Monday, May 21, 2007

A Real Pain In The Ass(thma)

Spring is in the air. And, with it, allergies.

I'd thought for years that allergies were something that people made up. Sure, there are countless commercials on television for allergy-relief medications, but, then again, there's big business in pills. I don't get any sort of seasonal allergies, and growing up, it was always a certain type of kid who did. The whiny kid. The one who always seemed to be injured in some way, complete with the requisite dramatics. The neighbor nobody wanted on their kickball team. That kid who, more often than not, had an overbearing mother; the person who, without fail, had asthma (more about that later).

Still, though, everybody seems to have allergies, so I guess they must really exist. I find it terribly interesting that these allergies are more widespread and more severe with every passing year. I can only think that it must be one of two things: either the general public is more bothered by (and vocal about) seasonal cold-like symptoms, or the entire human race is growing weaker, more susceptible to illness, at a shocking rate.

If you believe that Darwin knew the score (and I do), this doesn't bode well.

Physical infirmity is a weakness. I'm not saying that allergies are a moral failing, or anything like that. But, truth be told, they are a sign of weakness, on some level. There's a chink in the allergic person's composition that results in them not being quite up to par. It is what it is. I may not have allergies, but I've got shitty knees. So we've all got an achilles heel, it seems.

What fascinates me is the fact that so many people harp on their allergies. I don't get it. You won't see me discussing my joint problems with random strangers, because, really, it's something about me that isn't as functional as it should be. A bodily failing. I'm not ashamed of it, but it's also no kind of proof that I'm a special kind of person, one who needs to be handled with kid gloves. It's not a stamp of particular sensitivity. It doesn't make me special in any way.

And don't even start me on the bullshit peanut allergies. Nobody will ever convince the that giant proportions of Americans live in fear of the very specter of the fearsome peanut.

Along similar lines, I thought asthma was a hoax. Any asthmatics I've ever known seemed to have attacks at surprisingly opportune times. Asked to do an unpleasant job at work? Imminent attack! Feeling picked on? Or, worse, ignored? Seize that inhaler! I never saw an actual attack with those people, mind you - simply the looming threat. I've recently been informed by someone close to me that people really do have serious asthma attacks; since he's been an ambulance attendant, I'm inclined to believe him. But I still wonder how many people seize the very notion of asthma and run with it. If I were an actual asthmatic, that'd really piss me off.

It's not survival of the "special", folks. It's survival of the fittest.


Jim said...

Spot on about the peanut allergies. It's funny how NOBODY had a peanut allergy until about ten years ago, now every other person will keel over dead if they even see a Mr. Peanut commercial. It's just a way for these people to get attention, and also a way for them to sue if they ever get sick - how can you prove that there WASN'T a peanut flake in that ice cream? These people should be dropped off on a desert island with nothing but a crateload of peanuts for food, we'd see how fas they would get over their "allergy" then.

Sea Ambrose said...

It's very easy to say those things because you don't live with it. I suggest you actually become familiar with what you are talking about before exiling children to an island where they will die from anaphylactic shock. When I watched my one-year-old swell up like a balloon after eating a peanut butter cup, it completely changed my life forever. We didn't want this, We didn't ask for this. We would gladly trade it in for some other discomfort. But if a child has an illness, weather it be diabetes or a broken arm, asthma or allergies, parents are supposed to protect the child. Gross generalizations and antagonisms can't solve the issue. The hardest part is no one knows why food allergies and allergies in general are on the rise. Is it a combination of additives and processed foods or pollutions or what? I have two perfectly healthy children and another one with allergies - explain that. I can't. What really makes a difference are the people who actually get out of their all important, self-entitled bubble and reach out to help make life livable for those who suffer from anaphylaxis, or better phrased, a deadly drop in blood pressure resulting with the heart no longer being able to pump the blood. I hate being the parent who has to examine school lunches before fieldtrips or interview every parent of a friend my child wants to play with. I hate the rolls of the eyes and snears because somebody's inalienable right to peanuts has been violated. Who in their right mind would want all the extra stress and complications to their lives? One day a niece or a nephew or a grandchild of yours will be diagnosed with a life threatening food allergy and you will be amazed at how fast you change your tune.