Monday, March 21, 2011

More Than Just a Sneeze

Question: If you could change one thing about your physical body, what would it be?

Oh, so many possibilities! Bye bye thunder thighs, adios unwanted hair, farewell love handles, au revoir wrinkles, toodaloo deformed pinky toes. There's simply no end to the flaws we see.

Yet when you really stop and ponder, these external changes are all trivial. If only we would appreciate the beauty of being created in God's image--a beauty which emanates so much more from within than without.

While I always thought I might jump at the chance to add a cubit to my stature, today I realized that given the opportunity, I wouldn't change my appearance, not even for a few extra inches. Given the miracle of modern medicines, I wouldn't rid myself of asthma either. No, if I could change one single thing, I would exterminate my allergies to cats.

Allergies. They sound so petty and trivial. Some itchy eyes, a runny nose, a touch of hay fever. Nearly everybody's allergic to something, so buck up, take an anti-histamine, and quit complaining, alright?

For the most part, I agree. After all, from a very young age I've been dog-tagged with a long list of evil allergens to avoid: dust, mold, mites, feathers, dogs, hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas (you get the furry idea). If I were to stay away from them all, I'd miss out on life. In general, these allergic encounters are occasionally inconvenient, yet overall they are manageable.

Until...Cats. When it comes to cats, a miniscule exposure causes my allergies (and asthma) to spiral out of control. Even the term "allergies" doesn't seem to adequately describe the sneezing, wheezing, dripping, sniffling, dysfunctional mess that cat dander causes. Today I visited a neighbor for literally five minutes, never even sitting down. While we were talking, Eli petted their kitty for a moment, and I unthinkingly carried Eli home. Almost instantaneously the sneezing started--seven, eight, nine times in a row. I've wandered around fairly incapacitated for the rest of the day. While I know there are some good allergy medicines out there, when it comes to the internal war I wage with cats, nothing is strong enough. Trust me.

What bothers me most about these awful allergies are not the physical symptoms, dreadful as they may be. It's not even the fact that I'll never enjoy petting a purring ball of fur, nice as that would be. No, I despise my cat allergies because they damage relationships. When allergies are this severe, they become divisive. As much as I want to be close to people, if they share their lives with a cat, it is difficult for me to join that circle. The neighbor I visited today is battling cancer. Physically, she can't leave her home. Yet with three cats, it's hard for me to join her without losing functionality for the rest of the day. I feel like our spirits need each other. How absurd that something as trivial as an allergy should keep us apart.

Guess it's time to invest in more Kleenex.


Julie L said...

Oh, man, that's just rotten. I know while we had our cat, there were dear friends and loved ones who could not step foot in our home. As much as I miss her, I don't miss that part about her. I'm not sure why cats can be so bad that way, but they definitely do seem to affect a lot of people. You are NOT alone! Telephone calls always help, even if your face-to-face visits have to be limited. Also, sending over a plate of goodies with the hubby never hurts. I know you will find many ways to help and assist without having to spend hours inside the torture chamber. My heart goes out to you.

Chou said...

Ugh, I hate that feeling! I agree, allergies would be a very good thing to change. That, and dander-less kitties.

candice said...

I know this sounds silly, but could you put some sort of "bag" on, like a raincoat or something that will pick up minimal hair/dander when you sit down, leave the kids at home, so they don't pick up anything, and phone before you go over so she can put the cats in the back room. That might give you thirty minutes of time to chat before the sneezing kicks in, you could also sit on a kitchen table chair in the middle of the living room to minimize exposure to the cat sheddings on the furniture. That or you could just get a blessing asking H.F. to help you to not have severe reactions while visiting her, i'm sure He'd be happy to help :)