I am an avid lover of the outdoors. Some of my favorite pastimes include gardening, yard work and riding horses. When I moved to Arkansas more than 20 years ago, I discovered my allergies were worse than they had ever been. Each year I have suffered through the seasons with over-the-counter remedies.
This past year was the worst I had ever experienced. It seemed with every season; the allergies would not subside. My reaction to whatever was floating through the air in winter, spring, summer and fall, was worse than it had ever been. I typically develop bronchitis or a sinus infection and end up in our local walk-in clinic. This year, I was also suffering through losing my voice. This did not disappoint my family too much, but it was driving me crazy.
I went in to see a nurse practitioner and told her about my woes – losing my voice was the final straw. My voice is a tool I need daily – especially during the last six months where I was using it to make speeches and talk to people constantly. I was scheduled with a nurse to do an official allergy scratch test.
It took several months to get on her schedule, but I finally got an appointment. If you aren’t familiar with the process, a patient must lay still with their back bared while they are “scratched” with 10 allergens at a time.
When I went to the appointment, this is what she had me do. I was told I would have to wait for 20 minutes so she could observe how my skin would react to each potential allergy. The first couple tests went fine. I could feel my back getting warm from the raised areas where I reacted, but it was not intolerable. By the final test, I made it about 5 minutes before I had to confess that my back felt like it was on FIRE! She glanced and said, “Oh yes, I can see the reactions clearly here, let me jot them down and wipe this off.” Thank goodness!
She took pictures of my back to show me where I had reacted – there were so many welts and bumps, I assumed I must be allergic to everything. She laughed and said, “almost everything.” It sure explained why I suffered through all the seasons – cedars, grasses, rodents (eew!) and even cattle were on the list.
After the testing was complete, a lab concocted a formula for allergy shots. To get some relief as quickly as possible, I agreed to come into the clinic twice a week and get two shots each visit. This has been quite a commitment for me since I only go to the doctor when I feel like I may be at death’s door. It has worked well, and I am definitely starting to feel better.
As a woman in agriculture, I refuse to miss out on the things I love. I recently turned 45 and am realizing the importance of taking better care of my health – including diet and exercise.
Farm wives and mothers tend to put themselves last in line when it comes to care. If we are going to be strong on the farm or ranch, we must take care of ourselves, neighbor.
Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’