Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I won’t say that I was a sickly child. However, I was more prone to sickness than were my siblings. My main trouble was with my ears. I would have horrible ear aches and would sometimes wake up with a pillow soaked in red, blood like liquid that came from my ears. Most likely it was puss mixed with ear wax and blood.

On two occasions I had ear surgery where they inserted tubesin my ears. I never really understood what those tubes would do. But I do recall that I couldn't get my ears wet as long as the tubes were in my ears. I was a late swimmer because one or two summers I had tubes in my ears and could not go swimming. I was also late learning to ride a bike but I doubt I can blame my ears for that.

I can’t recall how old I was when I got the tubes inserted but I distinctly remember when I was baptized my ears were packed with Vaseline and cotton. I bet I looked stylin’. So I know I was at least eight years old when I had the tubes in.

But even after having relief from ear infections, I still struggled with frequent respiratory problems. There were several nights when I woke up unable to breath and Mom would run her shower with the water as hot as possible and have me breath in the steam to clear my lungs.

After several doctor visits and no viral or bacterial issues discovered, Dr. Wood decided to send me to Stanford University Medical Center where I could have intensive allergy tests done.

There were two types of tests. One was done on my back with tiny forks that would make a small incision on my skin. The fork was dipped in some liquid of common allergens. If I had a skin reaction to an allergen, than they determined I was allergic to that substance.

That allergy test wasn't too bad. In fact, it was kind of cool for a young kid. They took off my shirt and had me lay down on the table on my stomach. They took a normal ball-point been and drew three long lines down the length of my back.  I was a human spreadsheet.

Before they used the fork-like thing to scratch my skin and insert the allergen, they would write an initial of what each incision was testing. So my back looked like a huge ledger. When they were done with all the test, they showed my back in a mirror and I was impressed.

But, then the allergens started reacting with my skin and what I once thought was cool, was now a huge irritant. My whole back itched and they would not let me scratch it. I was miserable for about an hour. At which time they had me lay on my stomach again and they would see what allergens created large mosquito bite like bumps on my back. The larger the bump the more likely I was allergic to that substance.

After that test, they were able to focus on where my general allergies were. Now they did the arm tests to get more specific. This was torture.

This time the wrote initials of the allergens they wanted to test on the inside of both arms. That part was fine with me. I didn't really mind the little incision made by those fork things. After they wrote all the initials, the nurse pulled up a tray that was loaded with large blue hypodermic needles. Now I was a bit concerned.

For this test, the stuck the needles in my arm and left them there for several minutes. So here I was, around eight years old with both of my arms resting on tables each hosting about seven to ten hypodermic needles. It was an utter nightmare.

I remember wanting to cry but I was too old. So I just sat there having no idea how long this torture would last and hearing the encouragement of the medical staff calling me a “brave boy.” Brave! I was the furthest thing from brave. I was just too proud to scream and cry. But I wanted to.

When the tests were finally over they were able to diagnose what substances were causing me to be sick, these included weeds, trees, dust, and grass. Well, that sounded okay. I hated yard work and now I had a legitimate excuse not to do any. I was allergic to weeds, trees, and grass. My lawn mowing days were over as were my weeding and leave raking days as well.

But dust, it is everywhere. How could I avoid dust? The best Mom could do was change the filters on the furnace more frequently and get me special pillow and pillow case that were somehow dust resistant. So that wasn't too bad.

But he worst was still to come. Along with weeds, trees, dust, and grass, I had a high allergic reaction to pet hair. In fact, my worse allergy was to dog and cat fur. Mom asked what we could do about that. The doctor said we had to get rid of all pets that had fur.


We had Clyde and five puppies, Daisy and five kittens, plus our three hamsters. These animals were my life. Now we had to get rid of all of them because of me!

I was devastated and cried all the way home. There were two things I feared most of all. One we had to get rid of all our pets. But my second fear was facing my siblings. How they would hate me for being the reason for getting rid of all our pets.

My worst fears were realized. Nicki was livid and held nothing back in her anger towards me. Matt was too cool to be mad about a bunch of dumb pets but saw this as a great opportunity to torment me more than normal.

We couldn't just get rid of the pets overnight. Mom and Dad had some planning to do. Finally the day came when all the pets would be removed from our house. The night before Dad took a picture of each of us with our favorite pets before we went to bed. My picture was with Daisy and the kittens. If I can ever find the picture you will see my bloodshot eyes from crying so much over the tragedy.

I am not sure how Daisy, the kittens, and the hamsters were removed. But we all hopped in the green and white VW bus and took Clyde and the remaining puppies to the SPCA. It was the longest drive in my life. I held the puppies as long as I could and sat in the very back to be as far away from Matt and Nicki as possible.

When we arrived that the SPCA, it was closed but they had cages where you could put your pet in so they could be retrieved the next day. One by one, each of the puppies and poor old Clyde were placed in this cruel cage and then we drove off.

This had to be one of my worse days ever. 

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