This has been, for me at least, the worst allergy season to date. Since January, I've been hit with not one but two major allergy attacks that left me wheezing and practically laid up in bed with a sore throat, stuffy nose and raging cough. At one point, I actually thought I had the flu, except my temperature was well within the normal range.
I wasn't always like this. When I was 20 and living in a smog bank, otherwise known as the San Fernando Valley, I started getting these weird panic attacks. I couldn't catch my breath and the more I tried, the more panicked I became until I would go into full blown hyperventilation. I went to the ER during one of the attacks and they treated me for asthma. The next day, I went to a specialist who tested me positive for asthma--and that was my first bout of it. I was given an inhaler and sent on my merry way. When I moved out of the San Fernando Valley, my asthma disappeared about as fast as it came--which was nice, because I hated using the inhaler--it gave me the worst heart palpitations. I started to feel a little bit like Felix Flanken--where I'd take one thing for one ailment and it would lead me to another.
When I moved to Washington, D.C., I discovered seasons--and with them came seasonal allergies. The green dusting of pollen on my car should have been my first clue--but sadly, it wasn't. It was the week-long bout of cold-like symptoms that made me wonder why I moved away from my cozy life in West L.A.
For the last eight years, I suffered season after Seattle season, trying one form of over-the-counter medicine after another, as I vowed to make an appointment with an allergist to find out EXACTLY what the hell I was allergic to and to be put on the same drugs as everyone else in the club. So, today, I finally did what I had been wanting to do since I developed these symptoms in my 20s: I paid a visit to my friendly neighborhood allergist.
It wasn't an easy appointment either: from the moment the nurse pricked my skin with 12 different allergens, I began to feel itchy all over and developed these massive hives around some of the areas she hit. Then, she had me WAIT for 15 minutes and told me not to scratch. I squirmed uncontrollably in my chair and decided to SMS the hubster since it was all I could do to keep my hands occupied. I kept him apprised of the situation:
"Looks like Dog/Cat dander are neck and neck...wait a second, coming up fast, it's grasses and pollen, followed by dust mites and red oak..."
The nurse came in to check me and she told me the winners of the first round: red oak and grasses. Then, she told me we'd have to go to the next round: injecting under the skin by creating air bubbles with larger needles. At that point, I was awfully glad I had gone through infertility treatments. Needles used to scare the living shit out of me. After injecting myself with hormones everyday, twice a day, in my stomach voluntarily in addition to having a FOOT LONG needle inserted into my vagina, piercing a wall and an ovary to retrieve eggs voluntarily, these little needles this afternoon were childsplay.
Thankfully, the second round didn't bring about the awful itching I experienced during the first--but it did manage to raise a few more angry little welts on my arms.
The results? I am allergic to dogs, cats, grasses and dust mites, in addition to oak.
The Doctor came in, discussed my reactions, gave me a "what you need to know about your allergies" welcome packet, loaded me up with Astelin, Rhinacort, Flonase, Singulair, and Nasonex and said, "Try these and whichever one you like, just check off on the prescription form..."
As I read through my "welcome" packet, I literally laughed out loud:
"Ideally, it is best for highly dust mite allegic individuals to avoid vacuuming or dusting duties..."
"For patients allergic to animals, it is best to keep the animal out of the house. Keep the animal 100% out of the bedroom."
"Don't mow lawns or be around freshly cut grass; mowing stirs up pollen and molds. Don't rake leaves, as this also stirs up molds..."