In Between Life and Death

“Don’t be ridiculous. You grew up in India,” which is truly a loose translation that I should never complain about allergies. Most of my Desi paisans and few more have found utmost hilarity in my allergies, most recent being allergy induced laryngitis and Blepharitis. Well, it is funny when you are able to sneeze for hours together non-stop, while pee drips without control and those around have to go “Bless you” continuously which probably would make the affected an immortal. Not.

Health related concerns such as allergies/ allergic reactions are misunderstood even in most educated households. Few weeks ago my mother and I visited someone who are not dog owners. While I love dogs, I cannot be around them as I could die from exposure especially to those that shed considerably.. Before I entered their home, I asked them again and again if they have dogs. Ofcourse they didn’t own one and relayed the same to me with slight annoyance. Perhaps they thought I was scared of dogs (or cats).

Twenty minutes into sitting in their living room, I started choking and was beginning to have difficulty breathin.. So I asked again, “By any chance you have pets,” being super careful this time to not repeat what I previously asked. The answer was a standard, “No, we don’t have any pets.” I started wondering if I ate something that I should not. And started dissecting the ingredients of the snack served. I didn’t find anything suspicious but I stopped eating further. And thus began my observation and investigation.

Few minutes before we left I really started to get itchy eyes, voice was becoming hoarse and my plumbing was getting clogged. Not a great feeling. It is my love for the beautiful life that keeps me excited all the time. No, I don’t take any energy enhancing drugs. But when something like this happens, it really kills my spirit and I’m not the same anymore. By this time, my mother had started talking about my OCD and the host jumped right in to share their woes about having to clean daily for the last three weeks.

I couldn’t hold my curiosity and inquired, “That’s a lot of cleaning. Wonder why you had to clean that often?” Casually, they mentioned they watched over someone else’s dog for three weeks preceding our visit. And the dog left just the day before. Alas! It was too late to know that vital piece of information. I already had blood shot eyes, a husky voice, closed wind pipes and a body that itched like I am poison ivy’s best friend. The first thought that occured to me was ,”I am so screwed.” If you ever wondered why I don’t trust anyone, now you do.

As soon as I reached home, I did the drill. Pumped in anti-histamines / over the counter steroids x 7, put on anti-allergic cream all over the body, took few anti-inflammatory tabs and started praying I don’t have an anaphylaxis. From what I remembered having one, it is a near death experience. A painful twilight zone that no one deserves to be stuck in. I’m not going to speak for doctors who treat such conditions on a daily baisis. But I have to be dramatic for those who may not understand how tiny the time is to save a life.

While I had fleeting thoughts on what’s going to happen to my mother, or those whose future is dependent on me, and all the cool things I wanted to do in my life but may not end up doing etc. Both the husband and mother took off on a tangent which is very typical of Indians, I guess. On one side the husband is blaming me to have put myself in this situation on another my mother started a rant on what she might have had when she was pregnant with me. Neither useful monologues if I had to be rushed in an ambulance.

A big shout out to all my friends with pets who don’t mind me missing in action for important events and truly understand my situation. Despite the preliminary cribs, my mother and husband do exhibit some empathy after all when I need. I know how much I suffered while I lived in India and thanks to the many medical avenues presented here that I get tested every few years. New allergies get added each time, but I’ve been managing them pretty well for many years. People who are oblivious may never understand that it is indeed matter of life and death.

Published by Quotidian Blessing

InfoSec Director|WIT Mentor-Protege Vice Chair|ATA Convention Women's Forum Chair|Published Poet

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