Do you remember when I wrote that post about how I keep on getting hives? Well, guess what? I am still getting hives. And guess what else? It still fucking sucks. Right now, for example, I am sitting on the porch of a house in Vermont that my family rented for our occasional Frankation and I have hives on my knees. Nowhere else, just my knees.There were a whole bunch of them before but now I only see like 4. Four hives. Some of them are small like pin pricks and other ones are almost quarter-sized. Size aside, they are all itchy. Very, very itchy.
So, where did I leave you last? I believe it was sometime in April before an appointment with a doctor to try and figure out what in the world was happening. As I predicted, she did some weird shit with magnets and then proclaimed
and told me I couldn’t eat a whole bunch of things and also gave me some pills, some of them very, very big. Here is a list of the things that I was told not to eat because of candida and also hives, which were supposedly caused by candida:
- overripe fruit
- dried fruit
- basically don’t eat fruit except maybe an apple or something
- things that are fermented
- vinegar (does this include catsup? I don’t know!)
- basically everything else except lettuce and maybe some salmon
So I tried the diet and as it turns out it is really, really hard to avoid eating all those above-listed things when you already don’t eat meat or poultry. Going to a restaurant was problematic. Breakfast also was an issue. Couldn’t eat toast. I love toast. More problematic even than toast was the fact that I kept getting hives! Still! More and more often! What could it be?! MYSTERY!
I decided basically that I would ignore the hives and maybe they would go away, sort of like what I do to an annoying little kid (or, more accurately, some of my bar customers). I felt like maybe if I didn’t make the hives feel special, like they mattered or were deserving of attention for their poor behavior, then perhaps they would pack up their itchy little bags in search of a more reaffirming host. As it turns out waging mental warfare against hives is entirely ineffective. Hives don’t give a fuck. Why? Because hives do not have brains. Back to the drawing board.
I started paying an insane amount of attention to all the things I was doing and when exactly the hives were rearing their brainless little heads. I noticed that I got hives most often on Sundays and Mondays, days when I am the most tired. Was I allergic to being tired? Or, perhaps, was my exhaustion making my body less able to fight off things that it did not like? The second option seemed the most likely. I jotted it down in my mental notebook. I started paying extra special attention to what I was eating on Sundays and Mondays. It seemed to pay off this one day in May when I was at the beach for my friend’s birthday. The day started out rather warm. There we were: a bunch of girls sitting on beach blankets eating tortas, drinking seltzer and soaking in the sun. It was a Sunday. Hive day. Everything seemed to be going off without a hitch. Hive free! But then all of a sudden everything changed. (Dun dun duuuuuun.) The sun hid behind the clouds, the wind picked up, the sky turned ominous and I ate a handful of almonds.
It was the worst attack I had experienced in about a month. They were everywhere. It was like a race against the clock to find the closest CVS (I forgot my topical cream – rookie mistake) before I was entirely consumed by hives. I panicked. I called my dad to report to him that his daughter was likely going to cease to exist in her current form and instead would just become a Rebekah-shaped itch monster. Hive-Bekah, or something. I need to work on the name. Anyway, I decided it must be almonds. What else could it possibly be?? I did a quick assessment of things. I love almonds. But I hate hives. But do I love almonds more than I hate hives?
Close, but no. Almonds were out. Much to my dismay even without the almonds the hives kept coming! I started eating almonds again. It made virtually no difference. Back to the drawing board. Again.
As the summer wore on the hives came with less frequency. Maybe my stress level had lessened? Maybe I was wrong and the hives do have brains and they got bored of me and jumped body? I mean, don’t get me wrong, there were a few incidents. There was the day in June I went for a walk and it was sort of rainy and I got them all over my hands. Then there was the time I was at work and they quickly overtook my knees and knuckles. But the attacks were few and far between. I thought that if the hives came with this level of infrequency maybe I could live with them. I wouldn’t turn into Hive-Bekah after all, I would just occasionally experience bouts of intensely itchy discomfort. Ideal? No. Manageable? Maybe. But then one day: a breakthrough.
I was hanging out with my friend Jessy. We had been hanging out all day, doing all kinds of things. Mostly we were eating. But there were other things interspersed in there as well. We ended the day drinking glasses of wine in her room in an attempt to escape the intense heat of the rest of her apartment. She was sitting on her bed and I was sitting at her desk just in front of the air conditioning unit. Over time I noticed that my shoulder, which was receiving the bulk of the cold air blasting from the window unit, was getting progressively itchier. I looked at it. HIVES! And then like a bolt of itchy, itchy lightening it hit me: the hives might not be related to things I was eating at all. Instead they might be caused by the environment or, more specifically, by the cold! I told Jessy and we quickly took to the internet (even though I strongly recommend against internet diagnosis) and we discovered the answer: cold urticaria.
Cold urticaria (essentially meaning “cold hives”) is an allergy where hives (urticaria) or large red welts form on the skin after exposure to a cold stimulus. The welts are usually itchy and often the hands and feet will become itchy and swollen as well.
And then it all came rushing back like one of those movie training montages that I love so much only way less inspiring and with a much sadder soundtrack. Every single time I got hives I happened to be cold! And the hives only struck on exposed skin! Iceland? Cold! Rockaway Beach? Cold! Walking through the rain? Cold! Right now? You guessed it: COLD! (Which is weird because it is August and New York is sweltering but whatever.)
So anyway, yeah, I’m allergic to the cold. I have always disliked the cold but now it has reached a whole new level. Now the feeling is mutual. Now I hate the cold and the cold hates me. And it demonstrates its intense distaste by making me super duper itchy. This might seem like a terrible fate seeing as how I live in New York where it gets very cold. And, actually, it does sort of suck. But knowing is half the battle. And now I know never to take an exploratory mission to Antarctica or go to one of those ice bars where you wear some weird suit and walk into an ice castle and drink vodka or do a polar bear swim. Luckily for me these are three things I have absolutely no interest in!
So, if you need me I will follow in the footsteps of the generations of Jewish women before me and head down south for the winter where I will wear funny outfits and play bocce, hive free.