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August 07, 2004: Multipurpose arms

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As if to teach me a lesson for waiting so darn long to get this started, it took practically no time at all for my referral to the allergist to be approved. The first appointment was last week, during which I met with the doctor and we discussed, among other things, my unruly sinuses, my various allergies to small fuzzy critters, and those pesky migraines I've had since the age of eight. He brought up various treatment options, like nasal sprays, but considering that the last time I took nasal sprays I got those oh-so-nifty (ha!) heart palpitations several times an hour, which lasted for a few days even after I stopped taking them, I surmised as how those might not be such a great idea.

So after the initial consultation with the doctor, I made a few more appointments, and this week I got my allergy tests. It was actually kind of fun, in a slightly warped kind of way. I went in and they put little pen marks in lines down the inside of both arms, and then pricked near those pen marks with various allergens. On my right arm I had a plethora of pollens trees and grasses and on the left arm slightly fewer pin pricks, including dust mites, dogs, and cats.

I have to admit it was kind of amazing how quickly all those pinpricks exploded into big misshapen rashes and hives all over my arms. The worst of the pollens were a few trees (walnut and olive, I think). I am pleased to report that I'm not allergic to any molds (at least not the ones they tested me for, that is). However, on my left arm I developed a respectable sized hive for the dog test, and quite an impressive lump and rash from the dust mites. I am really, really, really allergic to dust mites - which live, of course, in everything, no matter how much you clean, so there is no time of year or season when I can ever escape them except maybe if I move to Antarctica or move into a glass bubble. And I'm not entirely sure that even then I would be living a dust mite free life, because they are apparently quite hardy little suckers for being mostly microscopic in origin.

I think the nurse who was running my tests thought I was a little odd because I was finding all this so very amusing. But hey, who wouldn't see the humor in having one's arms explode in rashes and hives so badly that my skin felt as if it was on fire. There was also lots more humor to be found in the fact that near the very end of the time period for the test the spot where they put the cat allergens gave up and decided maybe it was going to react after all. I always figured my poor immune system gave up on cats a long time ago, but it turns out that my allergy to the cats was probably just masked by all the others (like dust mites. Yeesh!). Or maybe my immune system really did give up on the cats before the tests, but felt a little fiesty during the test because it thought it finally had a chance.

There was also much humor to be had long after the test were over and I went home. The lumps from the dust mites and the trees hung around for over a day afterwards. But the coolest part of all was that I had two neat little rows of holes on the inside of each arm which lasted even longer than the big lumps, and which looked as if I had developed a whole set of oddly located alien nipples.

So there we are. I am allergic to lots of things, including microscopic creatures, and to top it off I now have two arms full of alien nipples. I can nurse alien babies from my arms. Unless, of course, they happen to be related to walnut or olive trees. Or dogs. Or dust mites.

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