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

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Elsa, we need to talk

No, I don’t want to chat about your movie Frozen that is warming the princess-loving hearts of little girls the world over. And no, I don’t even want to chat about your catchy jingle “Let it Go” that has spawned spoofs all over the Internet.

I need to chat with you about the momentous change you brought about in my house with one flick of your ice-tossing wrist.

I’m talking about Sophie’s crown.

Sophie had been wearing crowns off and on for a while before a purple crown, given to her by Toni, became a permanent fixture on her head.

She would put it on first thing in the morning, much like I put on my glasses or Ben and Lillian put in their hearing aids. She would wear it regardless of occasion or event. It would stay on her head the whole day, even while we were reading bedtime stories. And then it would get taken off at night and put either on the bookshelf beside her bed so it was waiting for her in the morning, or it would get put up somewhere safe in Mommy and Daddy’s room to avoid getting stolen, or worse, broken by her evil roommate, Lillian.

Princess Ready-For-Christmas Sophie

Princess Ready-For-Christmas Sophie

She wore her crown to the first day of school and every day at school, under her winter toque, while she was painting and learning and playing. Her teachers called her princess. The crossing guard asked her about it daily. She was even Princess Sophie during the church Christmas pageant, wearing her crown on top of her sheep costume.

Princess Sheep Sophie

Princess Sheep Sophie

She was Princess Sophie, without a doubt or hesitation, for months.

And then, you came along, Elsa.

You with your chilly magic and demeanor. You with your adorable sister who just wants to build a snowman with you in the actual snow! You with all of the responsibilities and grief and loneliness that goes into being a broken, orphaned, queen-to-be Disney Princess.

You decided to rebel, to embrace your inner ice princess, to throw caution and summer to the wind and build yourself an ice castle in the mountains. And, while you were at it, you transformed yourself into a hot, long-braided, girl for whom the cold doesn’t bother anyway who doesn’t wear a crown.

Oh, Elsa. You just HAD to throw your crown across your newly-fractaled great room. You just had to decide you were going to let it all go.

I knew the day was coming when Sophie would stop wearing her crown. I understood that she would not go to high school with it, or post-secondary, or even senior kindergarten. I realized that the crown-wearing days were numbered from the moment she started making it part of her everyday.

I wondered how it would end, though. I worried over bullies, peer pressure, or some goofy adult who wouldn’t get it and ask her to stop. I hoped it was a gentle break-up, not a traumatic one. I hoped it would fade without her encountering the ass-holey ridicule that everyone faces as a child at some point. Oh, how I hoped. And prayed.

And then one day, like magic, like Disney magic, she just stopped wearing it. She decided she didn’t want a crown. This was also around the time that she wanted to wear a French braid in her hair instead of the heart-crushingly adorable braided pigtails she had been sporting.

The (Forlorn) Crown

The (Forlorn) Crown

I must have asked her a dozen times that morning if she was sure she wanted to leave the crown behind. Each time she confidently told me that she did indeed want to go to school without it.

I couldn’t figure it out. And I was a little worried. Did someone say something? Did something happen? Did she get in trouble with it? Was she okay?

A week after she stopped wearing it I had an epiphany. Elsa. 

It was youElsa. You who changed everything. You who inspired a princess to be a princess without her crown.

Lillian had received Frozen as a birthday gift and it had pretty much been on repeat since then. And Sophie decided she wanted to be you. To be the queen. To let it go.

I’m not mad. I’m just…stunned. The movie that finally talks about the fact you shouldn’t marry someone you just met, the movie that gave us the sneakiest villain in recent memory, the movie whose soundtrack plays on a loop in my brain when I’m trying to sleep at night, convinced my oldest baby she didn’t need to wear a crown.

I guess what we need to chat about is how I want to thank you. Thank you for making it a gentle transition. Thank you for not being a bully or a jerk. Thank you for not being a self-esteem crusher, but rather a self-esteem booster. Thank you for picking your true self, making your sister wait to marry, and for singing a song that talks about empowerment instead of dreaming of a prince. Thank you.

Elsa

Elsa

But next time, could you give me a little warning? Without her crown, she just looks so darn grown up.

My grown-up princess

My grown-up princess

 

Love,

~ Julia