The tests this morning proved that most of my allergy therapy back in Tennessee did me a lot of good. I do not show up as having a significant allergic reaction to pollens, grasses, and other plants up here -- not even the fungus or mold that floats around in the oh-so-windy air. But I still have one enemy left. Meet my nemesis, the icky and creepy-looking but common allergen, the dust mite.
Oh, I know he looks like a boss monster in a video game. But of course he's quite tiny so you can relax. You've been breathing in hundreds of him every day for as long as you've been alive, and you're fine, so relax about that. I can pretty much guarantee that you've got some on and around you right now; he and his kind are pervasive little parasites feeding off of the dander of living creatures shed during the normal course of the day.
But damn, he's an ugly mother. (That's a reference to a word that you can apparently only use when writing an appellate case opinion, by the way.) He has eight of those nasty legs and emits a quantity of neurotoxin when he bites, so that officially makes him a spider. But he doesn't spin webs; he doesn't need to in order to make his living. He eats our dead skin and that of our household pets -- and that of household pests, too.
But here's the worst part. I'm not particularly allergic to him. No, what I'm allergic to -- what anyone with a dust mite allergy is likely allergic to -- are his fecal pellets. A dust mite allergy is really an allergic reaction to dust mite shit. And since I'm having allergic reactions, that means I'm ingesting dust mite shit, which I realize is really a common enough occurrence but I'd still rather not think about it. And since I can't stop thinking about it, guess what, you get to read about it.
We all live in a cloud of dust mite shit, everywhere we go. There's nothing you can do about it. It doesn't matter how good a housekeeper you are. Unless you've sterilized the room, and make everyone wear an enviroment suit while they're in it, and hermetically seal it (weather-stripping leaves holes the size of the Grand Canyon to these little guys, so your house is not dust mite proof) there's going to be dust mites there. They live on people -- there's tens of thousands of them crawling around your eyebrows and in your ear hairs right now. And anywhere you have people (or any other mammal, for that matter), they sluff off dander. And where there is dander, dust mites find food to eat. And after dust mites eat, dust mites shit, and then you breathe it and it aggravates your lungs and causes an allergic reaction. That's part of how the world works, and yes, after that dose of reality, I can understand now if you're saying "No, no! I wanted the blue pill. The BLUE PILL, damnit!" because sometimes reality is so unpleasant that you really would much rather ignore it. For me, contemplating my dust mite shit allergy is one of those times. But no, that road leads to nowhere profitable.
So what I really want to know is, if this is the only environmental allergen that really affects me anymore, what happened to me over the weekend that my nose would not stop running? Did we have an invasion or a population explosion of them for some reason? Did my house's indigenous population of microscopic arachnids suffer a sudden attack of dust mite diarrhea?
Okay, okay. I need to stop now with the bug poop references. All done now. Sorry.
Anyway, six days of steroid pills now get replaced with a new course of medication. I get stuff to squirt up my nose (not much of an improvement from the bug poop so far, is it?) and a handful of samples of a drug called Xyzal.
"Xyzal"? What's going on with the marketing department guys at the Pharma companies who think up the names of these drugs: "Here's the hook. X-Y-Z. Can't beat it. We just have to end the word. So it's X-Y-Z and then what else -- got an idea, Bob?" "Hmm. How about Xyzatrol?" "No, I think Glaxo did something called Xyzatrol for diabetes last month. Maybe Xyzatrin?" "I dunno, Legal said just last week that we couldn't do 'Claritol' because the Claritin guys would be all over our asses for trademark infringement." "Okay, well, how about Xyzal?" "Yeah, hey, sounds great!"
It's a ridiculous world that we live in, when you think about it.