Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hail Allegra

The weather in Calcutta right now is playing havoc with my upper respiratory tract.

I developed an upper respiratory allergy about two years ago thanks to ‘big city living’. Bombay gave it to me as a gift when it could’ve gifted me much better things...such as a sea-facing apartment on Bandra Bandstand! I’d never have deserted you in that case Mumbai, you know that right? :)

Apart from the fact that I could be closer to my family (I hail from the cow belt), I moved to Calcutta so I could have a better quality of life...shorter commutes, better work-life balance, a nicer home for a lower rent, no need to depend on local trains more than I would depend on a doctor when I was dying, and a break from my allergies.

Ironically, my work-life balance has gone to the most rabid dogs after moving to Calcutta, my allergy has become much worse & ever-present, and I’ve started getting symptoms I’d never experienced before...breathing trouble, itchy watery eyes, perpetually congested nose, even sinus pain!

My allergy gets aggravated when it’s cold…and hot…and humid. In short, there is never a time of the year when I’m not scratching my eyes or sneezing or blowing out my nose (gross, I know, but better you read about it than having to go through it yourself every day). Thank God for anti-histamines!

But wait a second, anti-histamines are a tricky business. They can get seriously addictive and can themselves trigger an allergic reaction, like nausea & giddiness, as they did in me!

Determined to find a permanent solution to my allergy problem, I decided to visit an allergy specialist – who spent the first ten minutes of our 20 minute consultation extolling himself & his state-of-the-art allergy testing laboratory, the next 20 seconds listening to my symptoms, the following 10 seconds examining me, the next 1 minute writing down allergy tests worth 4 grand & a truck load of medicines he wanted me to take continuously for the next six months, another minute telling me to stay away from pollution, fumes/smoke of any kind, pollen, dust particles outside & inside my home, on my curtains, bed spread, pillow, couch (I forgot to ask him how I'm supposed to manage that), and the remaining 8 minutes convincing me to do all 4k worth of tests on the same day at his grand laboratory – or at least 3k worth if I didn’t have all the dough on me at that moment! Was he a doctor or a (dying to name the community) businessman??? I’m still trying to figure that one out!

I raced out of his cabin faster than I’d walked in with my runny nose, itchy eyes & wheezing lungs, and ran straight to my physician (darling, he is) who told me there was no need to get so many tests done and sent me frolicking home with 3 tablets of Allegra & a nose drop for the next 3 days. May the God of anti-histamines bless your fish-loving Bong soul, Dr N!

The tests? I thought medical science had made technological advancements of monstrous proportions and gone were the days when tests used to be fussy, laborious & time-taking. Apparently not. The test the 'crazy allergy doctor' wanted me to do entailed several days of sitting in his self-proclaimed world-class laboratory where he would inject 207 known allergens into my arm!!! Inject, not spray, mind you. Errrrrr…were his brains out of his Jockey-french-cut -underwear-wearing mind to even think I’d agree to subjecting myself to such torture???

I mean, seriously…207 times??? I’d rather menstruate for 207 days at a stretch! Or maybe not.

Maybe I should turn to homeopathy though I hail from a family of non-believers (read doctors). It did work on my recurring throat infection after all. At least ‘crazy allergy doctor’ gave me the diagnosis.


The knife said...

Scarlett...allergy was one of the reasons why I moved out of was hereiditory but couldn't take the last two winters. Would often be up wheezi all night...last ten years at mumbai has been much better with a little help from cetzine...I've never gone back to Cal in the winter...hope something works for you

Scarlett said...

@The Knife - Thanks! But I didn't know better. I'm allergic to pollution, smoke/fumes of any kind & dust. Cetzine is my friend too on most days when my allergy gets aggravated but sometimes I need intervention from Allegra. Bombay gave me the allergy but I think the air there is still way cleaner than that in Cal.

Moonshine said...

Menstruate for 207 days!!!! Are you kidding me... maybe not is the answer surely..

I was prescribed Allegra for 1 year!!! I used to have some kind of an allergy when in delhi.. nobody knows from what.. it went off on its own after a year or so!!!

Scarlett said...

@Moonshine - Allergies can be so debilitating, not to mention annoying. Usually they go away on their own. I remember I'd turned lactose-intolerant for about six months when I was in college. But it went away on its own.

bricks said...

207??!! Gosh. Did you go to a accupuncture clinic?

Scarlett said...

@Bricks - Not at all. Surprisingly, that's still the primary way in which allergy tests are done, at least in India. The other is through a blood sample - only one injection but it isn't supposed to be as effective as the one that involves 207 injections!!