Shaddup Already!


I feel like crap

I have been sneezing and congested for what seems like an eternity now. I have long given up hope that this is a head cold and have come to the cold, hard realization that it is allergies. That bites.

I mean, it really bites.

You don't get over allergies in a few days, oh no, they linger making you feel like you have the flu, only it never goes away.

I know that allergies are like the cool, "in" illness to have now. They have become popularized by people who are watching commercials for "seasonal nasal allergies" like the one in the background now. They are exacerbated by a world that is becoming more polluted and crowded by the second. I believe these people have allergies, but I have little sympathy for them.

I am one of the truly allergic people. I am allergic to an insane number of airborne components. In fact, over a period of months of testing, in which I believe I was tested for just about everything one can be tested for, I found out I was allergic to everything except cypress trees and roach dust.

Did you know that roaches emit a dust when they die? Yeah and some people are allergic to that. I'm not.

My worst allergies are feathers followed by oak pollen. Although not everyone always believed I had allergies.

When I was in third or fourth grade I got my first case of hives. I broke out and felt like one, giant, mosquito bite was enveloping my body. It was bad. It also lasted two weeks and I was on copious amounts of benadryl provided by my family doctor (this was pre-OTC benadryl). Somewhere around this attack my mom took me to an allergist. This was my first allergist. His office was at the front of our subdivision. I still remember my mom and I looking out the window to see if I could see Ms. Mary's house.

This doctor looked at me, asked some questions and then decided that allergy testing wasn't necessary. He was positive that my hives were 100%, completely and totally psychological.

When the problems continued, my mom decided to take me to another allergist. This is one that a friend was seeing. My mom didn't tell me about the appointment before hand because she didn't want to freak me out. I understand her reasoning, but it was really a bad experience.

We walked in to Dr. Rosenbutt's (as I affectionately referred to him) already terrified out of my mind. I knew for sure that they were going to stick me with a million needles and I truly didn't want any of that.

There was Dr. R, sitting at his desk, in a dimly lit office. He had a single light source that hung right over his desk. He sat at that desk with his arms folded on the desk, looking an awful lot like Count Dracula. I was not calming down at all.

That first visit, they spent hours testing me for various substances. Each test involved a small amount of allergens injected under the skin (they used my arms, some doctors use backs for this), they would circle the injection site and I would wait for a half an hour. Then they would take me back in and read my arm. Most swelled up like a mosquito bite, some were larger. Some were absolutely huge.

On the third round of tests this first day, they included oak. I don't remember the order of events, but I suspect the anaphylaxis came first. I was sitting in the waiting room with my mom. I was only about 10 years old--that's an awfully young age to face death. Forgive me if I sound overly dramatic, but it was certainly a life-changing event.

I remember feeling kind of off and my mom asked if I was okay. I thought this was weird because she hadn't asked during the other tests. Then I started sneezing and the next thing I know, my mom is screaming, I can't breathe and they drag me down the hallway to a room. It all happened so fast.

They administered three shots of epinephrine (i.e. adrenaline) and two shots of benadryl.

When they read my allergy tests for that round, the oak had swelled into all the other shot areas on that arm. Then my new doctor walked around muttering, "psychosomatic, hah!" I guess we all learned that the first doctor was full of it.

I generally have a wonderful long term memory, but part of that day has apparently been blacked out from my mind. My mom says I came home and squatted on the piano bench and banged on the piano for three hours straight. She said she kept calling the doctor's office and they kept saying, "it's the adrenaline, it will wear off." I have no recall of this event. Basically getting my shot of benadryl "for the road" is the last thing I remember.

Since that horrible event, I have been in anaphylaxis again. Maybe I should explain what that is. That is when your entire body basically feels inundated by a foreign and deadly substance. Histamines are released full force and it causes one's throat, mouth, tongue, eyes, etc. to swell completely shut. This reaction happens in a matter of seconds. You can be feeling completely fine one moment and within 15 seconds, you are facing death by suffocation. It is quite a frightening event.

The other time I went into anaphylactic shock was when I accidentally slept on a feather pillow. Feathers are my worst allergy. This is the only thing that keeps me from having a bird for a pet. I have long dreamed of having an African Grey Parrot who can torment my other animals with amazingly accurate impersonations of various people and items. But, until they find a cure for allergies, this will never happen.

At any rate, I live in constant fear of coming in contact with something I am deathly allergic to. Oak I can generally handle because I don't get the concentrated quantity that was in the test. But I am obsessive about avoiding feathers. I bring a pillow with me where ever I travel. People always say, "hotels never have feather pillows." Well, I've stayed in a few with feather pillows. Then you call down to the front desk and they say, "Sure, we have fiber pillows, we'll send one right up to--first thing in the morning."

Right now my allergies are particularly bad because there is an oak tree in bloom right outside my portable. I have to stand outside for ten minutes in the morning and five minutes in between each class period. It is making me sick and there isn't much I can do about it. I am, however, going to revisit my latest allergist and look into desensitization treatment again. I think I'm ready to tackle the twice weekly shots. Especially if it will help me get over my allergies enough to get a bird :o)

BTW, to answer a question that is asked everytime I go into detail about my allergies, yes, I am allergic to dogs and cats. By living with them for so long I have developed a little bit of an immunity. Then I take other precautions that allow me to live with my babies. I would rather have animals in my life and be a little congested than not have any animals at all.

Speaking of animals, my Moosie-rat died Friday night. I'm not sure why, but he was a rescue with a bad start in life. I found him Saturday morning. It appeared he died peacefully in his sleep, at least.

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