Or, Why I’m not at the Yarn festival.
It all started 4 years ago, even if its affecting me now. I took a reaction to hair-dye for the first time in my life. I’d been dying my hair for 20 years & was at a loss as to why my body suddenly didn’t like it. When I say didn’t like, that’s an understatement. I had a strip of rash down each side of my body & welts behind my ears, the rest of my skin was blotchy and super sensitive. Luckily for me, women in my family go white young, so it wasn’t long before my shoulder length (fake) red hair was showing signs of silver. My hairdresser was great & encouraging & soon I’d forgotten why I’d stopped dying it in the first place. I was going natural, my hair growing a unique shade & I loved it.
A year or two went past & sometimes the hives came back. Friends & family got used to me commenting from time to time on my itchy skin, but I didn’t do anything about it (except try not to scratch). It wasn’t all the time, just occasionally. There seemed to be no pattern to it. I’d been to doctors one time with it & been told it was a sweat rash. The steroid cream I was given made it worse & hurt 😦
Then one night changed all that.
My friend text me to say that ‘there’s a woman on watchdog & she’s got one of your rashes!’ I immediately tuned into the programme in time to hear the presenters talking about MI. It’s ‘Sunday’ name is Methylisothiazolinone. It’s in everything (it seemed) & it is/was causing a huge amount of allergies across Britain. They were talking about it being banned. As I watched the lady on TV describing her symptoms & how it had affected her life, I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. I knew exactly how she felt.
I searched through the bathroom and found one bottle of body wash that DIDN’T have MI in it. Everything else, shampoo, conditioner, soap, body wash, bubble bath. All had MI in it. By now my boyfriend & kids had joined in and we headed to the kitchen. The laundry detergent was ok, dish soap had MI in it. The anti-bac wipes had MI in them (explained my itchy hands!)
A trip back to the doctors was on the cards. This time I saw a different doctor & she agreed that MI was the likely cause. I could choose to go to a dermatologist for the tests or I could cut out MI & see what happened. The doctor was clear on one thing though, if the rash was still hanging on after MI was removed, I was headed to the hospital.
3 days after seeing the Watchdog programme & my skin was happy skin. Injuries related to the rashes were healing & I became one of those people who read the back of packages for ingredients lists.
Life was great again. I wasn’t constantly fighting the urge to claw at my flesh anymore. I even risked growing my nails. Sure, sometimes I had flareups. While in Crete, I used the hotel towel one day & spent half my holiday with prickly heat type rash all over my legs. One winter, after being soaked to the skin, I had a lovely, long bubble bath. It didn’t end well. The itching on my stomach reduced me to tears. I couldn’t understand why my once health, strong body was doing this to me.
Winter 2015 came along & I pretty much had the MI thing under control. I developed a wee bit of insomnia & a few niggling things that had be back at the Doc’s. After the quickest of catch ups (she’s a crocheter too!) I explained about what brought me in. As I was retelling my symptoms, she asked me a few questions I thought were odd. I was talking about sleeplessness & extremes in body temp & she was asking about my periods. Then she asked again about the allergy, any aches & pains I had. She asked about my mum, gran and female relatives. By this time I could see where she was going. She did a blood test to be sure, but by the time I left, I had a REASON for my allergy & restless nights. I was going through the menopause, at 38. I’d been going through it for a while.
I didnt know the menopause could trigger allergies, but it can.
My first reaction was relief. I knew what had triggered the allergy to start with.
Intellectually, I could get my head round it. I was leaving a stage of life as my daughters were entering it. It was symbolic & meaningful & helped me deal with what was happening………..for about a fortnight. Then it hit me. It’s taken me a long time to get my emotions around it. My body’s doing something that I didn’t intend it to do, there’s nothing I can do to stop or change it. All I could do now was take care of my body, as it was now.
Fast forward to April 2017. I’m keeping an eye out for MI. I walk a lot. I’ve gotten in tune with my body in a way I never have before. I listen to my instinct & work on things that are meaningful to me. I’ve been vegan since the start of the year (technically whole food, plant based) & I haven’t smoked for 15 months. I should be fit, healthy & whole, right?
As it turns out, no. I’m frugal by nature & that’s been my downfall!
I bought a triple pack of soap at the local pound shop. It was a big name brand. I’ve used it before. I didn’t check the label. I knew within minutes of coming out the shower that it had MI in it. So, instead of wandering round St Abbs Yarn fest, looking at all the loveliness, I’m at home. My skin slathered in aqueous cream, downing antihistamines, filing my nails down. I couldn’t face going out in public while I’m this itchy. Fighting the urge to scratch all the time. It makes me self conscious & I’m sure no-one would want to buy yarn with someone scratching away beside them 😉
Luckily for me, the yarn festival runs twice a year.
I’ll keep a closer eye on my skincare in future!