As y’all have learned, I’ve always had food allergies (quite literally from the day I was born).  I’ve learned to deal with that by bringing my own cupcakes to other kids’ birthday parties, by carrying a purse at a very young age so I could always have an Epi-Pen on me, by telling anyone I dated that they had to wash out their mouth before they could kiss me (which was definitely awkward on first dates), by not being able to have lattes at coffee shops, and by many other strange but required things throughout my life.

Since it’s been almost a decade since I’d seen an allergist, I figured it was about time to go back to see one since my food reactions have become more common and more severe lately (and I can’t keep calling out to work, so I needed some doctor’s proof to receive some FMLA). At one of my doctor visits, the nurse asked me if I was feeling congested; I responded that I wasn’t. She then asked me if I was having any trouble breathing; I responded that I wasn’t. She then asked me if I ever felt like there was something tickling the back of my throat; I responded that I never had. Strangely enough, she told me that she could feel the congestion in my neck, could hear the rattling in my lungs, and could see the mucus in the back of my throat . . . an environmental skin test was ordered.

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I came back to the allergist a few weeks later to get the environmental skin test. Needless to say, it was definitely an interesting experience! Instead of having to stick me 82 times with individual needles, the technician had a machine with multiple needles at the end, and stuck me with that machine a few times. I then had to lay there for 15 minutes while my body reacted to the allergens. I decided to document (as best I could) my reactions to the allergens.

When the technician came back in after the 15 minutes were up, he audibly gasped as he looked at my back and at all the reactions I was having. He then had to manually hold up a ruler and measure each and every one of my hives and document how red they were. The larger the bump, the more severe my allergy. If I didn’t have a visible reaction to an allergen on my back, a more potent form of that allergen was then injected into my arms with individual needles.

Of the 82 allergens I was tested for, I am allergic to 64!! I’d always known I was allergic to cats and dogs, but it turns out that my hive to the cat allergen was three times larger than my reaction to the dog allergen! And my reaction to the horse allergen was even larger than my reaction to the cat . . . and my reaction to cedar was even worse than my reaction to the horse! My largest hive was 22mm in diameter. That’s a big ol’ bump!

The main thing I learned from this skin testing was that with all of the things I’m allergic to, I am just constantly congested and unable to breath fully. The breathing test I also took determined that I now have some minor asthma . . . which explains why my food reactions have become more common (if I’m already having trouble breathing, the possibility of me reacting to an allergen is even higher). Since this testing, I’ve begun to take allergy medicationsNasonex, and Dulera . . . and it’s amazing how my sleep has improved and how I can finally breath a little deeper!

Moral of the story: just because you’re incredibly focused on ensuring you’re not eating any foods that could kill you, also make sure that you’re not putting other health issues on the wayside. Those effect you on a daily basis!