What do bees and the writer of this blog have in common?
The background: Just over two years ago, I was taking a shower and decided to use a product my wife had purchased; its primary ingredients were grape vines and other parts of this plant. When I got out of the shower, I looked in the mirror and decided that my face looked redder than usual. A little later, it felt hot and swollen. I went to the doctor a couple days later, a bit concerned since the red spots had spread all over my entire body. Two courses of steroids later, it was cleared up, but my doctor and I decided that maybe I should avoid grape products.
Now it just so happens that this outbreak occurred within a week or two of the following events: final grades and comments were due, my last week as a teacher at my old school, closing on the house we were selling, and moving to Canada. I ignored the possible correlation with my stress level.
To be fair to the grape-allergy theory, I had some "gastrointestinal distress" the couple of times I ingested something with grape in it, but no further outbreaks of hives. At least, not when I could track down anything with grape in it. There were two more incidents during my first year of grad school, but I couldn't discover anything grape-related. Again, head in the sand about stress.
In the past few months, I have slowly added small amounts of grape products back into my diet. Balsamic vinegar in salad dressings. Wine-based sauces. The occasional raisin in a baked good. So far so good.
A few days ago, my chest started to itch. I wondered if something had bitten me, refused to notice that it was spreading a bit. Yesterday, I started to admit that this looked like hives, that it was covering more than the initial spot, that my thighs--when viewed from the right angle in the shower--might have a few dots themselves.
This morning, denial was no longer an option. After a painful shower--I've scratched a little--I dug out some cortico-steroid cream we happened to have here (originally for Scooter, but my doctor had OK'ed me using it before). That went on my chest and down onto my breasts. I could see the red undertone starting on my arms, the worst of it in the crooks of my elbow. This afternoon, I bought some caladryl spray and am now pink.
Trillian confirmed for me this evening that the hives have started to recede. I could try to make the case that my interventions have had their intended effect, but Trillian would argue otherwise. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that we'll be writing an offer tomorrow. Or that even if this house falls through, we saw two others today that we'd be willing to make offers on. We think we can get this house down into our range; we know we can get our third choice.
Weight lifted, hives receding.
It is seriously time to take up yoga again.