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Allergies are nothing to sneeze at

Posted: January 26, 2013 - 3:35pm  |  Updated: January 26, 2013 - 4:11pm

Have you been sick this winter? Be careful, it’s going around. If I had a penny for every time someone told me that, I’d be a multimillionaire. The truth of the matter is, yes, I was no exception for the wit of the angry illness bug. “The bug” is the spoiled youngest child in the family that always needs attention, seizes the opportunity to prey on the weak, and is openly ridiculed by everyone.

At age 29 I was introduced to allergies. Depending on the allergy, they can act as an illness, and be just as irritating. Allergies are like the best friend to the spoiled child (they drink from the same cup). It never gets the credit it deserves, even though it’s more creative, and it’s a small terrorist to the body. So I say bah to the bug and it’s best friend, I will not meet your demands! Let me tell you how this demented best friend introduced itself to me.

Eczema. Even now I have to rely on spell check to tell me how that word is spelled. Eczema. I’m not sure I’ll ever be confident enough at spelling that word. It’s like the name of my daughter’s school. I always add a few extra vowels so at least it looks like I gave an honest effort. Anyways. Eczema is different for everyone, but since it was my first bout, it surprised me with angry red devil skin. My husband probably thought I was finally taking my true form. And Christians rarely joke about actually being El Diablo. Well, my soul may have not been in jeopardy, but my skin definitely was.

I visited a statewide genius who gave me an ointment to lull my Hellboy skin back to angel wing feathers. Sadly my mouth was also really red from the eczema and with an incorrect assumption from a nurse (bless her heart) to shed light on an already annoying situation, it made me avoid going out in public. I’m asking you to read between the lines here. At my daughter’s Christmas recital I sat in a dark part of the auditorium and ran out when it was over. Isn’t that sad!? This was my life, ugh!

Allergies. Diet related allergies makes this foodie (and house chef) very sad. That can mean cutting out gluten, dairy, wheat, fish, and something you love. I made a delicious Cajun jambalaya with shrimp a few years ago. I felt weird. My face started to get like, instant chicken pox or something. Then it spread all over my body. In that moment I told God, “I’m not ready!” I took a lot of antihistamines and we sat outside the ER to see if the swelling would go down. It did, and as it turns out, I’m not allergic to any kinds of food, it was just a freak random thing that happened.

Before knowing for sure my allergy causes, it was suggested to me to go dairy and gluten free. Dairy is cheese. Cheese is my life. Gluten is bread. Bread is delicious. I could handle cutting out shrimp and heavy carbs (I’m diabetic), but c’mon, gluten AND dairy!? In that moment I told God, “What’s the point. Just take me home already.”

I finally got allergy tested and I’m clear of food allergies! This is good news. Not gonna lie, after those five pounds magically showed up after the holidays I could use a good food allergy or two. The bad news is my main allergy is Alaska. Birch, alder, cottonwood ... if you are reading this and you don’t live here, these trees are out back, front, middle, side to side, up and down, wiggle around, touch the ground ... everywhere. Dust mites are my enemy. Animal hair hates me. Watch for pollen in spring time. Call the dermatologist for my devil arms. Done!

Here’s the thing: while finding out “bad” news about allergies, it can always be worse. Right? Maybe that’s absurd optimism that things can always be worse, but how about just enjoying what’s going? I was miserable, but knowing my face won’t explode if I eat cheese was a shining moment. Instead of self pity, being relatable and educating myself is helpful. Keeping an extra eye out for soy products that my dairy free friends can experiment with. Making gluten-free cookies or fruit kabobs for the kids in class that have gluten allergies. Finding the right skincare products that work best for me (Cetaphil). In my own crazy process we’re now living more “green and clean,” so now my family can avoid dust mites with me. A cleaner house, a better diet, avoiding animals, and knowing the name “Zyrtec” sounds like a New Year’s Resolutions specially created just for me!

Live well and be free!

Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at columnkasi@gmail.com.

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