Thursday, April 3, 2014

Rant #1,178: Poked

After work today, I am going to do something that I have been doing for nearly the past 42 years.

I am going to get my allergy shots.

Over the years, these shots of allergy serum have helped me considerably.

As a kid growing up in a dusty, windy section of South Jamaica, Queens, New York, I was often under the weather, couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, and I was very uncomfortable.

The study of non-food allergies was really just beginning, so I just basically had to grin and bear it during these years.

When we moved out to Long Island, it was determined that I should take an allergy test, as these tests were finally at the point where taking one might be able to at least point us in the right direction about what was ailing me.

In those days, you were tested for allergies with what I call the old "staple gun" approach.

The doctor who did the test used what was sort of an injector. You had to lay both arms flat, and you would be injected with various possible allergens in rows of two, in each arm. You had to keep each arm still as what was injected into you got into your arm.

If any one of the new marks that you had on your arms puffed up, you were allergic to whatever was put into that mark.

Not only did this method leave marks on your arms that took weeks to heal, but if you had some things that you were allergic too, like I had, the puffing had to recede too.

And yes, I had several things that I was allergic to: the usual pollen, the season of autumn, horse hair, and something called the Jerome bush.

My arms were so bad that I had to wear long sleeves for about a month, in the summer, but at least we finally knew what was bothering me.

(Today, they do a simple blood test--what a difference!)

It was determined that I need monthly allergy shots, so at the age of 15, I had my first shots.

We used a local doctor to administer my shots, and after a while, I got very used to them, getting two shots, one in each arm, once a month.

This doctor administered the shots for years, until he retired. He sold his practice, and a new doctor started to do the same thing. For both of these doctors, I was their one and only patient who got the shots from them.

And the shots certainly helped me in many ways. I didn't feel ill as much, my allergies were much more stable, I could taste my food and breathe, etc. It really was a miracle.

I never had a bad reaction from them, as some people do.

Some experts say that you should not take shots continually, because your body builds up an immunity to them, but for me, I have never stopped.

Over the years, some odd things have happened related to my shots. My second doctor giving me the shots was arrested for giving drugs--oxycodone--to high school kids, so I had to find another doctor to give me the shots.

I now get them at an allergy testing site, and that is fine and good.

The only problem is that our environment has changed, and my rate of allergy attacks has increased.

This is supposed to be one of the worst seasons for allergies of all time, and yes, I am feeling it. The rotten winter we had is the main cause of the season being predicted to be a bad one.

Just when you think the allergies aren't there any more, they come back to haunt you, with a runny nose, dripping eyes, and just an overall feeling that you feel a little off.

And now, by the way, I get four shots at each sitting, not two. 

But again, I have learned to grin and bear it, but when I get my shots, at least I know I am doing everything I can do to combat this dreaded curse that I have, that, by the way, no one else in my family has.

And yes, it is a curse, it really is.

My arms have been a pin cushion, but overall, I would never want to go back to how I felt as a kid.

So as I enter my 42nd year of getting these shots, at least I can say that they have helped me fight this thing as best as I could.

How many shots have I had over the years? Well, multiply 42 by 12, and you get 504. Multiply 504 by two, and you get 1,008. But again, for the past five years or so I have gotten four shots every sitting, so right now, I am probably nearing 1,200 shots just related to allergies.

That does not count any other shots I have had, or blood tests I have had to take, since I was 15 years old.

Yes, I am a pin cushion, but yes, I am happier now, even with the runny nose and watery eyes.

It's my life, what more can I say?

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