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Christmas Stress? Call It Christmas-itis©

December 16, 2009

On Monday I phoned my doctor.  After some description, a nurse practitioner came on the line.  Her voice was calm. 

“What are your symptoms?”

“I have a red, itchy rash and I can’t sleep,” I started.

“Is that all?”  Clearly, she had heard this before.

“No.  I have a tremor starting in my left hand and my lips are dry, cracked and peeling,” I continued.

“Hmm.”  I heard a pencil make several scratches on paper.

“Two toes are bruised and swollen, and a chunk of my hair fell out,” I said next.

“Is that so?” the nurse said in a forced drawl.  I  heard her pencil moving furiously now.

“The last thing I remember is my husband’s face last night before I passed out.”

“Doctor!” the nurse shouted.  “Clear your schedule!  This one’s the worst!”

When I arrived several minutes later (the nurse said to hurry), the receptionist behind the desk gave me the once-over.

“Have a seat with the others.”  There were a handful of other women like me.  All of them looked harried, frazzled and scratched at red rashes in various locations.

When it was my turn to see the doctor, he peered at my file behind square-rimmed glasses.  “Let’s go over this list of symptoms.  When did these start?” 

“Yesterday,” I said.

“They all started yesterday?” he asked.

“Yes, well…maybe I should go over my day.”


“First, I had my morning cups of coffee.  Then I went to the drugstore.  I needed a gift for the third Christmas party this season and I tried on several hand lotions.  They say you have to put it on your skin to really test the smell,” I smiled.

“Mmmm,” he grunted.  I scratched my arm out of habit.

“I haven’t slept well in several nights, so after the drugstore I bought another coffee.  Just to keep my energy up.”

He never took his eyes off me as he scribbled some notes on my file.

“Then at home, I let the kids watch some television so I could spend 6 uninterrupted minutes digging through the kitchen cupboards looking for anything with a sugar load closely matching chocolate.”

He appeared to wink at me as his eye twitched.

“When I was finishing the Christmas cards, the kids got into my purses, and I haven’t found any of my lipsticks.  It’s cold, and I find myself licking my lips to get the sugar and coffee off.”  His eyes narrowed into small slits.

“Next we ran to the mall.  They were having a sale on a tech gadget my husband wants.  One lady speared my foot with the point of her umbrella, but I managed to snatch the last one as a baby stroller ran over my toes.”

The doctor stopped writing and leaned back in his chair.  His glasses caught on the tip of his nose.

“After the mall, I had to wash all of the nice linens for Christmas dinner.  I stepped on one of my son’s toy cars and let go of the dryer door.  My hair got caught in the latch.  I really had to tug to get it loose.”

“Get to the part where you pass out – quickly,” the doctor said.  He had taken to biting his bottom lip.

“Well, I made one last batch of coffee before dinner.  This was after my husband phoned to say he would be home late.  When he finally walked in the door, he told me his whole side of the family was flying in Christmas Eve.  That was the last I remember.”

The doctor closed his eyes and began to scribble on his prescription pad.

“Don’t you need to see what you’re writing?” I asked.

“No, no,” he said.  “I’ve written this same one all day.”  He had written, “Valentine’s Day is 7 weeks away.  Give yourself the rest of Christmas off.”

If he was only a woman, he’d know.  I folded up the paper, and smiled.

“Doctor, the only cure for what I’ve got comes in January.” 

Christmas-itis had struck again.

©2009, Kim Knuth.  All rights reserved.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Anna permalink
    December 19, 2009 12:13 am

    hahahaha omg i thought i was the only one!! i’m already ready to take everything back and declare no christmas this year! i can fake a migraine, i can say someone’s throwing up you can’t come over, we can’t make it….. we throw up alot! anyone would believe me!

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