A couple of years ago I realized that the annual, persistent cold I got in the spring was seasonal allergies.  Odd, I thought: I’ve never had these before.  My doctor told me that it’s actually common to develop them in midlife.  Okay.  So now I take Allegra for a while in the spring and all is well.  Last year, I noticed that on long runs I coughed a lot towards the end.  During my second half-marathon, in June, this was pronounced: I hacked and hacked all the way through the second half, never able to fully clear my throat or get a deep breath.  It finally dawned on me that maybe I’ve developed exercise-induced asthma?  I need to go see the doctor again to find out and, if so, what my options are.

Then this spring I started getting ugly red patches on the backs of my legs.  They came and went, grew and ebbed.  No big deal.  Over the summer they grew, started itching, and got really pronounced.  Matt noticed and said I needed to get them checked out.  My legs were raw from the knee down.  I saw my dermatologist in August and she took one look at me and asked, “Do you have seasonal allergies or asthma?”

Knock me over.  What?  Well, yes, I think I have both, and they are both new, I told her.  Why?

She told me about a syndrome called atopy.  For anyone who has this, or is a doctor, I apologize in advance for my butchering of the medical specifics.  As far as she told me, it’s basically a group of symptoms that demonstrate acute sensitivity to the world.  I am reactive to the air, to the very stuff of everyday life.  Just living in the world is a stress on my system.  This seems like a physical manifestation of my emotional porousness.

Why does this not surprise me at all?

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  1. Hilary Levey Friedman
    Posted September 22, 2011 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    Amazing! But to just develop this now? Hormonal? Something else?

  2. Posted September 22, 2011 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    No surprise to me – another thing we share…

    I don’t think it is hormonal. I think it has to be with being aware and awake. And with letting things in…

    The more I do “my work” the less symptoms I have, btw.

    Yet another badge of honor, my friend.

    Thanks and love to you…

  3. Ana
    Posted September 22, 2011 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Interesting….I like how you connect these physical symptoms with your emotional state. I know there is a scientific explanation for the atopy, but who’s to say that behind the mast cells, immunoglobulins & histamines, our brain chemistry isn’t running the show.

  4. Posted September 22, 2011 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Yup – sounds like me too! I seem to have become allergic to the world since I turned thirty although I believe I’ve always had symptoms, but they are more pronounced now. Interesting about the exercise induced asthma. I have a similar coughing problem since I started training for my first 1/2, but i thought it was all the dust here in Oman. Hopefully getting back to the US will sort me out and I hope that just as you grow into these allergies, that you can grow out of them too!

  5. Posted September 22, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Wow, what a metaphor! I have a dry patch on my eyelid that is very red. My neighbor, who is a dermatologist, says that sometimes we develop a sudden resistance to something in our environment, like our eye makeup. What was fine for years suddenly ceases to be, for no good reason. I’ve noticed that this eye thing comes and goes during times of transition. I developed it the week before I returned from my ’round-the-world trip. It took months to clear up. And just last week, it cropped up again. It makes me wonder what monumental shifts are on the horizon. Funny that you wrote about this today, because I was just thinking about writing about a post about my own weird eye thing.

  6. Posted September 22, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Being part of a research team this summer we came across this group of allergic hypersensitivities much more in the shift from Spring to Summer. Statistically three fourths of those who experienced this hypersensitivity were in their late twenties or older. In defining it you are spot on.

  7. Posted September 22, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    My physical body is such an expression of all the rest of me. I hope you find good solutions.

  8. Posted September 22, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    i have asthma and bad allergies but this past year, i have developed a red itchy horrible rash on the back of my calves that comes and goes and is much like what you described. it happens on the undersides of my arms too. i have never heard of atopy but it sounds so familiar to me the way you describe it, going to ask my doctor about it next week during my appointment. thank you for writing about this xo

  9. Posted September 22, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    You’re tops with me xo

  10. Posted September 22, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I have the same thing – but I have had asthma all my life. It got better when I was a teenager and worse after kids. Damn those hormones!! My sensitive son has asthma too. Our bodies don’t keep our secrets very well. I have found that cutting back on dairy really helps. I am trying to go all the way, but I can’t give up cheese (yet). xoxo

  11. Posted September 22, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Honestly? This is fascinating. Metaphorical and real and fascinating.

  12. Posted September 22, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Wow. I have never heard of this and am fascinated by all it means . The emotional and physical components make sense.

  13. Posted September 22, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm. I, like the person who commented above, am intrigued by the parallel you draw between your emotional sensitivity and this physical manifestation of your sensitivity.

    Glad to read your words. I’ve missed being here. xo

  14. Posted September 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Would it surprise you to know I have this- in spades? MIne was caused by something particular but I am clear that hormones play a large part since it vanished during pregnancy–quite the blessing.

  15. Kate
    Posted September 23, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    this is timely! I was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma today.

  16. Posted September 26, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Oh goodness. As another sensitive soul I am sending big hugs!