Sniffle Snort ACHOO – Alyssa’s Unfortunate Allergies

  1. Olive Tree
  2. Walnut Tree
  3. American Elmn
  4. White Oak
  5. American Sycamore
  6. Eastern Cottonwood
  7. Red Mulberry
  8. White Birch
  9. Mesquite
  10. Black Willow
  11. Lamb’s Quarters
  12. Plaintain
  13. Yellow Dock
  14. Russian Thistle
  15. Pigweed
  16. Ragweed
  17. Sagebrush
  18. Wingscale
  19. Grass
  20. Bermuda Grass
  21. Pepper Tree
  22. Cats
  23. Peanuts
  24. Dust Mites
  25. Feathers

You guys see that? See the numbers? 25 things. I am allergic to 25 things. And this isn’t just mildly allergic. These are big fat reactions – welts the size of sand dollars on my back, itching to high heaven, throbbing red. These are my latest allergy test results, in which they took a grid covered with over 40 antigens, or allergens, and poked them into the first two layers of my skin. Y’all know I’m allergic to life. About four years ago, I started my first course of allergy shot treatment. I went once a week after work to sit in a crowded waiting room, get jabbed with four things, sneeze my brains out, get the welt sizes checked after thirty minutes, and drove home honking into a tissue and hoping my brief-split-second-eye-closure-when-i-sneezed wouldn’t kill me, or another unfortunate driver next to me. I did this for three years, eventually getting to maintenance, getting shots once a month, relieved that I could walk through a park without lighting up in hives like a freakish histamine Christmas tree.

I changed jobs, got different insurance, and six months passed without allergy shots. I woke up with a bloody nose one night, and I just knew – the allergies were back. I started popping Zyrtec like candy, praying that the pills would cover me, that I wouldn’t have to start shots again. Long story short, after one particularly tearful night where I nearly scratched my skin off, I started shots again. They’re helping, kind of. But it takes about six months to reach a dose that helps a lot. I’m on month four. I am miserable.

Why allergic people like Winter.

I went hiking today. I had been excited about it all weekend; we were meeting some friends I hadn’t seen in a long time, one of them, the sweet Julie who faithfully reads this blog. (Hi Jules!). As Matt and I drove to the hiking spot, I noticed with a twinge of fear that I was feeling crappy. I had gotten my shots the day before, and came home feeling so out of it that I slept for four hours, waking only to chug a bottle of water and eat a quick dinner. My nose was jam-packed, but no big deal, right? A hike would help, I hoped.

As we started on the path in the 85 degree sun, I felt my arms starting to itch. This was no good. As we ascended the hill before we even made it to the hiking path, it started – the tingly “I’m not getting enough air” feeling. I tried to fight it – no big deal, I’m huffing and puffing, it’s a high hill, I can do this. We continued climbing. I had to stop. Julie stayed with me as I took a break, drinking water. I decided to call the guys ahead of us and tell them to keep going. I didn’t want to hold anyone up. I kept going. We made it up a hill, where I honked my nose like a goose on many tissues, and took breathing breaks. We made it almost to the top of the trailhead when  I decided to quit. I physically felt like I couldn’t breathe – a feeling compounded by hills, heat, and the millions of grass and tree pollens swirling around my body. I wanted to curl up under a tree and sleep – I felt so out of it. I knew this wasn’t right. This wasn’t good. Allergies shouldn’t make you feel higher than a kite – and if they do, that’s a bad sign that you’re waaaaaay overexposed. My body was fighting. I apologized to my friends, said goodbye to them, and we walked down the hill, where I started to cry – out of frustration, out of embarrassment. I felt so overwhelmed that I’d been working for a long time to get to a point where hard hikes weren’t that hard – and this hike would have been great, if I had been able to breathe. My husband rocks and comforted me, helping me laugh about the fact that this hike would have been no challenge had I been in a glass hamster ball protecting me from pollen. He’s awesome.

I have to accept that there are some things I cannot change. Even if I lose all my weight and turn into an Iron Woman, a tri-athlete, I will always have allergies. I cannot change the fact that my body goes into war-mode when it encounters grass or plantains. This all goes back to Monday’s post – forgiveness. I must accept certain things, my allergies being one. Once a year, I have an allergy related breakdown – and today was it. I just have to accept that from March through April, hiking outdoors is not a good idea when the pollen levels are high. (I have an app that tells me when to avoid the outdoors. Lately it’s like EVERY DAY.)

Do you have any health challenges or complications you try and try to move past but find it keeps holding you back? How do you deal with it?


4 thoughts on “Sniffle Snort ACHOO – Alyssa’s Unfortunate Allergies

  1. my son has the same problem. He’s allergic to everything and has many dietary restrictions. He seems to be outgrowing them but I was so scared for him when he was a baby. His allergist suggested the shots but he doesn’t want to do it. His allergies are under control as long as he takes his meds. I’ve had allergies that have come and gone throughout my life so they do change and aren’t necessarily permanent.
    I’ve had several injuries that held me back, but due to my anal obsession with fitness and rehab, I overcame them. I will always only have two fingers in my left hand. My husband says that is the reason why I can’t climb a rope or a pole but I question that. I’m still up for the challenge. 😉

  2. (HI ALYSSA!!!)
    I’m sorry the pollens tried to kill you! I would totally kick those pollens to high heaven if I could…but I am not that talented “le sigh.”
    But I AM glad you listened to your body and didn’t try to push yourself past the point of risking your health.
    And, speaking as a chick with a chronic illness, I completely understand the frustration of your body giving you the finger–you can ask Matt about all the times I’ve broken down crying when I just can’t physically push past the pain and exhaustion to go to do something with friends.
    And you know what? No shame. Being sick (or deathly allergic) does not make you a less-worthy being.
    And even if the naysayers out there make you feel bad with comments like, “Well I have allergies, and I’M able to do this,” or “Well I get tired TOO, so you should be able to push through!”
    Well, they can kindly place their words where the sun don’t shine.

    Basically: I LOVE YOU! And you rock. And allergies are meanie butts.

  3. An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system has an exaggerated reaction to a usually harmless substance. The most common allergens (substances that trigger the allergy) are dust mites, molds, pollen, pets with fur or feathers, stinging insects, and some kinds of foods.

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