No, I’m not as restless as a willow in a windstorm, nor as jumpy as a puppet on a string. What I am is teary and sniffly and sneezy and swollen. Yes, I am just as attractive as I sound. I’ve been crying all day with a non-stop allergy attack that doesn’t want to respond to Claratin. (I really need to have a talk with my body about this refusal to be affected by drugs.)
As a kid, I don’t think I had any allergies. I think I started developing them when I was 17 or 18. The first one I recognized was chicken coops. Really. When I was a camp counselor, my first barn job was taking care of the chickens. I’d go into the coop to clean it, to feed the hens, to collect eggs … and I’d come out with a swollen face and a runny nose, gasping for air. Ok, it probably wasn’t the chicken coop itself, but more like the chicken equivalent of cat dander or something like that. Comically, I wasn’t the one who figured out I had an allergy. No, I just kept going to tend the chickens twice a day, spending about half an hour recovering after each session. One of the campers pointed out the obvious problem at the end of the first week. I switched to sheep and goats.
Then came my flower allergies. Walking under the gorgeous wisteria arbor on campus my freshman year in college nearly sent me to the ER. When one of my college friends got married, she actually had me visit her florist to br tested. The florist put me in an empty room and brought in vases of flowers, one type at a time, to see what kind of reaction I had.
And then there are all my food allergies. Peanuts? Strawberries? Shrimp? No, I could eat them all day and night, no problem. Try carrots, apples, pears, plums, nectarines, apricots, cherries, almonds … the list goes on and on. The latest addition is walnuts. I’ve eaten them all my life, but suddenly a few years ago, they stopped being my friend, started closing my windpipe.
Cruelest, I think, is my newly-minted allergy to cats. And you’re thinking, “Wait, doesn’t she have cats?” Yes. Two. And every few weeks I pay for that folly. Like walnuts, I never had a problem with cats until now. After my last cat had to be euthanized, I swore off pets. I stuck to that decision for about a year. In that time, my house became hair and dander free. Then I walked into the house of a friend who has four cats, three of which are long-haired. And I nearly died. From that moment forward, I’ve been allergic. Foolishly, I thought that getting cats would actually make the allergy go away, that my body would get used to them. And I’ve been mostly right. I can go a couple of weeks without an attack, but when it hits, it doesn’t mess around.
And, of course, there are my season-change allergies … to whatever it is that gets me at the start of both spring and fall. It seems early for the spring allergy to be hitting, but two days in a row of crying and sniffling can’t be denied. Lovely. Excuse me while I go find a new box of kleenex.