Working two jobs over the last week has been pretty awful for me. Using the computer aggravates my constant headaches, and of course, both my jobs require the use of the computer for long periods of time. So I have headaches daily from about noon until I collapse at nine or ten at night.
On the occasional day that I break from work early, I try to get away from the computer--which means I haven't been blogging or writing or doing much of anything else. Last night, even though I was really curious about the term "shoemaker's children" (used by a New Zealander to refer to his coworkers), I couldn't even bring myself to look it up on Wikipedia.
But the symptoms that I'm dealing with are all a bit offbeat (headaches, itchy skin, exhaustion, perpetually swollen lymph nodes, recurring sore throats) and don't sync up to any particular season. They aren't the classic respiratory symptoms associated with hay fever (runny nose, sneezing, wheezing, itchy eyes).
So I've been hesitant to tell doctors that I have allergies, and it's apparently never occurred to my doctors that I might actually have them. Instead, I've been sent to one specialist after another: a neurologist for the headaches, an ENT for the recurring sore throats, and a dermatologist for the skin. It's become a tangled mess of diagnoses and medications.
Thus, I decided myself to get an allergy test to see if I have allergies, and if so, to what. Then I could request a single medication to treat allergies, and this would hopefully kick the crap out of all the allergy-related symptoms at once.
I told my plan to Byrd. Apparently Byrd had an allergy test when he was a kid. Kindhearted soul that he is, he described his horrific experience in graphic detail, then glibly added, "But I wasn't scarred for life, so I guess it wasn't that bad."
Consequently, I arrived at the allergy testing site with shaking hands and dry mouth, under the impression--courtesy of Byrd--that I was about to get eighty painful injections of toxic substances that would cause my skin to blister and peel off. (I later learned he was just toying with me, rotten bastard.)
The nurse must have noticed my tightly clenched fist and my grinding teeth. She patted my arm lightly and said, "Oh, honey, don't worry, it only takes fifteen minutes and I'll give you an antihistamine after that, if you react to anything."
Fifteen minutes later (after an easy test that didn't involve a needle or anything painful), it was pretty obvious I had allergies. My arms had itchy red welts all over them. A passing nurse started to ask, "So how did your allergy test go?" but ended up saying, "So how did your aller--oooooh yikes." My doctor called the results "impressive."
I reacted to the standard central Texas allergens: cedar and oak. Also on the list: perennial rye, Bermuda grass, some coastal grasses, various molds, and dust mites.
The biggest surprise was that I didn't react at all to cat or dog allergens. The doctor retested the dog allergen since I live with dogs; I guess he wanted to be very sure that my beloved pets weren't contributing to my troubles.
The re-test really did involve a needle, and this time it hurt a little (but still not as bad as Byrd led me to believe). The allergen is injected right under the skin in the shoulder area, and the reaction measured. Presumably, even a mild allergy would cause some sort of welt. But I still didn't react to the dog allergen.
So the good news is that I get to keep the dogs! (I'm kidding, of course. I would never give the dogs up just because I'm allergic to them.)
The bad news is that I'm allergic to my house and my yard and basically everything else in my environment. :(