Personal Story

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 8, 2014 2 comments

by Katie Erickson

Allergies. If you’ve had them, you know how miserable they can be and how much they can rule your life. If you haven’t had them, consider yourself lucky!

I’ve had seasonal and animal dander allergies basically all my life, as far back as I can remember anyway. For the most part, they’ve been controlled pretty well with daily antihistamines, until recently. Back in January, I occasionally started getting what we now know were hives - big, itchy, painful, red spots that would last about 4 days. There was seemingly no rhyme or reason to their occurrence - random time frame, different parts of my body, etc. For a while I’d just deal with them when they appeared and be glad when they were gone. Naturally, we tried to find a link between all the occurrences, but nothing really fit.

Finally, after 6 months of these occasional large hives, I figured it was time to get allergy tested. Ironically, even though I had had allergies most of my life, I had never actually been tested to see exactly what I was allergic to. In early July, we discovered that I had food allergies to foods I often eat - chicken and bananas. I’m also allergic to shellfish, but I don’t eat seafood so that didn’t really matter to me. But chicken was my favorite type of meat, and I ate a banana almost every day for breakfast! I was pretty bummed at first, but gradually I’m getting used to eating other foods in place of those.

I also discovered that I have every environmental allergy they tested me for - trees, grass, cats, dogs, weeds, ragweed, etc - I think there were about 12 of them. I enjoy being outside, but no more going in the grass barefoot for me. Also I live with 5 cats, but that isn’t going to change, I love my kitties too much!

So the instructions from my allergist at the time I got tested were to stop eating the foods I’m allergic to, take a stronger daily antihistamine, and my hives should clear up. Great!

But… they didn’t. The hives got worse. Starting around a week after that appointment, I started getting little hives (instead of the big ones I had previously). Rather than getting them occasionally, they were constant. And I do mean constant - multiple hives all over my arms, legs, hands, and feet for going on 7 weeks at the time I’m writing this. I’ve been in constant itching and pain for weeks.

I finally went to the allergist for my follow up appointment recently, and as I write this I actually have 3 large patches taped to my back to do a patch test for more specific contact or environmental allergies. I get to have this giant sticker on for 3 days - not too much fun really, and it’s been less than 24 hours so far. Plus the constant itching of the hives all over, of course.

So why do I tell you all of this about my crazy allergy journey thus far? I want to share with you my attitude through this whole thing. At first when I found out I could no longer eat foods I enjoy, I was bummed. I was a little bitter about it too. I am a selfish human being, and having something disappointing or frustrating like this happen to me, my initial reaction was to be selfish about it and feel like a victim. But is that the right attitude? Definitely not. When I look at others I know with food allergies that are much worse than mine (and allergies that could actually kill them!), it helped me put mine in perspective.

Dealing with environmental allergies is of course different than food allergies, especially depending what the allergies are. The only way to avoid trees, grass, etc is to live in a bubble, and that’s not exactly practical. I’m hoping this patch test will reveal more specifics that we can deal with accordingly, but we’ll see. I may again be in a place where I have to make lifestyle changes. Change is usually not easy, but it is important for me to remember to have perspective about it and the right attitude.

Allergies do not rule my life; God does! While I may not understand why my body is doing this, I can definitely deal with it and not let it stop me from living my life for God. Everyone goes through hardship in our lives. While I will not even pretend to compare allergies and hives to many of the worse things people go through, it has been a struggle for me to deal with this all year, especially these last couple months. I could have just thrown in the towel and been bitter about the whole thing, and I’ll admit there were times that the constant itching has made me grumpy and more bitter toward others around me (through no fault of theirs). I could just be mad at the world or mad at God for allowing this to happen to me. But for the most part, I haven’t been. Why? Because the joy of the Lord is my strength. Itching and hives have become a way of life for me; I hope one day they’ll be gone, but while they’re here I deal with it and move on with following God. Even this annoying physical ailment has not and cannot take away the joy of Christ Jesus that is in my heart.

I do hope someday to be able to look back on this and see what God is teaching me through this time. For now, I am content with knowing that God is in control, He loves me, and I can still live my life serving Him with His joy in my heart.

“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.” (Psalm 34:1-2)


JD70 said...

This is such an excellent blog post! Thank you for the reminder that my attitude matters regardless of my circumstances and that I need to lean on God always. Through the good and bad.

Katie said...

Just as a follow up to this post, we're fairly certain that all my crazy hives weren't actually allergies. Even though we had taken preventative measures against them, we found bed bugs in my bed! We're working on fully eradicating them, and while I still have a few itchy spots, they're mostly gone. :)