Hello My Imaginary Friends,
I have recently been no-so-subtly accused of faking sick. It’s not the first time and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
I’m used to the usual scenario where I mentioned to someone that I have severe allergies and they either nod condescendingly or roll their eyes.
I get it, seriously, if you’ve never had to deal with allergies it’s easy to dismiss. I mean the most common portrayal of people with allergies in movies and television are either ridiculous nerds or hypochondriacs, mostly both. (I’m looking at you Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis.)
Even people with mild allergies don’t fully understand what it can be like. They’ll have the sniffles in spring or get red itchy eyes when they pet a cat.
I’ve lost track of the amount of times people have told me, “Oh yes, I’m allergic to cats too but you get used to it living with them.”
So here’s a short partial list of things I’m allergic to:
- Cat hair and dander
- Dog hair and dander
- Oak pollen
- Spruce pollen
- Poplar pollen
- Ragweed pollen
- Grass itself and the pollen
- Dust and Dust Mites
- Coconut milk and coconut oil
That’s the most common and it’s about a quarter of the things I’m allergic to. Also among the worst.
I am extremely lucky not to have anaphylaxis. My throat has never fully closed and I’ve never had a seizure. Every person reacts differently to allergies, despite what the commercials try to tell you.
My milder symptoms are mostly itchy ears, itchy eyes, cough, runny nose, itchy throat, and hives.
The more severe symptoms are nasal pressure, diarrhea, nausea, breathing difficulties, and sleepiness.
The absolute worst symptom is the weakness. When I get hit with a bad allergy attack I’m weak as a kitten. Before I got the shots, I had days were getting out of bed was such a struggle that I burst veins in both my eyes from the effort of sitting up. I always make the joke of, “Who turned up the gravity?” because it feels like everything is extra heavy and draining.
The weakness means that around Christmas time I usually feel like total shit. If that sounds odd think about what happens when business and people bring out decorations that have been in basements and attics, bring in dying trees, or bring out old dusty trees. What happens is the amount of indoor mould and dust skyrocket.
As if those symptoms aren’t bad enough, allergies cause and aggravate secondary conditions.
Oral Allergy Syndrome
This is a fun thing where your body thinks you’re ingesting your allergy when you eat something else. Basically, certain raw fruits and veggies have proteins that are similar to pollen.
If I eat a raw apple my tongue tingles and mouth itches because my body thinks I’m eating Oak pollen. Thankfully this doesn’t happen with cooked fruits. Before the shots, my throat would start to close.
My wife still laughs about the time I told her, “Isn’t it cool that celery is a little spicy?” Apparently it’s not supposed to be spicy.
I think it’s because my body is weakened but during a bad allergy day, my IBS becomes ten times worse.
The nasal pressure combined with stress will trigger migraines. My vision blurs, I get dizzy, I lose sense of time, I feel like I’m going to puke, and my head hurts more than any pain I’ve experienced.
Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia
This is a combination of antihistamines and fall out from the other symptoms.
It’s hard to concentrate or feel good about yourself when just going to the washroom is exhausting.
If I have a certain type of antihistamine, I get shaky, and feel like my entire body is vibrating. It lasts for 12 hours and makes sleeping hard.
So I’ve talked about bad days. I’ll be completely honest that on my best day I still have most of the mild symptoms. That’s despite having done shots for 5 years and using antihistamines.
A bad day, however, happens if I am accidentally, or unavoidably, exposed to an allergen. Some it’s only once like coconut oil, coconut milk, or bug venom, some it has to be prolonged like dust, mould, or trees.
Either way, a bad is a day I can barely move, feel sick, and just generally want to die. I’ve done work during those days, but it’s not my best work since I’m totally out of it. Most of the time I have enough energy to watch tv, shower (the steam does wonders for my nose), and eat.
So what do I want you to do about this? Nothing. I just wanted to vent and explain what it’s like being me. Hopefully it’ll make you more compassionate to people with allergies.
Mostly, if I tell you I’m not feeling well, know that I’m not lying.
Thank you for reading,