18 January 2009

Getting older stinks

Ok, so the title of my post tells really only half the story. It's not that I mind the getting older part, per se, because I really don't; I'm in the best shape I've ever been in (theoretically) and I'm certainly pursuing work that I enjoy with a clarity that I didn't have when I was younger.

No, the part about getting older that I don't enjoy is the unexpected curve balls that my body is throwing me, namely, allergies to things that I love. In the past couple of years, I've apparently become allergic to at least two things that we know of:
  1. Cats. I discovered this after I had had my own cat for at least 2 1/2 years. Initially when I got her, my hands broke out in a rash and my upper lip swelled. I thought this was a freak coincidence, since I had never been allergic to cats before, so I just started taking generic allergy pills every other day and forgot about it. I only figured out that I WAS allergic to cats last summer, when I decided to stop taking my pills - why was I taking them if I didn't know what I was allergic to? And then I took my cat to the groomer to get her shaved, and my arms broke out in a rash after helping to hold her while she got a hair cut. So that was a sad day when I realized I was allergic to cats, since I love animals of all kinds.
  2. Wine. Another sad day was when I realized that wine very well might be causing the wretched migraines I have had infrequently over the past couple of years. I had never had problems with it before, but I can count 3 occasions in the past 15 months where I've ingested some wine and then been down for at least the next 2 days. I went to the doctor and he said that I was experiencing a "classic migraine presentation." Then he gave me a big long list of foods I "might want to avoid" and I laughed, since I consume most of them - but I'll admit, I've been afraid to try wine ever since then.
So I'm mentioning all of this because it irks me, and also I feel like I might be doing a little bit of a service to anyone else who may experience strange symptoms from allergies they've never had before. When I went to the doctor after getting my cat and I told them that I had a rash and a swollen upper lip, they A) thought I was nuts and B) failed to mention that you can develop allergies as you get older. And with the migraines, I've always had headaches so it took me a while to realize that the 48-hour ones I was having might not be normal. (With the wine allergy, some research suggests that a sensitivity to sulfites is what actually causes the headaches. I haven't had the time to stock up on painkillers and test this theory, however.)

Anyway, I'm coping. I'm looking for sulfite-free wine and still taking my daily allergy pill - after all, we have a new little friend in our apartment and I'd much rather sneeze a little bit than evict him. (Any suggestions towards a strategy for dealing with Che the growing kitten are appreciated...)

photo courtesy of Che's owner, my roommate


Laura said...

Vacuum once a week and dust often. When you do dust make sure you get underneath the furniture cuz we all know hairballs love to live under there. Keep the litter box clean too as supposedly it's the urine that you're allergic to too. I also find that using a dust mop (i use a reusable one and spray on endust or something like it) on the floor. This helps get up all the fine dander that isn't necessarily sucked up by the vacuum. Make sure your furnace filter is clean. Vacuum your furniture frequently, wash your curtains once a year if you can.

A person who is allergic to her own cats.

myriam said...

re: the wine thing...

I used to get MONSTROUS headaches every time I drank wine (and still do get them after champagne). After awhile, I figured out two things that are foolproof for me.

1. experimentation with type (sounds like you are already doing this). For me, it turned out that most of the Italian and South American varietals were rough on me (Chianti is the worst). The French for some reason I seem much better with, especially a smooth and mellow Cotes du Rhone. I take notes of actual labels / vintages that work well for me and get those over and over again. The upside is that I've learned a lot more about wine, which is great!

2. More importantly, I figured out that dehydration while drinking wine was a major cause of my headaches. I started drinking one glass of water between every glass of wine, and voila--now I can even get through 3 glasses with that method and NO HEADACHE!!!! At all! It's amazing!

I never got dehydration headaches from beer / liquor and I think wine just affects you differently than you expect, maybe. So, maybe that will help?

myriam said...

Is a "dust mop" like a Swiffer?