AllergiesDecember 12, 2009
I have allergies. I am not disabled by my allergies and they have never been life-threatening – they are simply annoying and inconvenient.
My respiratory and eye-itching allergies are your basic assortment of grasses, weeds, trees, pollens, dust, and mold. Add to those 4 foods: eggs, shellfish, rice, and coffee. Eggs and shellfish are pretty common. Rice and coffee are just bizarre. I always knew I had “hayfever” and I always knew I had a “sensitive stomach”. Finally, in my 30’s I went to an allergist for testing and discovered the whole messy list.
I did the allergy shot routine for a number of years until suddenly, about a year and a half ago, I missed a month in the middle of summer allergy season and didn’t notice. That was my hint that my body had finally adapted and with my doctor’s blessing I discontinued shots. [The shots work for the airborne allergens, but not for foods, the best you can do there is avoid them.]
Meanwhile, my daughter has been showing signs of allergies. The signs and signals would appear and disappear somewhat at random. One day she’d have hives and then she wouldn’t. Her eye would get red and itchy and the school would send her home with pink eye only to have the redness disappear by evening. This year, though, she started showing a pattern of coming home ill early on Mondays. She has come home early more Mondays than not since September. We tracked it to air quality issues at school and an air purifier in the classroom has helped, but still, it was time for some answers.
Yesterday, I took my daughter to my old allergist, or at least his office. He is long retired. A quick look at swabs from my daughters’ nose indicated lots of “allergy cells” and so we started testing. Two hours and 60 skin tests later and the conclusion was that my daughter “defies logic”. Nothing, absolutely nothing, showed a significant reaction. Yes, a few teeny tiny reactions to the usual dust and cats and such, but nothing that would be consistent with allergy symptoms in the middle of December.
There is a name that I can’t pronounce, let alone spell, that means “allergic reaction to an unidentifiable allergen". That’s her diagnosis. So she is back on her antihistamine, has a cream for the rash she gets on her arms and legs every so often, and a nasal mist for her stuffiness. On one hand, I wish there were a treatment so she could get better and not have reactions. On the other, I don’t really wish allergic reactions on her and it does make me feel less like a slacker mom. Her symptoms were so transient and so unpredictable that I couldn’t figure out what in particular she was reacting too. Apparently the allergist can’t either.
We go back in two months just to check in. Perhaps then I will also see about getting an epi-pen just in case one or another of us have a bad reaction to a bee sting. Eventually, she is bound to get stung. Given the unpredictability of her reactions to allergens it might not be a bad idea.