Vail Daily columnist Linda Stamper Boyne: Turns out I’m allergic to …
May 12, 2012
Ah, spring! Don’t you love it? The snow has melted in our yards, the grass is greening, trees are budding, flowers are blossoming, noses are running, eyes are itching, people are sneezing.
Isn’t spring wonderful?
I have endured seasonal allergies for years. Starting in April, I would start popping antihistamines and power through with Kleenex always at the ready.
During the worst of it, from mid-August into October, I seriously considered simply wearing a tissue stuffed in nose at all times. Could I pull this off as a fashion choice? Was the social ostracization worth the temporary relief from having to continually blow my already raw, irritated nose?
Eventually, though, I needed the medications year-round. I was starting to feel like an addict and Zyrtec was my drug of choice. I’d slink into the drug store mid-winter, sidle up to the pharmacist and ask, “Dude, can you hook me up? I need a hit of Zyrtec. Or a snuff of the Nasonex. Come on. Do a girl a solid.”
This winter, I had a couple of sinus infections that brought about a startling discovery. In the course of treatment, my doctor had me use Afrin for a couple of days. When it opened up my nasal passages, I realized, with absolute disbelief, that I hadn’t been breathing normally for years! Holy cow! What else have I been missing?
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My doctor suggested it was time to see an allergist to find out what exactly I was allergic to so it could be treated more specifically. I don’t know how many of you out there have had allergy testing done. It is a fascinating, yet somewhat barbaric, process. It involves a test pattern being drawn on one’s back and then being stuck about 50 times with needles carrying a little of the potential allergen protein to see what happens.
As soon as the nurse told me the spots might itch, but that I should resist scratching for the 15-minute incubation period, that’s all I wanted to do. Mind over matter. Mind over matter.
As it turns out, I’m allergic to everything! Of the 44 things, I had reactions to 39! Trees, grasses, weeds, molds, dust mites, house dust, horses, cats, dogs! Dogs? I had my sweet Elliott for 15 years, and the whole time I was allergic to him? How could I be allergic to something I loved so much?
That just didn’t make sense to me, but as I drove home from my appointment, the pieces began to fall into place.
I realized that the test results explained a lot. For instance, I’ve never liked cats. Just didn’t really ever get the whole feline appreciation thing. But I must have instinctually known to avoid them because I’m allergic to them! Ah ha!
I have never been a fan of gardening. Never found the zen people talk about, having my hands in the soil, nurturing plants, one with the earth, blah, blah, blah. It just seemed like perpetual weeding to me. And I’m allergic to weeds. Ergo, I’m allergic to gardening!
I love nature. In fact, photos of nature are fabulous. But I’ve never felt the need to be out and amongst for extended periods of time. I don’t like camping, but I always thought it had more to do with being forced to sleeping in unnatural ways (aka not in a bed). But now I know it is because I’m allergic to everything growing around me. Therefore, I’m allergic to camping!
And while we’re at it, let’s examine the fact that I’m allergic to house dust. House dust. Seriously. Isn’t that, like, everywhere? Am I supposed to live like John Travolta in “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble?” And how is it that I’m supposed to irradiate my house of the house dust and dust mites and airborne pollen and long-lurking pet dander if I’m allergic to cleaning the house? Do you think my health insurance will pay for a cleaning service? Does this fall under long-term disability?
As I started working to convert my life into a hypoallergenic version, I had an Oprah “ah ha!” moment: I always knew I was supposed to be in the city! It’s all so clear now. I thought it was about wanting to wear heels and go shopping. It was actually all about my health. Who knew?
Linda Stamper Boyne of Edwards can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org