Priscilla Pomerantz must forgo childhood favorites like ice cream and swimming to simply stay alive.
Nine-year-old Priscilla Pomerantz can’t play in the snow or jump in a refreshing pool on a hot summer day. She suffers from cold urticaria, a rare allergy to the cold, that prevents her from being in air temperatures below 70 degrees or even eating chilly foods. The cold triggers an allergic reaction, causing hives, swelling and difficulty breathing and if left untreated, this allergy could kill her. Could you imagine having to life like that?
“I do worry about it. It’s something that we worry about everyday,” Craig Pomerantz, her father, told Today. Two years ago, Priscilla’s mother Colleen Lynch thought her daughter was experiencing a reaction to sunscreen when she broke out in hives after taking a swim. But, doctors soon diagnosed her with the deadly allergy after they did a test on Priscilla’s skin using an ice cube. Upon learning her diagnosis, Priscilla says, “I didn’t cry. But on the inside, I felt horrible.” Our hearts break for her.
A day in the life of Priscilla isn’t easy. Because the school bus is too drafty, her dad drives her to class, heating the car up before she gets in. At school she sits next to a space heater to assure she never gets cold. Her bath water needs to be at the hottest temperature she can stand and when she is ready to come out, her parents must cover her in heated towels. She always needs to be bundled up and even heats her food so that the temperature is just right. According to Today doctor Nancy Snyderman, cold urticaria affects 15 to 20 percent of Americans in their lifetime. Priscilla may grow out of the allergy, but doctors do not know for sure. She takes antihistamines twice a day and carries an EpiPen everywhere she goes.
Priscilla and her family live in Upstate New York, where temperatures can dip below the teens, but Craig insists that it’s better living where they are now than in say Arizona or Florida. “It’s actually almost worse, because everything in Florida is air conditioned,” he tells host Matt Lauer. Indoor air conditioning triggers Priscilla’s allergy, too, which is why, even if she wants to go see a movie, her parents bundle her up.
So Priscilla can’t do everything she would like to do, like enjoy an ice cream cone or build an igloo in the snow, but she says there are some benefits to her rare illness. “In the wintertime some of it’s good,” she explains, “because I don’t have to walk the dog, and I don’t have to shovel snow.” Good point, Priscilla! What an inspiring little girl!