It only took 97 needles in my back for an allergy doctor to confirm I’ve made poor life choices. And I’m not sure what was worse—the 97 pricks or the intense itching afterwards.
ALLERGIST: “Where do you work?”
ME: “At my local agriculture office, but I spend about half my time in the field working with farmers.”
ALLERGIST:“You picked the wrong profession.”
ME: “Well, I like working outdoors.”
ALLERGIST: “You may like it, but your immune system doesn’t. It looks like you’re allergic to the whole grass family. To be honest, I’m surprised you’ve survived this long.”
Normally, I don’t profess to have psychic powers, but as the allergist continued to examine the welts on my back, each corresponding to a prick infused with a different contagion, I had a strong premonition, namely that of my wife’s delight in uttering the words, “I told you so.” Don’t you hate when medical professionals confirm what your wife has been saying for years?
For years, she had been telling me to ask a doctor for an Epipen because I keep bees. Of course, my rebuttal was that I wasn’t allergic to bee stings, so that was stupid and a waste of money. But here’s the thing I’ve learned the hard way: Life is full of irony.
Yes, it’s a little ironic that I chose agriculture as a profession when I’ve had a lifelong allergy to hay and grass, which the allergist confirmed in the skin-prick test. But I wasn’t there because I was worried about sneezing and watery eyes from hay fever. I was there because my favorite food rebelled against me. For decades, my shrimp intake rivaled that of a krill-gulping whale. But that was before an insurgent shrimp infiltrated my stomach through a bowl of shrimp and grits and convinced my white blood cells to try to strangle me from the inside out. That’s why I was at the allergist.
The doctor confirmed that I now have a severe shrimp allergy and that if a shrimp ever got anywhere near my gullet, I’d likely go into anaphylactic shock. She said that it wasn’t uncommon for adults to suddenly develop a severe allergy, even to something they’ve been exposed to often. At this point, I mentioned that my wife was worried I might suddenly become allergic to bee stings.
“Absolutely, it could happen with bee stings,” the doctor said. The doctor said that, given my allergy history, I shouldn’t work with bees without an Epipen nearby.
ME: “You mean, I should listen to my wife?”