Living with a chronic illness, it is easy to forget that some experiences are not symptoms of the serious; rather they are part of life for most people. I recall one visit to my hematologist because I was convinced my PV triggered a serious, unusual inflammation response. My eyes, nose, and skin were so itchy my husband teased that I had fleas. The normal beige bags under my eyes looked more like pink suitcases because I rubbed them so much.
I explained to my doctor the itchiness seemed to build up slowly over a week and then just exploded over the weekend. (This was well documented in my symptom journal). I took Benadryl so I could sleep without scratching myself raw. When she asked about my activities, I recalled planting flowers in my front yard on Saturday.
BINGO!! The pollen count in our area was over 1,500 that entire time (extraordinarily high) and my symptoms were consistent with seasonal allergies. No fever and my CBC (complete blood count) results were stable. She referred me to an allergist.
Well didn’t I feel silly. I’ve had seasonal allergies for years, but never this extreme. The allergist said that it is possible to gain new allergies and there were a couple of trees and grasses that were particularly strong that season. He changed up my antihistamines (H1 and H2 blockers), instructed me to wear a mask when outdoors to reduce inhaling the pollens, and to change out of my “street clothes,” shower, and wear clean indoor-only clothing when inside.
Morals of the story:
- Sometimes an allergy is just an allergy.
- We are not immune from everyday health issues.
- Every health concern does not automatically blossom into an MPN-related condition.
- Pollen, like those awkward middle school years, are part of the circle of life. The discomfort is temporary and the growth is worth it.
- Take time to smell the roses anyway.