This week just past was a week of Mondays. Nothing but Mondays. Even Friday, which started out like a Friday, ended on a Mondayesque note.
One contributing factor? On one of the Mondays this week, I ate some cashews.
I needed a mid-morning snack. I went to the vending machine, I saw a packet of tropical trail mix. Peanuts and mango and banana. That sounded like the trick!
It also had a couple of cashew halves. Given the size of the package, I can’t imagine that I ate more than four or five.
Had the package said on the front “cashews” in some place where I could see it (it was blocked by the twirling arm thing), I wouldn’t have bought the packet.
Then I started worrying after I ate the cashews. But then I thought about it. Just four or five. The urushiol content of four or five cashew halves cannot be that great. I decided I would be fine.
I should note, for the record, that I do recommend that tropical trail mix. I don’t know who made it, it was in a yellowish/orange package, and it was good. Tasty. Hit the spot.
A cashew allergy is not a peanut allergy. I don’t suddenly start gasping for air and turn blue in the face. It’s a slow-burn allergy. I’m fine for a couple of days and then… I start to itch. A cashew allergy is related to the poison ivy allergy; both work on the same mechanism, the chemical called urushiol. It’s an irritant, causes inflammation, specifically Urushiol-Induced Contact Dermatitis.
Two or three Mondays later, so maybe like two days ago, which I guess would be a Thursday, but it could have been as early as Wednesday, I went to the restroom. I washed my hands.
And my hands, which did not itch prior to that, under the hot water stream of the faucet, itched like I had bugs crawling all over them.
Histamines. Heat excites them. This is why, when I’ve suffered from Poison Ivy in the past, I’ve taken absolutely scorching showers; the hot water sends the histamines into overdrive, and the itching stops for about eight to ten hours.
And, exciting the histamines feels rather… well… good. In an intoxicating, addictive sort of way. I don’t know why the human brain would be wired in such a fashion, yet it is.
So, hands under the faucet, on one of the Mondays this week. And after about five minutes of this, my hands both burned (because, wow, does the office produce super fucking hot water) and they itched and it felt so good.
I shut the water off, and I didn’t feel anything. No itching. No burning. The skin was a bright red, but that passed.
I hoped, actually, that that would be it. That the four or five cashew halves had been broken down in the digestive system, that the urushiol was flushing its way out of the system, which is why it took the extreme heat of the restroom hot water to get the histamines excited enough to notice.
To quote the Master from “The Kings’ Demons” — “Oh my dear, Doctor, you have been naive.”
Because for the last thirty-six hours, I have been insanely itchy. Out-of-my-fucking-mind itchy.
In the past, after eating cashews in large quantities (at a time when I didn’t know that I was, in fact, allergic to cashews because there’s a disconnect of forty-eight to seventy-two hours between consumption and symptoms), I would get the standard poison ivy-like blisters, usually on the forearms or the calves. I haven’t had that, thankfully. This is more of an all-over itchiness. Especially in places where the skin is thin, so like the eyes or the temples or the ears.
This itchiness should pass, if the past holds, in a week to ten days. Until then, I shall be histamatic.
The lesson to be learned? Read the package. Don’t assume. Even small quantities of cashews are bad.