Fungal Petri Dish

If it’s truly darkest before the dawn, then I think things are about to brighten up. That sentiment may be a bit misleading since my current ailments aren’t devastating or life threatening, but this is my blog and I’ll be as dramatic as I want.

Last Thursday I called the dermatologist’s office to tell them I’d suffered another flare up of the vasculitis and they prescribed another 14-day course of prednisone. We had planned to walk in the Philly Race for the Cure Sunday, but blisters on the inside of my thighs changed that. When I woke up that morning I was vaguely aware my tongue was a little swollen, thinking maybe it was a reaction to the steroids. Later that afternoon, however, I looked in the mirror and it was fuzzy.

Generally a fuzzy tongue and itchy teeth come from drinking too much. But I hadn’t been drinking and my teeth didn’t itch, leading me to the conclusion I had thrush. I became well acquainted with that lovely little malady every time my white count would crash after chemo. Using my stellar powers of deductive reasoning, I deduced a low white count. A call into my oncologist’s office got me a prescription for a delicious — or not –Nystatin swish and swallow and an appointment later in the week.

Tuesday morning was a call into the dermatologist’s office explaining that the steroids were doing very little, I was insanely miserable and I knew I had a low white count because I had thrush. GET ME INTO THE SPECIALIST BEFORE I’M NO LONGER RESPONSIBLE FOR MY ACTIONS!! My ravings got me another appointment with the dermatologist, thankfully that very day.

** WARNING ** This next bit may include more information than you ever wanted to know and may be particularly unsettling if you are not of the femalian persuasion.

The blisters on my abdomen aren’t bothering me. There may be one or two that sort of flare up, but they’re not bothersome. They seemed to have cleared up fairly well. It’s the other blisters that are driving me crazy. The blisters that are covering my hoo-hoo; the blisters that are in the crease where the leg of my underwear rubs; the blisters all over the fleshy, inside of my upper thighs.

As a rule I don’t expose my personal parts to male dermatologists. They’re supposed to treat acne, for crying out loud. But I was so miserable that when he said he would have to take a look and he’d like another doctor in the office to look I told him to bring the entire staff and the occupants of the waiting room were welcome as well. I just figured we could tell the pizza-faced teenagers out there it’s an STD and scare them away from sex for a long time. In hindsight I’m glad he declined bringing in everyone. My embarrassment is better limited to as few people as possible.

He found the new blisters very interesting and determined they were different from the vasculitis blisters. The other doctor came in and she, too, found the blisters interesting and did not think they were the same as what I have on my abdomen. They both believe my vasculitis is under control and I’ve now developed a horrendous case of folliculitis. While the thought of yet one more thing is a little depressing, the good thing is folliculitis is fairly easily treatable.

He decided he needed to biopsy one of the blisters to make sure it is folliculitis and to determine whether it’s bacterial, viral or fungal. As he was cutting out a portion of my flesh he asked, “So is this the third or fourth biopsy we’ve done?” I told him that he had done two biopsies on three separate occasions so technically this was seven. He said he only counts each event as one biopsy, but when I told him I count each cut and I get more sympathy when I say “seven” as opposed to “four” he said, “Seven it is, then.”

After that I was prescribed oral antibiotics and an antibiotic lotion. The doctor is now working on getting me into a specialist within the next couple of weeks. Hopefully it will all be gone, though, and I won’t have need of the new doctor. But I’ll probably go anyway just because of all this hassle!

We then get to Thursday and my appointment with the oncologist. I prefer the dermatologist’s office because you don’t get weighed there. But whatever. Vitals were taken, blood was drawn and then I saw the White Russian. My WBC was actually in a pretty good range and the doctor felt that was due to the steroids because it was obvious it had been low. He examined my mouth and thankfully I didn’t gag.

He then asked me if I had a yeast infection. Dang it all, but I’d been ignoring that niggling thought. Between the blisters and creams and ointments I just wasn’t sure and I didn’t want to go there. But then it all made sense. Thrush is caused by a fungus. Yeast infections are caused by a fungus. Folliculitis can be caused by a fungus and I’m betting mine is.

I’m just a giant, festering fungal petri dish!


Go ahead and make your jokes about fungus growing best under a pile of manure. Ha. Ha. Are you finished? Can I continue, please? Thank you!


Other than my regular medications I am now taking a steroid, an antibiotic and an antifungal. Pretty much all my bases are covered, unless the biopsy comes back and says it’s viral. And really, with the way things have been going for the last five months it’s a distinct possibility.

The anti-itch creams and ointments help a little bit, but when things get really intense an ice pack seems to help the most. I sat the other day with a bottle of frozen water between my legs and that gave quite a bit of relief. The only problem is that you can’t exactly walk around with a frozen water bottle between your legs. Or I guess you could, but it would be very awkward. My mother-in-law suggested Depends with an ice pack. But I think the ice pack would still be a bit bulky. So now I’m thinking Depends with a bag of frozen peas! But I wonder – do I tell my family where those peas have been or keep it my little secret?

The last several months have been so frustrating that I’m afraid to get my hopes up. I should know the biopsy results by Tuesday and will be glad if it really is folliculitis. That’s so much easier to treat than vasculitis. And I know I should be getting relief from all my fungal ailments in the next few days. It’s been so long since I felt normal that I wonder if I’ll recognize it.


  1. Angry Woman on May 18, 2007 at 11:34 am

    Ow and I have no clue what folliculitis is. I’m assuming it involves the follicules. That would be interesting to see, gripping a bag of frozen peas and still trying to get around with said peas, lol.I hope you feel better.{{{{{hugs}}}}}

  2. creative-type dad on May 18, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    YUCKKKKKKK!!!!!!I think I have a yeast infection now…:)

  3. April on May 18, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    I am thankful that you haven’t lost your sense of humor. I have prayed for you, friend. Please keep me posted on the biopsy results. BTW, when I was in the hospital after having one of my babies..I want to say they froze a slightly wet maxi pad for me to sit on….just a thought. Just stick one next to the frozen peas and yes keep it a secret. LOL

  4. Katybug on May 18, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    Well, there’s certainly nothing wrong with your sense of humor!!! And wasn’t there a Seinfeld episode about a dermatologist? A mere pimple-popper, I believe he called her! YEAST INFECTION. OUCH OUCH OUCH!!!!! I HAVE SO MUCH SYMPATHY FOR YOU. When my husband and I were still dating, I had a HORRIBLE yeast infection, combined with a stress rash that covered my entire torso. It was unbearable…and yet, he still married me, in spite of the fact I gave him every last detail about how awful it felt. 🙂 I am praying for a light at the end of your tunnel, friend!!!!

  5. Deb C on May 18, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    You POOR thing! I am sending you buckets full of sympathy. I hope you don’t hate me when I say, even in your obviously miserable state, you still make me laugh! I just keep thinking of that old joke…there’s a fungus among us….Treatment just whacks our whole immune systems so hard! I have had colds, flu, pink eye and shingles for goodness-sake…so I understand your frustration. Hopefully all the bugs will get chased out of your system by the various and sundry drugs.Hang in there…Hugs Deb C

  6. Jenster on May 18, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Aim – folliculitis is an infection of the hair follicules. Razor burn is a type of folliculitis.And that’s your medical lesson for the day.CTD – I tried to warn you…April – That’s a great idea! I wonder how traumatized my teenage son would be when he opened the freezer for a popcicle and saw that in there! LOLKatybug – He must have really loved you, is all I can say. And honestly, the yeast infection is the least of my complaints. :-(DebC – Nah, I don’t hate you for laughing at me. It’s how I’ve gotten through the last two years!I just think it stinks that the treatment which kills the cancer does so much other stuff to our bodies and we still suffer 1 1/2 years after we finish! But whatcha gonna do about it??

  7. Tara Marie on May 18, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    OMG, I am so sorry you’re going through all of this. Prayers and hugs…

  8. Rosie on May 18, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    How you laugh, or are able to sit still long enough to type a post I’ll never know. I’d be under heavy sedation and house arrest by now. You got nerves of steel Jen. Hope things are getting better…fast!

  9. Monnik on May 18, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    Girl, you sound miserable. But you’re funny as hell, and that’s what counts, right? The part about keeping the frozen peas your own little secret cracked me up.Feel better soon, ok? I hope you’ve just turned a corner here, and that things are on the mend.

  10. Jenster on May 18, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    Tara – Thanks. I’ll take whatever prayers I can get!Rosie – If I don’t laugh I’ll go crazy. Or maybe I’m laughing because I’ve already gone crazy!Monnik – Thanks!

  11. Em on May 18, 2007 at 8:39 pm

    I wish you a very speedy recovery! And now I need to go scratch.

  12. Slackermommy on May 18, 2007 at 8:53 pm

    So how’s your sex life? Just kidding! You are putting up with a lot! Complain all you want. I’ll listen. I love your sense of humor about it because I’m sure most days you don’t find your fungi to be funny at all.

  13. Jenster on May 18, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    Em – Thank you. Sorry about the itchies. lolSlackermommy – What sex life?? :o)

  14. Eileen on May 18, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    I am very sorry for all your discomfort and pain. This is where I wish I would pull out my big ole magic wand and go poof. I am walking in Race For the Cure with 40 Student from my school tomorrow and my family and I will have you with me. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Keep up that wonderful sense of humor and keep focusing on all the blessings. You have a beautiful heart and soul, you can’t hear that often enough!!! Love and many blessings (and lots of frozen veggies) being sent to you! XOXO

  15. danahollis on May 19, 2007 at 10:30 am

    Oh my gosh… I feel so bad for you… when will it all go AWAY already! Yikes! But… I am laughing hysterically about the frozen bag of peas! That’s FUNNY and I’ll never look at a bag of peas the same way again! Ever! ;)Hugs!Dana

  16. CindyS on May 19, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    Dude. Throw the peas away ;)Good for you keeping your sense of humour because yikes, I would have hurt someone by now!I really hope the Dr. has finally figured this out for you!CindyS

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