Now, the thing that puzzles me most is that prior to this time I did not react severely when faced with any of these allergens. There were cats present in our household before I was born which have still remained to this day (not the same cats as that would be crazy having a cat that was older than 24!) as we are a family who are very fond of them. In a similar vein dust mites were the highest rated of all the allergens which is humourous given that I spent 3 years of my teens working as a cleaner where high levels of dust was present.
My Mum's beautiful mogs
Sure, prior to my eczematous epidemic I may have been a tiny bit allergic to these things, with the odd runny nose and itchy eyes, but this became disastrous. I suffered all summer long with little respite until I left home to attend University in the September, where my condition eased itself to an extent and life became "manageable" again. (Life with eczema is never manageable as even when your allergens are diagnosed the beast still rages on for no real reason, other than "it just does"... or so the specialists like to tell me.) Getting rid of the cats was not an option, and in fact I wanted my Mother to keep more as I didn't want her to be on her own and cats are my favourite animal afterall. When I returned home for a visit in November/ December time, just a couple of months later, all hell broke loose and I was hospitalised with a severe allergic reaction.
This continued until I was given Ciclosporin the following year, which I have previously detailed in this post. When I was forced to discontinue the drug I was back to square one with my allergies. They were still severe and I had to stop visiting my Mum at home; my home. I had to change my position at work; the warehouse and shop floor were too dusty and I was flaring all over the shop, quite literally!
Recently all this has changed.
When I stopped using the topical steroid creams in May of this year I had no idea what would be in store for me. A question on ITSAN's FAQ page struck me, it had stated that:
"Q: Why am I allergic to things that never bothered me before?
During topical steroid withdrawal, your body is very sensitive. After withdrawal, it will return to normal. Allergy testing during topical steroid withdrawal is inaccurate because your system is hypervigilant and reacts more than it normally would."
If this was true it could mean that in the future after withdrawal my life may not be so constricted. I might be able to actually visit friends and family who own pets, be able to carry out routine house cleaning, and generally return to a more normalised lifestyle. It also confirms that my allergies that were only ever mild prior to the eczema break out became severe because of the use of topical steroid creams.
Miss Kitty's blog post entitled "I am not allergic to cats" gave me further hope. Maybe one day I will even be able to own a cat myself.
See! I never used to be so allergic
Last month I visited my Mum. I figured I would probably have a flare so prepared myself for the worst. My skin didn't flare up and I didn't even take my asthma inhaler once! What was this madness, a crazy fluke?! I'm beginning to wonder what is going on.
This week at work a maintenance man took apart one of the tills that had been freezing through transactions to find that it was chock-a-block with dust. I didn't think to tell him that I had allergies and just backed away a bit as he blew it literally everywhere creating clouds of dust that hung in the air and choked me. Do you know what? I didn't need to take my inhaler that evening though my skin did flare later on but I think it was actually more due to the fact I was so dry after work as I haven't been moisturising.
And just yesterday, the very thing that prompted me to type this post... I went to a friend's flat who has the fluffiest cat in history that malts like nothing I've ever seen before, cat fur EVERYWHERE! They'd forgotten to hoover before my arrival, but it didn't matter and it isn't something I'd expect people to do, why should they? Whilst I was there I think I only took my inhaler twice, sure my nose was running by the end of the day and I started sneezing but the fact is I was there from 8am until 5pm. That's an awfully long time to spend with one of my allergens, especially one so fluffy as this beautiful mog.
The fluffiest of mogs! (Image courtesy of The Retired Bridgeburner)
I will admit that I couldn't stop sneezing all the way home and couldn't sleep last night because my nose was blocked but considering I used to literally have to step into the same room as a cat and end up in hospital with a severe full body allergic reaction, just from having it look at me is saying a bloody lot.
I think withdrawing from the medication that was supposed to treat the eczema is the best thing I could ever have done for myself.
I truly do.