Hello. My name is Poppy and I have a severe case of carotenemia.
It sounds rather ailing, doesn’t it? A touch alarming. Ca-ro-te-ne-mia. A really deliberating disease. Something if you uttered in hushed tones people would close their eyes and shake their heads in melancholy and do a few rounds of the rosary.
What is it? (Carotenemia, not the grace).
Carotenemia (xanthaemia) is the presence of excessive orange pigment carotene in the blood from excessive intake of such containing produce. An excess of dietary carotenoids causes a marked orange discoloration of the outermost skin layer, particularly in the soles, palms, pits and sometimes facial areas of a sufferer. Usually carotenoids are excreted via sweat, sebum, urine and gastrointestinal secretions but when a person is in overabundance, the hue starts to be seen in different places on the body.
In other words, I went to town on mandarins and my feet, hands, knees and now elbows have turned tangerine.
You see, once The Pedaller left for Belg I turned to citrus fruit as my quick fix to get me through the working week. Meaning satsumas in the shitload. Upwards of (pause to prepare) sometimes 50 plus a day. They were just so easy to attain (Countdown and the f&v for a paltry price), so easy to prepare (peel and you’re good to go) and they tasted delicious. So I guess I didn’t just go to town, but tour the whole country on the elfin orange.
I didn’t even realise I was turning a significant shade of salmon until Mummy Deb asked if I’d been on the fake tan again. I was quite affronted; “Do I appear as though I have a golden glow and am emitting a coconut caramel scent?” (The Sugar Baby way) I asked her. She said no; my hands just had a the fake tan look of old. (I was quite the Holiday Skinner in my time).
Then Papa Henio chimed in; “And it’s on your face,” he said. A hasty haul to the bathroom had me see that, indeed, the tip of my nose and mo area had taken on quite the cantaloupe cast.
Such a condition is quite common in babies – all the puréed carrots, sweet potato, etc. Likewise, the malady often manifests in the elderly, for the same reason. (Puréed food). But it is not meant to take up tint, tone and tincture in a 22-year-old girl.
But it’s me all over; all or nothing. Most people are in deficit of beta carotene, whereas pretty much everything I consume is swimming in the stuff. Every night before I left for here I would get home from work to a bowl in the fridge (courtesy of Mummy Deb) of spinach (one of the worst offenders) (the spinach, not Mummy Deb), with pumpkin and kumara (other top culprits). And it’s not just the orange and green veges, but the red and some fruits too – melon and peppers and apricots and broccoli and alfalfa and apples and asparagus and cabbage and cucumber and mango and papaya and pineapple and corn and tomato. All of which happen to be my favourite things and pretty much make up my entire diet.
It didn’t really bother me at first – aside from a few people asking what was wrong with my hands, my coral complexion had me fairly disinterested. But when I got to India and saw my palms during a FaceTime with The Pedaller, I exclaimed out in shock; “But by fuck those are orange!”
Then the Indian lads asked me what was up. “Pop-eeeee, what is wrong with your feet?” Manoj enquired as I lifted them to 90 degrees one day. And then the receptionist-y boy asked why my knees had orange spots.
I decided the time was nigh to do something about it.
After a brief freak out I had jaundice (“But fuck me, icterus has invaded me!”) (Glory Be, the whites of my eyes were still pearly) The Pedaller put me in touch with his team doctor to give me some advice.
Pretty much, it was to cut right down on beta carotene.
Meaning the only things in my diet I could continue eating in quantity were onions, radishes, banana and coconuts.
It’s pretty impossible here; every meal is bursting with BC. Papaya and pineapple medley with breakfast, spinach and squash for lunch, an assemblage of green viatocum for din. I was horrorstruck at the idea of not being able to eat any of the nourishing nibbles – it’s pretty much my food fantasy three times a day.
But I’ve managed it. The doc said that although the condition is at first benign, should it continue long term it can lead to liver and thyroid issues. That gave me a bit of stimulus to suck it up; I’ve just gotten some hormones acting as they should and set the sluggish metabolism back on track, I don’t want to go gagging up my gland. So at mealtimes I’ve avoided carrot at all costs, taken spinach in very small portions and gone completely without any mango at all (until this morning; it was so juicy and delicious, I decided to let myself slip a sliver) (or two) (ok, fine; I had a whole).
And I’ve got to hand it to myself; the peachy pigmentation has lessened considerably.
So when I bound to Belg next week, it’s going to be even more of a withdrawal (for The Pedaller to contend with; what is love if not for both the good and bad?).
It’s a good lesson in learning the old moderation mantra. Yoga’s main idea is balance; a union between body, soul and mind, and instead of living in duality, finding that golden mean. And that comes down to the mundane too – beta carotene in bits, not in blow outs.
Hello. My name is Poppy and I am a recovering carotenemiaist.
It’s not overly a-peeling.