Post 45 — Scratching the Surface

More random palm trees.

More random palm trees.

Chrissie gnawed at her hand like a wildebeest caught in a snare trap. She had never heard the term “coyote ugly” before, but she would have gladly chewed off her own paw if it would only stop the itching. Her fingers were swollen with tiny blisters that burned with the intensity of a million fire ants attacking at dawn. Popping them with her teeth would alleviate the pressure momentarily, but then the open wounds would throb and seep. Plunging her hands in ice water sometimes helped, but this was the tropics and there wasn’t an abundance of ice, and anyway most of it was reserved for cocktails. The rash appeared only on her hands and would show up randomly, although math tests seemed to accelerate it. Her father suffered from the same condition and the doctors treating him had mentioned stress as a possible cause. This made sense for him, given the workload and problems at the TV studio, but she was a nine-year old girl living in paradise who was seldom required to wear shoes. It would be difficult to imagine a less-stressful environment.

My hands are considerably improved this week. They were miserable before but the soaking and medications seem to be working. Unfortunately, Chrissie seems to be having similar problems. Her hands are breaking out in water blisters which break and then split and swell. We have some kind of cortisone salve that seems to be helping. Fortunately, she has the kind of disposition so that she doesn’t let it bother her too much. She looks upon it as sort of a blessing because it has removed her from the dish washing schedule. You know, “With all that horse manure around, there’s bound to be a pony here somewhere” type attitude.


Her skin had always been sensitive and prone to weird reactions. If you scratched a line along her arm, a welt would rise up that lasted for hours. It wasn’t painful; just an oddity her sisters took to calling “write-a-titis” that seem to stir their inner calligrapher. They would corner her in the bedroom, hold her down and scratch their names on her body in a loopy cursive. Catholic schoolchildren need to practice their penmanship and the Broquet girls were no exception. They always closed the door so their mother wouldn’t see what was going on, but when the evidence presented itself in a raised welt that read “Carolyn,” it wasn’t difficult to figure out whom to punish.

First of all in answer to Grandma’s question, Karen got lice from someone who had them. It could be Fia, the house girl or it could have been from Lisa, the little girl she plays with. Lisa lived in a village for a long while and hasn’t been able to rid herself of the lice at all. She gets a regular shampoo of kerosene and oil but it has been a real battle. Fortunately, we were able to take care of Karen’s without too much trouble.

Her ringworm has vanished completely, too. What a mess that was. She had two on her face but they have cleared up and no trace remains. A lot of kids who had them the same time she did were having them treated with iodine and they all have scars left. And finally, in answer to a comment of Grandma Broquet‘s, yes, we have had her wormed, too. We suspect she had them too, but I didn’t have the heart to mention that on top of everything else. All is well, all are healthy, for now.


Carolyn headed up the dirt road that led to a series of white frame buildings behind the Tafuna development. A friend of hers had not been to school for a few weeks and the teacher had told her that the girl was staying at that place until she was better. Carolyn wasn’t exactly sure what was wrong with her friend, but she had heard something about a leopard and thought perhaps it involved some kind of a disease that came from a cat. She hoped it wasn’t contagious.

One Comment to “Post 45 — Scratching the Surface”

  1. Oh, boy – the lice and ringworm episode. Karen always used to come over with Jean and plop herself down on Robert’s lap. Well, when Jean mentioned ringworm and lice both (double whammy), Karen was unceremoniously dumped off his lap and she cried and cried at this sudden rejection by him. Once she was varmint-free. all was well again. I love all this, Chrissie, and it all sure brings back fond memories.


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