Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rant #78: I Wish I Was Allergic To Allergies

I have had allergies all my life. As an adult, I have learned to live with the sneezes and the wheezes as best as I can.

However, I don't like having allergies.

They impact me greatly, and as a kid, I really suffered. Ragweed, pollen, dust ... you name it, and it put me in agony. Officially, I am allergic to all of those, and also to horses, the season of fall (with all the falling leaves), and something called the Jerome tree or bush (I can't remember right now which one).

When I was growing up, not that much was known about allergies, and especially how to treat allergies. I lived in a development that was very windy at all times, with lots of dirt and dust constantly blowing around. I can remember many days when I couldn't eat or sleep or do much of anything because I literally could not breath. Tissues were always at the ready, and there were days when I would use a whole box of tissues, and even that wasn't enough.

In the early 1970s, the treatment of allergies matured. I took what I called "the staple test," where they actually inserted (for lack of a better word) different chemicals into your arm at one time with something that resembled a staple gun, and whatever puffed up, you were allergic to.

Of course, your arm would puff up from all the stress it underwent in the application of all of these chemicals. I remember that I had this done during the summer, and I wore long sleeves for weeks because my left arm looked like I was a drug addict.

Anyway, through that initial testing, it was determined what I was allergic to for the first time in my life, and I was prescribed a regular, monthly regimen of allergy shots. All these years later, I have been getting allergy shots, once per month (usually two shots, one in each arm, although now they combine everything and give it in one arm), since I was 15 years old, or since 1972. They have helped me tremendously. I know people who used to get shots and went off the treatment for a while, only to go right back on when allergies symptoms came back.

Me, I have never been off them.

However, that doesn't mean that I don't suffer. I still do. I still get allergy attacks, and you just have to play them out. There isn't really anything you can do about it. The shots can only do so much.

But I really hate having allergies. Thank goodness I don't have asthma, but allergies are bad enough.

Happily, I know I didn't pass this on to my daughter, who really doesn't suffer too much. My son, well the book is still open on whether he has them or not. At 14, I don't see him suffering like I did at that age, but I do see him occasionally have some problems that just spring up, like mine do.

And no, neither of my parents have allergies. This is totally unscientific, but I have always said that my grandfather (my mom's dad) may have passed something on to me. He was an extremely heavy smoker during most of his lifetime (cigarettes, cigars, pipes), and there must be something in the genes that my mother may have passed on to me through him. I loved my grandfather (he died in the early 1970s), but all of that abuse may have impacted a future generation--me.

And no, because of my allergies, I never even tried a cigarette--and no, none of those funny cigarettes, either. I have often said that doing such a thing would have killed me long ago.

And by the way, the over-the-counter and prescription remedies don't work for me, so I don't use them.

More on allergies: Paul Simon actually had a minor hit in the 1980s with a song called "Allergies." I wonder if he is a sufferer, too?

Pardon me while I sneeze.

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