Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Muggle remedy to allergies

A year ago, I wrote this post. I was inspired when I wrote it. Inspired, that is, by the allergies that bust out of hibernation every spring and race through my body until November.

It's a dark path I tread this this time of year. Even without allergies, Utah springs (aka still mostly winter) aren't that great, and I spend a lot of time wishing my nose into oblivion, or at least equal suffering for all.


The fact that I was contemplating evil to eradicate an obnoxious problem got me thinking that perhaps I should explore my other options a little bit more. Including one that, at the time, seemed just as annoying as the problem it was designed to solve: allergy shots.

I didn't love the idea of getting shots regularly—swallowing pills, and sometimes even gutting the symptoms out, is a lot easier. I don't really have a problem with needles; it's more the continual trips to the doctor's office that are unappealing. And I had heard that weekly shots were required for five years in order for the treatment to be effective. What if you want to go on vacation? What if you move? What if your work schedule won't allow it? What if something happens in year 3 that prevents you from continuing? It just didn't seem worth it.

Well, you shouldn't base important life decisions on hearsay. You have to do your own research before ruling something out.

Which is what my sister Kimberly did. It's always better when a trusted source does the work for you.

As soon as I learned that allergy shots aren't required weekly for the full five years (just the first 3–6 months, during the build-up phase), I sought out my own allergist. He educated me on the terrible injustice of allergy reactions being based on genetics, rather than being required for everyone, and the horrifying reality that allergies tend to get worse until you're in your mid-30s, after which they stay there until, finally, starting to dissipate around your eighth decade.

The thought of enduring a spring even worse than the one that sent me to Voldemort for help was too much. I scheduled an allergy test the next day. (Which verified that I really am allergic to many things in the weeds/trees/grass/critters categories. I felt strangely vindicated.)

The week after Thanksgiving, I got my first allergy shot. I was committed now.

It wasn't always smooth sailing. It's hard to coordinate two office visits per week during business hours. About a month in, I had to double my medication on shot days, which made me tired and killed my productivity for the rest of the day. I had a random reaction the day I hit maintenance, the wonderful day you get to graduate to only needing one shot a month. My head turned a shade of purple that would put my fellow Cooper-blooded relatives on a sweltering July day to shame, and they had to close down the shot room so they could put out the flames. (Aside from my head feeling like it was on fire, I didn't have any other exciting symptoms.) This led to an evening derailed, an $867 ER bill, and steroid medication for three days that—surprise, surprise—wouldn't let me sleep.

But there were positive signs, as well. Two people came in for their last shot ever while I was waiting in the lobby, and both told the nurses the shots had changed their lives. As we inched into February, I could already feel a significant decrease in my allergy symptoms, which typically happens later for most patients. March passed and April started, and I was still waiting for the allergy symptoms that love me so much to attack. For the first time in a long time, I started drinking in the smell of blossoms and spending time on the grass without wondering how long it would be before I would have to pay for such pleasures.

It seemed too good to be true, to be experiencing so much relief so quickly, but the following tests confirmed that what I hoped for was actually happening:

  1. Spring was in full force, and I was still very much sane.
  2. I survived a five-hour flight next to a lady with a cat.

I still haven't gotten through a visit to my parents' house without wanting to rub my nose off, but there's still time to reach that level of immunity. I have every reason to believe that some day soon I will no longer be allergic to my hometown (or rather, everything south of I-15 Exit 253. Where there is still more nature than buildings).

The moral of the story? There is a cure to annoying, non-life-threatening problems, and yes, it is worth it to take the longer, non-evil path to relief.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pearls of 20-something wisdom: Career stuff

This post has been sitting in my queue for weeks, and I've lost track of how many times I've rewritten it. The primary pursuit of my 20s has been establishing a career, so I can't just not talk about it. But the problem is, I have no idea how to concisely say everything I want to.

I could start with a timeline of significant career happenings. Too boring? Fine.

Or I could write a "20 Things I Learned While Starting My Career" post. But that's been written about 8 million times already—no one wants to read that again.

Perhaps I could do a Q&A. Answer all those questions people ask when they find out what I do. Ugh, even I have no interest in reading that.

Maybe I should just get the words down and see where they take me (career lesson #15).

The lucky ones start showing signs of what they'll be when they grow up at a young age. Looking back, I can totally see that I was one of them. I beat my classmates at all the reading challenges in first grade. I subconsciously started editing signs by fifth grade. I wrote a bunch of terrible stories in elementary school and junior high (many of which starred my celebrity crushes, from Lance Bass to Chad Michael Murray).

I had other passions—music and sports, mainly—and even dabbled in other fields (like accounting—weird), but I was destined to work with words. That's what I was drawn to. That's what brought me the most satisfaction (career lesson #4). It wasn't about the money, the status, or the glamour. All I needed was words. (And punctuation.)

Career path: all set.*

*Although it did take me a while to stop hoping for the "marry rich" solution to adulthood (career lesson #436).

But the weird thing is, there's more to a career than deciding what you want to do. I grew up in a world where a job is something you have so you can get money so you can eat and take hot showers and wear clothes and all that fun stuff. Perhaps that, combined with my greater desire to be a wife and mother, is why it took me so long to grasp that a job can be more than a means to an end or a necessary evil (career lesson #53). It can be a good and meaningful part of your life.

For starters, adults aren't great at making friends, so chances are, your workplace is where most of your friends are (career lesson #28).

My first business trip. I was still green enough to think that was what adults actually called them.

A field trip to Top Golf. My family thinks working for USANA means you just play all the time. If only that were true. Let me just say, there's a reason my blogging frequency has dropped drastically over the last six months. 

And secondly, if your job is the most important part of your life, then you'd better make sure it's a good one (career lesson #41). That you're doing something you enjoy, that excites you, with people you can easily tolerate. Because if you don't like your job and you don't have something pretty significant to make up for it, then you'll find yourself constantly wishing for something to fill the void (career lesson #40).

Editors are a bit of a dying breed, so I had to fight for the right to be one (career lesson #42). Not all of my editing peers get that chance, even if their skills are seriously impressive. But somehow I found a way to make a living using the skills I want to use. (And I don't have to teach! I'll forever be grateful for that.) I've been very fortunate.

There's no way to say this without sounding cheesy, so maybe read this part really fast, before you have a chance to roll your eyes: I found my "calling." Editing is what I was meant to do, and I have zero regrets about choosing this career.

And, I think that's all I really need to say. Hooray. I'm kicking this thing off my queue.