Friday, October 26, 2007

I'm Allergic to Guinea Pigs

I'm allergic to guinea pigs. Also dogs, dust mites, ragweed, English plantain (which is a weed, not a type of banana), two kinds of mold and birch trees.

I know this because a few weeks ago I was allergy tested. It's a pretty simple medical procedure-- they dip teeny-tiny needles into purified allergens, then poke them into your back or arm and wait to see if you get what looks like a mosquito bite.

It's a nice application of scientific testing and controls-- they also poke you with a needle dipped in NOTHING to make sure it's not the needles causing the bumps, and a needle dipped in pure histamine to make sure you're reactive-- histamine is actually the stuff your body makes in reaction to an allergen like mosquito spit, and which causes the allergic welts.

Happily, there's a 93%-effective cure for allergies. Unhappily, the cure involves getting increasingly concentrated injections of the stuff to which you're allergic. For me, that translates into around 300 shots in my arms over the next two years.

I'd actually visited with a doctor at the Northampton Wellness Associates; they treat allergies both using the traditional shot-in-the-arm method and with a newfangled drops-under-the-tongue method that sounds less painful. But I just couldn't bring myself to support a place that promotes chelation therapy. Besides, the shots have more solid medical evidence that they're effective, and Dr. Bayuk's office is right next to the bike path in Florence so I go to try out the new bike path extension under Hwy. 91 (it's very nice).

So, if all goes well, next allergy season I'll be breathing easy. I'll still be allergic to guinea pigs, though-- they only test for that allergy, they don't give shots for it. I think I can live with that.

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