Good afternoon Friends! Today is a good day for a story.
I mentioned my allergy to cold water, technically called cold urticaria. Now, I should begin by saying I have never been diagnosed by a doctor, but based on my experiences with swimming in cold water, I think it’s pretty obvious I have this strange allergy.
Growing up, my parents signed me up for swimming lessons. The local pool was outdoors, and if you know anything about the weather in Wisconsin, it is rarely predictable. One early summer day, probably around seven years of age, I had a swim lesson. As I slipped into the water, I recall my chest tightening up and it being even worse when I submerged my head. Although I tried to tell my instructor, a teenage girl, what was happening, either she thought I was being a wimp or I wasn’t explaining it clearly. I may or may not have finished the lesson; I don’t remember. I do remember my mom scolding the teacher for making me stay in the water (I’m sure I was crying).
As we walked to the car, my body was freezing. I also had lost my vision. I could function (walk, talk, etc.) but I couldn’t see anything. My skin became red and itchy, and when I scratched it, little balls of dead skin formed. We sat in the car with the heat on full blast until I felt better and my vision returned.
Maybe a year later, my family was in Florida (either during Christmas or Spring Break) and my sister and I went swimming in a relative’s outdoor pool. The water was around 63 degrees. The same thing happened: my skin got red and itchy and I couldn’t see anything.
Ever since those experiences, I have avoided swimming cold water. It became a joke among friends and family that “Angie shows early signs of hypothermia.”
Before our trip to Switzerland this past summer, we were discussing possible activities to partake in while in the Interlaken area. Brody had gone canyoning while in college and had a blast. JP, knowing of my dislike of swimming in cold water, wondered if I’d be able to handle it, and for some reason, did a little research. He is the one who proposed that my aversion could be something medically-based: an allergy.
On the Mayo Clinic website about cold urticaria, it says the worst reactions generally occur when swimming in cold water (normally 40 degrees or colder), but some people can have reactions to cold air or even eating or drinking cold things. When my body had been exposed to cold water in those two incidents, it released a massive amount of histamine which dropped my blood pressure (and therefore caused my vision loss). The website also says cold urticaria is more common in young children and can go away after a few years. It is possible I do not even have this anymore, but I’d rather not risk it.
There you have it; one of my two (undiagnosed) allergies. (The other one is kiwi by the way, and here’s an article about the rising rate of kiwi allergies.) I did a Google search for images of cold urticaria but they were kind of nasty and I thought I would spare you. Unfortunately, that means this post has no pictures, and that is just a little too boring for a Tuesday. Here are some cute pictures of strange animal friendships.