Sam, 29 (dust, cats, bee stings)
My wife and I are both "allergic" people. I've known about my allergies most of my life; she discovered hers when she married me. Rather, she began to understand what was making her sick all the time. We both work very hard to keep our allergies at bay, and we are lucky that we are allergic to mostly the same things. We keep a dust-free house, which is not easy for two young professionals. Between the constant dusting, vacuuming (with a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner, of course), laundry, and allergy shots, it can feel like a lot to handle sometimes. Despite that, these things have become part of our routine. They are just the things we do to take care of ourselves, since we know how we feel when we don't do them.
Some of my earliest memories are of allergies. I remember my parents giving me allergy shots at home, having the camp nurse give me shots during summers, and carrying a bee-sting kit with me everywhere. As a teenager, I had to wear one of those medical alert bracelets. It wasn't the coolest thing at age 13, but I understood why it was necessary (Lucky for me, I was a big enough kid that others did not pick on me much.) I had a wonderful allergy doctor, and it seemed like lots of people had allergies. My mom used to get allergy shots from the same doctor who gave them to me, and sometimes we would go together to get our shots.
My wife always knew she didn't feel quite right, but wasn't sure why. She did not like it when I suggested that her two cats might be the problem. For me, this was obvious, but to her the idea was brand new. I did my best to hold back my laughter when she asked if giving away only one of her cats would help the problem. I convinced her to see an allergist, and now we both get allergy shots. Before we dated, the thought had never occurred to her. It was tough convincing her to give up her cats, but giving them to a friend instead of to the pound helped her take that step.
My wife and I were not attracted to each other because of our allergies, but it helps to have a sympathetic person around. Then again, she's not always sympathetic. She thinks I go overboard with the dust control, and I think she's in denial about what that nasty stuff can do to a person's mast cells. She knows that the air filters, dust-mite covers, and special vacuum cleaners help, but she hates to admit that she needs those things to feel healthy. Me, I just do whatever I can to feel better.
Altogether, I've been taking allergy shots for the greater part of two decades, and I think they help (though slowly). Sometimes I wish I did not have allergies, but I know that is not realistic. I doubt my allergies will ever go away, but I'm glad that there are ways to control them.
Paula J. Busse, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Clinical Immunology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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