Coping with the Worst Allergy I Could Develop

This morning I had an appointment with an allergist. Funny thing, before I tell you what happened. This clinic was recommended to me by a friend and coworker. When I got my packet of information from the clinic, I noticed the doctor’s name as an old classmate from Ouachita. Sure enough, it was her! Funny how from time to time I find that fellow alum are living right here too!

Anyway, I have been suffering like never before with allergies. I never go to the doctor, not out of stubbornness, but really I’m just blessed with a strong immune system. (A little too strong for the histamines.) In the last few months, I will wake up in the middle of the night, my eyes painful because I’ve been subconsciously rubbing the heck out of them in my sleep. My throat will itch, complete with hacking and coughing. Half a box of facial tissue can be used up each morning.

I heard ragweed was extra bad this year, but the difference in what I have been experiencing is 1) my symptoms are year round and 2) my condition is worst at night and first thing in the morning. Point of interest, when I went to California a couple weeks ago, zero problems. Although I made it my standard joke to say I’m just allergic to air, this made me concerned I’d grown an allergy to cats.

So I went in this morning and got the full scratch test on my back. Round 1 revealed ragweed and birchwood positives. I didn’t experience any palpable irritation, though. Then she wanted to run a stronger series of tests. So I got a dozen little sub-skin shots in my arm for round 2. I had some good reactions then, particularly one spot. I figured it was the stronger dose of ragweed. She came in, looked at me, and gave me a pitiful little look. My heart sunk. The most positive reaction was my greatest fear: cat. How could I have possibly developed this in the last year as an adult? I just makes me sick.

So we started talking options. I got nasal drops, eye drops… all the good stuff. But of course, that only treats the symptoms. We talked HEPA filters, vacuums, Naomi not sleeping in the bed anymore, and bathing her once a week. I love my little girl and will go to any lengths necessary without disrupting her lifestyle. So it just ain’t gonna happen, her sleeping somewhere else and taking a bath. Nuh uh. And I say this next thing only because you, my reader, will probably let it cross your mind, but it will not for even one second be entertained in mine. Naomi is my baby girl and I love her like any parent loves their human child. She is my furry child. I would rather suffer the rest of my life than even THINK about having to let her go.

There’s a long course of treatment to effectively cure a person of cat allergy, with a reported 80-90% success rate. It would start with weekly injections for 6 months, then stronger doses and less frequency over 3-5 years. Plus I would have to keep an (expensive) epi pen on me. I initially said that’s what I wanted to do. Then I discovered what crappy insurance I really have. I have a $1500 deductible, of which I haven’t touched a cent. So I was stuck with the full bill today. Hooray for that. (And no sarcasm, I am VERY grateful they wrote off half my cost.) But that $1500 is what I would at least be out each year, plus my co-pay after that, which is ridiculously high. If I understand it right, it’d be $2500 or so a year. That’s lifestyle changing expensive!

I go over to my work’s HR and try to ask questions but this crap is way over my head. I just never use it, auto-select the basic coverage every year, don’t need to use it, rinse and repeat. I could do a cafeteria plan and have the pre-tax money set aside. But at minimum, it would financially smart to not start the treatment until Jan 1, because I’d just have to meet the deductible all over again. And since I’m waiting, why not give some of the home remedies a shot?

So I’m looking at HEPA filters for each room, vacuuming more (fortunately I have a Dyson Animal that will do a good job), and using the meds for a few months. I don’t know the first thing about HEPA filters. Like I heard they have to be replaced annually, or is that just the filters? Doc gave me some info about Honeywell ones. If you know anything, please text or email me or something. In the meantime, I’m doing my online research diligently.

That’s the plan for now. Home air quality improvement and meds, then re-evaluate in 3 months for an injection treatment program. I’m pretty legitimately bummed out about this. I got home and just held Naomi so tight. If it means hundreds of dollars in filters and meds to minimize the reaction or thousands of dollars in injection treatments to try and cure, I’ll do it. She’s worth it to me.

Coping with the Worst Allergy I Could Develop