First of all, a little disclaimer. The photo above is NOT ME. My arm is not nearly that hairy.
Today I got to learn all about the wonderful world of allergy testing. Some of you may remember way back in March of last year, when I went to a new doctor for the first time. I had been sick all weekend with sinus-infection-like symptoms that had been coming back every few weeks for several months. This doctor spent all of 10 minutes talking to me – not even taking vital statistics like my height or weight – declared that I had allergies, gave me a prescription for Flonase, and sent me on my way. Here is the actual post, if you care: http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-TH7r0Rk7fqiv5pZ8C2z7ZA–?cq=1&p=48
I never went back to see that doctor again. Soon after, I began seeing a new doctor, someone that had been recommended to me, as opposed to just being chosen at random from a book. Over the last year or so, I have been seeing her off and on about these recurring sinus infections and a nearly constant stuffy nose and chronic cough. We’ve tried antibiotics, I’ve had a head CT scan, and a few weeks ago even visited an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist. He looked at the CT scan, couldn’t find anything that looked wrong with my sinuses, and said that maybe I have…um…allergies. Yes, we’re back to that. He recommended that I come back for allergy testing.
Just wanting to know what the heck is wrong with me, so I can take some drugs and stop coughing and clearing my throat all the time, I went today for my allergy tests. If you’ve never had the opportunity to have this done before, I highly recommend it. It’s tons of fun! There are two parts to the testing process. For part one they take these little trays that are sectioned off to hold droplets of 8 different allergens, flip them over and press them firmly into your forearm, so that the little needles surrounding each of the 8 allergens break the skin, and allow the droplets to penetrate. Did I mention there were THREE of these trays, for a total of 24 allergens being tested at once? I got 2 trays on my right arm, and 1 on my left.
Then, you wait for 15 minutes to see if your arm turns green and falls off. One of the droplets is a control that they know will cause a reaction. They then compare the other dots to this one section of skin that welts up and turns red and itchy. If any of the others do the same thing, you are allergic to whatever that section represented. As I mentioned, they test for 24 of the most common allergens, including dust, mold, cockroaches (eww, I wish I were allergic to them!), cats, dogs, trees, pollen, etc.
I spent my 15 minutes reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and trying not to stare at the bumps on my arm. When my time was up, the nurse came in to ‘read’ the results. No reaction to anything. You’d think that would be a good thing, right? Well, remember, I said that there are two parts to the testing process. If you get raised, itchy bumps during part one, great. You’re allergic to those things, and they don’t need to do any further testing – on those particular allergens. It’s the allergens that *don’t* cause any reaction during part one that get to move on to round two…and lucky me, none of them caused a reaction, so they ALL got to move on…
Part two of the testing takes place on your upper arm. Just in case the first test didn’t quite expose you to enough of the allergen to bring on a reaction, this time a little more of each one is individually injected – yes, with a needle – under the skin. 24 cute little hypodermics of fun were injected in 3 columns into my right arm.
Another 15 minutes go by…and still nothing. I am not allergic to anything.
So now we’re sort of back to square one. I wake up every day of my life with a stuffy nose and the need to spend the first hour of my day clearing my throat constantly, and no one can figure out why. The doctor says that I may be one of those non-allergic people whose nose is wired wrong and tends to overreact to every little change in the environment, causing allergy-like symptoms. (Almost sounds to me then that rather than being allergic to nothing, those people are allergic to everything, but hey, I’m not a doctor!) He wrote me a prescription and told me to use it consistently for a couple of months, and then to come back and we’d see if it helped at all. And just what did he prescribe, you ask?