November 10, 2006

...and Dust to Dust

I haven't written about a major development yet this week, because I knew it would take me awhile.

I was severely "physicked" on Monday, and it's been a long time coming. I've had allergies and asthma for many years, but I figured things were basically as good as they'd get; I had an internal medicine doctor, and assumed she knew what she was doing. Mostly, though, she just saw me to renew prescriptions, and did the equivalent of swat me on the behind, tell me I was basically healthy (then why couldn't I do what all these healthy people do all the time???? Like walking up a flight of stairs without sounding like a choo-choo train, or really enjoying a hike, or digging a nice raised bed?), and send me on my way.

So I'd planned to finally see an allergist, but then I got pregnant, and was breastfeeding, for the many-times-mentioned three plus years. Not many cool drugs I could try under those conditions, so I waited. Finally, when I changed doctors this fall, I was referred (without even asking--I love our doc!) to an allergist. I couldn't see her until November because, if they're going to do testing for allergies, they usually like to do it in the "off" season for pollen.

In my case, it turned out to probably not matter (ohhh, the irony), because I am allergic to dust mites.

Dust bothers most people as an irritant, but I actually get to have a real histamine reaction to it (which is very likely one reason why my asthma can flare up unexpectedly and severely...all I need is a good snootful, and I'm off). I did not, however, react to any of the pollen I *thought* I'd be allergic to. So maybe there's something dusty I get into every time I'm ready to go outside....the one upside to all of this is that I see vast vistas of gardening in my future, an activity I'd been afraid would have to be limited. Of course, I still have those twitchy airways of asthma, over and independent of the dust allergy, so there are still a number of things that could bug me in the out-of-doors.

The reason this is a major development, of course, is that there's no way to avoid dust; it is literally everywhere. But there are lots of things you can do to reduce exposure, and that is where we are. I've already ordered some mattress and pillow covers, which is the number one thing everyone seems to recommend (mattresses and pillows are simply *crawling* with dust mites, and short of sleeping au naturel in a different spot on a non-permeable floor every night--with no covers or pillow--there's really nothing that will prevent that. So, we contain and try to avoid making the feeding grounds any more plentiful with the covers.)

Keeping the rest of the house--especially the bedroom--as dust-free as possible is the second challenge. Housework, especially dusting, has always been my Achilles' Heel, and of course now I know why a simple round of even 15 minutes would exhaust me for the day. Duh. But, I'm looking for a few things that will make it easier. And obviously, cleaning up and de-cluttering (which I wanted to do anyway) is now a real health issue.

I may even give away or sell some of my beloved books. I at least plan to move most of them out of the bedroom.

The third area we're looking at is the big picture. Our bedroom is in the basement: not recommended. The basement has carpet: even more not recommended. So we're thinking of taking steps, as we're able, to fix those. Much is in the brainstorming stage now; for instance, the carpet will probably go, replacement TBA. We were always planning to move the girls upstairs eventually, and we'll find some plan for that--we're talking about moving our bedroom into what is now the "guest room" (though we can hardly ever get anyone to stay there--serves you right, slackers! now we're gonna take away your option!) and turning what was the bedroom into a family room/movie area, with some provision for sleeping down there on the really, really, really miserable hot days (maybe ten all together in a year) of summer.

In the meantime, I came home with five--count 'em!--prescriptions Monday, and that doesn't even include the three long-term ones I already had and am continuing on. So I'm quite the pill-popping, spray-spritzing, inhaler-inhaling mama. (My lungs feel GREAT, actually. But at the moment I have a cold, and I got a flu shot Monday, too, so it's kind of hard to tell how some of the other things I'm on are working....I'll have to give 'em a few weeks.) I'm also the proud owner of two Epi-Pens, now...I mention it because, of course, we're never supposed to share prescriptions (and they absolutely shouldn't be used on children, because the dose is too big), but if someone's here and goes into anaphylactic shock, and forgot their's at home...well, it's nice to know they're available. I certainly hope never to need them, but will try to be responsible about keeping them up-to-date.

A final good thing: I'm glad I found out now. Of course, the ideal time to have realized all this and dealt with it would have been, oh, before I had children, or even before we bought a house, but we can't do much about that now. At least I'm not trying to figure it all out/fix as much as possible while I'm working full time; I'm here, looking around and thinking thoughtfully about what we can do.


Ty Davison said...

One item worth mentioning is the vacuum cleaner, meaning make sure you have one that is completely sealed and doesn't just re-spread the dust the way most traditional vacs do.

Miele, for example, has some HEPA filter models that are superb in their particulate filtration. They're expensive as anything, but if the choice is money or breathing, it's not that tough a call.

Hope your changes make a huge difference! The gardening bit sounds great.

Tami said...

I have learned SO MUCH in the last couple of years with Noah's allergies and asthma. I agree on the vacuum comments...I finally ponied up this year and got the Dyson and it really is all that. It gets so much more dirt from the carpets, I want to run away when I think of what we were wallowing in before.

Also, you have a whole-house furnace, no? What about adding an electrostatic air filter onto the ductwork? My gparents and my brother did it and were very happy with the results.

Feel free to call or email if you're interested in Noah's experiences with all the drugs. I think he's tried them all.

Ginger Ogle said...

Yep, thanks for the vacuum comments. It's definitely on the list!