Monday, 11 October 2010
Random Thoughts About Allergies.
I have four different types of allergies. There's the type like the wrong kind of washing-up liquid or moisturiser that brings on bumpy hands or eczema. There's the type like hairspray or paint fumes that makes me wheeze. There's the type like cats or dogs that does both. And finally, there's the type like pine sap or tea tree oil that causes hives, unpleasant digestive responses and full-on-call-the-ambulance asthma.
The first three are inconvenient and at times distressing, I have a small (and often expensive) choice of household products, toiletries and cosmetics to chose from, I've never been able to have the much-longed for dog and I've had to ban the cats from my bedroom. The steroid creams and ointments prescribed for allergic eczema are all based on white paraffin or petroleum based carriers which...I'm allergic to.
Walking past someone who's wearing too much aftershave can leave me gasping (seriously, Lynx works more as chemical warfare and less as personal grooming in my world) and I once passed a hideous train-journey behind a woman who thought doing her hair and spraying Ellnett all over her head in a crowded carriage was a good idea.
On good days I take three different asthma and allergy drugs but any number of illnesses can result in hospital trips (last year's pleurisy caused months of issues). My eczema makes me feel self-conscious and ugly and my asthma restricts my life, I hate it.
However, I can live with all that. Slightly, no strike that, a lot more dramatic is my reaction to latex, pine sap and tea tree oil. After noticing these things were all tree based I was a little worried but yesterday's experiment with Maple Syrup was totally satisfactory and I enjoyed my pancakes very much.
I've had three very serious allergic reactions in my life.
The first was one night when I'd eaten a prawn sandwich that may have been a bit too old (hot day, insufficient chilling in a sandwich shop), I came out in hives and my lips, and fingers swelled-up. However, in the light of subsequent events I'm beginning to wonder if the latex gloves I wore for my housework that evening may have been more to blame (though I'm still being wary of prawns).
The second was a couple of years' ago on a family day out. I'd gone to Bekenscot Model Village with my Dad, my sister and my niece. We'd been meaning to go for years and it was lovely. I adore model villages (there's a post in there somewhere) and was having a lovely time when suddenly my sister said,
"What's that on your face?"
That, was a hive.
They'd been trimming all the miniature trees in the village and an avenue of full-sized conifers and the sap was on the air. I became very ill, very quickly and had to be taken home. Fortunately my anti-histamines and asthma drugs worked and I recovered quickly.
I was not so lucky last week.
I've had an abscess on my head (golly, I'm making myself sound attractive aren't I!) and have been bathing it with very hot water into which I'd put a few drops of tea tree oil. Stupidly, I hadn't made the connection to my other allergies and although I was fine for a couple of days, when I got too much of the water and oil on my body I cam out in hives all over my body. By Friday night they'd joined up into great red patches and my breathing had gone crazy. I called an ambulance.
The Paramedics, and the lovely staff at Hull Royal Infirmary were wonderful. They sorted my breathing, pumped me full of anti-histamines and put me to bed. They cared for me and listened to me and never once patronised me.
They saved my life.
And now? I have an appointment with my GP later, I'm going to sort out my medication, I'm going to take my allergies seriously, I'm going to carry a warning card and I'm going to go and see the Consultant. Oh, and I'm going to have an artificial Christmas Tree this year...