In the back of my mind, I’ve always held a tiny bit of anxiety about my health. Issues in the past included oddly tingly feet (when I used to run more frequently), chronic tension in my neck and shoulders, and a weird, something-doesn’t-feel-right thing with my heart.
The tingly feet complaint was explained away by shoes; bad shoes, to be exact. The neck and shoulder concern has been attributed to excessive computer use (really? Raise your hand if you’re surprised…) The heart matter required a stress test that revealed nothing, so I think we decided to go with general anxiety and indigestion for that one.
Yesterday, I feared we had finally crossed the line into the type of neuro-muscular illness that my tingly feet, tight shoulders and weird heart had been indicating for years. After puttering around the kitchen for a while in the morning, I went into the bathroom to get cleaned up. I washed my face and almost immediately noticed a burning, pins-and-needles fiery pain. It localized under my left eye and around the left side of my mouth.
I realized, with the hot water on my face, that my hand hurt as well – my left hand only. My fingertips felt like they were being poked with hot needles.
I know that I occasionally have issues with the nerves in my left shoulder and back; a chiropractic adjustment helps. But this burning pain was something new…
I went about my day and headed to the gym. After my workout, I hopped in the shower; the moment the hot water hit my face and my hand, I remembered the pain of the morning. It was still there – and the heated water exacerbated the pain, to the degree that I quickly turned the temperature down and got out, immediately.
I cleaned up and headed home; but while in the parking lot, I took the opportunity to enter a google search:
Pain like needles only on one side of body hands and face
I’ll save you the trouble of doing it yourself; here are the top few results:
I drove home, chewing on the inside of my mouth, because that’s what I do when I worry. Home, I did another search on the computer and read a little deeper.
Shingle was my best bet, it seemed, although I’d have to wait for a rash. Thoughts flashed back to a story someone shared a few months ago when I had hives and / or poison ivy, about a friend of a friend or a family member who had shingles around their eye, resulting in blindness.
Since my pain was on my cheek, right under my eye, I figured I’d be blind soon.
This was all somewhat disconcerting.
I could end this post by telling you about my diagnosis, asking for prayers as we deal with this next challenge in life.
But instead, I’ll tell you another story, one that includes breakfast and generous people and, I daresay, a fair amount of foolishness on my part.
It starts with this, a bounty of vegetable goodness. A large part of this cornucopia of deliciousness was
left in my office Thursday afternoon, by an anonymous farmer, I suppose. Friday morning I looked over the goodies, washed them up, and decided to make an egg and veggie burrito. Then I decided to throw together a batch of pico de gallo for breakfast and the rest of the weekend.
So I chopped and mixed the fresh (delicious!) tomatoes (my favorite thing about summer EVER!) and onions. I threw in the cilantro. I reached for the jalepeno, saved for this occasion…and realized that it was gone (probably used for Sarah Brawley’s delicious enchiladas earlier this week). Initially frustrated, I realized that I could probably substitute the little pepper that was left by The Mystery Farmer – it was probably hot. It would probably work.
Here’s what I found out later, when I did even more research on Google.
“The habanero pepper is one of the hottest varieties of chili peppers. The Scoville unit of measure is directly related to a chemical called capsaicin. The higher the number of Scoville units, the greater the concentration of capsaicin. The habanero pepper measures from 100,000 to 500,000 Scoville units compared with a jalapeno pepper, which measures 5,000 to 15,000 Scoville units. According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, capsaicin can be used as a treatment for a variety of medical disorders. Because of the high concentration of capsaicin, consumption of habanero peppers can promote several health benefits.” (source here)
Look again at the beautiful variety of vegetables in the photo; see the cute little red things at the top right?
Yeah. Those are habanero peppers. ONE OF THE HOTTEST VARIETIES OF CHILI PEPPERS ON EARTH. I CHOPPED UP ONE OF THE HOTTEST THINGS GOD EVER MADE AND PUT IT IN MY PICO DE GALLO. AND ON MY EGGS. AND IN MY MOUTH.
AND ALL OVER MY HANDS.
I knew it was spicy when I ate it; it really added some pop to my breakfast! I added some bona fide fire to my morning meal; and I’d gotten the capsaicin from that little guy all over my hands.
I had washed my hands – three times, in fact – knowing that I’d been working with peppers and onions. But capsaicin oil is persistent.
Now, I know this. But yesterday, it seems, I did not. Or I forgot. Apparently, most people who work with peppers containing high amounts of capsaicin wear gloves.
BECAUSE IF THEY DON’T, IT MAKES THEIR SKIN BURN AND TINGLY AND THEY THINK THEY HAVE A LIFE-THREATENING ILLNESS.
If I helped just one person avoid the pain of the lowly habanero pepper, my stupidity will not have been in vain.
But, yeah. Yesterday, I was pretty dumb.
And my health seems fine. Because now I know “…because of the high concentration of capsaicin, consumption of habanero peppers can promote several health benefits.”
I might add that if you rub it all over your face, that’s good, too.