Tag Archives: hives

STILL Living that Hive Life

16 Aug

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

CANDIDA!

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:

  1. wheat
  2. dairy
  3. sugar
  4. caffeine
  5. overripe fruit
  6. dried fruit
  7. basically don’t eat fruit except maybe an apple or something
  8. things that are fermented
    1. alcohol
    2. vinegar (does this include catsup? I don’t know!)
  9. soy
  10. 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.

HIVE ATTACK.

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?

Hmm.

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.

 

Living that Hive Life

20 Apr

It has been a rough go in Rebekah-land recenly, friends. Why? Well, the title of this blog is a dead giveaway. That’s right, I keep breaking out in hives and oh my god it is terrible. It all started on Monday, March 21st in a small place in Iceland called Geysir. Yes, Gey-sir. (Chuckle, chuckle, snort.) My constant travel companion Carrie and I had just finished walking around this super prehistoric-seeming landscape, oohing and aahing with other tourists as the earth shot a buttload of water like a hundred feet into the air every 6-8 minutes. It was a sight to behold and a smell to experience. Iceland, in case you were wondering, has a nasty case of the sulphurs.  Anyway, so there we were in Gey-Sir, (chuckle, chuckle, snort) walking through the gift store when all of a sudden my knees started itching something fierce. They were the itchiest knees I have ever had. And then my hands were itching. And I looked at my hands and I had these little red bumps all around my knuckles. I wrote a whole thing about it here that you should read if you really want all the background information. But to make a long story short, basically I broke out in hives over my entire body and Carrie and I had to race across the Icelandic tundra to this random pharmacy that was about to close and the lady there asked me if I had tried to wash the hives off. I mean, I had washed my hands a few times but obviously the hives had not gone anywhere because they were attached to my skin. Hives aren’t something akin to dirt. You can’t just wash them off. And if I’m being completely honest it did give me a little bit of pause that the only lady available to me in my moment of need was someone who thought I could wash the hives off my hands with sulphur water but whatever, I was desperate. Anyway I took some Icelandic antihistamine and they cleared up. Hooray!

But the relief was short lived. Dun dun DUUUUUUN.

Over the past 4 weeks I have broken out in hives at least a dozen times. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. I can’t seem to identify any common factors. (Except for the fact that I am certain I am dying a slow and itchy death.) I haven’t changed my diet, detergent or lotion. I am beginning to think that perhaps breaking out in hives, as opposed to always getting shat on by animals in trees, is my real superhero power. Wouldn’t that be a gas? But of course as I was formulating that hypothesis I realized that I had put my cell phone down in a fresh pile of bird shit so, you know. That theory is still up for debate. It’s almost as if my other superhero power, my actual proven power, was feeling the pressure of being ousted from its position in my life and was like

Nah, I gotchu. Just put your cell phone down right…..there. That’s right, girl. See? We’re good.

I am not certain when I determined that my superhero power was actually an independent being with its own voice, personality and motives but I am just going to go with it.

So here is the thing: breaking out in hives really sucks. Like really, really. First off, they are super uncomfortable. They like morph my hands into a giant mosquito bite. Second, they look really gross. Third, they make me feel like I am this freak of a person because itchy red bumps just sprout up all over my hands and knees at random. Who wants to be friends with the girl with random itchy red bumps? No one, that’s who. And four, they are like a total mind fuck! It’s like, I know I am poisoning my body with something because my body is all,

Wait? What is that? WHAT IS IT?! SOS! SOS! TELL HER! TELL HER THERE IS SOMETHING WEIRD! MAKE HER SO ITCHY SHE WANTS TO SAW OFF HER OWN HANDS AND THROW THEM INTO THE OCEAN!

And then I’m all like

Yeah, but how am I supposed to know what it is if you don’t use your words, body? Use. Your. Words.

But my body has no words. It only has horribly itchy red bumps.

So my favorite hive experience was this past Saturday when I was out for lunch with my friends Katie and Shannon. Katie, it just so happens, is a nurse. So when I met up with her I did a very similar thing as when I encountered the Icelandic pharmacist: I put my hands in front of her face and looked meaningfully between her and them. Katie looked a little worried and proclaimed

Oh! Hives!

because she knows shit. I told her I had taken some Claritin so I was pretty sure it was going to be better any minute. She looked doubtful and concerned. Over the next 45 minutes or so, my hands got progressively itchier. So itchy, in fact, that I kept sticking them in my armpits in hopes that somehow doing an imitation of Mary Katherine Gallagher would fix everything. It did not. This was the first time this approach has ever failed me. As we were sitting down to brunch it only got worse. I looked at my hands. What had started as small, itchy bumps on my knuckles had spread to the palms of my hands and the insides of my wrists. I have learned in my month of living the hive life that when the wrists go, certain doom follows. I panicked. I jumped off my seat and said, as dramatically as I could,

Order me a coffee! I need topical cream!

and rushed to the local pharmacy where the pharmacist did not ask me whether I had washed my hands but instead said that a trip to an allergist and perhaps some Benadryl was in order. This, of course, was in response to me practically breaking out in tears in front of her because I was so itchy and also freaking about randomly having horrible allergic reactions to an unknown source when all I was trying to do was have a Bloody Mary with my girlfriends on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I couldn’t buy Benadryl because I had to bartend that night and it makes me super sleepy so instead I got this crazy topical cream which I now carry with me at all times like a weirdo. A hive producing weirdo.

So, anyway, I haven’t gotten any hives since Monday night so I am feeling pretty positive about things in general. And I have an appointment with a doctor today who helped me with my stomach problems in college by doing some shit with magnets. I feel like life is looking up, friends. I feel like although hives might be winning right now, I am going to make a late-in-the-game comeback. I am going to show them who is boss! I am going to say

Fuck you hives! You are not my superhero power!

and hopefully get shat on by a bird. Just to prove the point.