Dairy is the devil

Yesterday I had my first allergy test. I’ve had various on-and-off allergies the past few years, but wanted to get some official answers. I’d suspected I was mainly dealing with lactose intolerance, along with seasonal allergies. And.. the test basically confirmed this, though, unfortunately, there’s no real test for lactose intolerance — it’s a trial-and-error thing. The test itself wasn’t quite what I was expecting; my mom and a friend both had the test done on their back, so I was imagining being in this windowless room, laid out spread eagle on my stomach on an examination table. Then the doctor would start poking little needles in my back. In reality, the tests were done on my forearms and biceps and I sat in a chair in a regular exam room. On my right arm was outdoor allergens — grass, pollen, trees. The nurse made little black-ink marks from my bicep (January-season plants/pollens) to my wrist (December plants/pollens). Then he put drops of the allergens up and down my arms, and pushed them into my skin with this “prick” tool. Before he got started on my left arm (food/pet allergies), areas of my right arm were already starting to burn — before the 15-minute “do not itch” “do not bend your arms” period had even started! After he did my right arm, then the real fun began…sitting alone in the exam room with both arms madly itching, and no book to read (since I couldn’t bend my arms to get it out of my bag, turn pages, etc.). I had to pass the time starting at various posters about nasal polyps and asthma. Good times. I was lightheaded for the first five minutes or so — I think from the overdose of allergens — but I hung my head down for a few minutes and eventually it passed.

As mentioned above, the test results were a little anticlimactic. I’m indeed allergic to many Feb-July trees/pollens, along with grass. I also have slight allergies to tree fruits (apples, oranges, cherries …), but that allergy was at its worst in high school/college, and only bothers me sporadically now (apparently one can build up a sort of tolerance for those allergens). I also have a slight allergy to cats.. I did get really stuffed up around a former co-worker’s cat a few years back, but I’ve never been bothered by Buster or Fuzzy, the cat I grew up with at my parents’, so I’m not worried about that. Interestingly, the reactions I had to the tree pollens on my arms (which looked like huge mosquito bites) were still visible by early evening, even though I’d had my test around 3 p.m.

Anyhow, seems like dairy is indeed the main culprit, though thankfully I’m not allergic to milk itself. One of these days, maybe I’ll get the will power to completely go off dairy for a few days to verify this, but at this point, I’ll just try to do a better job of avoiding it as much as possible — especially when I’m not at home — and taking Lactaid pills when I can’t (though I think my intolerance is so acute that even a full dose of Lactaid only helps a little). I drink pretty much only soy milk at home, but I do have a lot of regular ice creams, cheeses, etc. It’s surprising how many food products have milk or milk products in them..

I miss the worry-free days of my childhood when I could eat anything and everything. Ah, the joys of getting older!


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