“You’re allergic to trees?!” they say incredulously.
“And grass. And dust. And flowers. And just nature in general. I need a bubble,” I joke, trying to play it off. Because it does sound ridiculous and a little wimpy and like I’m just trying to make excuses to get out of camping. Which, yes, I am usually trying to get out of camping because bugs, but that’s beside the point.
I have severe allergies. I take a very high dose of antihistamines every morning, in addition to a special inhaler and nasal spray, just to function and breathe a little easier. Despite my daily regimen, I still get congested around flowers and my skin turns red when I touch certain plants. As the day goes on and my allergy pill wears off (24-hour protection, my ass), my symptoms get worse. My throat starts to feel gummy, and I get the sniffles. This happens every day, regardless of the time of year. But hey, it’s only allergies, right?
It feels really high maintenance to say that I plan around my allergies. I do like to go hiking and to spend time outside, but I organise those things for earlier in the day, when my allergy pill is still fresh and working the best. When I am camping, I am super careful not to touch any leaves or plants that I don’t need to and will take extra pills as needed (though not recommended, as it severely exceeds the daily dosage).
Sadly, I’m also allergic to cats and sulphites, which are in a lot of food — the sulphites, not the cats. I also have super sensitive skin, which means most soaps and lotions give me hives. All this to say, the world can be a freaking minefield for people like me with allergies, despite it seeming like such a paltry and innocuous thing. None of my allergies will kill me, but they make life extremely uncomfortable. So, occasionally I do go for walks in arboretums or eat food with sulphites or pet a friend’s cat (not a euphemism). That’s not me picking and choosing when my allergies apply; it’s me making an informed choice of when I’m willing to deal with the consequences of my allergies.
My roommate also has allergies, and it makes things so much easier. She doesn’t get upset when I request we use a certain soap or ask her to move a vase of flowers to another room. And I didn’t get mad when she asked me to switch my lotion because the smell was triggering her allergies. We’re both careful about cleaning up any foods that the other is allergic to and are super understanding when something spontaneously triggers an allergy attack. Living with someone who gets it, who doesn’t make you feel bad about being a little “high maintenance,” is a huge relief.
For some people, it is “just” allergies. And there are absolutely much more serious allergies out there than mine. I won’t have an anaphylactic response and don’t need to carry an epipen, but I spend every day just a smidge uncomfortable. Even now, as I write this, my throat feels scratchy, and my eyes are itchy because I spent the day outside. So, I guess I’m asking people to be a bit more understanding when someone cites allergies as an excuse for things. Yes, it is kind of ridiculous that I’m allergic to trees, but it also really sucks. I won’t be the next bubble boy anytime soon, so until they discover a miracle cure, this is just part of my normal.
On a lighter note, whenever I piss off my mom, she tells me to go hug a tree. So at least someone finds it funny.