Over the last couple of months since I’ve lived here, I’ve had a few unexpected reactions to things. Physical reactions, I mean.
For the first week or two of autumn (winter still hasn’t started yet and it’s now below -30˚C), I would find myself getting suddenly stuffy. I’d be working in the teachers’ room at school or relaxing at home and I’d just find that my nose had suddenly stopped up. I’d feel fine in my body but my nose would be blocked up and no amount of blowing or Vicks would clear it.
I thought that maybe it was my body reacting to the new chill in the air outside but, no, that wasn’t it. Turns out, I’m allergic to heat. Ahhhh hahahahahaha! This is particularly hilarious because all my life I’ve hated heat. Hated it. With a passion. But I had no idea I was allergic to it.
So how did I know the reason behind my stuffiness? I was sitting in the teachers’ room one day, working and minding my business when I suddenly became stuffy and started sniffling and mouth breathing. A moment before I had been perfectly fine. Someone asked me if I was OK and I said I was but I had suddenly become stuffy and I didn’t understand why it kept happening. They said that maybe it was because the room was a bit stuffy with the heat kicking in. They cracked the window and less than five minutes later, I was breathing easy again. True story! Since then, I’ve done the same thing at home. If I find my nose getting stuffy and I’m doing stuff in the kitchen, then I’ll crack the bedroom window so fresh air gets in and within minutes my nose is clear again.
Another side effect of the colder weather on my body is that I wake up positively gasping with thirst most mornings. The heating really dries you out. Having never really lived in a wintry environment before, I can only now properly understand how the dry heat from radiators affects the human body. As near as I can figure it, while I sleep and the heater works, it basically sucks the moisture out of the air and my body gives up a lot of it too. There are many mornings when I wake up and reach for my water bottle, sucking down big gulps of water before I even open my eyes. I don’t mean that to sound dramatic; I mean it very literally. That actually happens. Even my eyes feel dry when I finally open them. A lot of blinking later, they feel normal again.
Generally speaking though, my skin is holding up well because I brought oils with me as body lotion. So despite the extreme cold outside and the heat inside, my skin is doing well.
The other important reaction to note is that it seems I’ve developed another allergy. To salami, of all things. Salami! I know, right? So what had happened was…
I’ve mentioned before that my current fridge is no good. It doesn’t keep anything cold, which means I don’t buy certain things, like meat. But I started to occasionally pick up a small piece of salami. I’d cook it up in a vegetable stew or fix it in a sandwich. One day at school, late in the afternoon after I’d had some of the terrible instant coffee there (I underestimated how much I’d need that day and didn’t bring enough from home and found myself fading with a class of energetic little ones still to teach), as well as my lunch, which included salami, the lower half of my face started to feel a little itchy. I didn’t really notice at first but by the time I got home that night, it was pretty uncomfortable. I thought back over what could have cause my face to feel that way, which has never happened before. The only things I could think of was that I was having a reaction to either the coffee, the creamer I had put in the coffee, or the salami. Over the next couple of days, I applied copious amounts of my aloe-based face cream to soothe my skin, and I tried not to touch it too much. Within three days my face felt fine again and I decided that my reaction had probably been a fluke.
Two Saturdays ago as I was leaving school, I had a desire for a sandwich and potato chips, so I stopped on my way home and bought a piece of salami. I cooked a piece and made a delicious sandwich for my dinner. Before my head hit the pillow that night, I registered a vague itchiness in my face and realised that for sure it was the salami that my body was reacting to. I decided not to have it anymore but I wasn’t too concerned about it because, based on my experience of the last time, I figured my face would feel itchy for a couple of days and that would be that.
Not so. I woke up on Sunday morning with a swollen face. It wasn’t grotesquely swollen but it was obvious that something wasn’t right. I had made plans to go shopping for ski pants that afternoon with a couple of colleagues and I couldn’t cancel because I knew the temperature was supposed to drop dramatically in a couple of days and I would need the pants. So I used cold compresses on my face (as per Google), slathered on the face cream and went about my business. It was Wednesday before my face was fully back to normal but I learned my lesson. Maybe it’s how the salami is processed here because I’ve been eating it for years and never once had a reaction like this. I know for sure I won’t be eating it again! It’s not worth it. It’s a wonder my kids didn’t run away from me screaming on Monday and Tuesday.
Other than these physical reactions, I’ve been holding steady and reacting well to the climate, thank God. I’ll keep you posted on new developments, of which I hope there will be none!