Monday, October 3, 2011


I have made a couple of comments here and there about a sickness that I just can't seem to shake.  I got a cold when I went to Philadelphia in July, and can't seem to get rid of the resulting post-nasal drip and bronchitis. Yes, I STILL have it, though after some heavy-duty prescription medication from the pulmonologist, I am seeing strong signs of improvement.  A light at the end of the tunnel.

One possibility for the post-nasal drip is allergies, and not a cold at all.  Allergies to what, we don't know.  Right now, I'm trying a series of medications prescribed to me from the pulmonologist.  We are working on clearing the cough up first, and then perhaps we can explore the root cause.  

At this point, I at least have anecdotal evidence that my cough is practically non-existent if I take care when stirring up dust (I wear a dust mask when I clean now) and make sure that my clothes are not left in the sometimes damp basement for any length of time - no more getting dressed out of the dryer for me.  This makes me think that there is every possibility that I have a mold allergy and a dust allergy.  This is good, but I didn't even have this tiny bit of reassurance until the past week.  Why would I think that a mold and/or dust allergy was a GOOD thing?

Ah yes, the elephant in the room.   Pet dander.  I have had several people suggest that I might be having a reaction to the pets in my home, and I have been living in fear all summer that they might be right.  After I had the doctor put to rest the fear that I had cancer (don't we always think it's cancer?) my single biggest fear was (and still is) that I am allergic to my cats.  Every time I hear the suggestion that I might be allergic to them, I feel sick inside.  And it's rather difficult to argue with those that suggest it when I have some very real symptoms that cannot be hidden or explained.  

I feel somewhat better about it now that it might "just" be mold or dust.  

But I'm still terrified that I'm going to find out that it is true... that I'm allergic to the pets. 

And if I am?  

Some people, and unfortunately many of them are in the medical community, would suggest that I start getting rid of pets, like they're, I don't know... defective toasters or something.

But who would I get rid of?

Charlotte, with her heart condition?  Would I find someone who would be able to pay all of her medical expenses, be willing to give her medication twice a day, and love her with all of their hearts, even knowing that her time is short?  Give me a break, I'd be signing her death warrant by sending her anywhere but here.  

How about Bit, who is lying on top of her "crow's nest" on her back and making trilling noises at me to lure me over to pet her?  She is Daddy's Little Princess too, so I'm not just breaking her heart and my heart, I'm breaking my husband's too.  How do I look into my husband's eyes and tell him that he has to find her a new home?  It's inconceivable.  Bit has been with us since she was 3 months old.  We are the only family that she has ever known.  

Or Annie, who loves me so fiercely that she is my most devoted shadow, and constantly talks to me and licks my hands out of affection?  She guards me while I bathe, and purrs if I even look at her.  Do I say "Sorry" and dump her off at the shelter?  Do I tell her that the long two years of trust-building were for nothing, and that people can't be counted on for anything good?

Or Mitchell, who has nowhere else to go?  Mitchell, who misses his buddy Patches so much that he sleeps plastered up against me all night long (without triggering an allergy attack, I might add.)  I know that he is "only" a foster-cat, and so will ideally find his forever home and will eventually leave me, but I just can't bring myself to prematurely kick him out of the "nest."  He trusts me.  He is happier here than he was in the shelter.  I see no reason that he shouldn't stay until a good adopter speaks up for him.  

I'm naming the cats, since usually people's allergies are to cats, but I am going to be just as stubborn about the dogs.  I can't imagine dropping either Argos or Maera off somewhere, even if it was to our reputable rescue, and saying that I couldn't keep them any more.  I would remember the sad, betrayed eyes, and Argos' cries as I walked out, leaving him behind with strangers,  for the rest of my days, and my friends, I couldn't live with it.  It is unbearable to even think about; even writing about it for this short amount of time is making my eyes fill with tears.  No, these dogs are going away over MY DEAD BODY.  

I think that those that know me know what I'm leading up to.  I'm NOT getting rid of anybody, for any reason...   I don't care if the doctor tells me that I'm allergic to them.  (Well, I do care, but that is not going to motivate me to get rid of any of them.)  

I know that I'm not the only (potentially) allergic pet person out there. I know that some of you have commented on my blog that you have allergies, and pets, and have found a way to live with it.   Does anyone have advice for me, should I have to travel down that road?  I don't know that I am allergic to pets, but the fear is still there.  And for me, the best way to conquer a fear is to plan the heck out of it.    If I am indeed allergic, can you give me some tips and advice so that I can make a plan of attack?  Here is what I already do, because it will help me no matter WHAT it is that I'm allergic to:

  • I have two big air purifiers, one on each floor.  They run constantly.  
  • I bought a vacuum with an allergen filter.  Not a true HEPA filter, though.  That was yowza expensive.
  • I am trying to be more diligent about sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping the floors.  I only have hardwood, tile, and laminate flooring, so there's no carpet to contend with.  
  • I'm wearing a dust mask when I clean up, and am trying to vacuum dust and no doubt dander off of the furniture on a more regular basis.
I welcome any advice that helps me keep my furry friends, family members, and long-term guests in my home with me, where they belong.  


  1. This would be my worst nightmare as well ... and I couldn't even begin to imagine having to face something like what you describe, and I pray that you don't ever have to face it either.

  2. I'd suggest getting a cover for the couch, or a chair that you sit on a lot and washing it on a regular basis along with washing your bedding a lot. There are medications that you can take, and even shots that can help you build immunity if you are allergic to them. I don't have an allergy to the dogs, but I do have asthma and those things do help. Also, in addition to the air filters, you might want to run a humidifier so your respiratory system is less agitated.

    Another thing that might help you is a neti pot. I haven't used one, but I know a lot of people who have gotten a lot of relief from them.

    You're so close to Dewey! You should go, even if it's just for the day. GIG was awesome, too! We loved it!

  3. So sorry to hear you are still not feeling good. I think I'd have to come over and give you a piece of my mind if you ever thought about getting rid of any of those pets!! LOL!! There aren't enough good animal lovers out there like you as it is. :)

    Honestly, I've never had allergies to my pets, but I have noticed a bit of a difference in my sinuses when I went from 4 pets to 8 in the house. Pet dander doesn't take long to add up. Like I need to tell you that!!

    Hope the docs figure out what's wrong and that you feel better real soon.

  4. I am allergic - to both cats & dogs (even was allergic to a bichon) But, I will not live without a pet. You should get the hepa filters, they help. Also, get the dyson pet vaccum, it helps too. Other than that, be prepared to be a little uncomfortable... Try not to hug or kiss the pets too much... But, you do get used to it, and worse case, you can take daily meds or go for allergy shots to help get it under control...

  5. The solution to pet allergies: Go to the allergist and get the meds. Friend of mine is allergic to his cats, so he takes two different allergy meds to keep them at bay. Cause pets are more important.

    And I actually think I am mildly allergic to pets, however, I'd rather "suffer" with Sheba's big head in my lap than to suffer without having her around...

  6. Mom has allergies to lots of stuffs. She has been told to get rid of us and her response is this: no - even if it was only the cats, but it isn't so find a plan b. She takes over the counter meds and deals with it. She says a little sneezing and watery eyes is worth having us in her life. :)

  7. I am allergic to cats & dogs & I have multiples of both in my home. Of course the doctors told me that I must find homes for them, but that is not an option for me. It sounds as if you are already doing things that will be suggested. One big thing is not letting the animals sleep with you :( Bathing the animals on a regular basis really helps too. I take daily pills, eye drops & nose spray, but it is worth it. I tried the shots, but after two years of twice a week shots, my allergies were the same & I stopped taking them. Hope you feel better soon!

  8. Melanie, try a line of products called "Xlear." Available @ health food stores. There's a nasal spray I particularly like, for irrigating and washing sinuses. The "magic" ingredient is Xylitol, which is supposed to have antibiotic properties. Paws crossed for you.

  9. Xlear... I'll have to try it. Hopefully Xylitol inhaled is better for me than xylitol eaten. My stomach hates it!

    I have been using a Neti Pot with just regular saline water, and that seems to make a difference. Actually, this particular weekend my symptoms are all but gone. Whew.