Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hot Showers and Cheese

Are you intrigued yet?  Wondering what the connection is between hot showers and cheese?  Wondering if I'm making cheesy messes while washing my hair?

Believe it or not, there is a connection between the two; well, at least for me.

OK, raise your hand if you love taking long hot showers.  Did your hand go up?  Mine did.

Now, raise your other hand (because since I haven't said to put your "first" hand down, it should still be raised) . . . raise your other hand if you love cheese.  Yep, I just raised my other hand.  BTW, do you know how challenging it is to type with both hands raised in the air?

Back to the showers (figuratively, not literally).

I am one of those people whose face is purple after getting out of the shower.  I love hot showers.  LOVE them.  After a long day, a grimy chore, a long workout, or anytime in the winter, is there anything better than staying in a steaming hot shower for 5 extra minutes?

For the past 13 years, since the seizures (boo, hiss) stopped being nocturnal and started occuring during my waking hours, most of those seizures have occurred in the early morning hours.  Retrospectively, so many of those early morning seizures have taken place after my morning shower.

Somewhat quasi-recently, probably within the past 5-6 years, I started periodically having seizures in the shower.  Yep,  actually in the shower . . . while showering.

During the past 3.5 years, the very vast majority of the seizures have happened while I was taking a shower.  The most recent one (back in July, when I "broke" my face) . . . that seizure happened very soon after getting out of the shower.

This has been quite a puzzle for me . . . why do the seizures occur during the shower?  For the longest time I thought it was a weird anomaly about me (btw, aren't *all* anomalies weird?  I'm ok with the redundancy; I hope you are as well).

I recently learned that while not the norm among people who have seizures, neither is it completely rare.  There *are* other people who experience seizures while taking a shower (or bath).

The reason? 

I'm glad you asked!

Elevated histamine levels.

Histamine levels rise not only because of allergies (which, if you're talking about plant and pollen type allergies, I'm not aware that I have any), but histamine levels can also rise due to heat.  Hot showers are a good source of heat.  There ya go.

(This also explains why I don't just dislike extremely hot temperatures, but why I also feel, well, icky, if I stay outside too long in the summertime).

So.  Those long hot showers that I loved taking?  They're a seizure trigger.  Go figure.  Because I prefer to be seizure-free and because having a seizure while taking a shower is not really the funnest activity I can think to do, I now take lukewarm showers (and I still come out looking purple, btw - that was bonus information). 

There's nothing really luxurious about taking a lukewarm shower.  It kinda takes the joy out of the whole experience.  And, now that the weather is turning a bit chilly, I imagine it's going to be interesting (and a bit, uhm, brisk) to forgo that steamy water raining down on me.  BUT.  I'd much rather take luke-warm showers and be seizure-free than throw common sense to the wind and risk a seizure because I wanted 5 minutes of a hot shower. 

But, what does that have to do with cheese? 

Absolutely nothing.

But.  There still is a connection between hot showers and cheese; at least for me.

The similarity?


Yep, they both are seizure triggers.  They're both also something with which I've had quite the love affair for oh so many years.  Decades, in fact.

Man, I love cheese.  I don't think I've met a cheese that I haven't absolutely over-the-moon enjoyed (except for cottage cheese).  Cheese for snacks, cheese as ingredients in cooking and baking.  Cheese, cheese, cheese.  I imagine that if I had been born in Wisconsin, I would have eventually become the state's cheese mascot.

But, alas.

Cheese, like hot showers, are known seizure triggues.  On the GARD eating program (of which I've now been following for 6 weeks and 4 days), dairy is one of the restrictions; specifically because of the casein.  Cheese is loaded with casein.  In fact, in Latin, "casein" is "caseus", which means, of all things . . . cheese.  There ya go.

But, again . . . I prefer being seizure-free.  So, if giving up one of the most perfect foods ever discovered is the price to pay, I'll gladly pay it.  Well, most of the time, it will be gladly.  I must admit to having a bit of a cheese craving for the past couple of weeks.  Oh well, this too shall pass.

A couple of footnotes, please.

A few well-meaning people have suggested to me that since hot showers are seizure triggers that I, instead, take baths.  I'd like to address that, if I may.

Remember, hot water is hot; regardless as to whether it is from a shower or from a tub.  Part of the wonderfulness of a bath is that the water is hot; and while there may be people out there who enjoy sitting in a tub of lukewarm water, I personally do not know of them, and I am definitely not one of them. 

Also, perhaps I can encourage you to look at it from a safety standpoint.  It's dangeous enough to have a seizure in a shower; but if someone has a seizure while sitting in a tub of water, that seems to me to be even more dangerous because the likelihood of drowing increases dramatically.

And now the footnote for cheese.
While there are cheese substitues "out there", they're truly not my cup of tea (although, no, I have never put cheese in my tea).  Being a purist, a health & nutrition researcher, an ingredient label reader and lastly, cheese snob, I would simply rather forgo cheese entirely than to partake of "fake cheeses".  There ya go.

Now.  I could bemoan that I no longer enjoy long hot showers or cheese in all it's goodness.  I could do that, most definitely.  But . . . Why would I want to do that?  It would not serve any good purpose; and in fact, it would get inside my head and eventually infect my heart as well (ungratefulness, bitterness, pity parties - yuck!).  Who wants to intentionally invite that kind of negativity into their lives?  Not me; that's for sure.

Instead, I choose go with "It is what it is."  I choose to roll with it and adapt.  Hopefully, most of the time, I will be rolling and adapting with a cheerful attitude.

Which brings me to something else . . . It's not a matter of "I can't take hot showers" or "I can't eat cheese".  Pretty-much I can do whatever I want.  Pretty-much you can do whatever you want. 

We all make choices; myriad choices every day.

I simply choose to not take hot showers and I choose to not eat cheese.

I cringe when I hear people say, I can't do such and such or I can't eat this or that.  Sure, you can!  Like me, you can do whatever you want.

What you and what I need to decide is what exactly is it that we want?

For instance, if someone is on a particular restrictive diet (for whatever reason), do they want to achieve the results of the diet more than they want to eat whatever specific goodie that might be prohibitive for that particular eating progam - OR - do they want to say, "I don't care about achieving results; I want to eat this, and I want to do it now."  

The same principle applies to other aspects of our lives; not just what we eat or don't eat.  Everything's a choice.

Once a person has established their priorities, it is much easier to make choices.  They are no longer bound by what they are "not allowed" to do; they are, instead, taking control of their life and making choices for their life.  There's a strength that comes from making intentional choices versus living with the mindset of restrictions.

For me, hot showers and cheese are seizure triggers (so are a few other things, if truth be known).  For me, I choose to avoid hot showers and I choose to not eat cheese - because the result I am trying to achieve (seizure-free) is much greater, much more enticing, than anything that any seizure trigger could pretend to offer me.

Thanks for reading!  Here's to making awesome choices!
Y'all be blessed,


  1. Hey ... glad you found another seizure trigger. Boo that they're a seizure trigger ... yay that you've discovered them.

    I too love a nice hot shower and cheese.
    ON that note, I wonder if intense exercise would be a seizure trigger for you. If your body temp rises too fast, the histamine would too. (I only think this because I get heat rash when in the heat too much, and occasionally when I run my body overreacts to the stress and my legs itch so bad I feel like I'd just rolled through a field of poison oak and getting in a hot shower, which is exactly what I want to do when I finish a run, only exacerbates the itchiness. This is especially problematic when I finish a run on a cool day and then go in the house where it's nice and warm. The shock to my body is too much to handle ... bam ... itchy legs.

  2. Christine, it does sound as if your histamine levels are increasing a bit when you run. Interesting.

    As for me, I'm sure that intense exercise would do the same for me; especially in the heat (for instance, there's a big difference in how my body reacts when I mow the law early in the morning versus mowing it later in the day when it's hotter). It's one of the reasons why I *don't* do extreme exercising (that, and truth be known, I just a bit lazy in that department). :)

    Thanks for your response!