My summer without sunshine

I’ve never been so happy for summer to end, happier than any eager student or pumpkin spice aficionado.

This summer, I was sent to mast cell disease boot camp. And the rules were strict. Here is a sampler:

  • No swimming.
  • No boating.
  • No bonfires.
  • No barbeques.
  • No ice cream.
  • No beer.

(Although, I’m unaware of any summer camp that provides beer. Don’t tell me if there is one. That would just increase my resentment.)

Basically, I was trapped inside my condo for three months, because I react to both the sun and heat. Like, instantaneous, severe reactions. My only escape was work; in the safety of my car, I tunneled from one attached garage to another. Grocery shopping and dog walking were perpetual struggles. There were nights I didn’t eat and the dogs didn’t poop.

(Full disclosure: this occasionally happened before my diagnosis, before my beer allergy. I suppose there are some benefits to alcohol intolerance.)

So on top of the logistical challenges, I grappled with deprivation. There was nothing left to love about summer. I banned myself counting the missed memories and dissolving friendships.

(Okay, I sometimes I caught myself tearfully singing The Little Mermaid’s “Part of Your World”.)

Towards the end, I developed a very Minnesotan coping mechanism. Whenever the meteorologist forecasted a heat wave, I pretended a blizzard was coming. Because in the winter, it’s okay to cancel plans and stay home. In the winter, a weekend surrounded by books, blankets, and dogs is cozy, not sad or weird. In the winter, you find ways to live, not just survive. Sometimes, I even shut the shades to ignore the cruel, taunting sun. No more FOMO.

Today, it is 67F and cloudy, my definition of a Top Ten Weather Day. I’m going to enjoy my errands and walk my dogs. And I might even get cozy, too.

This is what heat does to my skin. It hurts, but not as much as the internal swelling that goes with it.

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