Flare Stories: An HS Flare That I’ll Never Forget
I like to think that life consists of a collection of moments ranging from the most memorable times to everyday living. When I look back on the most memorable times in my life and how they sometimes coincide with flares I have experienced, it often brings a smile to my face knowing that my flares create a secret timeline for moments in my life. Like many other warriors who battle HS, I imagine that we all have flare stories that intersect with a funny moment in life that we'll never forget. Having an illness that can have devastating impacts both physically and mentally means that I spend more time doing the inner work to find the beauty in even the most painful situations. Finding the beauty in a moment is just one step to healing, but it’s necessary for choosing to live a fulfilled life.
Remembering an old hidradenitis suppurativa flare
My funny flare story just so happens to be centered around food and a mass hysteria that so effortlessly aligns with today’s world by originating from social media. I can remember this time just like it was yesterday...
I checked the time on the phone for what seemed like the one hundredth time as I sat impatiently in the Popeyes Chicken drive-thru line with my husband waiting for a chance to order the latest food craze. Moments before, we had joked about how silly it was of us to feed into the frenzy that was happening all over the country as our minds convinced us that we needed to see what all the hype was about. We were driven by a serious case of FOMO and finally had decided a few hours before that we would attempt to wait in the Popeyes line in hopes to taste their newly released chicken sandwich.
I watched the clock turn from 2 o’clock then to 3 o’clock and yet still we were waiting in that line to taste greatness. Every so often, we laughed as cars exited the line and our ears grew tired of hearing Da Baby’s song, “Suge (Yeah, Yeah)” repeat on the radio station. But underneath the laughter and the desire to be involved in the happenings of the world, there was a monster of a boil growing on my inner thigh and my inner mind was screaming to achieve some relief.
Coping with flares through humor
You see earlier that day, I’d awoke to a golf ball-sized lump in my right thigh that rendered me nearly immobile for the first time in my HS experience. I spent the morning trying to perfect my penguin waddle as I staggered around our apartment from the sink back to the couch and sighing with relief each time my body found rest. I dampened a washcloth with hot water too many times to count and carefully connected the cloth with my leg to make a wet compress. In between the pain, I sat thinking about the excitement of finally getting to try the chicken sandwich while willing my mind to think positive thoughts. I did this happily, all the while my compress routine remained frustrating. It was fifteen minutes of warmth on my leg until the cloth ran cold and then the process began all over again.
This experience was grueling in the moment and I still look back on it today as one of the worst flares I have ever had. However, I am also able to see and appreciate how finding the funny in the situation made it more tolerable in the end. I’ve learned that although a flare may not be funny at the moment, it can be a reason to smile or even laugh in the future. It was this experience that inspired me to actively search my mind for other flare stories and to think back on the memories they leave me with today.
Have you ever experienced painsomnia?