The Newtown Pentacle

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Sneeze, cough, sneeze. Repeat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself is defined by my list of phobias and fears, and a long list of prophylaxes is maintained. Fear of an unwarranted accusation, fear of finding myself in the path of a madman, fear of falling victim to someone else’s incompetent or lazy habits. I’m afraid of being seriously wounded in a manner that cripples rather than kills, terrified by stray electrical current loosed into salty puddles of melted ice and snow, and incapacitated by the notion of being pushed in front of a speeding subway train. What slays me, however, is the phobic reaction I suffer to the realization of the number of pathogens I’m exposed to whenever I ride the subway (and I regularly hang around waterways which has been added to the Superfund list that are choked with sewage). The stress is enough to make me develop a rash.

from wikipedia

The skin is the largest organ in the body. In humans, it accounts for about 12 to 15 percent of total body weight and covers 1.5-2m2 of surface area. It distinguishes, separates, and protects the organism from its surroundings. Small-bodied invertebrates of aquatic or continually moist habitats respire using the outer layer (integument). This gas exchange system, where gases simply diffuse into and out of the interstitial fluid, is called integumentary exchange.

The human skin (integument) is composed of a minimum of three major layers of tissue: the epidermis; dermis; and hypodermis. The epidermis forms the outermost layer, providing the initial barrier to the external environment. Beneath this, the dermis comprises two sections, the papillary and reticular layers, and contains connective tissues, vessels, glands, follicles, hair roots, sensory nerve endings, and muscular tissue. The deepest layer is the hypodermis, which is primarily made up of adipose tissue. Substantial collagen bundles anchor the dermis to the hypodermis in a way that permits most areas of the skin to move freely over the deeper tissue layers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The close quarters of the mass transit system, where the air you breathe was recently dwelling within the chest of someone else, causes a massive “flight or fight” response to blossom around three inches behind my sunglasses. People actually eat while riding these trains, after having touched various surfaces found both onboard and in the stations. Leaving behind the various inorganic contaminants found down here – the brake dust, carbon compounds released from failing electrical connections, powderized steel from the rails – you’ve got an aerosol teeming with virus and bacteria. On top of that, the micro biome which every member of the human infestation hosts – mites and other microscopic horrors – mingles with the personal ecosystem of others in these tight quarters. It’s a wonder that we aren’t eaten alive on the morning commute, and that trainloads of skeletonized cadavers don’t arrive from Queens at Manhattan’s 59th street every 10-15 minutes. One realizes that this is illogically phobic, but nevertheless, it causes me to become quite itchy.

from wikipedia

Scabies (from Latin: scabere, “to scratch”), also known colloquially as the seven-year itch, is a contagious skin infection caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei. The mite is a tiny, and usually not directly visible, parasite which burrows under the host’s skin, which in most people causes an intense itching sensation caused by an allergic response. The infection in animals other than humans is caused by a different but related mite species, and is called sarcoptic mange.

Scabies is classified by the World Health Organization as a water-related disease. The disease may be transmitted from objects, but is most often transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact, with a higher risk with prolonged contact. Initial infections require four to six weeks to become symptomatic. Reinfection, however, may manifest symptoms within as few as 24 hours. Because the symptoms are allergic, their delay in onset is often mirrored by a significant delay in relief after the parasites have been eradicated. Crusted scabies, formerly known as Norwegian scabies, is a more severe form of the infection often associated with immunosuppression.

Scabies is one of the three most common skin disorders in children, along with tinea and pyoderma. As of 2010 it affects approximately 100 million people (1.5% of the world population) and is equally common in both sexes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Realization that what I’m scared of the most is actually all of you torments and informs. One of my nightmares involves a packed train and some corpulent fellow whose skin is covered in bursting pustules whose yellowed issuance is tinted with tiny ribbons of blood. In my frenzied nocturnal hallucination, this citizen of the realm is infected with every possible disease of the dermis. A bit of his infectious spatter lands on my left hand, which I watch turn red, then yellow, then black as scarlet spider webs begin spreading up into my sleeve just as the train enters the tunnels which carry it beneath the river. Just at that moment when your ears pop due to the pressure of the water above, a brownish red liquid begins to drip out of my pants leg and a fever overcomes me. By the time the train arrives at my destination in the Shining City, there’s naught but a filthy black raincoat and a camera found sitting on a puddle of purplish goo upon the septic linoleum of the E train. Commuters just step over this liquefied but still humble narrator, of course, because no matter what obstacle New York City throws at you – you’ve still got to get to work.

from wikipedia

Leprosy is primarily a granulomatous disease of the peripheral nerves and mucosa of the upper respiratory tract; skin lesions are the primary external sign. Left untreated, leprosy can be progressive, causing permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs, and eyes. Contrary to folklore, leprosy does not cause body parts to fall off, although they can become numb or diseased as a result of secondary infections; these occur as a result of the body’s defenses being compromised by the primary disease. Secondary infections, in turn, can result in tissue loss causing fingers and toes to become shortened and deformed, as cartilage is absorbed into the body.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 13, 2015 at 11:30 am

One Response

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  1. Hormesis

    Cav

    January 13, 2015 at 11:52 am


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