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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


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.


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.


Rebekah’s Official List of the Worst Jobs Ever to Have in NYC During a Heat Wave

18 Jul

On a walk down 5th Avenue today in the height of heat (well, let’s be honest, basically every time feels like the height of heat this week) and after seeing some idiot running on the sunny side of the street without carrying water, I started thinking about some of the jobs that I would absolutely hate to have during this heat wave.  To be fair, most of the jobs I am about to list are jobs that I would hate to have at basically any time but right now they seem especially unpleasant.  Also, I am pretty sure that these jobs can fit into one of the three following categories, or some combination of multiple categories, thereby making them especially awful:

(1) Jobs that involve mostly being in the out of doors during the sunny part of the day and especially those jobs that include intense, or even not so intense, physical exertion of some kind;

(2) Jobs that involve dealing with things that are stinky which are necessarily made extra stinky by the oppressive heat;

(3) Jobs that involve dealing with the public because, let’s be honest, the heat makes people crazy.

These items appear in no particular order mostly because the heat has made me too lazy to come up with any sort of scoring system to make ordering them make sense.  Also, if you have suggestions for jobs I might have forgotten, feel free to send them along and if they might my highly rigorous standards (AKA as long as they are funny and/or things that I would hate doing) I will add them in!  And without further ado, Rebekah’s Official List of the Worst Ever Jobs to have in NYC During a Heat Wave.

1. Sanitation worker2. The people who clean out the port-o-potty’s in Prospect Park or, let’s be honest, anywhere at all
3. The counter person in one of those trendy, or not-so-trendy, food trucks
4. Traffic cop, both the people who give out tickets and the people stuck standing in the middle of the asphalt surrounded by hot and angry drivers who they have to tell where they can and cannot go (wearing pants and one of those silly orange vests for safety)
5. The lady who sells empanadas (or as I like to call them, fried sandwiches) on 5th Avenue and then has to push her cart all the way back to Sunset Park which involves going uphill
6. Emergency response people
7. Door men at fancy hotels (sort of related question:  are there door women?  I have never seen one.)
8. Security guards who have to wear black t-shirts and stand outside looking tough.  In my experience looking tough makes you hotter
9. Delivery people for restaurants
10. Postal workers
11. Seriously pregnant women (that counts as a job, right?)
12. Someone working in an ice cream store that has run out of ice cream
13. Winder washers
14. People that lay asphalt
15. Anyone working on the roof
16. Camp counselors
17. People who work in the kitchen.  Believe me, I just boiled some peanut butter and honey and other shit to make homemade granola bars and basically almost died
18. Movers
19.  People who deliver kegs of beer to bars and have to somehow get them down the stairs and also people who deliver sodas and beer to grocery stores and bodegas
20. People who work in a store that’s air conditioner has broken or that has owners who are too cheap to buy an air conditioner and so not only are those people stuck working in the stuffy stuffy place in which they work, drowning in a pool of their own sweat, but also they have to deal with all the people who come in expecting a rush of coolness only to find stagnant heat and then they say something stupid like “what, no air conditioner?” and you have to try and not bite their heads off
21. People who have to wear costumes as part of their job.  This is not so common in NYC but I’m told we have that racist guy who runs around Central Park in an Elmo costume…although, come to think of it, he sort of deserves to be hot and uncomfortable (thanks, Paul Haney!)
22. Anyone who has to work in a basement with no air flow with a lot of machinery which overheat to the point where when they walk outside they actually feel cooler (Paul Haney again!)

So, that’s the list.  Feeling thankful (for once) that the bar in which I work is The Most Air Conditioned Place Ever.