Penguin Allergy

I had an interesting visit to the allergy doctor yesterday. It appears that the only way I can be allergy free is move to Antarctica, continue to avoid celery, and just in case I have a penguin allergy - don't get a pet.  I guess I could test that theory with a quick trip to the zoo.

Word has it, that this spring and summer are horrible for allergies here in Utah.  A dry winter, strong winds, little rain, and who knows what else have affected almost anyone you meet.  Until I ran into the food allergy issues last year, I didn't think I had allergies to anything.  After yesterday, I'll have to plan an extra 30 minutes whenever I fill out a medical form.  I'm new to the allergy thing and have many friends that have lived with it their entire lives and get shots to manage - I'm realizing it's a real pain.  So, here's a recap of how I ended up worrying about penguin allergies.

I came home from Malaysia in November with a nasty head cold, exacerbated by the plane ride home.  My primary doctor diagnosed it as an official sinus infection and after a week of meds, I was good to go.  Fast forward to Jan/Feb/Mar and my sinuses were still bothering me occasionally so I visited an ENT and the sinus infection was still there.  This time, I did 3 weeks of antibiotics to clean everything out and make sure something from South Asia wasn't trying to take residence.  As I came off those meds, we were into late April and spring was in the air (literally).  I could sense some kind of allergic reaction to the pollen but it was so thick and most everyone had symptoms that I just assumed we were all reacting and it would settle down.  Unfortunately, even with the neti pot and nose spray, I still couldn't shake a constant post nasal drip and dry cough throughout April, May, and June.  Thanks to the testing back in October, I know I have a major allergy to sagebrush, but its strongest pollen counts are in the fall.
Pollen and Raccoon prints on the deck - May2012
Terry finally put his foot down one morning around 3am when I once again had awoken him with my cough.  It was time to figure out what was going on.  Not to mention, we are very sensitive around the neighborhood to lingering coughs after Christian's diagnosis.  I knew this wasn't the "Colorado Cough", but did sense that something was off.  I made an appt and kept trying nose sprays, antihistamines, and other allergy meds from my assortment.  Some helped, some didn't.  I also started to examine my diet, since my allergy history is food related.  Believe it or not, I even stopped eating peanut butter.  I had tested negative last year for it, but you never know.

Last week's vacation convinced me it was environmental allergies.  By the 2nd night in Priest Lake, I was sleeping without coughing, waking up without mucus, and felt more alert.  I didn't really realize I was dragging except for the occasional sleepy eyes at work.  Back home this week, the symptoms are back but not as bad.  According to the doctor, July is the best month for allergies since all the grasses and trees are finished pollinating and the weeds haven't started.

The doctor, after hearing all of this and more, decided to test me for almost all the environmental skin tests on the list.  Good thing I have a long back.  The nurse labeled off 59 spots and then went to town pricking me with the allergens.  Before she was even finished with the first column, I was reacting.  She finished and I had another 15 minutes before they wiped off what they could and lathered me with lotion.  In that 15 minutes, my body had a party.  The adjectives the doctor used to describe some of the welts included; major league, massive, impressive, severe, .. I should have recorded his commentary.  The nurses did their measurements while we talked about treatments.

1. Move to Antarctica.  But don't get a penguin since the odds would be that I'm allergic.
2. Nose spray (prescription)
3. Nose spray and antihistamines (prescription)
4. Some new steroid flush process - think of neti pot with lots of head movement
5. Last but not least, continue to carry the epipen for the celery but also just in case.

Although the drip and cough are annoying, they are nowhere near as miserable as friends that are wheezing and sneezing, so Antarctica is a bit extreme.  I may try to avoid heavy sagebrush trails when running and biking, but otherwise I can't avoid breathing in whatever blows in from Nevada. We are going to do a sinus CT scan in October when I should be at my absolute worst due to the sagebrush and take it from there.

With that, I'll leave you with my back masterpiece and the accompanying allergens and measurements.  I had  an itchy night but feel great today and have no desire to leave my moose and deer for penguins.

59 Environmental Skin Tests
Skin Test Allergens and Measurements