AMBER LOVE 11-JUNE-2015 As with all my posts, I hope there’s some humor to be found when I talk about the most uncomfortable subject matter. If you’ve been following along, you’ve seen the photographs of what’s happened as my body has been stressed out and under attack from seemingly everything on the planet.

I feel like I’m allergic to being alive.

For years, I’ve tried to figure out what foods are at fault; I’ve had attacks after being near perfumes and colognes; I look at everything in this big dusty old house as something that is out to hurt me including the terrible well water. Even the sun. If I’m in the sun for 15 minutes, my ears turn purple so that bit of advice to get 20 minutes of Vitamin D rays a day doesn’t help me.

MAY 17, 2015
MAY 17, 2015

In January a recurring bout with hives launched my body into another tailspin. I’ve had them before. There’s never any indication how long they’ll last. This year though, they got worse and worse. I’ve seen doctors and gotten steroids – they are utterly useless and expensive and do not help.

June 6-7th was the first comic show of my year and it was in Manhattan. I had to cut the show short because I was too uncomfortable. The pain and fatigue spiked. My anxiety is unpredictable. Plus the hives were there for me to try and hide.

I wore long sleeves and gloves like I did for the Steampunk World’s Fair which was the one and only night I’ve spent outside the house in probably a year or more. I hadn’t even made it to the end of the long hours of day one when I peeled off the gloves outside in fresh air and saw how swollen my hands were. It was too hot to keep dealing with being in clothes like that. I left the con early and my friends asked me to dinner during which I kept the gloves on so I didn’t gross out my fellow diners. I didn’t want to go, but I don’t get to see my friends often, so I sucked it up and made the journey. I had to walk back to the ferry anyway and the pub was only a couple blocks off that path.

There was no way I could go to day two of SENYC and I was upset about missing it. There were at least three panels I wanted to see that day. But that was a Sunday and the last time I had slept was the Thursday prior. Whenever I started to fall asleep I would feel itchy or poked or bothered. I was losing it. I was crying from the pain and the tiredness all the time.


Even with all that pain and fatigue on Saturday night after the con, I couldn’t sleep. My body wasn’t going to let that happen. On Sunday, my mother said I really needed to try something else and said I should move into the guest room. So that’s what I did. Normally after a con, I’d be glued to my desk to upload photos, edit content and make posts. Not this time. I had to take a break and I didn’t know which way was up.

We spent two days working as a team and bringing in some help to tear apart my bedroom which is big enough that it also has my home office space. I emptied a lot of my clothes into plastic bins. My mother did about five loads of laundry, maybe more, to clean as much of my clothes, curtains, linens and towels as possible. She washed everything on hot to make sure any allergens were gone – the problem is most of my clothes, I don’t even use a dryer for and hang up and I wash things on cold and delicate. So my bras came out all tangled and warped. I have no idea if anything will fit but I don’t even care anymore. I’m not going to an office so I live in pajamas.

The “professional help” we called in was the exterminator that I had in about a month ago when they sprayed the outside of the house and the wasps’ nests. This time, that business owner had broken his foot so he sent his son Ryan who was just as nice. If you follow my Twitter you’ve seen the countless stinkbug posts, I’m sure.

Incidentally, that expensive bed I have hated for years, the Sleep Number, was sold to me with promises of easing body pains and having protection against microbes. Ryan the exterminator said he has more calls to treat those beds than regular spring beds.


Since the only allergy test the lab didn’t screw up was the one that I could predict the results of, we knew I was allergic to dust mites, pollens, basically everything else that comes with living on Earth. The food test was the one I needed results for and the lab fucked it up. But my family was willing to endure all this inconvenience to try and get every kind of creepy crawly out of this house. I’m sure there are millions.

Ryan took a look at my arms and said I was the second worse case he’d ever seen. He went through my room since that’s where 99.9% of my time is spent. He checked into everything. I showed him the closets and the cracked drywall, old peeling wallpaper, basically everything that defines “old” in a house. He got a kick out of my cosplay closet and said his brother-in-law loves comics. Naturally, I took the opportunity to try and share the love so I gave him a copy of RISE: COMICS AGAINST BULLYING for his brother-in-law.

Ryan checked a lot of the wooden furniture, floor boards and moulding. Then he went to my nightstand.

“Can I open this?”


Sheer horror hit me like a Mack truck.


buffy scared

I fumbled an apology and let him open the second drawer and the bottom drawer. Jesus God, no! I don’t need my family and the exterminator seeing my drawer of sex toys. Thank you very much. And behind me, my mother chuckled. Well, they know I go to Exxxotica so it’s not like they aren’t aware, but we don’t need to be that open about it.


I went in the room alone a bit later and moved the toys to the dresser, hiding them under my underwear. But my dresser is mahogany and I had no idea if he’d need to check that wood too.

Then, when it was just me and the exterminator back in the bedroom, he asked if he could move the nightstand. I played it cool (haha, really I tried, I swear) and said, “Sure, it’s just really heavy. I can’t move it.” The lube and silver bullet were still in there, but hopefully innocuous.

Since I was now deemed an exterminator’s priority, Ryan rearranged his schedule for the day and asked us if we could leave for at least four hours. My parents and Ollie were supposed to be on their vacation and I had already started to ruin it so they had no problem hopping into the truck and heading for the coast.

Caico and I didn’t know what to do. Normally I’d go to Comic Fusion where Bill and Stacy don’t mind her visits. But I was feeling crazy – to be blunt.

During the whole time Ryan was inspecting the house and asking us questions, I was getting worse. I kept shaking and was trying hard not to cry, but that was just going to happen whether I wanted it to or not. He said something about the psychosomatic effects of blah-blah-blah and I don’t remember hearing what the rest of his sentences were. I just kept saying, “I can’t sleep,” and continued shaking and clawing at my arms.

Now my parents had another several hundred dollars to shell out because of me, their fucked up grown kid in her 40s. At least they didn’t lose a lot of time and made it to the shore before the torrential rain hit. But because the days are a blur, I honestly don’t remember if they left Monday or Tuesday so maybe they did lose some of their reservation. Even this many days later, a lot of the week has been a blur. I somehow missed a day or two. I never realized Wednesday was Wednesday until that evening.


We had about 30 minutes to pack up anything that was already considered “clean” and then pack up food and store it in closed places like the refrigerator or microwave. As I was leaving the house in the hands of Ryan the exterminator, he asked about locking the doors and that kind of usual stuff.

Caico and I got in my car after Ryan checked it and said he didn’t see anything contaminating it. I started driving with no destination in mind, heading west. It’s only a few minutes to Pennsylvania so that seemed like a good place to be. Crossing the Delaware River, maybe I’d be safe.


I headed through Holland Township where some of the curves are 15 mph and eventually crossed over at the Milford bridge. With the river on my left, I headed down Route 32 which is one of the nicest drives you could ever take if you aren’t in a particular hurry to be anywhere or do anything. It’s a hot spot for fall foliage and New Yorkers looking for a weekend getaway.

Luckily, I had one audio book left from my Audible subscription which I had to cancel after losing my day job. I was listening to the incredible story of Susannah Cahalan and her mystery illness. The book, “Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness” was about her time incapacitated and dealing with several wrong diagnoses and treatments. What they thought was schizo affective disorder was instead, a type of encephalitis few doctors in the world knew anything about.

Route 32 had changed a bit since the last time I was on it many years ago, but I kept driving figuring at some point, I would turn around and just go home. Fortunately, I didn’t make any accidental turns and did end up in New Hope, one of my favorite small towns. It was the middle of the day so there were ample parking spaces which is not something you’d find a weekend. I fortunately found the corner I wanted where Main Street is intersected by a small side street leading to a little tiny park.


Wedged between a restaurant and the Bucks County Playhouse is a brick path with some flower beds and trees. There are a couple of park benches facing the fence overlooking the Delaware River. On that small side street was a bin filled with bags of duck food and an honor system to pay for it. All I wanted was to be alone with my cat and stare at the water. My idea of being social was posting to Instagram.


The weather was beautiful before the storm that hit later that night. So plenty of other people had the same idea I did and came over to the little tiny park to watch ducks, geese, and even a big white swan.

Unfortunately, because I was so uncomfortable and in so much pain I couldn’t walk, I wore a loose skirt and a tank top. My ugly, scabby arms, hands, and face were completely exposed without even makeup to try and hide any of it.

I kept to myself and watched Caico and the birds. She was excited to see something new and interesting for about 10 minutes. Then she laid down in her buggy. After a while, she was bored and curled up to try and nap. Only once did a little kid ask to pet her, but that little girl seemed ramped up and hyper so I said no. If it’s a calm kid and they look gentle, I have no problem with them meeting Caico. She’s good with people usually. So is Ollie who had really loved meeting Ryan the exterminator and wanted his attention.

I think Caico and I spent an hour outside by the river before driving home. I kept catching myself tearing up and crying. It’s several days later and that’s not stopping. I had soy ice cream and Caico had whipped cream for “dinner” that night.

20150608_193301 caico

Caico and I were alone in the house and I had to try and put it back together. It was like moving. Things were packed. Things needed to be cleaned. And these are “things” I use but aren’t mine. The kitchen isn’t “mine” so I often forget where to find what I need. I tried to prioritize. I took all the flatware, plates, and as many glasses and coffee mugs as I could fit and got them into the dishwasher. I did several more loads over the next couple days while working through the lingering pain in my joints and muscles.

Sunday night, I finally managed five hours of sleep in the guest room, but not until 5am. And at 6am some asshole blared his car horn near the house. It was a good nap. The next night, I took some Midol PM pills and actually slept through the night, waking up only to try and keep Netflix going.

I waited 24 hours before spending any time in my bedroom or letting Caico go back in there. I had to get things done on my computer. I had the comic con coverage to work on and some other writing that needed my attention. I haven’t looked at my novel edits since last Friday before the con. Caico was annoyed at her routine being disrupted too. She would sit at the door wanting to go in. Once I was reopened it, she returned to what she knew – “working” which means sleeping on my desk. Caico gets up in the morning and after breakfast, she “goes to work.” She doesn’t need me there with her, but I feel like I need her there when I’m typing and podcasting.

My relatively new routine was broken too. I have been spending far less time online and more time reading. First, because being online often stresses me out. Second, because I figure if good writers come from good readers, I need to get back to enjoying the kinds of books I like. But when this house got torn apart and I moved into another room, I was treading water. I had created a new circumstance to be anxious about. Wednesday after the fumigation, was the first time I spent back at my desk working.

I didn’t expect any of this to happen in the first place. I didn’t expect another year dealing with skin problems. I didn’t expect to be so out of shape that my body would hurt taking more than a few steps. I didn’t expect to be without a paycheck again in my life and needing my family to take care of me. I didn’t expect an exterminator to become my therapist who patiently talked to me while I was losing my shit.

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