worst trip ever


I'm in San Francisco right now, wide awake because I itch all over. What I thought yesterday was an allergic reaction to something now appears to be bedbug bites, courtesy of the Stanford-recommended Hotel California in Palo Alto. I have bites on my scalp, my face, my arms, my legs, and even my back. Even taking an oatmeal bath and 3 benadryl last night wasn't enough to stop the insane itching.

On top of that, my head cold is turning into a chest cold.

And I left my computer power adapter at Stanford, so I'm typing this on the last of my battery power.

That means this morning will require going to the Apple store for a power adapter and finding an urgent care doctor to look at these welts and help me find a way to get rid of them.

My only hope at this point is that I'm getting every bit of bad travel karma out this week so that the cruise will go off without a hitch. :(

Update, 4:06pm PT

So I went to the urgent care doctor this morning (a place called Downtown Medical, aka "Fast Doc San Francisco"). After a very cursory exam, the doctor told me I had scabies, and gave me three prescriptions--the prednisone dose-pack I'd been hoping for, a stronger antihistamine, and a scabie-specific lotion. I did some quick research on scabies and was totally unconvinced that was what I had, so I filled the first two and not the third, and left a message for my wonderful primary care doctor in Rochester.

I started the prednisone and the antihistamine right away, and crashed in my hotel room with my newly-purchased MacBook Pro power adapter and my drugs.

A few minutes ago, my doctor called me back, and I gave her the full story. When I got to the part about the doctor here diagnosing scabies she actually shrieked in outrage. The symptoms I'd described to her didn't match scabies at all, and on top of that it takes 4-6 weeks to develop scabies, and scabies basically never occurs in places as cold as Rochester in the winter.

Her suspicion is that this is actually a reaction to the penicillin I took for my strep throat, not an insect issue at all. She's not ruling out the bedbug possibility, but given how many welts I have, she thinks it's extremely unlikely that's what caused the problem. Her advice was to stay the course with the prednisone and antihistamine, and come see her Monday if I haven't improved.

It doesn't make me itch any less to hear her assessment, of course, but it still makes me feel a whole helluva lot better. The psychological ickiness of either bedbugs or scabies was really awful on top of the overall miserable symptoms.

Tonight I'll treat myself to a room service dinner, and try to get caught up on the sleep I didn't get last night due to the itchiness. Tomorrow maybe things will return to some semblance of normalcy...

Many thanks to all the folks who sent encouraging wishes via email and private tweets. They were very much appreciated. It's hard to be sick when you're away from home, and having so many people offer assistance if needed really made me feel less alone.


Ouch... At least you can check out any time you like.

Not to mention, you have to de-bedbug all your clothes and luggage before getting home.

Liz, I had an "itch" in Palo Alto several years ago and the doctor immediately diagnosed scabies and then got snotty when I expressed skepticism. She of course was wrong.

YOU may not feel better about the diagnosis, but I bet the Hotel California does. ;-) of course, now I'm wondering where you are staying, ahem...

Heh. I'm now in the Westin St Francis in SF, where I've put all the clothes I wore in Palo Alto into a sealed plastic bag, and have been carefully inspecting the bedding each night before getting into bed :)

oh noes!!

i can't quite follow the train of updates here -- is it actually bed bugs? or allergic reaction?

i had a terrible bed bug experience in spain this summer, about 100 bites, and the experience really was as miserable as you describe, it makes it so hard to think, right? i think it produces adrenaline too, so you exhaust your body utterly.

i hope you are feeling better soon, and maybe i will see you tomorrow if you are up for it? xo jane

At this point I'm not 100% sure whether it was the penicillin or bedbugs or a combination of both. Without going back and inspecting the hotel I was in, it's not fair for me to point a finger at this point. And my doctor's pretty sure it was the penicillin. Either way, I'm just hugely grateful that I no longer want to claw my skin off my body :D

Your doctor called you in San Francisco????????????!!!!!!!

Yes, my doctor called me in SF. :) My doctor is wonderful.

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This page contains a single entry published on February 20, 2008 9:57 AM.

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