BHAY Blog 2: Better Living Through Cats and Chemicals

Adorable allergens!

I have two cats. I’m very allergic to cats.

Because of the contradiction implied in those first two statements, my life involves taking lots of drugs. They are allergy medicines, as prescribed my wonderful allergist, Dr. Joseph Rudolph. He casually drops hints that my life might be better without the cats, but I smile sweetly and dismiss the idea, and he turns the conversation to the results from my pulmonologist’s testing.

Yes, I’ve graduated to a pulmonologist.  When I first went to see Dr. Rudolph, my lung capacity tested as very low; so I started therapeutic levels of generic Claritin and Flonase and saline rinse for my sinuses. With minimal improvement shown, we added generic Advair twice a day. Still not optimal, I was referred to a pulmonologist.  I saw Dr. Menon, he added generic Singulair, which helped but then he also suggested a sleep test to see if I might have sleep apnea.  I don’t snore, but I went along with him – what could it hurt?  The home sleep apnea test revealed my blood oxygen goes to 82% when I sleep, there’s definitely obstructive apnea (I think that’s the term) – and that apnea is unrelated to the cats! 

If I hadn’t brought the cats into my home, I would still be exhausted every morning, no matter how long I slept because my body was oxygen-deprived during the night.  I would still feel morally weak and ashamed that I wasn’t waking up bright and early, raring to go, like those around me professed that they did. And the increased risk of health complications from poor sleep, low oxygen levels, and other side effects of apnea would have continued.

When I offered to take in the cats, whose former guardian was dying of ALS, I knew I was allergic to cats.  I was tired of living totally alone, and thought that this would solve two problems: I would have housemates, very furry housemates who would not help pay the bills or take out the trash, but still …., and the cats would have a home which would give both their guardian whom they loved and her family peace of mind at a difficult time.

Having had an asthma attack the last time I shared my home with a cat, which was 30 years ago, I made sure to take allergy medicine before Seamus and Fingal moved in, and a trusted friend referred me to her allergist. Allergy testing revealed that I’m allergic to four things: spring, summer, autumn, and dander. Grasses, leaves, mold, ragweed, pollen, trees: yup, spring, summer, and autumn, and dander. The follow-up eventually led to the discovery of a previously undiagnosed and unsuspected health concern: sleep apnea.  Who knows how things might have unfolded for me if my sleeping disorder hadn’t been diagnosed  and treated?

My new role as the concierge for two resident feline has improved my quality of life, on several levels. It turns out that when the Spirit nudged me to ask the family who would be taking the cats, and then spurred me to say, “I’ll take them”, that was grace at work.  It’s not logical for someone who’s allergic to cats to adopt, not one, but two, cats. It wasn’t logical. But without them I would never have had a sleep test, and, because of that test, I am now on the road to wellness.

Someday, the Spirit (aka the Universe, or your Higher Power) may nudge you to do something illogical in order to help someone. Pay attention to that nudge. The life you save may be your own. And that’s nothing to sneeze at. (see what I did there :-))

Today’s Prayer Poem:Ars Poetica
A poem should be palpable and mute   
As a globed fruit,

As old medallions to the thumb,

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown—

A poem should be wordless   
As the flight of birds.


A poem should be motionless in time   
As the moon climbs,

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,   
Memory by memory the mind—

A poem should be motionless in time   
As the moon climbs.


A poem should be equal to:
Not true.

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea—

A poem should not mean   
But be.

Grace and peace to you!

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