It started about a year and a half ago. I was on the internet reading about Libya, Gaddafi and the Arab Spring when I felt a sensation on the back of the neck. At first it was just a slight itch but it progressively became more and more intense. It felt as if a little itty bitty ant was crawling up and down the back of my neck. The only way to stop it was to slap the back of my neck. Sometimes it felt like it was burrowing into my skin. Once it burrowed in, I had to itch it away or else it would keep going deeper. Nobody else could see it but I could certainly feel it.
Some days would be horrible with an itch every 15 minutes while other days I could distract myself by watching TV , reading a book or talking to a friend. To make matters worse, the Crawling moved to other areas of my body. I would feel it on my arm, my thigh, my lower back and the dreaded foot, because I could not scratch it if I was wearing shoes.
I awoke one night to find I had scratched a huge gash in my thigh while I slept. My sheets were covered in blood. My dad rushed me to the ER where I received stitches for the wound. I told my Dad and he thought I was just “under a lot of stress.” My parents had recently divorced so he undeservedly took responsible for the accident.
We went to my physician and he sent me to a range of specialists: neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, dermatologists, rheumatologists and so on. Nobody had any answers. The psychiatrist gave me OCD medication but they didn’t decrease the Crawling. The meds just made me loopy and sleep all the time, so I stopped taking them. The psychologist gave me mittens to wear and told me to rub the Crawling instead of scratch it. I just wore the mittens when I met the psychologist. The Crawling required scratching. They all said trite, condescending things like,” Well, it must just be all in your head.” The rheumatologist diagnosed me with a “rare form of fibromyalgia” only to say there was no treatment.
Biomedicine was no help to me so I decided to go the less traditional route. I went to acupuncture, Zen meditation and a “cosmic detoxing session,” all to no avail. The Crawling still persisted. I started to feel helpless, depressed and isolated. Maybe it was just me. Perhaps everybody had these feelings but I was just too weak and couldn’t deal with them. I cut my finger nails once, so I wouldn’t cut myself, but then I wasn’t able to alleviate the Crawling when it came. It was the worst at night; I couldn’t sleep knowing the Crawling would soon torture me.
I was drinking my Dad’s whiskey one night and I felt it in my left arm just below the elbow. I stumbled to the garage and started my Dad’s table saw. I figured I had whatever was causing the Crawling isolated in one spot and I better take advantage of it. I was going to get rid of the crawling once and for all.
The blade was warm at first, and then immensely painful. I screamed in agony. Blood squirted everywhere, painting my bike and sled a dark red. My Dad burst in. He was in shock when he saw what I had done. I started to feel weak in the knees then everything went fuzzy and dark.
I awoke in the hospital with a stub below my elbow. For that first night I was elated because I didn’t feel the Crawling. I had finally beaten it! However, I awoke the next morning and felt it again except this time it was in my left arm, the arm I had just removed. It is in my phantom limb now. The Crawling burrowed deep inside and now, I cannot scratch it.