“Mom, can you bounce me?”
Chase poked his head through the lanai door, grinning. I reluctantly followed him outside, dreading what was to come. We climbed the step ladder and stepped onto the trampoline’s black surface, the seventy-degree afternoon warmed by effervescent sunshine.
I truly enjoy exercise, and have from the time I was a chubby nine-year old and prayed in my quiet bedroom that God would help me not be chubby. A few months later a neighbor invited me to her swim team and voila, a love of exercise was born. Whether it was swimming, running, soccer, rollerblading, bike riding, or even long walks, sweating through a good workout has always been an important part of my life.
Bouncing on our new trampoline with my boys should have been child-like, stress-relieving fun.
Should have been.
A couple of minutes into the bouncing, it begins. The hot prickles, the tightness in my scalp. Along the underside of my arms and on my torso, sharp points of uncomfortable heat burst forth on my skin. Instead of damp sweat, hot, itchy spots adorn my arms and sometimes legs, reminders of what I’ve been dealing with the past year.
Cholinergic Urticaria. An allergy to my own sweat.
For those who dread exercise, this type of condition would be an occasional annoyance. In my case, it’s life-changing. I miss jogging, I miss running around the backyard with our boys, I miss dirty yard work in the morning sunshine, I miss just being able to walk my dog on a muggy summer morning without the prickly hot spots taking over my body as I rush inside the a/c to cool off.
Since this sweat allergy began over a year ago, gauging my body’s temperature and the time spent doing a physical activity is necessary to keep the bothersome welts from getting out of hand.
Rather, from getting on my hands.
Friends have asked if I’d like to join them on 5Ks, participate in half-marathons, and even just go to the beach, but I shake my head, unwilling to test how far I can push my welt-prone system. Right now, my hubby’s the only one using our Y membership because I don’t want to be red-faced and itchy in front of a bunch of strangers. When I do push myself physically, when my scalp is on fire and my torso is decorated in blocks of red bumps and my back itches like fire ants are nibbling my skin, the welts can cause a great deal of anxiety.
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses.” ~ Psalm 107:6
God is on His throne. He’s sovereign, and nothing in our lives surprises Him. I try to remember this and be grateful that it’s not a more serious illness, that I can still walk and talk and see and hear. That the welts go away after an hour or so. That otherwise, I’m pretty healthy. When I’m at my worst, drowning in self-pity, I do my best to thank God for Jesus Christ, for my solid marriage and our healthy children and my hubby’s good job and for the wrap-around love of our families.
Because let’s face it (pun intended) – life could be a lot worse. I can’t get a good sweat on. A lot of people deal with much, much worse. As a believer in Jesus Christ and God’s Word, I know this life isn’t promised to be a cushy, blessed carnival of fun and games and happy faces. When I want a good spiritual wake-up, I read about the persecuted church in Iran or China or Syria. I take an eye stroll down my Facebook news feed to read and pray for friends with wayward teens, lost jobs, infertility, terminal illness, and children fighting cancer.
Still, I have to work through bitterness at times. The allergy might go away on its own. It might not. Until then, I’ve laid it all before the Lord, and I smile when God lovingly leads me to 1 Peter 4:12…”Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you…” God is faithful and I trust His timing with everything in my life, even this fiery skin trial.
I debated even sharing this because really, it’s not front page news. But God’s been pressing it on my heart. If you, too, are experiencing a trial of some sort – physical, emotional, spiritual, financial - hang on. God is there, and He is trustworthy. Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us that, ”‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’”
I’m doing my best to worship Him through the welts, and I pray you’ll do the same through your trial, too.
(On a medical note, my doctor did recommend taking Zyrtec to combat the hives. Because I have mild asthma and use an inhaler a couple of times each week, I hesitate to use more medication unless absolutely necessary. After all, my welt reaction started about a week after I finished a Z-pack antibiotic for a sinus infection last year. So, my next course of action, as the weather warms up, is to try swimming again.)