Holiday Family Visits
CW – compulsive skin picking, self-harm
Episode 44: Running Giraffe, Thumbs – Shel We Read a Poem?
Ankylosaurus is the best
Colors of organs
Episode 48: If I Had a Brontosaurus, Colors–Shel We Read a Poem?
BrontosaurusAnkylosaurus is the bestAggressive secularism NFT scamsRomance scamsCryptoRomColorsOrgansColors of organsVestigial organs Dating simsMonster girlsTranscript for this episode: https://firstname.lastname@example.org@ShelWeReadAudio Player00:0023:18Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Jump BackSkip Forward
British Voice: Shel We Read a Poem?
Russ: Hello all, and welcome to Shel We Read a Poem? I’m Russ.
Lauren: And I’m Lauren. And I want to jump right into the poem that I’m going to read.
Russ: Bring the pain.
Lauren: The poem itself isn’t painful. I’m doing:
Please do not make fun of me. And please don’t laugh. It isn’t easy to write a poem on the neck of a running giraffe.
And that, of course, is kind of wasted in a podcast because it’s written in the shape of a long rectangle-ish because it is part of a giraffe neck.
Russ: A running giraffe apparently.
Lauren: Yes, yes, yes.
Russ: Well, that doesn’t sound like the content for bitchery.
Lauren: Oh, it is because I am feeling under duress.
Russ: On you go.
Lauren: Yeah. So I am supposed to get on a plane tomorrow to go see my family. But we are still in a pandemic, my sister has tested positive, probably for Omicron. I will—as long as my mother tests negative tomorrow morning—I will be getting on the plane. And it feels kind of immoral to do this. But there are really no good choices in this situation.
Russ: No, there aren’t. And we’ve reached the point where it’s endemic. Everyone is going to get it.
Lauren: Well, we’re at least all going to get exposed.
It’s like the flu. I mean, you’re going to get it regardless.
Lauren: I mean, I don’t get the flu most of the time when I’m vaccinated.
Russ: But when was last time you were tested for flu?
Lauren: A couple years ago?
Russ: And that’s the thing of it. Like, how do you know, I haven’t had the flu in two years? Well, have you or do you just get vaccinated against the flu?
Lauren: Yeah, I haven’t had anything that seemed like a flu, really, since the last time I didn’t get vaccinated for the flu. However, it’s possible. I just had a mild case of the flu sometimes.
Russ: And so if the answer is, let’s stop living life until COVID goes away. Okay, good luck with that.
Lauren: I do think that traveling on a plane is a terrible idea. But I’m doing it anyway. Because I didn’t go last year and my dad died.
Russ: It’s like all else, everything else in life comes with risks. When I drive a car, am I going to buckle my seatbelt? May I still die in a car crash? Sure.
Lauren: It’s still at least less dangerous for me to travel this time than it was last time because I am triple vaccinated, which will probably offer me some protection. And I will end up with a mild case. If I get… I mean, I will get exposed. If I do get it, it should be mild. So that’s at least better than last year.
Russ: So your sister is living in the same house?
Lauren: No, no, she had a little bit of masked exposure to my mother the day before she started feeling sick.
Lauren: Yeah, she and my mother do not live together. And I won’t see my sister until she’s done with her isolation period.
Russ: Well, there you go. Merry Christmas.
Lauren: I’m feeling all sorts of pressure and duress from… I really hate traveling and I hate traveling during holidays the most. And I feel not great about Christmas to begin with. It’s always been a very sad time of year for me and I just I just don’t want it. I don’t want it. I don’t want it. And on top of it, there’s a pandemic that makes things even more complicated because I could get it when I’m in Maryland. And then I couldn’t come home for a long time.
Russ: This is true.
Lauren: And I’m just gonna want to go home.
Russ: I will not be getting on a plane on Sunday; I will be getting on a plane on Friday.
Lauren: So this will be our last recording for a bit then.
Russ: Correct. But worry not because I have an outtakes episode.
Lauren: That’ll be interesting.
Russ: So yeah, you’ll have this one and then outtakes episode and then back to our regularly scheduled program.
Provided I don’t get COVID wherever I am and provided you don’t get COVID wherever you are.
Russ: Well as with all things time will tell.
Lauren: I don’t want to. I don’t want to. I hate all of this. I get so stressed out. Oh, what are your adventures coming up?
Russ: I am going to Dallas for the Christmas weekend and I’m going to Toronto for the New Year’s weekend. My wife’s folks are very opposite in their dealings with the world. So like, my father in law is very much the mindset of, “Oh, I’ve got my three shots. Done all I can do. Everything’s fine. On we go.” And my mother in law is like, “I’ve got my three shots. And now I will continue to be afraid of everything.” And the two of them occupy the same space. And so from time to time, my mother in law will send emails where it’s like, “Wow, things sure are bad out there. I hope nothing bad happens to anyone.” And so, X number of weeks ago, we had a phone conversation. And it was, “Hey, we’re going to be taking a trip over the New Years. We can come visit you, or we can not. You know, we haven’t seen you in two years. So, you know, it’s kind of up to you. If you don’t want us to come visit, we won’t.” And they’re like, “Definitely, definitely come visit.” This is like, “Alright, we’re gonna come visit.” “Okay, cool.” So we bought the tickets. And then yesterday, she sent another email. “Oh, things sure are bad out there. I hope no one gets…” What are you trying to accomplish with this? And so my prettier half, lord love her, had the most animated phone conversation I have ever seen her have. And it was, “Look, what is your point? Do you want to see us? Or do you not want to see us? Because we have tickets for Toronto. And we don’t have to see you. Like, we can just hang out in Toronto.” And her dad was on the line as well and was like, “See, I told you not to send that email. I told you that was gonna be stupid.” But this will be the foreseeable future.
Russ: And we have steps we can take. There are vaccines. Get the shots when you can.
Lauren: We might be back to flatten the curve territory. Like try not to all get sick at once. I mean, I do think this winter travel is foolish, but I’m doing it anyway.
Russ: I don’t even think foolish is the word for it. I think we all we’ve all had our shots. Will we be exposed? Almost definitely. Is it worth shutting down the rest of your life?
Lauren: Well, I’m not that worried about me. I’m more worried about giving it to other people and giving it to people who are immunocompromised, for example. Like my friend, and I’m going to avoid my friend for two weeks after I come back. But I can’t anticipate that she’ll be the only person I’ll encounter who’s immunocompromised.
Russ: So it sounds like you’re taking all the right precautions. And that’s all you can do.
Lauren: Yeah, I fret though.
Russ: Well, I don’t think that’s unjustified. But don’t fret too much.
Lauren: So, I was supposed to hang out today with somebody with COVID.
Russ: Were you aware that they had COVID?
Lauren: Well, no. And neither were they. So as you know, my sister tested positive recently, and she was negative on a PCR test. But she took five different antigen tests over three days, and they were all positive. So I tweeted about that. I was like, “That’s odd. I wonder if that’s going to be a pattern.” And anyway, and my friend saw it. And so my roommate is having an escape room thing today for her birthday. It’s just a small thing with a few people who are all vaccinated well, and boostered. And so our mutual friend saw that and she was like, “Hmm, I had a sore throat. But I was negative on the PCR test. Why don’t I take an antigen test and see what happens?” Well, positive. So she will not be coming to the escape room tonight. But Laura and I were supposed to go see right before we got on planes to go see our families.
Russ: Intriguing. Well, the good news is all get tested a whole bunch because to fly from Canada to the United States, you got to get tested out the wazoo, so we’ll see what happens there.
Lauren: Yeah, probably nothing.
Russ: Or maybe something.
Lauren: Or maybe something. Oh, gosh.
Russ: And ultimately, the sun will continue to shine.
Lauren: Alright, Ross, what’s your poem for today?
Russ: Laughs. My poem is “Thumbs. “
Lauren: All right.
Russ: Oh, the thumb-sucker’s thumb
May look wrinkled and wet
And withered, and white as the snow,
But the taste of a thumb Is the sweetest taste yet
(As only we thumb-suckers know).
There is no accompanying illustration.
Lauren: Were you a thumb sucker?
Russ: Not to my memory. I don’t recall being a thumb sucker. But I, in my previous capacity as a school administrator, I have known many children who were. Have you ever met any adult thumb suckers?
Lauren: I mean, only in passing.
Russ: Huh. Interesting. I wonder if there are statistics to be found about this I’m very interested in… The reason this came up was because I’ve taken a small interest in obsessive compulsive behaviors and not necessarily thumb sucking, but the treatment of and cures are difficult, but ways around them and coping mechanisms and that sort of thing. So specifically, I became interested in dermatillomania which is skin picking.
Lauren: Oh, I do a little bit of that.
Russ: Compulsive skin picking.
Lauren: Yup, especially on my face.
Russ: Tell me about it. How does yours operate?
Lauren: If I see any kind of blemish or, or at all or like scab or something, I tend to just be like, Ugh! Make it stop. Make it go away. And of course, I’m just making it worse.
Is it? Does it have to be a blemish? Or will you seek out blemishes?
Lauren: What do you mean “seek out blemishes?”
Russ: If you look in the mirror and you see a pimple, you will probably try and pop it right?
Russ: But during the course of the day, will you run your fingers…
Russ: …across your skin and look for blemishes?
Lauren: I’m not intentionally looking for blemishes. But I will run my hands across my face and find them. I’m not necessarily looking for them.
Russ: Do you start picking at those as well?
Lauren: At least a little bit. Yeah.
Russ: Have you ever found that this has an effect on day to day living?
Lauren: I mean, often it makes my zits worse. It can be kind of painful sometimes, if I’m like messing with something that is an open sore.
Russ: Have you ever ended up with an infection or anything?
Lauren: I’m really careful about… Part of being like, “Oh my god. Make it go away,” is also keeping things very clean. And even though I’m making them worse, I’m still making sure they’re not infected because in fact, it is much worse.
Russ: Do you pull at your hair?
Not really, no.
Russ: I’m quoting Mental Health America here. “Excoriation disorder also referred to as skin picking or dermatillomania is a mental illness related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is characterized by repeated picking at one’s own skin, which results in in skin lesions and causes disruption in one’s life. Individuals may pick it healthy skin, minor skin irregularities, lesions or scabs. The disorder is usually chronic with periods of remission alternating with periods of greater symptom intensity,” and it goes on.
Lauren: Yeah, I do that. But it’s not… it hasn’t affected my life very much, except for making things temporarily a little worse, I think because I’m like really careful about wound care that I don’t… It’s not that big of a deal. I’m just giving myself worse scars.
Russ: And treatment is usually singularly difficult because you can treat a little bit with SSRIs. But usually, you kind of need like some cognitive behavioral therapy in there. And it’s almost always seen in some kind of comorbidity with obsessive compulsive disorder, or depression from time to time. 38% also experience trichotillomania, which is hair pulling,
Lauren: I only have the one the skin one, it’s mild, it doesn’t really take over my life in any way. It is compulsive, but it’s it’s whatever
Russ: The personal experience part was, because my better half deals with it from time to time. And so it became very interesting to me. Because, while I sort of knew about it in the abstract, I’ve never experienced it. Like, you know, when you’re a teenager you pop pimples and that sort of thing. But you know, I’ve never searched my skin for blemishes nor, you know, found relief from picking them. But then I joined the subreddit, which was a skin picking subreddit and seeing these people they talk about it like it was very nearly an addiction. Like the relief that they felt from just that sensation of removing something, such a wave of euphoria when “Oh, now it feels smooth.” But of course, that’s going to scab over in an hour. And now you have to pick it, right?
Lauren: I guess I do feel a little bit relieved, when it happens. Like I’m like, ugh, the disturbing thing is gone. But of course, I’ve just made it… Usually I’ve just made it worse. A funny thing is, while we’ve been talking, I have a thing on my elbow that started as some kind of contact dermatitis, but I have fucked with it for so much it is now something different.
Russ: This just goes to show you how much older we’re getting. At the outset of COVID, I noticed a new lump on my arm. You know, for like seven seconds. I was worried about it. And then I googled the thing and for once Dr. Google didn’t make me terrified. And they’re like, oh, that’s probably a lipoma and I was like, What’s a lipoma? And turns out, like David Sedaris wrote a thing about it. And so but now, I think it’s kind of interesting. And I showed it to a doctor, and he was like, “Oh, yeah, that’s nothing to be worried about but we can cut it out if you want to, but it’s not going to do anything.” And I was like, neat.
Lauren: Oh, yeah, I see that. Yeah, see, I would be like, oh my god, cut that out. Now. I would be like make that go away. Now. Now! Make that go away.
Russ: The fact that it is mobile and doesn’t cause me pain are both very good signs and characteristic of lipomas. They spring up overnight, and they grow to one size and then they stay there for the rest of your life unless you get rid of them.
Lauren: Right. I would have to have that removed. I would have to. So if it didn’t get removed, I would start considering doing it myself because I have burned things off of me that I’ve been like, I can’t deal with it. I can’t deal with it. I will just burn it off.
Russ: But this is under the skin. You have to cut it out.
Russ: Oh, golly.
Lauren: I might find a way if I had to.
Russ: I guess you could exacto it out. But man.
Lauren: Yup, numb it with an ice cube and figure it out. Both laugh. I just feel like… I mean, obviously, I have a mild case of this, the skin picking disorder because I’m like, I would not be able to stand that for very long.
Russ: Ah, no, I notice it from time to time. Like if I’m in the shower. It’s like, oh, there’s that there’s that little friend. Maybe I’ll name him but you know. Russ laughs. I don’t know if this is our most distressing episode ever, or one of our more uplifting.
Lauren: We’re gonna have to do some content warnings from this for sure.
Russ: Skin picking?
Lauren: Yeah, well, I’m anxious about traveling and anxious about my family. So it’s gonna be the first Christmas without my dad. My sister probably won’t be there either, because she’ll be in isolation still, I think.
Russ: Is the isolation period still two weeks or is it 10 days?
Lauren: It’s 10 days to two weeks, depending. If she’s still feeling not great, I would prefer she take the full two weeks.
Russ: I mean, naturally.
Lauren: Ugh, no. Now I’m thinking about messing with the wound on my elbow. Stop.
Russ: I’ve found liquid bandages and those hydrocolloid bandages, those work really well. Like the wet ones.
Lauren: Well, what I probably need to do is go put some sort of analgesic thing on it. So I stopped thinking about it. Because like, and I’m there and I’m like, oh, no, it itches. Now, it itches. I just have to go make it stop itching and then I’ll forget about it for a while. See, it’s a suggestive thing. too. lf someone like talks about it, then I’m like, pick, pick. Pick.
Russ: Well, fates be with you. Good luck. Oh, have you fucked around with any of any video games anymore?
Lauren: No, I haven’t really done anything since a little first foray into Zero Dawn, but I probably will when I get back.
Russ: Well, then I will handle this week’s uplifting thought.
Russ: Good news, guys. It could get worse, or it could get better. But what I’ve learned is dedicate as much time to thinking about the good thing as you think about the bad thing. So as someone who struggles with health anxiety, if you decide to Google a symptom, Google “health anxiety that symptom” as well, and you will find that you feel better.
Lauren: Unless maybe it’s a malig… nevermind.
Russ: Yes, but also Google “health anxiety that malignant thing.” Also, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah.
Lauren: I think Hanukkah’s over
Russ: Joyous New Year. What else falls during the season?
Lauren: Well, we haven’t had the solstice or Saturnalia as of recording.
Russ: Merry Solstice.
Lauren: Okay, but it will be a long time after this one day the time this episode comes out though.
Russ: Laughs. Enjoy the outtakes episode. Well, fates be with you.
Lauren: All right. I’ll talk to you later.