been away for nearly a month now, and while the symptoms have receded negligibly in a cleaner environment, the roots of my problem still exist. My skin burns and feels puffy.

Of course there are many more details which will have to wait. But while we found the exposed insulation, an initial air quality control test for fiberglass fibers was negative. I’ve had no blood test to determine lead or formaldehyde levels, but my skin is hypersensitive to all personal effects (which have now been relocated to storage) infested with dust from the building in question. A visit to the ophthalmologist just this past Friday, August 11, also proved negative with regards to fiberglass in the eyes. Instead, the doctor said all my tear ducts were clogged with goop and foreign debris. I thought I felt somewhat better for about a day after he cleaned out my eyes, but the “generalized” symptoms have returned.

Please consider my case. I am at my wit’s end trying to “return to normal” or diagnose this on my own with no help from physicians who don’t seem to want to be bothered from the everyday routines of their practice. Frequent showers, eye washes, new clothing, and self- quarantining away from said personal effects have eased but not eradicated my symptoms. Even the electronic field associated with this computer “seems” to exacerbate my symptoms by supercharging the skin irritation and twitching of my slight facial hair and the burning sensation in the hands. I need someone to take me seriously. Perhaps you have room for me in your practice. I am not indigent, nor am I considering a lawsuit against my landlord. I simply want to get diagnosed properly, and return to health, if possible.

If an appointment with your department at GW can be arranged, I would be very grateful.

Thank you,

Gabriel Thy

4707 Connecticut Ave., NW
Third Floor, Suite xxx
Washington, DC 20008


11 Apr

With little idea of how emphatically alert
the carrion forces of irony would approach me
in this odd doohickey state of mine,
I was celebrating with moving trucks
and farewell glimpses like signals from another frontier
that I, yes, the royal roving eye
had finally escaped the nation's capital after twenty-two
hostile years of stifled scream, fish tales, and orgasm,
my formidable punk rock years frothing and frosted beneath me,
punishment enough I had hoped for choosing the prophetic muses
of blathering fifth angel guitar heaps over the deadly aims
of the finely papered greed and arrogance creeps
the city of Washington breeds, imports, and exports
across its continental colonies and beyond, far beyond,
gesture control, this leering lawmaking
jeering jawbreaking city's major industry,
and by that I mean ONLY industry...

but obviously I had miscalculated the odds—
the shady odds not even a straw hat hombre from south of the imaginary
Mendoza line as legal as lint, can beat. Flattened by repeated failure,
and by failure, I mean absolute and uncompromised failure,
I had become nothing more than an aching suburb of my former self.
I had gone west by God. In smutty nutty wisecracking Wheeling
                      West Virginia
I soon found myself smack dab in the middle
of the next pygmalion effect.

Allow me to elaborate my first full week
here on Main Street in Victorian Old Town, I saw,
and by that I mean O-L-D, the flaking, rotting, stinking carcass
of a former glory gone desperately poor, I saw myself
perched eighty feet on a bluff above the historical
but now quaint yet periodically swelling, raging,
bank-defying Ohio River down below.

First week here POTUS came to town,
a speech at the Capitol Music Hall,

Floods in Wheeling, nope, in DC.
Presidential motorcade.
punk city, nope, wheeling, massive tats & nose rings—
few hicks, lots of itching though.

[ 2006, Wheeling, WV ]


"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""