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Archive for June 16th, 2017

Gesundheit!

Allergies. Three words. What-a-bitch!

I didn’t have allergies until I was 80! What is this nonsense? I don’t like allergies. They are a pain in the butt. Not only that, but have you purchased any of these allergy over-the-counter drugs lately? Twenty-three bucks for a pill that, on me at least, doesn’t seem to work. I went to the gym this morning, pedaled my butt off, did 10.3 miles in 43 minutes, banged out 250 ab crunches, gassed up the car, came home, and within five minutes, I’m sneezing worse than one of the seven dwarfs, and blowing my nose enough to put Kleenex workers on an extra shift. What the hell is going on here? I mean, when I have to take my hands off the keyboard to blow my nose every 20 seconds, this is not a good thing…nope, not a good thing at all.

What are allergies anyway? I understand that it’s when the immune system reacts to something in the air, like the pollen from trees or grass, foods, pet dander, or something else, but what does that really mean? Is it that the immune system is more sensitive, is breaking down, what? I don’t recall that my parents or siblings ever had allergies, so how come I’m so lucky?

I joke, of course. Allergies, as I understand it, can affect anyone at any age. I also understand that one can outgrow certain allergies, that they can come and go, but the most important thing is that they can also kill. My grandson has a peanut allergy and carries an EpiPen with him wherever he goes. A friend of mine attended a dinner one evening where the canapes contained crabmeat. She didn’t know it at the time, but she was highly allergic to seafood. Thankfully, someone with some knowledge was carrying an EpiPen and could help her. Oh, the symptoms? Her throat closed and she had difficulty breathing, to the point where she fainted. Since she was ignorant of her allergy up to that time, you can well imagine just how frightening the experience was for her.

For those who don’t have allergies, it’s probably difficult to understand how those who have them suffer. As I have said, my allergies began shortly after I turned 80. I viewed this as a breaking down of my immune system more than anything else, but medically, I’m wrong. The immune system, if anything, has just become more sensitive…dammit! I must admit that my empathy is much greater now for Juli, my grandson, and others I know who have had allergies for long periods. It’s difficult to imagine having to walk around with a life-saving device in your pocket every day, to be ready at a moment’s notice to have to jab yourself, through clothing if necessary, to save your life. That is one frightening situation.

As I was doing a bit of research about allergies, it reminded me of one entire family, mom, dad, and a couple of sons, all of whom had allergic reactions to bee stings. Dad was a member of the management faculty at Northeastern. Mom worked in alumni records, and the boys were still in high school. Mildred, the mom, told me that each member of the family had to carry an injection kit. They also had kits in both cars and in many rooms in their house. Evidently, the sting of a single bee could be life threatening to these folks. I was much younger than Mildred or her husband, Lyman, and in hindsight I recall not being particularly empathetic to their plight…shame on me for my stupidity. According to HealthLine, “Allergies have a genetic component, meaning that they can be passed down from parent to child. However, only a general susceptibility to allergic reaction is genetic. Specific allergies are not passed down. For instance, if your mother is allergic to shellfish, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be too.” I know of only one case where someone actually slipped a peanut butter cookie into our grandson’s lunch. Fortunately, another student saw it happen and warned Ryan. Allergy ignorance is not funny…at all…in the least…ever! Although allergies are very common, it appears that most reactions are mild, including watery eyes, itching, runny nose, and coughing. If you suspect that you or someone in your family has allergic reactions, don’t mess around. Check with your doctor to learn what can be done. Fortunately, my allergic reactions are simple and easily solved. In fact, I’m rather thankful for them. It allows me to know what’s going on and empathize when someone complains, “Oh, my damned allergies are kicking up.”

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