Known Johnson

April 2, 2007

Natural enemies

Filed under: General — Tom @ 9:10 pm

I wasn’t prodded so much today, but poked many times – 72 times, to be exact. The allergy specialist I saw today drew out a bunch of numbers with an orange erasable marker on both of my arms and then proceeded to poke at my arms with tiny little needs, most of which I couldn’t feel, a few of which I did, and a couple drew a bit of blood. And then everyone left, telling me not to touch anything on my arms for 15 minutes, which didn’t seem so bad. “No scratching,” the nurse said, and closed the door. No big deal, I thought. But a few minutes later, it felt like someone lit my arms on fire, and I very badly wanted to scratch.

I occupied my time with a breather they’d left me, hooked up to a machine running some kind of vaporized asthma medicine. The doctor didn’t suspect asthma but wanted to check anyway. This wasn’t much of a distraction, but it was something – balancing the mouthpiece in my teeth was at least some kind of diversion, since I couldn’t read the book I brought (it would be too far away to read comfortably.) But how I itched and burned – I was definitely allergic to something, or many somethings on my arms.

After the fifteen minutes were up, the nurse and another assistant came in and, unfortunately, didn’t clean me off immediately. Instead, the nurse grabbed a clear ruler and began checking each number’s corresponding area, measuing the redness and swollen area. When all was said and done, she wiped away the remaining residue, the numbers, and then mercifully applied a generous layer of aloe vera. The itching went away for a bit.

The doctor pronounced it simply: “You’re allergic to pretty much everything!” Trees, weeds, pollen, grass, and – sadly – cats. I came home and took the cats for a ride, dropping them off in the desert and said goodbye with a gentle hug each. I’ll really miss them. I loved those cats, they’ve been with us for 8 years now.

All right, fine, I didn’t do that. It’s a pretty mild reaction to them, nothing that can’t be managed with drugs. And, in fact, everything will be managed with drugs for now, but he suggested seriously thinking about going with a program that, instead of working to take care of the symptoms would instead take care of the problem itself. And that sounds great, doesn’t it? The only problem here is that it’s shots. And lots of them. Two a week for a few months, then one a week for the rest of a year’s time, then it tapers off over something like a 5 year time span until your body has built up an immunity to the things your allergic to. But I don’t like the idea of being stuck on allergy medicine for the rest of my life, nor do I like the idea that if had to stop allergy medicine, I’m right back where I’ve been – feeling awful. Not only that, but the good doctor said that more and more they’re learning that there’s a close correlation between allergies and migraines – and it makes good sense in my case. I’ve had increasingly bad allergy problems and my migraines have also grown increasingly bad (until I got on my meds last year – which I’d also like to get off of.) So it’s pretty obvious what the best choice is likely to be here . . . I just have to come to grips with getting needles in my arm for years to come.

For the time being, it’s somewhat fun to say to people when they ask how the appointment went, “Well,” and gesture out a window, “I’m pretty much allergic to all of that.”

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