Monday, May 6, 2013

So, I'm allergic to my cat

I'm allergic to this cute little guy (but not allergic to asparagus, thank goodness).

Having an allergy has been, so far, a lot worse than a normal sickness. It's not so much the symptoms, though the symptoms (which, for me, involve a lot of lower respiratory trouble) are worse. It's the idea that my environment--specifically, my home--makes me sick.

I am also allergic to mold. I know this because I slept in a car with moldy food in it and suffered the same symptoms I now suffer from the cat. At the time I experienced those symptoms, I felt scared and disoriented. I didn't know why I felt so bad. It took several nights of chest pain and labored breath (while sleeping in the car) and several days of relatively easy breathing with no pain (while out of the car) for me to connect the dots, search through the stuff in my car, discover the mold, and remove it from my environment. Once the mold was removed, all my symptoms disappeared. The Mold Saga wasn't a lot of fun, but it was pretty simple: I felt sick, recognized my environment was toxic, removed the toxin, and felt better.

This is why the cat allergy is so much worse. I want to keep the cat. This means that the third step in the above progression--remove the toxin--isn't so easy. I never had much of an emotional attachment to the mold I removed from my car, but I'm attached to Halloween.

Since learning I'm allergic to the cat I've started taking an anti-histamine and limiting my exposure to him while at home. So far, it's been ok--I've felt a lot better. But I'm not sure it's sustainable. A home is a place to feel safe, secure, and relaxed. If I worry about interacting with the cat too much while at home, or worry about being home at all, home stops being a place of relaxation. And if I still experience symptoms, even while minding my relationship to the cat, my home isn't really safe, either. In that case, the house would just be some place that makes me anxious and sick.

I don't want to give up the cat, and I don't want to jeopardize my health. So far, I've resisted the fact that those two things may be mutually exclusive.

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