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

Introducing…

In our house, we are allergic to everything.

Let me rephrase.

We are allergic to everything with fur and feathers. Cats, dogs, bunnies, birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, cows, horses, chickens, ducks, mice – allergic. Sneezing, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, runny nose, disgusting, unhappy, uncomfortable – allergic.

I am the most allergic between Ben and I, but even he gets a little runny and sneezy around dogs and cats.

Ben has a house rule: if someone (directed mostly at me) brings home something that we (again, mostly me) are allergic to, he will cook it for dinner.

And he’s really adamant and meticulous about keeping things that we (me) are allergic to away from us (me). I’ve only once been able to fool him into letting me have what should have been a never-in-a-million-years activity with a horse – we were on our honeymoon in Quebec City and they offer horse-drawn carriage rides around the Plains of Abraham. I told Ben that because we were outside and we were moving (i.e. there was a breeze), I would be more than fine. About five minutes into our tour, the lovely French tour guide said, “Madame, I’m afraid you might be allergic to my horse.” I nodded, while blowing my nose and wiping my eyes, and I said, “Maybe.” Ben was furious.

Ever since then his vigilance in keeping us (ME) away from all things allergen-filled has never wavered.

Now, you might have noticed that pets are quite popular among the Sisterhood. Toni has two sweet, giant dogs; Jacqui has two adorable breakfast-food/miniature dogs; and Andreah is cat-sitting. So, what the hey happened with me?

Short end of the genetic stick, I tell ya.

So, when events are held at either Jacqueline’s or Toni’s houses, allergy medication is taken, wooziness sets in, and all clothes, blankets, toys, etc. are washed when we get home. It’s just the way it is.

Through our pre-baby years of marriage, we were offered the chance to dog-sit a soft-coated wheaten terrier, a dog that is supposed to be hypoallergenic. We pocketed the offer and decided that after we had babies we’d consider it. We would hate to get a dog just to have to break-up and give away the dog because of allergies. That would be heartbreaking and a lot of trouble that could be avoided if we were just patient.

And then along came Sophie. Sophie who had an allergic reaction to the boxed rice cereal you’re TOLD to feed your babies as their first food. Sophie whose hands and wrists swelled up to more than double their size because we failed to wash a hand-me-down coat before letting her wear it. Sophie who gets licked by a dog and immediately gets welts on her skin. Sophie who can only have clothes washed in a specific kind of laundry soap or all hell will break loose. Sophie who gets itchy when she has too much dairy. Sophie, the queen of all things allergies.

Sophie clinched it – we would never, ever own a pet. Ever.

Or at least a pet that had fur. Or feathers.

But then…Sophie started asking for one. Asking why we couldn’t have a cat, dog, bunny, cow, horse, etc.? And when we explained that any and all of those things would make us sick, she would get heartbroken, which of course makes us (ME) a little heartbroken.

So, Ben and I had THE talk. The should we get a pet, talk. The our options are limited in what we can bring home, but should we bring something home, talk. And we thought about responsibility. And we discussed death. And we thought about cost. And we worked on timing. And we decided.

Yes. Yes we would get a pet.

A fish.

We didn’t tell the girls where we were going and on Friday morning, a school holiday, we drove to the pet store and made the magic happen.

We knew we wanted a fairly hearty fish who would survive living in our zaniness with 3 under 6 being their owners. So we settled on a Betta or a Siamese fighting fish. The downfall with these? They have to live alone, otherwise they’ll fight the other fish, so we were only getting one fish, which means the girls would have to decide on ONE fish, not one each.

After narrowing it down, both girls picked their favourites – Sophie a beautiful red, purple and blue one, and Lillian a lovely multi-hued blue fish. We brought in some big guns for the tie-breaker- Isaac. We held both jars with the fish in them over the stroller and Ben asked him to pick one. Within seconds we had our fish (for the record, that will be burned and will self-destruct (I hope), Isaac picked Lillian’s fish).

Oh, hello!

Oh, hello!

We bought a bowl, a net, some food, some water conditioner, the girls each picked rocks for the bottom, and Isaac “picked” a plastic plant. We were all set.

Once we got home, with the fish (and everyone else) in one piece, we set about getting our fish’s new home ready. Both girls opened their packages of rocks so we could rinse them off.

Bowl rocks are serious business

Bowl rocks are serious business

Next up, some lessons in sharing the sink.

Teamwork!

Teamwork!

And some lessons in not throwing rocks in glass house-bowls.

GENTLY.

GENTLY.

Isaac was super helpful during this process.

Isaac taking care of other business.

Isaac taking care of other business.

We double-triple-quadruple checked the water temperature and set up our fish’s new house, complete with landscaping.

Move-in ready

Move-in ready

Some prayers, held breaths, and finger crossing, and voila! Our fish was swimming around in his new home.

Reviewing the rules: no touching the bowl or the water or the fish. No holding the fish or petting the fish or moving the bowl. Look with your EYES.

Reviewing the rules: no touching the bowl or the water or the fish. No holding the fish or petting the fish or moving the bowl. Look with your EYES.

Now for a name.

We needed a democratic process because 4 out of 5 of us are very opinionated. Or at the very least able to articulate our opinions. (Sorry, Isaac.) So, over lunch, which the girls loved because we called it a lunch meeting ( so formal and fancy!), we each offered suggestions for our pet’s name.

Not sure if they're all winners...

Not sure if they’re all winners…

After careful deliberation, we narrowed it down to four selections: Blue, Optimus Prime, Superman, and Finn. How to choose?

We decided that as Isaac chose our fish, so he should choose the name. Ben came up with a simple process – give Isaac four blocks, each one representing a name. Whichever one he picks, that’s what the fish’s name will be.

Ben set up the test…

Decisions, decisions

Decisions, decisions

…and Isaac picked.

He grabbed two!  Always the rebel.

He grabbed two! Always the rebel.

And so, it is with great excitement, that we introduce the newest member of our family: Blue Finn.

I think it suits him.

I think it suits him.

It’s been three days and so far we haven’t killed him.

I think we’re off to a great start.

~ Julia