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Wednesday, 02 March
For The Children

Yesterday the wife came home from her job managing a preschool with a bummer of a tale: one of her young charges, who has nasty allergies, had to be taken to a hospital after she started swelling up like a sausage when introduced to a new room that apparently contained some histological bastardy that her little body wasn't yet accustomed to. (She was fine, and in fact returned later that day to wonder why all her friends had left her and gone home.)

I can relate. When I was a tot, I had some ridiculously severe allergies to contend with--not to mention asthma, and boy did those two play together well. (You can see why I eventually took up smoking. It was the logical thing to do.)

The parents started to wonder, for example, why their third-grader couldn't sleep through the night without sounding like a victim of mustard gas; this was in addition to the fact that I frequently looked like someone had boiled me. Turns out it was my feather pillow: our GP gave me that famously enjoyable scratch-the-kid's-back-with-every-known-allergen test, and a day later I was in agony as practically every fucking thing turned up positive. My back looked like a neglected turnpike on Mars. I was allergic to dogs, cats, animal dander (this for all non-pet sources), pretty much every kind of grass and pollen, hay, wheat, chamomile, Barbra Streisand and, my personal favorite, house dust.

House dust? Great! I can solve that problem easily! I'll just . . . not be in a house! I'll go live with the . . . animals! Oh. House dust. Look, I didn't grow up in a dungheap or anything, but let's just say that my parents are about as enthusiastic about dusting as I am. I am more than content to let gray fur collect on my home electronics until performance is impeded.

It was a helluva thing to deal with as a kid. More than once, when visiting friends with cats, my eyes would swell shut, and I would wheeze horribly. I spent more than one night at the hospital (with my mom, who was an RN) not really understanding why I couldn't have anything to drink (something to do with the medication, I guess), and so I would gnaw on a damp washcloth for moisture. (Sometimes I would get ice chips.) For a period of time, I would receive weekly shots to help me out (steroids, I assume, maybe prednisone).

Springtime rapidly became my least favorite season; in Idaho, where we lived, that's when the cottonwood trees would bloom, and I'd stare at them with hate. Their awful rain of pollen carried on those fat white tufts would generally mean that I couldn't even climb the one story of stairs to my room without pausing halfway up to catch my breath.

I got lucky. I outgrew nearly every one of those allergies (and, to a degree, the crippling asthma--thanks, Big Tobacco!). Sometimes I can feel myself tightening up when assaulted by cats, but for the most part, it's dealable-with, especialy if someone has a Claritin handy. The last time I really had a reaction was when I was in a room with baby rabbits, and I found myself turning into Jonathan Winters: it wasn't enough that I had to leave the room, I had to leave the house.

Really. I couldn't go back in. (And since the hosts in question were some really astoundingly boring people, this didn't necessarily bum me out.) I stood outside for a while until my body decided to stop attacking itself and calmed down. (It would have been better to wash up and get the fucking dander off me, but I wasn't going anywhere near the place again.) Eventually my breathing regulated, and I felt better. I experimentally lit a cigarette. Things were fine again. You don't need to draw me a map.

I think it's obvious that I'll need to visit the wife's preschool to explain that taking up smoking is the best possible thing those kids can do. The sooner the better. I don't want them to suffer.


Note: Comments are closed on old entries.

Comments

LOL re neglected turnpike.

Comment number: 005047   Posted by: Spike on March 2, 2005 12:32 AM from IP: 203.217.79.161

Almost everybody I knew who had allergies as a kid took up smoking sooner or later. So, either youíre right about itís curative effects or all those swollen, wheezing teenagers were using it as an act of defiance against an unfair God.

Go figure.

Comment number: 005048   Posted by: Lung the Younger on March 2, 2005 12:55 AM from IP: 80.58.34.44

Almost everybody I knew who had allergies as a kid took up smoking sooner or later. So, either youíre right about itís curative effects or all those swollen, wheezing teenagers were using it as an act of defiance against an unfair God.

Go figure.

Comment number: 005049   Posted by: Lung the Younger on March 2, 2005 12:56 AM from IP: 80.58.34.44

Aaaaaah! Your damn comments section regesters a default and then prints it anyway. This is the seciond time I've been made to look like I've got a stammer.

Stop playing with our emotions, dammit!

Comment number: 005050   Posted by: Lung the Younger on March 2, 2005 01:05 AM from IP: 80.58.34.44

Skot, did no-one ever prescribe you a daily antihistimane?? After YEARS of terrifying Springs, cleansing my room, rolling fur off of my clothes, moving animals away, fleeing from dust and pollens.. my Dr (bless him) finally got me on this magical tiny daily pill that stops me from sneezing, swelling, coughing, itching.. it's magic! Unfortunately, I'm nearly 21 so won't outgrow these terrible afflictions but at least there is now a wonderful new life for me - sneezefree days! Animals! Flowers! ah.

Comment number: 005051   Posted by: Kat on March 2, 2005 01:24 AM from IP: 203.79.117.128

Umm, how is turning those youngsters into little versions of you supposed to ease their suffering? That's like letting John Candy talk to them about good eating habits. And he's DEAD!!

Comment number: 005052   Posted by: Jado on March 2, 2005 06:40 AM from IP: 63.109.229.19

thanks to the wicked expensive triple-cocktail of Advair, Singulair and Zyrtec, i am now able to be in houses where cats live - no more having to leave parties early, or sit on the porch for hours while all my friends frolic indoors! all hail the inhalable steroid.

Comment number: 005053   Posted by: cleek on March 2, 2005 06:48 AM from IP: 209.116.70.133

Skot, did no-one ever prescribe you a daily antihistimane??

Oh yes. Back in the day, it was Actifed and Marax. I ate those blasted pills like cereal. I still maintain that smoking is the best remedy.

Umm, how is turning those youngsters into little versions of you supposed to ease their suffering? That's like letting John Candy talk to them about good eating habits. And he's DEAD!!

Exactly. He's not suffering any more, is he? You make my point for me.

Comment number: 005054   Posted by: Skot on March 2, 2005 07:43 AM from IP: 66.150.9.2

ah Marax...

i always had the liquid form. i haven't had any for 20 years, but i could still pick it out of a line up. such sweet, sticky, slightly acrid, memories.

Marax tasted much better than the repulsive Quibron (another theophylline-based concoction).

Asthma is a force that gives us meaning

Comment number: 005055   Posted by: cleek on March 2, 2005 07:56 AM from IP: 209.116.70.133

ah Marax...

though i haven't had any of that golden elixer for 20 years, i can still recall the taste - such sweet, sticky, slightly acrid memories.

asthma is a force that gives us meaning

Comment number: 005056   Posted by: cleek on March 2, 2005 07:59 AM from IP: 209.116.70.133

ack. i triple checked that the first post hadn't gone through! blast!

Comment number: 005057   Posted by: cleek on March 2, 2005 08:00 AM from IP: 209.116.70.133

I feel your pain, cleek.

Comment number: 005058   Posted by: Lung the Younger on March 2, 2005 08:07 AM from IP: 80.58.34.44

"histological bastardy"...sometimes you are so effing brilliant. But I'm such an ass kisser so there's that.

Comment number: 005060   Posted by: Lala on March 2, 2005 08:05 PM from IP: 209.226.118.76

I had hay fever results that were literally off the charts as a teenager - my doctor had to triple-check to make sure he was doing things right the first time I was tested.

One of my weekly chores was to mow the two acre field adjacent to our house. We had a tractor, so it usually took about an hour and a half to complete the task. I remember sneezing so much that my chest would hurt and just giving up on trying to control the virtual snot faucet that would begin as soon as I started.

Between the sneezes every five seconds and the fact that my eyes would tear up and swell shut, I had a difficult time keeping my lines straight. Especially every once in a while when I'd mow over a ground hornet nest.

I hated him for it at the time, but looking back now, I can understand the twisted sense of pleasure that my father must have gotten from yelling at me for making a mess of the yard. Ah, to be a kid again.

Comment number: 005068   Posted by: Derek on March 3, 2005 10:33 PM from IP: 65.100.82.252

Claritin is fun! It gives me the weirdest nightmares: I dreamt of a monastery of mad monks once. Very vivid.

Comment number: 005080   Posted by: Ed on March 8, 2005 04:02 PM from IP: 202.78.67.57

sounds like you went through nearly the same thing I did, the tests, etc. I started smoking too, despite my awful allergies and asthma. Perhaps its because I grew up in a house full of smokers...anyway, its weird that my asthma hasn't been a problem for years now, despite the smoking--and I have 4 or 5 friends who had the same exact thing happen to them. My asthma isn't gone, either (i didn't 'grow out of it'. Just think, if Big Tobacco caught wind of this, they'd piss themselves, cigarettes as miracle asthma cure!

Comment number: 005104   Posted by: cat on March 14, 2005 06:07 PM from IP: 131.91.61.115

Another vote for smoking! Fantastic how it deadens the asthma and responses to allergens! It's a sick world. I admit that I did quit smoking eventually. However, I then moved to Los Angeles, city of crap-in-the-air. I should have kept smoking and stayed in Seattle.

Comment number: 005126   Posted by: manduca on March 19, 2005 02:56 PM from IP: 131.215.240.158

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