Thursday, August 7, 2008

Just When You Think You Wont Wake Up Covered In Blisters

So the morning David and I were going to lance a boil on one of the new she-goats I discovered a delightful rash of my own all across my knees, hands and arms. At first I was kind of intrigued and fascinated by it. The rash presented (this is about to get gross and then grosser) as a red blotch that felt about as painful as a light scrape then rose into a water filled mound. They were of various sizes and depths of wateriness and in the work of a few moments I'd pretty much annihilated them. Full Disclosure: I've begged friends to let me stick pins in things as intimate as blood blisters. Begged.

"That was weird," I thought and went about my daily business at Cross Island Farms. Goat boil lancing, garlic harvesting, zucchini picking ::Cue Ominous Music:: and planting carrots.

Before leaving NYC I'd considered a lot of the bad things that could happen to me on a farm. I might loose a limb in a thresher or get rabies from a raccoon nesting in my tent or just a good old fashioned horse trampling. Of course the shit that goes down is never what we expect. The evening after their first appearance was just a couple days before I was heading home and I thought the wounds would quickly heal up and that'd be the end of it. I was mildly disappointed that I wouldn't be able to show them off. It wasn't until the bus ride home that I thought, "I have a problem. And no health insurance."

The scary red blotches had begun rising up all over my forearms past my elbows. Tiny splotches climbed each knuckle of my fingers and soon every one of them had a royal blister crown. I controlled my well cultivated urge to open them up to the horrors of the Greyhound bus bacterial pool and tried to keep a level head.

If you're like me (I like to think everyone is) then you've probably made a top one hundred worst ways to die list. I have to say 'covered in blisters' is one of my top twenty five at least. Also, I've never really been prone to allergies. I get a little sneezy around the time when everyone walks around sneezy mumbling, "They say this is a bad pollen year," but that's it. If you're unused to surprising skin rashes the mind immediately goes to the worst case scenario. Hiding my oozing sores from the other passengers for fear of being put out on the road as a leper, I tried to figure out what I'd done to deserve this. I remembered a conversation I'd had with Karl Frost almost two weeks prior, when he noticed my dirt blackened fingers and cracked skin after a particularly diggy day.

"Won't have such soft white hands now!" he mocked.

"My hands bounce back quickly," I said. Smugly.

Now I was being punished for my confidence.Because our ailment's appearances correlated I associated my blisters with the she-goat's boil. She almost seemed responsible. Somewhere on the property she'd gotten sick and then so had I! Of course the she-goat had an infection on her face probably from where one of her fellow goat inmates had butted her and punctured the skin, which was pretty dissimilar from my condition. Who knew what secret violent lives goats lead?

I held gauze and rubbing alcohol for David as he squeezed the infection out of her wound. Normally right up my ally but I didn't want to get butted myself. She looked both annoyed and relieved, gobbling up grain as reward for tolerating us. When I arrived back in NYC tender and freaked I poured on the rubbing alcohol myself and thought of her again. It's funny how vulnerable you become at the first sign of illness especially when the symptoms are consistent with one of God's plagues. Any animal, livestock or pet, is at the mercy of their caretaker. I'd felt sorry for the goat waiting out in her pen for someone to notice that something was wrong, that she needed help and also for her natural fear of being handled and treated. Then there I was trembling in the bathroom over my own problems, as fearful and disturbed as she'd been as we climbed over the fence.

Anyway, I eventually realized I wasn't going to die, at least from this, and my blisters were caused by contact with the almost invisible spines all over the stems and leaves of the zucchini plants I'd been picking from all week. They've all healed, kind of, into charming reddish white scars on my glowing farmer's tan. So yes, my hands functionality have bounced back if not their lovely white softness. Not YET, Karl! Lessons Learned: Wear work gloves. Get health insurance. Be grateful you didn't pick zucchini with your face.

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