Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Allergies are common. Everybody's allergic to something, be it pollen, the resins used to keep no-iron cloth no-iron, narcotics, cedar, dogs, cats, tomatoes, strawberries, wheat, milk, Republicans, whatever. Everybody has a tendency to have that ol' immune system get out of control once in a while and serve up a course of rash and hives and "whelps", which are what the rest of us call "welts".

(Conversation: Patient: "Whenever I take penicillin, I break out in whelps all over." Me: imagining patient covered with puppies.)

You get used to handling allergies at a hospital. Sometimes a patient has some sort of infection that can only be dealt with using an antibiotic that has cross-reactions with something they're allergic to. Sometimes a patient will have an unexpected reaction to something that they've never had a problem with before, which is how allergies work. You get the Decadron and the Benadryl IV and have the respiratory guys on the pager and you deal.

How-sum-ever, I have now seen something that had me literally scratching my head as I tried to figure out how the patient in question managed to survive in the outside world.

Four typed single-spaced pages of allergies. 

Four. Pages.

With additional editorial comments on the nature of the reactions to said allergens. The reactions weren't the run-of-the-mill "I itch when I take narcotics" variety. Nor did this patient have hallucinations when exposed to morphine--which is not technically an allergy, but will sure stop us from giving you more morphine. 

No, these were things like (and here I am giving a representative, fictionalized example) "Percocet: Causes unbalanced energy fields." "Beef: Candidiasis and sluggish bowels." "Latex: anaphylaxis." That last is sometimes a real deal, and it means you either have to be in a positive-pressure room or take your chances, as latex ends up in the air ducts and can be all over the hospital. Somehow, though, he managed okay with the (latex) balloons in his room.

Dude was allergic to non-ionized water. 

I. . .I. . .I for once am without words. Four pages of allergies. Four pages of things that you have gone to the trouble to decide you aren't tolerant of, can't have in your body or around it, can't deal with. Four bloody, be-damned pages of allergies, any of which might unbalance your Chi, slow down your lymph recirculation, or cause you to become a horrible wheezing swollen mass of welts.

Listen, I am not an ogre. There are some folks who have multiple drug allergies; usually they've undergone some sort of unpleasant treatment for, say, an intractable infection or chemo. There are people who can't tolerate some foods. I myself live on generic Claritin year-round and have to scrub after I touch a dog or cat. There are allergies out there that can make your life difficult and dangerous. We'll take that as read.

But four pages? Including non-ionized water? (How on earth do you ionize water, anyway?)

Have you thought about maybe focusing less on yourself and more on the outside world? It's entirely possible that some of those allergies would go away if you'd just relax and get out of your own head. 

*** *** *** *** ***

In other news: People, don't do meth. I had a patient this week who is a full twenty years younger than me (in other words, not quite past her sell-by date, according to the fashion industry) who had no teeth. Full set of dentures, upper and lower. No. Teeth.

Do yourself a favor: develop a permanent allergy to methamphetamine.


Uro*MA said...

ok seriously, Im sitting here at work eating my lunch reading this, out loud i say "Dude was allergic to non-ionized water!" lol everyone turned around and started reading your blog you may have new visitors soon lol. seriously non-ionized water? how do you even know? lol

Just a little snarky said...

I've heard of environmental sensitivities (like sensitive to chlorine in water) but this is re-dik-ullus.

Anonymous said...

"How on earth do you ionize water, anyway?"
*Shoots hand in the air*
Ooh, ooh, I'm a chemist; pick me!
Water in its natural state is "ionized"; it's got H+ and OH- ions, of course, and also mineral ions (Na+, Cl-, e.g.) and metal ions, etc. Deionization removes the mineral and metal ions; its a purification process. Some people think one shouldn't drink deionized H2O (it might, like, dilute the concentration of essential minerals in yer body, e.g.) while others think there's no harm in it. As far as allergic rxn to D.I. H2O, tho...that's just silly.
Love the blog. Mostly I just lurk.