Monday, April 1, 2013

Allergies please

Waiting for histamines reactions
Today I spent about four hours at Kaiser getting allergy and lung blah-de-blah tests (you have to wait at least 15 minutes between each one) and a chest xray. During the various waiting periods, I read this beautifully written article (kinda long), called "The Making of a Peaceful Death". (I think I share values with my siblings, which I am grateful for.)

My lung capacity is normal (FEV1=98%), so I probably don't have asthma. Danamaya told me the nodules may be in the tissue between the airways and this still appears to be the case.  The doctor said my lungs sound clear, as I hope Nelson will say two days from now. After inhaling albuterol, my lung capacity increased to 106%. (Don't ask me how this is possible!) Now, my lungs feel irritated, and I imagine it's the albuterol so I'm going to have to be seriously short of breath to use that stuff.

The allergy tests were extensive. I seem to have FEWER allergies than I had 20 or so years ago when I received a much simpler test. And, even more shocking, I am not allergic to dust or mold. I almost don't believe it! The doctor made the distinction between an irritant and an allergen. She said, with an irritant, the quantity increases symptoms. People don't tend to be as sensitive specifically to the quantities of allergens. (Almost) any amount of an allergen will set you off. I don't know. Still, dust hangs out on books and house plants. I may get them out of my room anyway, because it is definitely an irritant for me, as are many other things.

I am moderately allergic to the pollen of cedar trees, certain grasses, and ragweed. That's it. These kinds of pollens tend to be around from April to October, exactly NOT the months that I've been coughing (January to present, April 1.) She said my cough is probably not caused by allergies. It isn't in any way a bad cough - Kathy said she didn't even notice it - but this would explain why it's about the same all the time (except when it gets worse!)

She gave me two different kinds of inhaler (one for shortness of breath, one steroid to use twice a day), nasal spray, and...something else. Told me to use the nasal rinse. I may just start with the nasal rinse Misha gave me, and see what that does. If my cough isn't caused by allergies, what might I hope to gain from taking all these meds?

So: my lungs are officially touchy. I can't be around people wearing perfume or cologne, cold air, I can't tolerate incense or any other kind of smoke, so many things to which the lungs, as Nancy Reagan used to suggest, Just Say No these days.

Yet, I had a Hagen Daaz chocolate ice cream bar today. It was good, and it did NOT make me cough.

Great chapter meeting today. We talked about dealing with fatigue (everyone seems to be dealing with it), and I got to talk about how sick of focusing on myself I am, trying to unpack that a bit. The appointment with Dr. N. on Weds brings up the muck again.
Close your eyes, knowing
that healing is a work of darkness,
that darkness is a gown of healing,
that the vessel of our tremulous venture is lifted
by tides we do not control...
From "Ode to Healing" by John Updike

1 comment:

  1. What a splendid poem and timely (pour moi) too! I'm glad you don't have asthma and that your net # allergies are less! Hooray for that! But irritants cause sensitivity and inflammation as surely as allergens and if it's buggin' you enough, the steroids are worth it. Perhaps use them for a month and then see--these things fully manifest not immediately. They (steroids) deposit pretty much locally and don't travel much, so there's no weirdness of rebound, particularly, when you stop. And I agree, it's still a good idea to get jiggy with the vacuum.

    What IS crucial is to put on the right kind of music while you vacuum. Irritative particles are known to become docile when reggae is played, helpless with the blues and more easily sucked up with rock n roll. [From the Journal of Irreproducible Effects "Measurement of Rates of Agitation in Quantum Particles at the Macroverse Level"]

    Oh. April Fool's Day was YESTERDAY? Pah! jet lag.