Thursday, June 5, 2008


Since I moved out to Ventura County which has some admirable green space regulations and lots of farmland from my old town near Boston that was almost completely paved over, my allergies have kicked up. I also don't have a good handle on the allergy seasons in SoCal, or even what grows here. Aside from the purple flowered trees in May, and the fruit I get in my friends' yards.

So in addition to the other stuff I'm trying to sort out, I'm getting allergy testing, which I've had a couple times before so I can get allergy shots for the first time in my life. Antihistamines are no longer cutting it. To figure out what one is allergic to, allergists give skin tests. Most people show a skin reaction to most allergens if the allergens break through the skin. This allergist is really comprehensive and does 3 rounds of tests. The first puts 12 rows of 3 items on each arm with a drop of allergen and a little scratch for the first two tests. Each row is marked with black marker. You can tell I reacted where they skin tests look different from my freckles. When they get really, really bad, they look like this.
ragweed allergy responses

This is 2 ragweed responses of "4+", the highest rating. Anything even remotely called ragweed, I'm insanely allergic to it. Fortunately, there's about as much ragweed pollen in all of CA in the whole year as there is on Labor Day in Minnesota. I was pretty much useless from mid-August to the first frost when I lived there because of the ragweed misery. Now the thing that gets me worst is cats. Strangely, I didn't react to cat on the scratch test, but I did respond to dogs. I do not display allergic symptoms to dogs or houses with dogs, but I can barely enter houses with cats.

For the last round, they do a few _injections_ of allergens that tend not to work as well on just scratch tests and other things they want to be sure of. Like things a patient reports being allergic to. For instance, cats.
arm with varied and sundry red welts

That giant, red skin surrounding the giant swollen bump bigger than a Sacajawea dollar? Cats. Yep. I'm allergic. House dust was almost as bad, but I only barely reacted to one of the dust mites tests and not to the other, which the doctor found most curious. Maybe he was just trying to make me feel better. I do not appear to be allergic to rats or hamsters. I'm not sure how I feel about being injected with rat allergen.

After the scratch tests, which looked amazingly like mosquito bites, I tried my home remedy for mosquito bites on the allergy tests and it worked like a charm. Adolphs 100% natural meat tenderizer which is essentially papaya extract (papain) mixed with salt. Make a paste with water, use the salt to scratch the heck out of the itchy bumps while rubbing in something to tenderize the allergen. It did not work quite as well on the injected allergens but did help. My upper arm still swelled up to be one giant red patch bordered by cats and house dust and whatever was near my elbow there (feathers! I remembered). I was supposed to start my allergy shots this week, but couldn't bring myself to go until my arm stopped itching.

Then to cap off my week, since I'm finally off the antibiotics, I went in for my various and sundry blood tests to see if we can figure out why I'm getting fatter. Namely blood glucose and cortisol. I had to fast first (no big shakes, just have to remember to eat dinner early instead of late), but I hadn't realized it required 4 blood draws over 3 hours. With REALLY BIG needles. Hopefully I'll learn something. But I just couldn't face 3 new allergy shots today on top of all that.

1 comment:

farmwifetwo said...

My bro and I use to like to freak people out when we had skin tests done. We had nasty welts. They don't do shots here anymore unless you have tobacco or PI poisoning.

I see they gave you the full sugar test. Mine was just fasting and one vial - the other 3 were other tests. I advoided that one when I was pregnant.