Allergic To Death*

“So, that’s an eclectic collection of tablets that you’re taking,” the allergy doctor says, in a slow, kind voice.  We’re sitting in his high-ceilinged-book-lined consulting room.  There’s a clay bust of a unicorn on the windowsill.  

Gazing at Harold Macmillan and The Cecils and Napoleon I say:

“Yes, well I’m on carbamazepine and duloxetine for my mental disorder and Zolodex and letrazole for my breast cancer.”

“So, can you describe for how long you’ve been having the breathing difficulties,” he says.  He’s an older chap – looks to be in his late seventies at least.  He has a kind voice and looks a lot like my paternal grandfather.

“Well,” I say.  “I’ve always had the allergic rhinitis and…”

“She had childhood asthma,” Mum says.  “But she grew out of it.”

“And after chemotherapy and then the first operation where I was under the anaesthetic for eight hours, well my breathing never recovered.  So I asked for a scan of my lungs to see if there was anything wrong,” I say, and I’m about to cry but must pull self together.  Gulping, I continue: “so, the scan came back clear but the reason that I didn’t realise that the cancer had spread to my lungs is that my breathing just never recovered and…”  Tears roll down my cheeks.  Mum squeezes my hand.

“Here,” the allergy doctor says, passing me a piece of kitchen roll.

“Thank you,” I say.  

“So, you’re hyper mobile,” he says, looking at me.

“Yes,” I say. Wow: I’ve turned up at 221b Baker Street and met Sherlock Holmes.  He’s just taken a glance at me and…I mean…am not sitting with my feet tucked behind my ears or something.

“Do you have any stomach problems?” He says.  

“Yes,” I say, warming to one of my favourite topics.  “I’m on pills for my constipation and…”

“It’s interesting,” he says.  “Hyper mobile people often suffer from constipation.  So, why have you come to see me?”

“Isn’t there a letter from my doctor?” I say.  “I thought they’d written to you or…”

“No,” he says.

“Oh, OK,” I say.  “Well – when I was about five I was diagnosed with allergies to house dust, house dust mites and feathers.  But during chemotherapy I became allergic to plasters too.  And I’ve had urticaria and sometimes my lip swells up and no-one knows why.  

Then, a couple of weeks ago my eye swelled up and I could feel my throat closing and I was frightened and…well, I went to my doctor and asked for allergy tests.  And he sent me here.”

“I see,” he says, scrawling this on his pad in fountain pen.  “Well, let’s do the tests.”

There’s a tray of tiny bottles in front of him, twenty or so of them.

“Oh and I’ve had all my lymph nodes out on my right arm, so we have to use the left,” I say.

“Thank you for telling me,” he says, making dots down my left arm, in ten pairs.

“Please let me not be allergic to dog, cat, horse, egg, cheese, milk or wine,” I say, as he starts to cut into my skin.

“You’re brave, aren’t you?” He says.

“Very brave,” I say.

(To be continued)

The attached fuchsia lives near my office.

Happy Friday everyone!
*2012.  By Peg Cochran.  Detective novel containing recipes.  First in the Gourmet De-Lite murder mystery series.

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