My husband just emerged from the office and was standing in the kitchen. I was lying as usual on the couch in our adjoining living room. The dishwasher was going, so it was a bit hard to hear each other.
I greeted him with a random comment.
Husband: Did you just say “That girl’s got emu on her face??” He looks at me with amused incredulity.
We laugh and laugh, as we’re prone to doing during these games of inadvertent broken telephone. …Which I have to say are not only common, but surprisingly effective in this household given there are only two of us.
Me: No, silly. I said “Guess who’s got emu on her face.” Clearly you misheard me.
New or intensified allergies is one of the ever-so-delightful side benefits of having ME/CFS. When I was a teenager, I prided myself on being allergy-free, in that weird way people establish parts of their identity in things that they have absolutely no control over. Seasonal allergies? Not me! Dust making you sneeze? That must stink for you. Itchy eyes and nose running? Here, let me put my face in this cat to keep it away from you. I was a titan of allergy-resistance.
Except with bar soap. Bar soap has always made me sneeze. Because I’m a mutant.
Anyway, by and large allergies just didn’t affect me. Now…not so much. Some of my allergies aren’t terribly invasive, but they’re definitely there. My nose stuffs up if I walk past a scented lotion, or get into bed, or get out of bed…or smell bar soap (because I’m a mutant). Medications give me welts. I get hives from cow’s milk, and beef, and, you know, sunlight. Or things that have been near cow’s milk or beef (though thankfully, not yet things that have been near sunlight). Or sometimes for reasons that have yet to be determined. And when I try to put any kind of lotion on my face, I get a crazy bright red face mask of burning sensation that leaves large raised red bumps behind once it eventually passes.
“Hypoallergenic” lotions? Burning red bumps.
“All natural” lotions? Burning red bumps.
Unscented lotions? Burning red bumps.
Lotions for “sensitive skin”? …You get the picture.
Coconut oil works well for some people but isn’t a great choice for me in particular. Eating the stuff gives me terrible joint pain (because I’m a mutant), so slathering it all over my body seems like potentially a poor decision. Likewise, some of the other first string options have worked out poorly for various reasons. In the end, lets just say my face has been very dry for the last couple of years.
We’ve decided in the end that I’m probably allergic to a component so common in lotion-making or preservation that it seems to be in just about everything. Even aloe gel products make me flare up. So lately when my husband goes to the grocery store, he’s been hitting up the organic skin care section (because our grocery store is kind of awesome), and bringing me home some kind of unusual moisturizing agent to try (because my husband, also, is kind of awesome).
Anyway, that morning he had come home with emu oil. Ingredients: Emu oil.
I was a little leery when first pumping some out into my hand. I have a crazy potent sense of smell. I’ve smelled lanolin before, and it carried just a little “eau de sheep” from the animals who made it. Now, in truth, I’ve never sniffed an emu, but I’m imagining they probably don’t smell much like Put It On My Face.
Thankfully (and perhaps, a bit disturbingly), the emu oil smells a lot like popcorn. Which makes me both grateful, and also a little bit interested in eating more emu at movies. It’s a bit greasy at first, but not so bad after a while. And it’s supposed to have anti-inflammatory healing properties, which means it may actually make my skin situation better in addition to just “not much worse.”
So yes, I had emu on my face, and was proudly demonstrating to my husband the lack of horrible sunburn/rash that normally comes with moisturizing my face now.
Still, not the strangest thing that’s been said around here. Not by a long shot. But I’m pretty sure you can all relate to that.