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Willisms

« Challenge To Our Readers: Jack Abramoff | WILLisms.com | " . . . But We Support The Troops!" »

My Allergy Skin Test.

So, I know some of you are wondering where I have been lately. What the heck is going on. And so on.

Well, it's been a combination of things. I just moved, my new internet setup was not functioning for a while, I am career transitioning, AND cedar has been destroying me. Yes, cedar. The tree. It's been absolutely vicious. And I am not alone. It's been thoroughly kicking the butts of a lot of people in Texas in recent weeks. We're talking many hours straight of runny nose, then bloody nose, then congestion, plus headache, plus constant, painful sneezing, and so on. Then it leads to viral infections. Not to mention fatigue.

So today, I finally went to an allergy specialist and received the skin test. They tested for 70+ allergens by poking me with tiny amounts of those allergens and seeing whether a hive formed in the vicinity of the poke.

First, they asked me more questions than I have ever been asked at the doctor's office. Ever. I had to go through my entire life history, including where I have lived, what my family members were like, what my roommates were like, what pets I had, what allergic symptoms I have had through the years, what jobs I have had, what activities I have done at different times in life, and so on.

Then they made me blow as hard as I could into a tube to measure my breathing capabilities, then breathe inward the same way. I was at 89%. I should have been at about 104%, from an "eyeball" of my fitness level (100% would have matched my height and weight precisely). So I was underachieving on the blow test. Allergies. Grr. I could have been the next Lance Armstrong if not for the whole breathing thing. Who knows.

Then came the skin test. The test was in two phases. Part one was on my back. The nurse brought out a gown thing for me to wear if I preferred, or I could just take off my shirt. I opted to just take off my shirt. Ha.

Anyway, she swabbed most of my back with alcohol, let it dry, then wrote the numbers 1 through 71 in regular blue ink pen. Then she brought in a tray of little blue hors d'oeuvres style toothpick things dipped in allergens and commenced to break the skin 71 times. Fun times.

Actually, it went pretty quickly, and it didn't really hurt much, but I had to fight the urge to scratch them. I read a book about birds for 15 minutes while the allergens stewed within. The nurse returned to find 3 positive results.

I am highly allergic to two trees: mountain cedar and red cedar. Also, to one weed: marsh elder.

For the other 68 that showed negative or inconclusive results, we had to repeat the process of the back, but instead on the arms. And with actual syringes. As in, 68 shots in the arm. With needles. And blood.

So, with the less superficial test, more allergies showed up.

Here is the full list (positive results bolded):

TREES
1. White Ash - Negatory. Awesome. I like ash trees.
2. Birch - Negative. Splendid. Birch is underrated as a tree.
3. Box Elder - Nope. Never heard of it, either. Maybe that's why I am not allergic to it. It doesn't exist.
4. Mountain Cedar - YES. The jerks. Juniper is also apparently VERY similar to cedar.
5. Red Cedar - YES. More jerks.
6. Cottonwood - YES. How could anyone NOT be allergic to those things with their floating cotton ball nonsense?
7. American Elm - Yep. Nightmare on American Elm Street.
8. Cedar Elm - No. How am I allergic to both cedar and elm, but not cedar elm?
9. Hackberry - YES. The jerks.
10. Live Oak - No. Thank goodness. I love those things.
11. Maple - No. MMM, pancakes.
12. Mesquite - No. Good. Lots of that around here. And in barbecue pits.
13. Mulberry - Yes. Oddly enough. And they stain your clothes and the sidewalk.
14. Pecan - Nope. I knew I wasn't allergic to pecan.
15. Pine - Nope. Lots of pine in SE Texas.
16. Privet - Nope. Not that familiar with this one, but I am glad I am not allergic to it.
17. Sycamore - Nope. Another nice tree.
18. Willow - Yes. Makes me weep.

GRASS

19. Bahia - Nope.
20. Bermuda - Nope.
21. Brome - Nope.
22. Johnson - Nope.
23. Perennial Rye - Nope.
24. Timothy - Nope.
25. Wheat Grass - Nope.

That's right, no grass allergies. Nice.

WEEDS

26. False Ragweed - Nope.
27. Giant Ragweed - Nope.
28. Short Ragweed - Nope.
29. Careless Ragweeed - Nope.
30. Pigweed - Nope.
31. Waterhemp - Nope.
32. Sage - YES. But not parsley, rosemary, or thyme.
33. Baccharis - No.
34. Jerusalem Oak - No.
35. Lambs Quarters - No.
36. Mexican Tea - No.
37. Cocklebur - No.
38. Kochia - No.
39. Marsh Elder - YES. The jerks.
40. Nettle - YES. Jerks.
41. Russian Thistle - Nope.
42. Saltbrush - Nope.
43. Sheep/Redsorrel

ENVIRONMENTALS

44. Cat - No.
45. Cockroach AM - No.
46. Cockroach, GER - No.
47. Mite Farinae - YES. Dust mites. In the pillows and carpet and such.
48. Mite Pteronyssinus - YES. More dust mites. Jerks.
49. Dog - No.

MOLD
50. Alternaria - No.
51. Aspergillius - No.
52. Boytrytis - No.
53. Candida - No.
54. Cephalosporium - No.
55. Cladosporium - No.
56. Curvularia - No.
57. Epicoccom - No.
58. Fusarium - No.
59. Geotruchum - No.
60. Helmenthosporium - No.
61. Monilla - No.
62. Mucor - No.
63. Nigrospora - No.
64. Penicillium - No.
65. Pullularia - No.
66. Phoma - No.
67. Rhizopus - No.
68. Stemphylium - No.
69. Trichopyton - No.

Surprisingly, not allergic to ANY of the available molds.

70. Negative Control - No. Which is good. That would be weird to be allergic to nothing.
71. Histamine - VERY allergic. Which makes sense. You are supposed to be allergic to that.

So, yeah, lots of pen marks on my body (which I don't like very much as it is), and lots of pokes. 140+ of them. But now I know. And knowing is half the battle.

Incidentally, mountain cedar has been off the charts here in Central Texas. Literally, off the charts.

For tree pollen, here are the ratings:

0 - 14 Low
15 - 89 Moderate
90 – 1,499 High
>1,500 Very High

In the past few weeks, we've seen cedar pollen up past 4,000 on a pretty regular basis. So, roughly 3 times as bad as the lower limit of "very high."

The good news is that cedar is finally waning:

austinallergies.gif

So, with things settling down vis-a-vis moving (and everything associated with that), with this knowledge, and with a new allergy treatment regimen beginning today, hopefully I will be able to get back in the blogging groove soon. Muchas gracias to Ken for his great posts in recent weeks.

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 January 2006 08:43 PM

Comments

We've missed you Will. I hope there is some treatment that can straighten this out for you.

Posted by: Ken McCracken at January 23, 2006 09:08 PM

Sounds like something everyone should have done. Alas, it sounds very expensive. Was this covered by insurance?

Posted by: Hoodlumman at January 23, 2006 10:55 PM

Covered by insurance indeed. Just a normal co-pay applied, like any other office visit.

Posted by: Will Franklin at January 23, 2006 10:59 PM

We need to get our middle son tested, but after reading what it involves.... I DO NOT SEE IT HAPPENING.

Poor kid.

Posted by: WunderKraut at January 24, 2006 06:56 AM

I really don't like needles!!!...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at January 24, 2006 08:12 AM

Welcome back Will. That sounds like an ordeal that I wouldn't wish on anyone but my worst enemies. To my knowledge, I'm not allergic to anything, and don't really care to find out. I think that allergies are mostly psychological. I knew a girl with bad asthma that tested positive to water (the negative control), and everything else. Maybe all that poking makes some people react to just the poke. I've never heard of a lot of those things, but my dad has a boxelder tree in his back yard, and those crazy red and black boxelder bugs would swarm and get in everything, and drive me nuts.

Posted by: the paperboy at January 24, 2006 09:38 AM

I hate allergy tests. I have had three done, and I think they have to be up there with giving birth (which I have not yet experienced, but I am scared to death of if it is worse than the allergy test). You are lucky you are not allergic to molds, they are bad in Austin too. Allergies suck.

Posted by: Margaret at January 24, 2006 10:22 AM

Welcome back, Will.

Posted by: Cullen at January 24, 2006 10:33 AM

Yeah, I had that done, only I was allergic to almost everything, so I only had to get 15 shots in my arm. Molds and dust and dogs are about the only thing that don't bother me. I thought I was getting a sore throat yesterday, but I then i realized that I hadn't taken my allergy medicine. Took one this morning and I feel fine. It was that damn cedar.

Posted by: Ian Pittman at January 24, 2006 10:33 AM

I can't believe they poked you with cockroach guts. That's cruel and unusual.

Posted by: Mick Wright at January 24, 2006 07:04 PM

I agree with Mick!...Who are these people who are creating these tests anyway?

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at January 24, 2006 07:46 PM