Teen's Inspiring Blog Tells World She's More Than Just a 'Girl With a Weird Water Allergy'

glass of waterMy kids have no allergies that I know of ... yet. I have some late-season mold allergy that causes me to feel awful during my favorite part of the year but I can still eat chocolate and peanut butter and no one has to freak out but me if I get stung by a bee. It's one of those things we take for granted. Like water. Imagine if you were allergic to water? It's a thing. A thing that 17-year-old Alexandra Allen has -- it's called aquagenic urticaria.

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After swimming in a hotel pool while on vacation with her family, Alexandra broke out in hives and her skin was burning and itchy. She was 12 years old at the time, and she recovered though continued to have these symptoms after water-related activities. It wasn't until she was 15 that she was officially diagnosed with being allergic to water, a condition that only about 50 people are reported to have in the US.

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This means the Mapleton, Utah, teen needs to avoid rain, snow, pools, sweat, and tears as much as possible. Which seems impossible. She can shower a couple of short ones a week and she avoids sweating as much as possible. I do that, too, but for an entirely different reason. Aquagenic urticaria is somewhat of a mysterious condition but they know it tends to develop after puberty. Alexandra has a good handle on her water allergy -- she's a vegetarian because it reduces oils in her skin and she's healthy, her diagnosis doesn't define her. In fact, she's a fascinating kid and not because of her rare condition.

Alexandra has a blog -- with beautifully written entries. On her welcome page, she addresses her "water-girl" status. And she has a message to others who may be a little different. She writes:

... I want to say that you are not your disease. You are not whatever thing makes them stare, you are much bigger than that. Others will attempt to categorize you as one thing, but I think it should be made clear that no one is just that one thing. You are not just gay, or just good at chess, or just asthmatic. You are complex and growing and constantly exploring what you are and what you will become.

I want to remind you that she's 17. I want to tell Alexandra that she is inspiring me ... a much older than 17-year-old person who is old enough to be her mom. She also wrote:

To all the people out there who have been crushed by their inability to be an olympic swimmer or a mermaid, I sincerely believe there is always another way to complete your dreams.  Stay positive interweb folk, I think you are amazing, and I don’t care if you have Pressure Urticaria or Aquagenic Urticaria or weird shaped ears.  You are grand.

This is exactly what every kid who has ever been made to feel like an outcast should read. Even if that kid has grown up to become a mom of twins. (Me.) This is exactly what every parent needs to read in order to strengthen themselves for whatever adversity will come your child's way -- in all the forms it takes on, big and small. This is for the peanut allergy moms and the parents of kids being bullied. We cannot classify anyone by their allergy or condition or disease or the way they part their hair. And as much as I wish Alexandra didn't have an allergy to water, I'm thankful reading about it led me to her enlightening blog.

Have you ever heard of aquagenic urticaria? Does your child have an allergy or condition that causes some to make your child feel like an outcast? What do you think of Alexandra's blog?

 

Image via Enid Martindale/Flickr

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