Chrisforsure, Dalia, Anghold and I went to Macdonald’s for dinner last night. On the way, we got on the topic of shingles, and I explained how it works. From there we moved on to haemorrhoids and piles. I explained how they work as well, and Stewie asked “how come you know all this stuff?” Well, apart from my general morbid fascination with gross things, in the same way that Anghold is very attentive of hygiene (and farts!) I am very percipient (phobic?) towards disease. When I get into a new relationship, swapping papers is a must. I’ve only ever had one girl balk at the idea – “don’t you trust me?” but I would think they should be put at ease that I am willing to prove to them that I am clean (and not reckless). So, forthwith, I shall relay my wisdom on these fascinating subjects!!!

Shingles . This is basically chickenpox revisited – it appears as a rash (very itchy and painful) across the side of the torso (and sometimes the face). You have to have had chickenpox in order to get shingles. I had chickenpox when I was a wee lad and when I moved to Vancouver I got shingles – it’s triggered by stress, you see! Yes, very stressful moving from Chilliwack to Van, and the latent virus blossomed into this wonderful new variety. I’ve got scars along my ribs from the damn thing.
Contagious: nope – except if you’ve never had chickenpox, you can get it from someone with shingles. And if you haven’t had chickenpox, you can be vaccinated if you haven’t already been.
Cure: Once you’ve had shingles, you won’t get them again.

Haemorrhoids. Oh, sweet haemorrhoids. Very common. I get them from time to time, and let me tell you, it’s a pain in the…

bathroom. Basically, the veins around your damn near killed ’em become engorged. It can happen to anyone and really is a biproduct of that stupid monkey who decided walking upright would be a really good idea. If you get little spots of blood on your toilet paper – that’s haemorrhoid spoor. They can be mild or ouchy-ouchy, but usually go away in a matter of days.
Contagious: nope
Cure: These little guys aren’t really a disease per se, so there’s no “cure” so much as there is treatment…

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One

When The Thickets went on tour a few years back we played at this restaurant called uh…Apollo’s? (Warren – your dedicated memory is required here) in some town in Ontario. In the bathroom, in the stall – they had a blackboard and chalk, which I thought was pretty clever: erasable graffiti. While I was there I thought it would be apt to write a few tips on how to keep your ass healthy, like so:

When you go to the shitter, don’t sit down longer than you need to.
When you have to go, go. Don’t hold it in.
Don’t skimp on the fiber: An apple a day keeps the haemorrhoids away.
Exercise, and if you’re overweight, lose it.
Drink a lot of water – soft stool is a good stool

Piles is just another name for haemorrhoids, but I’ve always associated it with Extreeeeeeeeeeme haemorrhoids. The kind that you use rubber bands to treat (I’ll let you look that one up on your own). I’ve never used any treatment (like Preparation-H etc) so I really don’t know what the effectiveness is. When they come for a visit, I just wait them out the same way I do for headaches and colds. It’s like a staring contest in many ways. Actually no, it’s not like that at all.

Scabies! I always used to get this mixed up with shingles, so I looked ’em up. Apart from the itchiness, and the fact that they both start and end with an ‘s’ and both have 2 syllables, they’re unrelated. Scabies is when a tiny mite burrows under your skin and causes an allergic reaction that results in itching and a hives-like rash, especially around your warm bits.
Contagious: yes.
Cure: Easy to get rid of with lotions and whatnot.

Banana fana fo ferpes – herpes!
I don’t want to hit a sore spot, but can we talk about herpes? Herpes is actually quite common. A lot of people who have herpes get it as a child from their infected aunt who lavished kisses on them. Cold sores are herpes. A lot of people are under the misapprehension that genital herpes and facial herpes (you can get herpes on the eye, folks!) are two different beasts. Well, the only difference is the location. You can transmit from one site to the other. Also, just like HIV – you can have herpes without showing any symptoms, and transmit herpes to other people. Toren recommends getting tested next time you see your doctor.
Contagious: Extremely. So unless you don’t care, be very careful about who you kiss (and where).
Cure: Nope. Nothing. Not a one. Sorry. You get herpes, it’s yours to treasure…always. The good news is that apart from the discomfort (itching, burning, pain) it’s really just a cosmetic disease, though I’m sure those with herpes would argue that it’s not something to take lightly. Actually – if you get eye herpes you can go blind.

And now I go draw jellyfish. If you’re not grossed out enough yet, I can tell you why poo is brown.