Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Several nights ago an itchy finger woke me up. I learned long ago not to scratch an itch, but rather to use my fingernails to push down on the affected area. It’s just as effective as scratching, but avoids a lot of redness and scratch marks. Despite my efforts, the itch kept up for a long time before it finally went away.

The next day I went out and bought some cortisone cream. That night, the same finger itch, plus a new itch on my right foot. I applied the cream, and it went away. The third night, more itching, more intense. First one finger, then several fingers, then the palm of the one hand, the fingers and palm of the other hand, then my left knee. I’d just begin to deal with one when something else would start to itch. I lathered on the cortisone cream, which did no good at all.

I should point out this happens only at night, never when I’m up and about.

Last night I not only could not sleep, but the itching became so intolerable I was forced to get out of bed at 2:30 a.m. I went to the computer, hoping to find out what was going on, for the computer knows everything, even though it is sometimes extremely reluctant to let you know what it knows. I tried searching under “Symptoms: Night Itching” and several other places. Tons and tons of references to scholarly papers, most of which could be purchased from equally scholarly medical journals. But nothing…absolutely nothing…to suggest what was going on, or what I might do about it.

I did, in a list of symptoms, come across this: "Intolerable itching all over body without perceptible eruption of skin especially in pregnant women worse at night preventing sleep and worse from scratching :- Dol"

I took some, albeit small, comfort in discovering the condition was not unheard of and apparently not life-threatening. But other than that, it didn’t really help, particularly since I am neither a woman nor in menopause nor pregnant.

Some time ago, my local oncologist had referred me to a general practioner named Dr. Wexelman, whom I thereafter saw on one occasion. So this morning, I came to the computer to find Dr. Wexelman’s number and give him a call. I did not have his number. I looked in the phone book. It did not have his number. I called St. Joseph’s Hospital, where both Dr. Malhutra, my oncologist, and Dr. Wexelman are located. and asked for Dr. Wexelman’s number. I was told there was no such person.

I then called my oncologist’s number, explaining to the receptionist what my problem was, and asking her to please check my chart to find Dr. Wexelman’s number. “I’ll have Dr. Malhutra call you,” she said. I told her I didn’t want or need Dr. Malhutra to call me. I wanted Dr. Waxelman’s number. That’s all. “I’ll have Dr. Malhutra call you,” she repeated.

Dr. Malhutra has not called. I have no way of contacting Dr. Wexelman, if in fact he exists. And the evening lies ahead.

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