My name is Nono Osuji and in Skin Struggles I recount my personal experience and struggle with Lupus. Welcome to the 4th post on my ongoing journey. 


After I stuffed myself with Mexican food and pina coladas I walked around the city a bit to work off some of the calories and to avoid what waited for me at home, worry and restlessness.  As I walked around I looked at all of the seemingly healthy people and wondered what health issues laid behind every face, every body, every smile.  I know that to them I looked somewhat healthy, just a girl in oversized clothes, wearing a sweater in the heat, a little weird but healthy nonetheless.   I walked around somewhat aimlessly, window-shopping and life shopping.  I would see people on the street with their family and friends, and pick the people who I wanted to trade places with, because right then I wanted to be anybody else but me.  I did not see anything positive coming from this blood test.

I got somewhat distracted when Z called me; he was coming into the city and wanted to hang out.  Although I was not excited to see him in my current state I knew that it would be better than me being left alone to my thoughts, which had proved to be insane and unhelpful.  Z had only seen me in the beginning stages of my rash, and had not seen its progression on to my arms and body.  When I initially told him about my first dermatologist appointment he told me that his cousin had Lupus, and that at first she was really sick, but now she was doing a lot better.  He ended his statement with “So don’t worry about it.”  I still worried, but I found some comfort from him when we talked about his cousin.  Although that night the conversation we had, was not very comforting.

He came over and we hung out, talked, and enjoyed each other’s presence among other things.  As we lay in my bed not watching the television that was on he asked me if I would ever visit him in jail?  What kind of dumb question is that, I thought.  I should preface this with saying that I had met him a year prior as we worked on an independent film together, and we decided to start a thing.  I wouldn’t call it a romance but it was something that was really great when it was great and had no prospect of longevity.  So with all that said, I had not done a lot of digging into his past, but I knew that he was Muslim, had 2 kids, lived in New Jersey, and managed a rap crew.  What I didn’t know until that night was that he had been in jail and was a reformed drug dealer and apparently was going back to jail.  WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?

I looked at his chiseled handsome face and saw a stranger, an ugly alien that I couldn’t explain how it got in my room.  I didn’t know what to think of him, for the second time in 2010 I was stunned to silence.  I think my face obviously gave away what I was thinking.  On second thought, no I don’t think my mind could have been that detailed.  My mind flooded with thoughts and questions.  I was thinking how the hell did this information slip through the cracks, and what was it about me that attracted the once imprisoned to me?  He asked me to stop looking at him like “that”, but I couldn’t help it; who was this person that I had shared my bed with? When was he a Frank Lucas status drug dealer? And when did he palm $40,000 in cash?  And who in New Jersey is buying up all of these drugs?  How long was he in jail before, and did he have a boyfriend in there?  “Oh my God, who are you?”, was all I could hear going through my head.

I did once have a thug fetish but that like many bad habits, like vomiting in public, ended with college.  He told me that he had to come up with $1500 in 2 weeks to pay a lawyer or else he would go back to jail.  I did not need his problems on top of mine.  I knew there was more and did not want to hear it, but it was inevitable.  As he was talking all I could hear was noise, until he got to the part about me helping him out with the money.  “What the what, are you crazy ninja?” was the only thought that came to my head.  I was going through what I could only describe then as mental and physical trauma and he wanted me to care about his “thugs in the hood”, self-made issues.  But part of me really didn’t want to see such a hot guy go to jail, but I was dealing with so much of my own crap I just laid back down and said nothing.  He leaned over my arms that had created a fort around my head as I covered my face with my hands, and asked me if I was ok.  OK? OK? No I was not ok. I knew I was about to go off because the last thing I wanted to deal with was this, and I knew that I was going to try to help him despite my better judgment.  I sat straight up and looked him right in the eyes and told him that he was making whatever was eating my spirit and body worse, and that right now he felt just like one of the rashes growing on my body, big, ugly, purposeless, and hard to look at.

I just needed to go to sleep and my skin was itching like crazy and I was losing the feeling in my left arm.  It was too late at night to kick him out, and even though his news had shocked the hell out of me, I still felt that another body there, regardless of his pending imprisonment, was better than being alone.  I took 4 Benadryl pills, a common practice then to help me sleep, and rolled over.  I wasn’t quite sure how my life had gotten to this point and I didn’t want to think about it, or anything else anymore.  As I dozed off I couldn’t have imagined how much wackier things were going to get, there would be a lot more Benadryl sleep induced nights to help me get through it.