Strange allergies

Many people have many different kind of allergies. I myself have allergies to cats, birds, and horses (although to make people give me a weird look I say I am allergic to zebras).

I have only heard of the basics when it comes to allergies – the seasonal ones where people are all stuffy in the summer and spring because of pollen; the fragrance allergies; and the animal allergies; but I bet that next to none of you have ever heard of someone being allergic to a temperature.

“That is not even possible.”

“Who would have an allergy like that?”

“Yeah, right…that would never happen to anyone. Who would even come up with a lie like that?”

I have heard them all, ever since the recent, and by recent I mean in May, discovery of my allergy…to the cold.

I have had people tell me a million times now that I am lying, saying that it cannot be true, and people who are completely incredulous.

Well, it is true, and trust me, it is as ridiculous and sucks as much as it sounds, especially since it’s not like we live in the most tropical hemisphere. I mean, who gets an allergy to the COLD in CANADA?

Oh, yeah! That’s right! Me! Because the weird one has to have the weird allergies. I am a touch bitter on the subject, and a little angry, because this allergy popped up out of nowhere, and I only started to notice the signs when I had my hands in chilly meat making meatloaf and then they started swelling. Then I had a pop can resting on my arm, and once I put it on the counter to purchase it, I had a huge welt.

Now, I know what you are saying – it could be environmental or some chemical in the meat. In fact, when I went to the allergist to have this looked into further, the NURSE didn’t believe me, saying that she doubts that it is actually the cold, and it is probably something else, and they will find it. I told her no, it is an allergy to the cold because I have had a myriad of things swelling because of the temperature changes (like rain or going from the hot air to the air conditioning) and it is a reaction because of the cold. She shook her head, put a sterile ice pack against my arm for 10 minutes, and, lo and behold, my arm had a welt bigger than my hand. She apologized after, but it was a nice HA moment.

The welt on my arm from the ice pack. It lasted 2 days.

The welt on my arm from the ice pack. It lasted 2 days.

I have been at work and talked to coworkers about it, and instead of trying to explain, I stuck a water bottle on my arm, and not even 5 minutes later, voila, nice welts appeared on my arm.

And this allergy, it isn’t like it has to be in a negative degree…it just has to be below 19 C˚. And in Canada, in Ontario, in our region, I want you to just think on how many times a year the temperature dips below that degree. I will wait…Yeah. That’s how much this allergy sucks.

I was walking to the car in the rain and wind one day, and when I got there my chest was welting, my lips were swollen like a bad Botox job and my face was welting as well. I was also blotchy and red.

No need to take my word for it, I took photos because THAT IS HOW WEIRD IT IS.

No need to take my word for it, I took photos because THAT IS HOW WEIRD IT IS.

And see the bad Botox lips? They are so delightful!

And see the bad Botox lips? They are so delightful!

I was drinking something cold before I really registered that this was a problem and my throat felt like it was closing up, but I just took an allergy pill and hoped for the best.

The craziest experience so far with this allergy was when I went swimming at a friends house. He talked to his parents, because he knows how much I love to swim and they cranked the pool to 30 C˚. I jumped in so happy to be able to swim again and when I got out, I almost passed out from my blood pressure dropping and almost going into anaphylactic shock. I had never experienced how it feels to not have control and not knowing what is happening. Feeling like I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t focus, and going in and out on consciousness.

I know this all sounds crazy, and if you haven’t ever heard of this before, then of course it is crazy. But cold urticaria is real, and it does happen to a large number of people. After I started experiencing this, I talked to my coworkers and one person’s roommate in college had this allergy. And another woman actually had it happen to her, but it was because of her thyroid condition.

It apparently can last anywhere from a few months to about 5-7 years, (7 years being the longest time with this allergy on record).

I don’t know exactly what I am going to do when the winter really comes to Canada, as I am already having problems and it is only fall.

I also don’t know what it will be like in an environment completely enveloping my body in cold…I am worried that I may not just have to carry my EpiPen everywhere, but that I may actually have to use it one day.

But I am trying to stay positive and I am trying to remember that I even have this allergy, because I forget, all the time, and still go and grab things from the freezer, and try and work with cold food, and then I get all welted and itchy.

I also keep forgetting when I am really thirsty and all I want to do is drink a big bottle of cold water, but I can’t.

This allergy also took away the rain for me, my favourite weather, that I love dancing in. I can’t do that now – all I can do is look at it from inside the house, because even standing under an overhang I will still start welting and swelling because of the cold air.

It is a ridiculous allergy and I would like to return it for a more normal allergy, like pollen! Why couldn’t I have just been allergic to pollen?

Keep your fingers crossed for me that this does not last for 5 years!

~ Andreah