Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Twitching and Itching

"Fuck you,
Fuck you very, very much"

Fuck You (2009) by Lily Allen

I never knew that it's possible to say "fuck you" in such a cute way.

Since yesterday night, my left eyelid has been twitching continuously and it's mind-screwing me something fierce (the proper term for it is fasciculations, for you medical types reading this) and it had followed me the entire day today up till now, even after my nap in the evening. It's like a little heart going 'tup, tup, tup' the whole time beating a tattoo on the top of my cornea and upper sclera. Try tapping on your eyelid for a bit; that's what it was like for me for the past 24 hours. If I close my right eye, everything I see just keeps twitching in and out of focus, making it a real bitch to concentrate or even function at all in my Community Medicine posting at the Peringgit Polyclinic today. I got to watch a removal of an old intrauterine contraceptive device from a woman's menstruating womb and the insertion of a new one, and I was worrying the whole time that the woman whose baby pipe I was staring up at would notice my tic and think it to be caused by some unusual, extra-medical interest in her haemorrhaging genitalia. A colleague of mine says that it means something good is going to happen to me, since it's my left eyelid that's twitching. I really like to see him write that diagnosis in a Medicine exam paper somewhere.

This isn't the first time something of this nature manifested in my person. For the past two years, I've been experiencing strange, sporadic fasciculations in the voluntary muscles on my eyelids, cheeks, arms and legs lasting from seconds to minutes - little flutterings of a few muscle fibres visible just beneath the skin - which disappears upon usage of those same muscles, but they usually return when the muscles are at rest again. The fasciculations in my left eyelid today is the lengthiest attack I ever experienced. And no, I had enough sleep yesterday night, thank you very much - but I did notice that these random twitches occur more frequently when I'm tired, stressed out, not getting enough sleep or wired on caffeine.

Starting at the same time as my left eyelid twitching yesterday was an unexplained ache on the back of my left knee and I noticed it when I got up from my chair (after having planted myself in it for the entire night) to look at my eyelid in the mirror. It felt like I either pulled a tendon or just suffered a cramp, but I hadn't been exerting myself at all (which is an understatement) and I don't believe it's medically possible for me to suffer a cramp while I'm conscious and not feel a damn thing. This is freaking bizzare. It's like that pain I sometimes get in my right ankle. Those who know me might notice that I occasionally limp when I walk, while on most days I walk just fine. And I wasn't imitating Dr House either. I don't take hero worship that far, alright (although if I do, I'd sooner imitate Alexander the Great, buy myself a horse and get a boyfriend named Hephaestion). Anyway, as I was saying; that pain in my right ankle felt like a tendon injury which appeared from no-damn-where. I'd be doing something as inane as stepping out of a car, walking down a step or getting out of bed and experience an excruciating, shooting pain in that ankle - and it'd continue to hurt for the next few days.

Oh, and the tremors; have I mentioned that yet? Aside from the fine resting tremors of my hands, which I'm sure quite a lot of people has, I also get this dramatic bouts of intention tremors (i.e. medispeak for tremors-when-doing-stuff) which happens rarely - but when it does, it's pretty darn alarming. I'll give you an example; I'd be eating and suddenly, the hand holding the spoon would tremble uncontrollably, spilling everything in it. I don't know if it has anything to do with the way I hold my utensils but I never had such attacks when I'm wielding a scalpel or pen,

See, no tremors. I drew this during a Medicine lecture today. Couldn't concentrate for my eyelid.

If I discount the tremors as something wholy unrelated, keeping only the fasculations and weird aches, I can probably make a diagnosis of Benign Fasciculation Syndrome, which is very, very optimistic of me. Technically, I can only conclude it as that after I have ruled out all the more sinister diseases showing the same spectrum of symptoms like amyotropic lateral sclerosis (or Lou Gehrig's, which Stephen Hawking famously suffers from), multiple sclerosis and even Parkinson's - but I'm going with BFS because of my clinical picture. I'm wondering if I should get a check up and an electromyographic study done as well, just to be sure.

By the way, I couldn't get any description of BFS from any of my textbooks. My online search did however turn up a Mayo Clinic study on the condition which I found informative, if brief.

Well, if I'm right, this chalks up as my second diagnosis of a harmless condition in myself,

My first is this, picture taken in 2006. And as you can see, I'm partially ambidextrous.

It's called Dermatographic Urticaria which is a mongrel mix of pretentious medical Greek and Latin meaning "skin-writing") and yeap, I can indeed write on my skin. It affects my entire body and only excludes the bits on my palms, soles and genitals (much to Phoebe's disappointment). All I need to do is scratch out whatever it is I want to write or draw and voila! Out it pops in a few short minutes. I only know two other people who has it; a good friend of mine from London and a classmate who apparently recovered from it. Some suffer from it for life though and I kind of hope I'm one of those. It's a pretty darn swell disease to have, if you ask me. Makes for great party conversations anyway.

First off, it's not properly understood how people get this but so far, they've found no infective or genetic aetiology - means its not contagious and you can't get it from your parents. You know your usual allergic reactions? You eat something or touch something and suddenly, you break out in hives. It's caused by this protein called histamine which is stored in cells called mast cells under your skin. Mast cells release histamines when they are exposed to something you're allergic to, causing itching, burning sensations and red wheals to form on the surface of your body.

Dermatographic urticaria is slightly different, and isn't caused by any specific allergy. It's actually caused by a weakness in the integrity of the membranes of these mast cells, which makes them fragile and break easily on pressure. So basically, any pressure strong enough to pop 'em can start an allergic-like response on my skin. My fingernails, a pencil, the edge of a table, the elastic waistband of a pair of shorts, a belt buckle or just whatever-the-heck's harder than cotton - all of them can be used to "write" on my skin. That's right, I'm basically allergic to touch.

And it didn't take long for someone to recognise the artistic potential of having such a condition. Me, I'm mostly thinking about cheating in exams with it.

Flora 2006
Flora 2006

Flora (Kneel) 2006
Flora (Kneel) 2006

Toile 2 2006
Toile 2 2006

Index 2005
Index 2005, my personal favourite.

An artist named Ariana Page Russell created these pieces with what she had to work with, her skin and her dermatographism. I can tell you this isn't easy at all. It takes a while before the skin starts whealing so she pretty much have to visualise what she wanted to achieve from the get go. And if she's anything like me, her indurations would only last for about half an hour, so she probably had to scratch everything out as quickly as she could so bits don't start to disappear when she photographs them.

Pretty, if slightly gross. Oh well, you know what they say about art and subjectivity.

Weirder than you think,
k0k s3n w4i


Elaynne said...

Eh, Why you nv write something and show me during CNY! So Interesting!!

ericG said...

That's is a cool art u got there.... Have not seen u draw borders, shapes or lines, or wat u call that u drew on ur hand...and a cool art to be drawn on ur body. It's like a half-hour tattoo. It's interesting and nice and the best part is, it never last there forever.

Betsy said...

I wished it's hereditary :( Then, I might had gotten it from our parents xD

k0k s3n w4i said...

Elaynne: aiya, next time come back I show u la. dun get grossed out can d

ericG: yeah, that's what I felt too. been itching to do something cool with it, but haven't got any inspiration yet. the thick wheals are going to be much more different compared to my usual fine penwork.

Betsy: they say it's more prevalent is fat and stressed out people. try getting a boyfriend. u'll get fat and stressed out in no time.

bevE said...

so horrible =.= (ur reply to betsy)

i gots dis too T_T it's not fun >_> so itchy -_-