Saturday, April 26, 2014

Allergy Testing

I've had bad allergies my entire life. As a kid I remember getting a runny nose and red eyes if I was around a dog or cat too much and I always got hayfever in the spring. 

They have gotten even worse as an adult. When I moved to Utah it seemed like my seasonal allergies calmed down a bit (probably due to the new pollen) but then the longer I lived there the worse it got. When I started working all over Nevada and Utah as an Archaeologist things really started to get bad. We would be outside hiking through sagebrush and/or pinion pine forest all day long. By the time my day was done I was having a hard time breathing. I started really heavily self medicating at this time. I would use Zyrtec-D, a nasal spray, lavender oil, a chest decongestant, and a sinus rinse everyday just to keep them under control.

When we finally moved away from Utah I was excited for multiple reasons, but mainly because I was hoping to get away from the Utah pollen that was causing me so much grief. Turns out Colorado, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Indiana all have special allergens of their own and NONE of them like me. And going back to places that I've been before doesn't help AT ALL!

Being in Indiana has been pretty painful. When we first got here I started eating local honey (along with my, Zyrtec-D, nasal spray, lavender oil, chest decongestant, and sinus rinse) daily to try and get use to the pollen that was in the area. After 7 months of eating local honey I was frustrated that my allergies were STILL bothering me!

Well, I have had enough! The daily headaches were diving me CRAZY and the pressure in my face is getting so bad that it hurts to bend over (which makes working out really hard). It also seemed like the medication I was taking wasn't really working anymore.

So, I made an appointment to go see an ENT/Allergy Specialist so see what he could do for me. 

First thing they did at the Dr's was to preform a lung test to make sure I didn't have asthma. I don't! I got me some good strong lungs here! Next the Dr checked my sinuses and then suggested that I do allergy testing so they could see exactly what was bothering me.

I went off my daily regimen of self medication and then went in for three different test: Outdoor, Indoor, and Under the Skin.

The Outdoor test went how I thought it would. The nurse wrote 34 numbers on my arms and then started poking (or "scratching" as they call it) me. It didn't hurt too much but then the itching and irritation started! I ended up being "very positive" and allergic to ALL of the different local pollens.

Two days later I went in for the Indoor test and I knew this one would be the same. The nurse scratched me 25 times and I was positive for all but one. Which one is that? Guinea pig! LOL! It still bothered me but that scratch didn't get as swollen and irritated as the rest.

The next day I went for my Under Skin test. This time they pick just a few of the allergens and retest to make sure the first results were correct. Instead of scratching you they actually give you shot just under the skin that causes a reaction. She tested cats, dust mites, and guinea pigs. All three got irritated but the guinea pig one wasn't as bad as the rest.

After my last test I had to go and talk to the Dr about my results and what the next step is. After starring at the computer and shaking his head for a few minutes I finally asked him what he thought. He said that I was "very positive" for everything and that he was thinking of what to do with me besides making me "live in a bubble" for the rest of my life.

He said that allergy shots would be my best option BUT they are specific to the region and he didn't want to put me through that if I wasn't going to be here in this region (Illinois, Indian, Ohio, Michigan) for a long time. I understood. Living on the road is hard.

He then prescribed me some meds and nasal sprays that should help. We then talked about things I can do at home that can help:

(1) Get rid of any animals and stay away from people (and houses) that have them. Especially animals that are both outdoor and indoor animals. Apparently indoor/outdoor cats and dogs are REALLY bad for me because I am already allergic to the animals and then they bring in outdoor allergens (pollen) when they come inside. Double whammy!

(2) Get allergy-proof encasings. I'm not allergic to dust mites (no one is) but I am allergic to their waste. Dust mites live in your pillows and mattress (mostly) so the Dr. suggested getting allergy-proof encasings which has really tiny weave so that the dust mites waste can't get through to bug me during the night.

(3) Get a dehumidifier and air filters for the AC.

(4) Keeping windows shut and limit time outside.

(5) Make sure to keep washing sheets and pillow cases once a week.

If I do these things and take my meds I should be fine. It is a lot of work but I am so sick of being in pain from all of this. I have a check up in a month so we will see how things go!

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Day In Chicago

On Friday (April 18th) we were told that, for the first time since the project started back in August, we were going to have two days off in a row!

Josh and I decided to take advantage of the real weekend by spending the day in Chicago :-)

We slept in until 5:00 AM and then caught the train in Michigan City.

It took about 1.5 hours to get up to our first stop: The Museum of Science and Industry.

The museum was pretty cool but is more geared towards families and kids. It also has a bunch of "excursions" that seemed fun but we didn't plan on staying there all day and the excursions take a long time to do.


[Mini Chicago with a train]

[Spirit of America]

We walked around for a while, did some experiments, and then caught a cab to Millennium Park.

[Cloud Gate]

[Crown Fountain]

It was such a beautiful day and it was fun to spend some time walking around the park and taking a lot of "selfies" in the Cloud Gate.

Next, we strolled over to the Art Institute of Chicago. This was my kind of museum! From Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Native American, and Mesoamerica Art to Contemporary, Folk, Modern, and Impressionism Artwork. I LOVED every part of it!


[American Gothic]

[Native American painting] 



[Van Gogh]

[Obsidian Artifacts] 




[Southwestern - makes me miss archaeology a little bit]




After being cultured, we headed over to the Willis Tower. When we arrived, the line for the Sky Deck was out the door and around the corner and we were told it would be a 2.5 hour wait! We had bought our tickets ahead of time so we decided to just wait in line. It turned out to be only 82 minutes of waiting before we got to the top. The view was worth the wait but it would have been nicer if it was a clearer day and less people were there.

[View from the top]

[In the Sky Deck]

[Looking down]

After staring Death in the face, we left the tower and jumped on a double-decker bus for a tour of the city.

The bus ride was actually a lot of fun! We cruised around the city for an hour or so learning some fun facts from our tour guide and seeing some great Chicago landmarks. I did get a little cold towards the end so I made Josh come with me downstairs :-)

We got off the bus at Navy Pier, put in reservations at Bubba Gumps, grabbed some Starbucks, and then walked around the Pier.

[View of the City]

We ended the day with a feast at Bubba Gumps! We had garlic shrimp, snow crab, and mahi mahi. YUM!

After dinner we caught a cab to the nearest train station and then headed back to Indiana.

I'm so glad that we were FINALLY able to visit Chicago! I would have been sad if we had lived this close to the city and never got to visit!