Fifty Shades of Red…

…have artfully covered my whole body in vibrant, blazing colors for a few days now. The reason for this miracle of nature was not flushing in excitement after reading about endless episodes of kinky fuckery (not my words!) in the best-selling soft porn romance trilogy. I rather ate or inhaled something that triggered the worst allergic reaction I had in the past 20 years. When I was about 8 years old it became clear that my body and pesticides that  make fruits shiny and perfect don’t agree so well and I stay away. On Sunday, I had a far from perfect banana, a subway sandwich and some baked goods at a toy drive before the first hives made an appearance. I have no idea where they came from but I know that my fifty shades were not only red but also very, very itchy. I took some benadryl, made a joke about not wanting to look like Will Smith in Hitch and went to sleep. Turned out that sleep was the only thing that the benadryl helped with as I woke up at 4 in the morning, ready to secure the lead part in Hitch 2 – the love doctoress. The universe sure has a fine sense of humor. I put on my sunglasses in the rain (because I didn’t want anyone to call the police about a case of domestic violence) and got some more over the counter crap. The pharmacist looked a little concerned and advised me to see a doctor. I came home, drugged myself up, snuggled in with the last pages of fifty shades of grey and was happy to see that the predominant color on my body was then a pale, less itchy pink. The over the counter crap seemed to actually work. Rite Aid – where amazing happens!

Unfortunately the amazement lasted only for a few hours as my fifty shades of red came back with both guns blazing. When I then looked like a living example of Botox gone bad and the hives felt like a thousand ants trying to eat me alive I decided it might be time to actually see a doctor. So emergency room it was thanks to my wonderful roomie, who called a cab for us and waited with me for about 4 hours. When I shook my head in disbelief, accompanied by the statement “I know I’m not dying but come on…”, she said “Welcome to America, honey”. When I finally got to talk to a doctor I was worried he would laugh and just sent me home with a prescription but it was the opposite and I was mildly scolded for not coming in when my face first looked like Mike Tyson got me. “Wouldn’t be so funny if you had choked on a swollen tongue, huh?” Ummm, guess not! My treatment consisted of steroid pills, a benadryl IV and another one for hydration. I never had a better power-nap than in that noisy emergency room. I finally got some real relief, a few prescriptions and the prognosis that it would take a few days to leave my system but that it should consistently get better. I went to work low on sleep but high on drugs and was itch-free until 5 pm when my face started tingling. Little did I know that an hour later I was ready to rip it (my face) off with all its fifty shades of hot itchiness. 
I decided against ripping it off and the ant army went on another crusade down my body – so no, not really getting better. The red face turned into a fat pancake face over night and I made a vow to never become overweight because it was not a good look for me. My final exam was coming up that night and all I asked of the universe was to hold back the fifty shades until 9pm. My wish was fulfilled and I ended the exam with only a few hives. The ants came back later that night but they had lost a few soldiers against my very own antihistamine and corticosteroid troups. The morning after was still a little itchy but very promising. After five days of fifty shades of red and on my road to recovery I appreciate every shade of health even more. I’m grateful for the lesson and definitely more cautious about what I put into my body in this beautiful but dirty city. 

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5 Responses to Fifty Shades of Red…

  1. charles963 says:

    Hi Katja,
    I was very happy to hear you survived the allergic reaction and exam! You really take on life head on :-). I hope you get a few days to recover and decompress! My similar experience in New York (I have had a few) happened the middle of the night after eating at a place called the Cricket Club (a week in bed–should have gone to the hospital). I could not eat Indian food for years after. And when I was in Afghanistan for a couple of years, I was sick just about four days out of every seven.

    Please feel better and enjoy Christmas and New Year!

    Very Best Wishes,


    • Charles, I am writing you from Germany where I have successfully recharged the batteries. Happy New Year to you!


      • charles963 says:

        Hi Katja!

        Are you still in Germany? I was in Munich and Frankfurt last week–many travel delays. I am happy to hear you are recharged. I was lucky to spend a week in Thailand on an Island called Koh Samui (two weeks ago). Amazing place. Have you been to Thailand?
        Best Regards,

      • Hi Charles,

        I returned to New York about 2 or 3 weeks ago. Yes, Munich and Frankfurt were struggling, I was happy that my layover on the way back to NY was in Amsterdam, with no delays.

        I have not been to Thailand but several friends have been to Koh Samui and all loved it. Hopefully that will happen for me one day.

        What’s next on your travel list?


      • charles963 says:

        Hi Katja,
        You are absolutely right about Munich and Frankfurt. I was stuck in Frankfurt one night as London airports shut down (of course with only about 2 or 3 inches of snow) and delayed for many hours in Munich because of snowy weather. Thailand was great and your friends are right about Koh Samui! :-). I will share the hotel I stayed if you would like, which was great.

        I think you will appreciate this story: I was thinking about taking out a scooter to travel around but decided to swim and dive. When I got to the airport to fly back to Bangkok, I noticed all these otherwise healthy (mostly young) people with broken legs and bandaged arms and realized that they were from scooter/motorcycle accidents. Not a fun way to end a vacation. But thought that would have been me!

        Next travels: Paris, Bangkok (for a day) and Malaysia and then back to London.

        I am happy to hear you are back in New York. How is life there? I miss New York. I lived there when I worked at the United Nations.

        Best Wishes,

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