My newfound love affair with Cetirizine.

As some of you may have already gleaned, I’ve developed a rare allergy called cold urticaria, which is an allergy to cold. My reaction to even the slightest of cool breezes is to develop an irritatingly itchy, blotchy red rash. The Oxford winter has left me with swollen fingers, hot ears and a numb nose from just the five-minute walk between my office and my car. I even had to ask HR to buy me a heater because I just could not concentrate while my feet (in two pairs of socks–one thermal–and leather boots) were cold and maddeningly itchy.

Back in November, I saw my GP, who wrote to the local dermatology department at one of Oxford’s many hospitals. An appointment was made for me (two months later–thanks, NHS), which happened to be a couple of weeks ago. I was seen by a very sympathetic and kind doctor, who had luckily seen this allergy once before. After undergoing the expected ice cube (or in this case, ice pack) test, being examined by a curious med student and having far too many vials of blood taken, I was given a prescription for a couple of antihistamines to try.

I was sceptical, since I’d already tried over-the-counter and two other prescribed antihistamines, but lo and behold, the first drug I tried worked! Well, mostly worked. It didn’t take away all the symptoms, but it took away the worst one–the itching. I still get the numbness in my nose when I go outside, but I can handle that. The rashes were slowly driving me insane, and I am so, so grateful for that doctor and Cetirizine.

This will sound incredibly cheesy, but I guess my lesson learned here was to have hope and keep trying different medications until I found one that worked. (My other lesson learned just this evening is to get the miracle pills on prescription, as Cetirizine is sold over-the-counter here as Piriteze…which is £3 for just 7 tablets, as opposed to the prescription charge of £8.05 for 60 tablets. Given that I’m taking two a day, that’s a no-brainer.)

Towels, chopping boards and other things I’m using wrong.

I read a BuzzFeed article the other day on how often you should wash your towels. Read it here. Apparently, you’re supposed to wash your towels after three uses. Just three. And any cloths that get completely soaked? After every use.

Before reading this article, I thought I had a really good system going. I do 2-3 loads of clothes every weekend (whites, colours, darks). On top of that, I alternate between bedding and towels, doing two towel loads every other weekend (including dish towels, cleaning rags, etc.). If I were to take said advice, I would have to have 15 towels to keep me, my hair and my boyfriend in drying business for the two weeks. Ain’t nobody got space for that! (And by that, I mean I don’t have space to store 15+ towels in my house unless I want to sacrifice a bookshelf or something.)

Now I know you’ll say I could just wash towels more frequently. The boyfriend and I are both busy IT professionals who probably work longer than we should. Neither of us has time to be washing towels every three days and all the other frankly OTT recommendations of our modern world.

And I mean that. These kinds of articles are popping up everywhere, joining all the other advice on how to avoid bacteria at all costs. This is scaremongering. When was the last time someone died because they didn’t wash their towel for a month, or even a few? I was perfectly healthy in my first year of university, where I avoided doing too much laundry because it involved lugging a bag/suitcase/basket outside to the designated laundry room. This room was small and had maybe five machines that had to be shared by hundreds of first-year students. There was no way I was going to go all that way and pay a pound every three days just to spare myself from coming in contact with bacteria.

It’s like the advice to have separate chopping boards for meat and vegetables. I’m sure there are those of you out there who are a stickler for this protocol, but I can assure you that I am still alive despite using the same boards for both. Gasp!

I also grew up licking the spoon when baking, and not once did I get salmonella, but the way the media goes on about it you’d think it was inevitable. I ran around outside, made mud pies, broke both arms and played with farm animals. I’m 23 and still here!

The fact is, bacteria is everywhere, including all over and inside your body. I am in the camp that believes that people have survived quite well without all this overprotection. I’m not saying to not wash your hands or use the same knife over and over without washing it, but I am suggesting that you use your common sense and not go overboard by taking every link-bait suggestion out there. Your immune system will thank you for giving it some exercise. ;)

My belated New Year’s Resolution 2015.

I hate having so many ideas in my head, sentences and paragraphs that I think up while wandering about or going to bed, but then everything hiding away in corners of my mind when I actually sit down to write.

I think it’s because I feel so much pressure to write perfectly, coherently, interestingly and –this is the kicker– like an expert.

I’m 23. Yes, I know a bit more about life than I did at 13, but I’ve only been a full-blown adult (if I am at all) for a few years. I’ve only been in full-time employment for just under two years. My expertise on ‘adulthood’ and business is limited, and I need to stop holding myself to an impossible standard that is simply holding me back from things that I want to do, like writing.

Many people have noted before me that the young want to be seen as older and the old want to be seen as younger. I’m in a funny limbo where I want to hang on to my youth (because being a grownup is scary, you know) while also putting forth this experienced and knowledgeable persona. Why not embrace where I am now? Trying to sound like I know more than I do will be like putting on my dad’s suit jacket as a kid, with the sleeves reaching my knees (they probably still do).

I don’t know everything, and I can’t learn it all overnight. Expecting too much of myself will only burden me. If I only do something when I know how to do it fully, I will never do it. So my New Year’s Resolution for 2015 is to accept who I am now.