Wednesday, June 14, 2006
You, madam, are Extremely Allergic to Everything and need to live in a Sterile Plastic Bubble
That magnolia photo is me these days: a little wilty and brown around the edges.
I'm thinking of Anthony Edwards in Northern Exposure, living in his all natural, organic, Clean House and John Travolta, reaching to touch the hand of the Girl Next Door through his plastic bubble.
Unfortunately, I'm not a boy, don't have endless supplies of cash to pamper my quirks, and who would care for the kids?
Yes, people, I have moved to my Ultimate Death. My environment is killing me.
My body is now so allergic to all flora, many fauna, and peanuts (holy crap) that it is over-reacting to everything.
In technoterms I am having (strike that, say suffering instead) cross-reactive allergic reactions. This means the proteins I am not allergic to normally (such as melons, olives, nightshades---the plant family people, not something put over a lamp) are now provoking massive allergic reactions, mainly in my mouth.
It's call Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). And it's made worse by the allergy medicine I have to take simply to function.
I look like a Circus Freak.
My face and neck are all puffy, my belly is bloated (that's all part of OAS...it is a systemic reaction throughout my body), and the rest of me is swollen, including my eyes. The medicine makes me tired and lethargic, but without it I can't get up anyway. I suck down coffee and ginseng, but probably I am allergic to that too so I guess it is a wash.
I am now a Super High-Maintenance Person, the very thing I strive to avoid.
I have to treat the ulcerations in my mouth (that lovely OAS) four times a day iwth oral peroxide and a gel.
I have no less than three medications to take at least twice a day.
And in July? I get to start Immunotherapy, which means a record of three serums and six solutions twce a week as INJECTIONS. That's right. Shots. Luckily I am disgustingly familiar with frequent injections thanks to years of infertility.
But I'm stiffening my upper lip, trying to be brave and positive, and thinking of England.
(Boy doesn't England sound nice? All cool, possibly cloudy and rainy. Boy could I go for that. I bet I'm not allergic to it, either.)
How did I get here?
Why am I here?
I went to see the allergist when I realized I was sick all the time and people thought I was regularly channeling a drunk German because my swollen tongue made me talk like this, "Dars meederhoffen shin da loder."
They did a ton of pin pricks all over my back, then for fun, did more on my arms.
I think the nurse doing the back was more skilled because the back was little to no trouble, whereas the arms still have bloody puncture wounds.
So I think I've had over a hundred pinpricks and the outcome is...
I HAVE ALLERGIES
Alert the media.
Of course this isn't news.
I asked him, can you narrow it down a bit?
He said, yes, you are allergic...to anything with pollen. And mold.
I asked, like what things, specifically, which ones?
He said, well, all of them: trees, grass, flowers, weeds, anything with pollen, that grows...like a plant.
I said, disbelieving, all trees?
He said, ummm, hmm, no look there are two that you are only slightly allergic to.
I asked, just trees, grass and weeds?
He replied, no, those are your extreme allergies. You also have your lesser allergies.
I asked, extreme like how, like on a scale?
He said, well, hmm, we quit measuring after a bit. You passed that point. I'll type up a detailed report for you.
I asked, you quit measuring? You mean I am so allergic you can't measure it any more?
He said, well, after a bit, it doesn't make sense to keep measuring because we know you are extremely allergic.
Okay, I said, So, what fell into the very allergic category, after this extreme stuff?
Mold, he told me, handing me a sheet of things to avoid with a severe mold allergy and essentially yanking away my will to live. No cheese? No olives? No vinegar? NO WINE?!?! And tell me, this cleaning thing, with this special cleaner I have to make myself, clean all these areas of my house, at least 1-2 times a week? This is a joke, right?
And after mold? I asked
Peanuts, he told me
Peanuts? I screeched, watching my chocolate bars fade awy along with cheese, dairy, anything vinegar-based, all beer, wine, cider and even root beer (to name a 1/3 of the Verboten list).
Is that new? he asked.
Have you never had an allergy to peanuts before?
No, I've eaten peanuts my whole life, I said.
Well, it's not a horrible reaction then, he said, since you aren't dead.
I tried hard to feel consoled.
Listen, he said, it might be that your reaction to peanuts right now is worse because your other allergies are so bad.
I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner Saturday, I told him, my throat and tongue swelled worse and I got more sores in my mouth.
Let me see, he said, adding some ahh and hmm noises.
I love peanut butter, I said. It sustains me through diets, PMS, pregnancy and more.
Well, peanut butter doesn't love you back, he said, unless you count it loving you to death.
No, I don't, I thought.
My doctor, by the way, looks like a World War One flying ace. I can picture him in jodphurs, with a leather helmet and flowing white silk scarf. He even has the hair, cut neatly and short, and narrow groomed mustache, very small, just a hint of one, really.
It's not a death sentence, and I can't make it one even with all my usual drama. However, it's a Chronic Pain In My Ass, these allergies and this new REPENT! and avoid allergens or SUFFER the fires of HELL!
Last night, my friend who has allergies about this bad told me Immunotherapy failed her and made her worse.
I have to consider that, and the fact that it is $2500 upfront, out of my pocket, as a begining. I'm sure it will end up costing me, out of pocket, over $5000 a year. At least. Just for this.
I'm a little resentful.
Get healthy and ruin the family budget. And maybe it doesn't even work.
Or stay sick.
What a choice, Sophie.
I'm just going to keep thinking of England. See? Stiff upper lip, chaps, and all will be well.
Still, if you hear of a Strange Blight affecting all plants and trees in my area? You know nothing.
By Julie Pippert
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