The Setting: My day off; celebrating St. Patrick's Day a day early because I have to close tomorrow.
The Soundtrack: Glee: The Music. Volume 1
On the Stove-top and Steaming up the Oven: Home-brined corned beef with cabbage, carrots, celery and onions; Scalloped potatoes with green onions, baby portabellas, and Kilaree Irish cheddar; homemade brioche made with Kerrygold Irish butter.
The Scenario: "I am allergic to work," I joke, holding up my red-speckled forearms.
My husband shakes his head in his hands and sighs a half-laugh, half-whimper sort of sigh.
He says it would be more funny if it weren't true.
For months we hoped and prayed I would find a job. Then, one week into working, I wake up with embossed and emblazoned forearms. The bumps soon spread to my hands. The doctor says it looks like contact dermatitis, and it sounds like I got it on the job.
A few weeks later, the steroid cream the doctor prescribes seems to be working, and at the end of a four-day vacation from work, my skin looks almost normal.
But a day back on the job, the rash comes back, like that cat that "just wouldn't go away."
I try to avoid touching the sanitizing solution in the three-compartment sink as much as possible, as I assume my reaction is derived either from contact with the chemicals it contains or from contact with cheese...and if cheese is the issue...well, let's just hope it's not.
It is challenging to isolate the variables associated with my skin irruption because I have to touch cheese and sanitizers basically every day. I wear gloves of course (non-latex, hypoallergenic), but they are forearm-exposing and puny. I request full-length, heavy-duty rubber gloves, but they have not arrived as of yet.
The doctor advises me not to use the steroid cream for more than a couple of weeks and not to slather it on any more of my skin than absolutely necessary. Apparently, continual use of this product causes skin atrophy and permanent discoloration. However...I am instructed to keep using it until the rash surrenders.
I ask the doctor what I should do if the rash refuses to retreat.
He says I should find a new job.
Ah, the thought of re-entering the job market....
Perhaps skin atrophy won't be so bad.