Archive for the ‘pain’ Category

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Hot Water Bottle Syndrome

February 26, 2010

About a year into experiencing mysterious digestive symptoms I also noticed that my belly was always kind of red and blotchy. The blotchiness doesn’t exactly come and go, but it does fluctuate in intensity, and it has a very specific shape – a lacy red ventricular pattern under the skin, like latticework. It is not raised, it doesn’t itch, it doesn’t hurt, etc. I never used to think of it as particularly noticeable to anyone but myself and my husband; I wore a 50’s style bikini to the pool a summer ago and I even took a burlesque class last fall and was completely more embarrassed about my flabby triceps than my blotchy belly. I have noticed however that it has gotten worse and worse in the past few months. I have wondered in the past if it had to do with using a heating pad so often; when I am not feeling well I even sleep with one, but it never seemed to go away, even in the months where I felt good gave the heating pad some much needed rest.

I asked my endo what she thought of it and she said she thought the surgeon who removed my gall bladder may have snipped something he wasn’t supposed to and screwed up the vascular system just a little bit. That sort of made sense but I wasn’t sure. I made a mental note to ask my new holistic, whom I love, but I forgot! I did some research on my own and thought that it looked a bit like livedo reticularis, but this condition usually occurred on the legs.

Last night was the first night in a while that I slept with the heating pad through the entire night – easy enough to do with the window cracked and the chill of the Blizzard of 2010 streaming in! I dreamed that I burnt my stomach and when I woke up, I actually had. Ouch! Then I noticed in the shower that the lacy pattern was bright, bright red, more pronounced than it had ever been! My husband immediately found a picture of something called Erythema ab igne online.

Erythema ab igne, or “Hot Water Bottle Syndrome” happens often after repeated exposure to heat or infrared radiation. Digging around through google image search and the online catalogue of many skin condition image collections, Erythema ab igne is the only one I’ve ever seen as frequently on the backs and bellies of patients as on the arms and legs. I am beyond sure that this is what is going on. I suppose I have been using the heating pad way too much, on too high heat. I think I have even desensitized myself to the heat because I recently bought a 2nd heating pad as the first one just wasn’t getting hot enough for me anymore. Really I think its probably common sense not to sleep with a heating pad but then again chronic pain is chronic pain and you do what you can to deal with it.

Needless to say I’m a little distraught. As if I haven’t been feeling ugly enough with the butterfly rash redness and the weight gain.  Worst case scenario, I must get it looked at and possibly biopsied to ensure that I don’t end up with skin cancer.* I often spend my entire day at work just dreaming about getting home and lying down with the heating pad. A far cry from dreaming about getting dressed in my cutest outfit and going out dancing with my friends, but c’est la vie. There is nothing else that makes the pain go away and it even helps with the bloating. Now I don’t know what I will be able to use for comfort except for castor oil packs, which will hopefully help.

Click here to read about a boy Chron’s Disease who has given himself erythema ab igne with a heating pad.

*I realize this sounds a little like the words of an alarmist who does nothing but spend way too much time diagnosing herself online but seriously. Wake up and look like this one day and WTF would you do?

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