How much is that doggy in the window?
It only hit home when a friend said to me: “You know it’s not normal to be like this every morning?” I call it my ‘morning sickness’ but often it happens throughout the whole day and night.
I sniffle. And sneeze. And my eyes are so often itchy, runny and red. The back of my throat will itch like crazy and there’s nothing I can do about it. Occasionally I will cough or have a sore throat, but all this came on so gradually and over so many years that I didn’t realise how badly it was affecting me – I was getting used to it and even when it got worse, I didn’t take much notice.
In the UK I have never visited a doctor to get a sick note. However, in Germany, if we can’t work we have to go to our doctor immediately and get the paperwork, otherwise we don’t get paid. I told the doctor that my allergies were getting worse and she was shocked that I would wake up daily with these issues. She sent me straight to the allergy doctor – something I had always wanted to do, but in the UK you have to pay for it (last time I researched it was around £200) and with a referral, you get it for free in Germany.
I was looked after so well!! I told them about my lungs – as a child I had bad asthma and bronchitus but it all calmed down and now I only have exercise asthma – basically I get shortness of breath when I run in the cold or similar, but almost never have to take my inhaler. I was placed in a glass box similar to a telephone box and was made to breathe quickly and slowly and hard and softly as they measured my lung strength. Apparently my lungs are wonderful – YEY!
Next they checked my oxygen levels from my ear – super weird – here’s a funny photo of me post-check.
Then came the exciting stuff – the lady drew 12 numbers on my arm and made tiny cuts on my skin.
Next she put a blob of the allergen onto the open cuts in my skin and told me not to itch. The second the liquid hit number 9, my arm was on fire. I wanted to scratch so badly it actually hurt and I could think of literally nothing else. I had to wait ten irritatingly itchy minutes, but it was actually quite interesting seeing the little bubbles come up on my skin.
I was tested against all kinds of things, but dust mites and animals came out the worst. Turns out I don’t have hayfever – news to me! Then I went back to see the doctor. It was one of those super stressy seconds when the doctor leans over his desk, looks into my eyes and asks: “Have you heard of Hyposensibilisierung gegen Milben?” It’s that moment where you think ‘uh oh – what’s wrong with me?’ but luckily the doctor explained it all to me.
Basically, I’m super allergic to dustmites and their poo (ahem) and he said it was so bad that he could offer me immunotherapy – I could get injections a few times a week for around three months and then come back every now and then and I would not suffer from my allergies for around five years. I don’t like the sound of that and although I’m still considering it, I think it’s pretty unlikely that will be happening anytime soon. I got a mass-load of drugs and we now clean our room like loons! The doctor even said that my health insurance would cover part of the cost of special allergy-repellent bed sheets and duvet – Germany is amazing!
Then he asked whether I had a pet. When I said no, he was pleased and told me it would have to stay that way. When I said I wanted a pug desperately, he said no – instead his advice was to get a tortoise. Apparently they are very entertaining and you can put a candle on it’s back and watch it wander around your house. Errr… his words not mine…
Let’s just say I still want a pug.