I hate this heat rash! I can’t help but feel robbed sometimes of a normal life. I especially felt like this yesterday.
It was a beautiful day yesterday. The skies were crystal clear blue. The temperature was very cool and comfortable. It was nice. So my wife and I decided to go to the grocery store and run a few errands. We went to Walmart first, and got our groceries. Everything went fine, and no cholinergic urticaria outbreaks. Unfortunately, they were sold out of the chicken we usually buy. So we decided to stop by another Walmart later in the day to pick up the chicken (since there is a Walmart virtually everywhere now).
Heat Hives Attack Awaits Me at Walmart # 2
So we continued to run errands. Finally, it came time to stop by the other Walmart to pick up the chicken that the other Walmart didn’t have. Unfortunately, it was a nightmare, and reminds me why I hate the winter months with cholinergic urticaria heat hives. I had been feeling pretty good all day. No hint of itching. I have been on this diet now for a month (100% gluten and milk/dairy free). I didn’t even suspect I would break out in hives.
So I got out of the car to get the chicken. Since I was only going to grab some chicken, my wife decided she would just stay in the car. It felt great outside. It was slightly breezy, and the temperature was perfect (although a little cool for most people). I walked in Wally World (that is a nickname for Walmart) feeling great!
But then, as soon as I got about 20 feet inside of the building, I noticed something….HEAT. This is the thing that makes winter unbearable for me. It feels so great outside, but when I go into a building that is extremely dry and heated, my body simply cannot adjust quickly enough. My internal “sweat” thermostat just doesn’t work right.
I started to feel an attack coming on quickly. I said to myself, “It is okay, I am going to the frozen section and hopefully it will be cooler there.” I have used this strategy before whenever I get hot in stores. So I started to hurry a little more to make it to the freezer sections so I could get the chicken.
Tingle tingle, itch itch, sting sting. It started getting worse. I started trying to get there faster. I had to start scratching a little to try and comfort the itching sensation (even though we all know the scratching doesn’t solve the itch, but we can’t help but scratch anyways). Finally I arrived in the freezer section.
At this point, I was starting to get a little worried. Here I am in the middle of the always crowded Walmart, and I am getting the most unbearable sensation all over my body (even my thighs were burning and prickling-which is unusual because it is usually my upper torso and face). So I am doing everything I can to get cool without being obvious to the crowd of people all around.
I scratch occasionally and try to make it look like I might have a simple itch (although I really want to rip off my shirt and just scratch like crazy!!). I am opening freezer doors pretending to look at food so I could try to cool off. It was bad. I get the chicken, and head to another freezer section hoping to get cooled off and stop the outbreak so I could checkout without the pain and itching.
Unfortunately, I could not get my body to cool down! I swear, the heat was being blown down from the heaters they had on, and I could not get cool air from the freezers to hit my body well enough to stop the attack. The heater just kept on blowing heat on me from above. So at this point I know I am in trouble. I can’t get cool, and I have no way of stopping this thing.
I start walking as quickly as I can to the front registers with the chicken in my hands. Of course, walking quickly is a physical activity and my body begins heating up EVEN MORE! Add that to the fact that I am already getting stressed because I am in the middle of a crowded store and I know a bad and painful reaction is coming. Plus I always feel as if I am turning red or something because my skin is burning. I always feel as if everyone will look at me and see me for some kind of freak or something (even though it probably isn’t near as noticeable as I imagine).
So I am battling the itching and prickling, and trying to look normal at the same time. I am walking in a brisk walk to the cash registers. Thankfully, this Walmart had a self checkout section (which is cool because I love self checkouts). I used to be a cashier at a few retail stores (I even worked at Walmart for a few months several years ago). So I am a pro at the self checkouts.
So I get to the self checkout register, and thankfully there isn’t a line. So I toss the chicken on the belt, hit the “start” button, and proceed to scan the chicken and bag it, while I try to occasionally scratch the bad itching sensation in between scanning and bagging (without looking like a complete idiot to anyone that may be watching me).
I pay for the chicken, grab my receipt, and head for the door. At this point, I am experiencing unbearable pain and itching. It is a full blown reaction, and it hurts and itches. I am going to that door as fast as I can. I get outside, and it is a little cooler, but the hives have gone full force, and there is no stopping them at this point. I am itching all the way to the car.
I jump in the car, start scratching like a mad man, and blast the air conditioner on FULL BLAST. My wife completely understands and feels sorry for me. I sit there and scratch for like 5 minutes straight until the car finally starts to get cold.
In the meanwhile, my skin gets the “chill bump” look, and then the little red bumps start popping up all over my arms and chest. I raised my shirt, and I was really red and flushed on my stomach and chest.
Soon, the reaction slows down, after the car has cooled down sufficiently. WOW! I felt absolutely exhausted (like I usually do after a massive hives attack). I also get extremely depressed for the rest of the night. I can’t help but think thoughts like, “Man if I have this for the rest of my life, my life is going to really suck. What is wrong with me? Why do I have to have this condition? Why? Why? Why? Will this ever go away?”
I also developed a bad headache about an hour after the attack. So needless to say, living with cholinergic urticaria (or any kind of hives) is HARD! I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to go through what I have to go through with these hives, and what the others that have CU have to deal with as well.
I Miss the Good Old Sweat Days
Sometimes I think about how lucky I used to be before cholinergic urticaria came into my life. I could run outside, and just sweat as soon as I got hot. I could laugh and play and jump around. Nothing. No itching, no prickling, no stinging. Just a normal life. Never a worry about my body going crazy on me. Boy has that changed!
I just wish I could sweat like a normal person sweats. I remember that in high school, my armpits and palms would always get sweaty. My shirts would be wet around the armpit section sometimes, from where I would sweat all the time. I distinctly remember wishing to myself that I would just stop sweating like that all the time. It was kind of embarrassing sometimes, but I guess it isn’t that strange since I am a guy.
Well, I can tell you that I would give anything to sweat like that again! It just reminds me of that old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it.” I wished I would stop sweating like that, and now, I would give anything to sweat like normal. Now, I wish I could just have the health I used to have in high school, before this nightmare and life changing chronic hives took over my body. I would gladly welcome some moist armpits or sweaty anything!
Sometimes I feel as if my body has been overtaken by some super alien slime. Just like the Spider-man movie where the slime alien took over Spider-man and turned him into the “Venom” character. Since I first got this, I just feel like something inside me changed. I feel as if my entire life is being controlled by this condition. I fear going in places, because I think “What if I have a break out?” I don’t even consider doing 90% of the things I used to do. I don’t even look forward to things anymore either. Vacations aren’t fun, because I know the hives will be right there with me. Who can have fun at the beach when your body goes crazy when it gets hot?
I am lucky that I have an understanding wife. I told her yesterday that she may be doing the grocery shopping alone for the rest of the winter season if my hives don’t go away soon. She was completely understanding, and has been so helpful anyways in doing things for me when I feel I might have an attack. So one thing I can recommend to anyone that has this is find a person (a spouse is best) that can offer not only support and love, but also help you do the things for you that would cause an attack if you did it.
I know they say cholinergic urticaria goes away in most people after a few years (usually ranges from 7-30 years), but sometimes I feel as if I am doomed until the day I die. The only thing that makes me more positive, is the fact that I did go into remission for about 2 years before, and the hope that maybe this diet will work, or maybe when I get a house I can get outside and sweat everyday and be cured, or maybe (just maybe), and I can finally get this thing cured or find out what is causing it. I don’t know.
Plus I try to focus on the positive. At least I am not dying right now. At least I don’t have a worse condition (although this one is pretty bad). At least I have a loving wife. At least this may go away someday…maybe.
Update on the Diet Situation:
I am still going strong on the gluten and milk free diet. Although after the attack yesterday it is a little disappointing and discouraging. I have been extremely strict, and have not had 1 instance of milk or gluten in a month now. Everything I eat is either a vegetable that I know doesn’t have any gluten or milk, or the label clearly says “gluten free.” I am continuing on the diet for another month or so for sure, just to see what happens (if anything).
I don’t know if it is diet related or not. But after yesterday I felt like the diet wasn’t helping much. It is still worth it to keep it up for another month or two, because then I will at least know for sure, and I can completely rule out the diet thing for the rest of my life if it doesn’t help, and I can also let everyone that stops by this site know what has and hasn’t worked for me personally.
Anyways, I hope your hives don’t give you a hard time this winter. Hopefully, we can all get through this and come out okay. Hopefully, we can all one day look back at this in old age and think, “I remember for a few years when I was younger I got really itchy, but then it went away for the rest of my life.”
UPDATE: 1/21/13 This is an old archived post, and I have made more recent posts regarding my new diet and how I was able to finally get my hives under control. Read more about it on my cholinergic urticaria diet page. What I essentially did was keep a journal and do several allergy elimination diets.