Aug 262006

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against modern medicine. Thanks to modern medicine and a couple of its practitioners (and especially a skillful surgeon) my son still has a mother (and I still have a functioning uterus and bladder). But.
(You knew there’s be a “but”, didn’t you?)

This is not about surgery. This is about pills. And salves. You know, I’m allergic. As a child I reacted to insect bites. Mosquito bites, wasp bites, they all ended up red, swollen and itchy. Then it turned out, I wasn’t having a cold all year long, I had hay fever instead. And then I started to be allergic to the sun.

At that time I was studying for my master’s thesis. What better place to learn than beneath the river. Each day I’d spend hours outside with my books. And then my skin began itching and developing a rash. Of course I applied sunscreen. My skin is so white that people suspect me of living in a cellar, even when I’m actually tanned. One day I planned to go out, but didn’t for whatever reason. Well, it turns out that I’m allergic not to sun rays but to the brand of sunscreen I had been using all my life. Duh.

I have to tell you that I’m coming from a family where everything has to be treated. Preferably chemical. A pill, an ointment, whatever. So my mother put soothing salve on every single of my mosquito bites. Ten years ago I happened to be bitten by a mosquito and I RAN OUT OF SALVE! Guess what?

  1. Mosquito bites do heal even if you do nothing at all.
  2. If I don’t put special healing and cooling salve on my mosquito bite, there will be no allergic reaction.

So I turn out to be allergic not against insect bites, but against insect bite-salve. So I have to keep this in mind: I have a very sensitive skin. If something unusual is appearing, leave whatever you smear on it off. (So I was a little quicker when I found out that my skin didn’t like the new moisturizer I had bought.)

Unfortunately my allergies to pollen and mold are real. It was not my fragile disposition that let me have a year-round cold, but hay fever. I actually suffer from it from March to October. And I’m not a pretty sight at the height of it in the beginning of August. You’d think I’m having influenza only I’m not feverish. So I started taking a pill. I have been taking this for the last ten years or so. With the exception of my pregnancy when I was allowed only a measly nose spray. The pills didn’t stop me from having a running and itching nose altogether. But I shuddered to imagine my state if I didn’t take them.

I don’t quite know why, but last week I looked at the list of unwanted symptoms accompanying my pills for the first time in years. “May cause drowsiness, tiredness and heightened appetite.” Duh! I have been tired for years regardless of the hours I slept. And maybe there was a reason that I never lost weight in the summer. So I decided to stop taking the pills and see what happens. Well:

1. I’m not feeling tired anymore in spite of lack of sleep.
2. My mind doesn’t feel numb and dumb anymore.
3. I’m sneezing less than before.
4. What I do have is sneezing fits, a sore throat and itching and running eyes.

So. The pills are out of the picture. My fear of getting allergic asthma or chronic bronchitis is not big enough to justify suffering a numb mind and heavy tiredness. I’m starting to look for some other treatment for my allergies. Maybe acupuncture or homeopathy. I’m not going chemical again.

Any suggestions? What’s worse to you? The malady or the remedy?

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  8 Responses to “Marvelous Modern Medicine?”

  1. That’s what I miss about Germany. The cake.

    I don’t think I have the guts to try going sugar-free. Not yet, anyway.

  2. Every day after lunch, but oddly enough not after dinner, i crave a cookie, or two. I learned this behavior at my last job where there was always junk food around.

    I am ever so impressed with you. Sugar is in practically EVERYTHING.

  3. I just don’t have the guts to go completely sugar free, but I don’t eat it a lot. The first step was going artificial sweetener free in my coffee. Now, everything tastes too sweet and I naturally eschew it…mostly. Except for when a tray of 4 beautiful desserts lands at your table, oh, say, last Saturday night.

  4. wow, wow, wow.

    what a splendid journey you’ve been on. and how wonderful. and how difficult, as meno said, it’s in everything, practically.

    and yet, you are doing it, you badass, you.

  5. All of this sounds great! I need to do the same thing. I’ve been self-soothing with sweets to the tune of 50 pounds.

    I’m on it. Really. Thanks for writing this. I’m printing it.



  6. I don’t even like cake (that much), but now I want German cake!

    My life is so much better without sugar. I have chocolate, still, 72% cocoa content, but no sugar.

    (By the way, raisins are high in natural sugar and will affect your body in much the way sugar does. I love them, but I eat them seldom.)

  7. Once again, I can relate to so much you wrote in this post.

    I often eat the whole bowl, bag, bar. Or a sampling of several things from the cupboard. I say at noon, “well, this is it then. I’m having my sweets now. None later.” Of course, by bedtime I’m massaging my stomach, sore from a too-large after dinner treat. For me, it’s always chocolate candy. Or ice cream. I don’t crave baked goods or other sweet things.

    So obviously, I don’t listen to my own scheming. I do tend to over-think just about everything. There have been a few occasions (can’t think of any specifics right now, but I know they happened!) when I have wanted to do something and it seemed nearly effortless. I wish I knew what it was about those times that clicked.

    I’ve never been fat since adolescence, so I’ve had a lot of leeway with what I eat. Even when I was really thin (108 lbs – a size 3), I still ate sweets. I was very disciplined about counting calories and addicted to exercise at that time. Ten years later, I was still addicted to exercise, but I weighed thirty pounds more. I was a muscular size 6. Ten more years, and I weigh the same, but I’m very flabby. Size 10. These sizes probably are meaningless in Europe.

    I never had to think so much about what I ate (or the emotional effect it has, let alone the nutritional value) because I had a positive body image. Now, because I’ve given up exercising for lack of time (a poor excuse, I know, but I have tried and failed to fit it in to my schedule a number of times over the past 5 years), I’m struggling. It’s very hard to start all over with fitness. I’ve turned to food to deal with stress. That almost feels like a victory because for me that’s a much healthier alternative than alcohol.

    My frame of mind right now is to put it off. Just wait another year or so, when Lorenzo is a bit more independent and I have more free time. I will have more time to exercise, will eat less out of boredom, and the positive effects of both will multiply until – voila – I am back on track.

    I am working on making more nutritious choices, eating less meat, cutting out cheese (again), but I’ve never felt that total elimination of anything is a sustainable option. (Although, I’m now thinking of smoking, which I stopped, and if I felt alcohol was a real danger, I would stop that, so that’s not 100% true.)

    I did get some inspiration from Andrea’s post Control.


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