I have never been one to suffer from allergies. When I thought of allergies, I always thought of how miserable my husband and son are when allergy season begins. We discovered my son was allergic to life. We knew he had some allergies to the different seasons but we had no idea the extent of his allergies. The doctors decided that he should be tested after picking up a neighbors cat and having an anaphylactic reaction to the cat. He is allergic to every tree, grass, various molds, nuts, now dogs, and chicken. I mean seriously, who is allergic to chicken? He looked up at the allergist and told her that he would just have a pet chicken then and eat the cat. =) He was 8 years old at the time.

In dealing with him, I have learned a lot about allergies. I learned that Virginia has the highest rate of adult onset of allergies. This is due to our location. Virginia is where the Northern trees and grasses converge with the Southern trees and grasses. That is how she explained it. You can go your entire life never having had an allergic reaction and wake up one day deathly allergic to something you have eaten or been exposed to all along. This was me.

When we were dating and newly married, we would go out for dinner and depending on where we went, I would come home sick. I now know that was an allergy to anything with MSG and a variety of spices. We found out about the cayenne pepper while eating at a Chinese place one day. It started out slow, half way through our meal, I started itching. By the time we left the restaurant, I felt like I had a thousand mosquito bites.  We were one block up from the Walmart. By the time we hit the light at the Walmart, I was breaking out in hives. We stopped to grab some benedryl. Randy dropped my sister and I off in the front.The reaction was progressing pretty fast. By the time we walked into the Walmart, my throat was starting to close up and I was clawing at my face. The itching was indescribable.  We find the benedryl and I am unable to get it open. I am barely getting any oxygen at this point. The Pharmacist is watching us as Peaches is frantically trying to get the box open. He offers to call 911 but I said no…=) That is typical me. I knew we were down to bare seconds before I was completely unable to breathe. She finally got it open and I drank half the bottle.  I had to let it trickle down my throat and held the liquid in my mouth until it started to work. I could feel it  working when my throat loosened a little. It was a mere couple of minutes before I could finally breathe freely and was only wheezing slightly at this point. It took 2 hours at least before the hives and itching stopped.

Guess who got tested next…=)?

The allergist then told me that all those times we had gone out to dinner and I got sick, whether it was a headache, stomach pains, ears itching and other symptoms, that I was having an allergic reaction.  I felt… Vindicated! Vindicated, because of all those nice evenings I had ruined for my husband by coming home sick after a nice dinner.

I had also been cleaning the private school my kids were attending at the time. This helped me with tuition. I was slowly developing an allergy to the cleaning chemicals they used. We did not realize in the beginning that it was the chemicals that were making me sick. By the time I stopped working, it had become obvious. The doctors told me that it was the chemicals and it was too dangerous for me to be around them.  One day I really over did it when I knocked over a gallon jug of bleach onto a urine soaked tile floor. The chlorine gas cloud I created just about did me in.

I had lung damage. Now I am ultra sensitive to strong smells. Perfumes, cleaners, the laundry detergent aisle and the tire dept.  Sometimes it will just take my breath away. If I sit there too long, I can feel my lungs getting tighter and my throat closing up. If it is perfume, it hits my head first then my chest and throat. It is mostly the heavy, musky stuff that kills me. If the person has been wearing it for awhile, I can handle it. It isn’t hard to be around because it isn’t as strong as when they first spray it on. If it smells like they just put it on…WOW.

If I get a whiff of something strong, I back up until I can’t smell it and wave from a distance. I had a friend who took me in as a surrogate daughter back in the day. She was like this. I understood that while around her, I had to wear scent free everything. Hairspray, shampoo, deodorant and even my laundry detergent could set her off. I learned to avoid scents of any kind in case it made her ill. I never understood how she felt. I am thankful that I am not as sensitive as she is.

I don’t have to avoid scented shampoos and the like. It only appears to be the really heavy perfumes.

This is a terrible allergy to have folks! It’s not like you can go around asking people to not wear perfume. You can seriously hurt peoples feelings. What you do is make sure you have your benedryl and epi-pens with you at all times ( which you should anyhoo!).

If you are stupid enough to not have it with you and stupid enough to not want to say anything to anyone because you think they are going to get their feelings hurt or think you are crazy…then leave. Get out so you can breathe.

Then when someone asks you, “What’s your problem?” Just smile wanly and say you are not feeling well. Better to let them think you are a hypochondriac then be belittled for having an allergy you can’t control. You are looked at in disbelief. Someone once suggested I just let it run its course and end up blacking out. Now THAT would be the height of stupidity if you ask me…=)

I will always make sure that I have benedryl and epi-pens in my purse now… was my own stupidity.

There are some things I am sensitive to that are my favorite foods. Sometimes I just really want it, so I will just have the benedryl handy, hence the nickname DW and that is not for Dorothea Winifred from Arthur the Ardvark. It stands for death wish. Yes…I know…not the brightest bulb in the box. I quit doing that as much as I used to. It’s really dumb.

Dealing with the allergies has become a way of life around our house. As long as we know what they are we can work around them. It’s the surprises that catch us of guard. Perfume was that way for me. Oh well…live and learn folks!

Don’t dump bleach on urine. It is not a good thing.



July 16, 2012 - Posted by | Allergy, Just Life | ,

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