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Yesterday I was talking on the phone with my sister when my throat closed and I started making choking noises.
“Katie! What’s wrong!?” she said.
“I’m having an allergy attack!” I croaked, then ran out of my house as if it was on fire. I needed air! Unfortunately, Phoenix is having a “health alert” due to high levels of pollution, so I dropped on all fours and breathed the air closest to the ground, hoping that’s where the good air was. All the stray cats in my ‘hood use my gravel-covered yard as their own enormous litter box, so I was lucky not to rub my nose in a pile of buried crap.
It seems that I’ve suddenly become extremely allergic to my own cats, Sara and Lucy. I already knew I was somewhat allergic to them, hence my allergy pill prescription, but this last week—ever since I got back from the clean fresh air of Minnesota—my nose has been stuffy, my eyes itchy, and my lungs heavy (heavier than normal, since I’m used to hauling around about ten pounds of chest melon anyway). I think my throat is pregnant with a kitten too, who I would gladly cough up and love if I could, and my nose is a squirt gun, shooting out streams of clear snot at the most inopportune times. I am a walking dispenser of Kleenex; I have them tucked into every pocket, sleeve, and all around the waistband of my sweatpants, a cheap ballerina. I have a Kleenex for everybody in the world.
I also have an allergy doctor, but he’s out until Monday, so I’m left to my own devices. I’ve been popping over-the-counter allergy pills in addition to my prescription ones, but the box’s warning scares me: “Might cause organ failure”. My heart already breaks so easily, my gall bladder is gone, and I’m sure there are a couple other organs in there that are not appreciating this new assault. But if I can’t breathe, we’re all doomed.
And it’s only a matter of time before my eye blows up (see figure one below). This happens occasionally when God decides that my life has been going way too smoothly and I need to be humbled. I’ll look in the mirror at night and notice some puffiness around one eye; I’ll get up the next morning and it’ll look like I got punched in the face. I ran to my allergist with one of those black eyes once, and when he came into the exam room I blurted, “People are looking at me like I was assaulted! This makes me want to stay home from work! I can’t be the only one who gets this, but I’ve never seen anybody else with it! What do other people do???”
“They stay home from work,” my allergist said. “Nobody wants to be seen with something like that on their face.”
It was one of the first times in my life that I felt part of a community.
This weekend I’ll be waiting for my eye socket to fill with fluid, so pretty. I’ll be a tower of Kleenex; if you need one, come on by. You’ll find me out in the yard with the stray cats, marking my territory with laser beams of snot.