Good news

  • Author: Catherine
  • Categories: My story, News
  • Date: Oct 29,2015

I am a Huffington Post blogger now! :)

Enjoy your reading here (right-click on the link or screenshot)

Original version of the post (Russian language) is here. It was published in Cosmopolitan Russia in Feb 2013.

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The Lizard Woman

  • Author: Catherine
  • Categories: My story
  • Date: Oct 12,2015

“How come your arms are all wrinkled up?” the little girl asks.

She’s sitting at my kitchen table as her mother, a friend of mine, nearly spills her tea. My skin condition never came up in conversation before even though we’ve known each other for years. Her five-year-old’s question embarrassed her and she showed fear over its possible offence.

“Well, my skin is fresh from the washing machine, but I forgot to iron it,’” I say. “Got too carried away with getting my nails done. Do you like the color? It matches the little gem in my ring,” smiling as I show her my hands. They sure don’t look pretty. I’ve got ichthyosis. It makes my skin look overly dry, scaly and cracked, darker than normal. Much like a snake’s skin, but I suppose ‘wrinkled’ describes it too.

The Strange One

With the odds being one in 300,000, you could call me a lottery winner. My parents and daughter don’t have this recessive genetic disorder although they carry the gene. On the day I was born my skin was red and tightly coated in a membrane; my lips and eyelids were everted.

Ichthyosis means that the skin cannot moisturize itself. During the summer I’m often on the verge of a heatstroke and in winter my palms and soles get cracked and infected. I spend enormous amounts of time on hygiene. After taking a shower my body aches all over much like a burn. I can’t use make-up because of flaking and I can’t wear dark clothes because of constant dandruff. When I reach out to shake someone’s hand, people are often startled at the sight. Sex is an issue, too; there’s no way of knowing how a new partner will react when he sees my naked body for the first time.

But ichthyosis comes with a silver lining. Scratches and cuts heal in just about half a day. My hair and nails are strong and grow fast. Not perspiring or having body odor, I never have to buy deodorant. And, no matter what or how much I eat, I never gain weight.

At times I view my disease as a prism that allows me to see the hidden side of life. People act strangely around me. Some say that my condition is not a big deal, thinking they’re being supportive. Some try to ignore it, only emphasizing it. Some express interest in my life by asking lots of questions and then react like the answers are too much information. And some are genuinely sympathetic, but they don’t know how to convey it. Only children, the simple-hearted beings that they are, always say what they think.

My country’s healthcare system labels me as disabled, meaning that I’m an ‘invalid’, ‘deformed’, and ‘flawed’. These labels are not me in any sense. Although I have ‘special needs’, I’m just an everyday person wishing to live in harmony with myself and the world around me, to be appreciated, loved and happy, to feel beautiful and healthy. There are ups and downs, a private life and a career to pursue, hobbies and plans for the future.

Yet, since my childhood I have been treated as someone abnormal wrapped with a ‘message’ that I must follow special rules on how to behave, how to dress, how to feel – how to be a proper cripple. Even people’s behavior changes toward me, as if they are compelled to react.

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PDF version:

Crisis Checklist (1.4 MiB, 8169 downloads)

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Icons: Anna ‘Nussa’ Borzova
Designed by: Vladislav Gaus

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Cat’s Heaven

In memory of Truffles the cat, I made a translation of famous poem “Cat’s Heaven” into English. For all people who had had an experience of saying the last goodbye to their cats.

Author: Ekaterina Agafonova. Translated by: Catherine Sigit

I was running across a field
But my paws weren’t touching the grass.
Smells that enveloped me were so real
That I didn’t realize life had passed.

And the sky was a multi-eyed cat
That would guide me to safety and bliss,
And he told me: please understand that
Your old body is not what you’ll miss.

So the smells were of honey and mint
As the grass reached out to the sky.
I’ll become a much better ‘reprint’
Of myself, when I get my ninth try.

Being a kitten, I had no belief
In the fairytales that we were told,
But it’s true: there’s a place where we live,
“Old Cat’s Heaven” is what it is called.

Old Cat’s Heaven of comfort and grace
Has this welcoming, wide-open gate.
But I saw my poor dear Daddy’s face
So I’ll hurry to reincarnate.

For a while then I quietly wandered
Through this Heaven, feeling quite blue…
Someone’s hands picked me up, and I wondered
Why they smelled so familiar and true.

Can’t remember her face and her color,
But this woman caressed me and kissed me.
I was hiding my face in her collar
Then she took me to my brothers and sisters.

Our sun was a goldfish aglimmer
In a sky full of clouds, ever-moving,
We were humanly cats, we were swimmers
In a sea above our catly hoomins.

We had catfights to show off our prowess –
Just for kicks, though, no blood and aggression.
I, for one, showed the best purring powers.
Ask the girls, I made quite an impression!

All is purrfect and beautiful here,
And there’s never a windstorm or snow.
Once I bit Mr. Grey in his ear –
It had healed in a second, you know!

Mr. Grey here is tough: died in fight,
He’s a tabby, he could be my bro.
In his dreams he sees dogs every night,
Fights his barking and tail-wiggling foes.

In my dreams I run over a field
Where the miracle flowers grow
Maybe death can be somehow repealed?
Ah, but I am just a cat. I don’t know.

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Hello world!

A first entry. Hopefully this works…

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