When I say "I'm allergic to the cold," my friends usually say "me too." That's when I say, "No, but I'm really allergic to the cold." Yep, that is right. Allergic.
If you've seen me wear my thick Canada Goose parka in 50-degree weather, it's because I break out in (very itchy) hives when exposed to the cold. This is a condition called, Cold Urticaria. Ironically, I used to spend my winters with my family skiing and was even a figure skater for a few years. I only started to feel the itching during my sophomore year of high school during lacrosse practice.
Being allergic to the cold has made me extremely sensitive to my environment. I can't swim in cold water, or barely last in cold showers, be exposed to wind, get wet from the rain, keep an ice pack on my injuries, and even be in highly air-conditioned rooms indoors.
But it got worse. It turns out I also have Raynaud's Disease, where my hands and feet would turn black and blue from the lack of blood flow as a result of my blood vessels spazzing. In essence, I just turn out to be one big ball of an allergic reaction from the cold. This probably sounds a lot scarier than it sounds, but thankfully I do not have this condition seriously compared to others.
From this, I've definitely missed out on a lot of experiences and only dread the future missing even more. I fear I will not be able to stand outside on a brisk Fall morning watching my kid's soccer game. Or take my family skiing or show off my skating skills around an ice rink. I love the winter season, where the world lights up with decorations for each respective holiday.
Unfortunately, the only treatment that undoubtedly works is to stay indoors. I miss the days where I could go out in the snow and not worry about it getting in my shoe when I'm sledding or making a snowman. I miss that I can't freely go outside in what I think is the warm weather because my body tells me otherwise.
Some may suggest me to wear more layers or keep myself moving, but I could be sweating up a storm and still break out. Cold air that seeps through the fibers in my clothes could do the trick. Or the fact that a part of my face would be exposed, even with my hood up and a scarf wrapped around my neck up to my nose.
I've definitely come across many people who have not believed me when I say I am truly allergic to the cold. I even faced a few difficulties with Public Safety, who challenged my condition before giving me a ride back to my dorm on particularly frigid nights. Although I would never wish Cold Urticaria or Raynaud's upon anyone, I hope that this could help bring awareness about conditions I didn't even knew was possible.