Tuesday, September 22, 2009

mystery solved

Yesterday I had my appointment with the allergist in Troyes. The appointment itself was pretty amusing and the results were, in my opinion, pretty surprising.

This may not shock you so much if you're American, but if you've spent any time at all in France you might be shocked to learn that I waited upwards of an hour in the waiting room. (I wrote about my very first experience with French doctors way back in the stone ages, here, and generally find that wait times are very short here.) I was glad I brought my knitting with me, but even so, I was curious why the other guy in the waiting room was so antsy and another fellow that came in after me saw that there were only two of us, looked at his watch, and left! But hey, I couldn't be bothered, luckily - Fry was with his grandma, Stéph had his key to get in the house after work, I had my knitting, no problem!

Once I finally made it into the office, I was very pleased to find that Dr. Allergy is a very sweet woman, maybe ten years older than me, very chatty and personable. Once she ferreted out that I'm American (I get "what an adorable accent!" all the time, whether they mean it or say it as a way to find out where I'm from is dependent on the person, really), we had to have a ten minute conversation about her little sister who's married to American and has lived in NYC for 25 years (how is it that I manage to meet everyone that has a relative in America?) and a rather amusing story she told about her last visit there, and then at last we got to my allergies (and you can start to see why an hour behind is probably normal!).

Well, we went over my allergy history, and she brought up an important point that I hadn't thought of before, that it should be rather unlikely that I should have pollen allergies on two different continents, but that's certainly what I assumed it was. Everyone's been saying that the pollen was out of control this past Spring and Summer, so what else could it be? So we did the prick test, and I was very surprised to learn that I'm not allergic to pollen at all.

Nope, I get to have a relatively rare (at least in France, according to Dr Allergy, anyway) allergy to Alterneria, an atmospheric mold that grows outside in the right conditions, being very hot and damp. This is the mold that grows on old leaves in the forest and can damage crops in some cases. It also happens to be the same whether it's growing in France or in America, so it would explain why I never had allergies growing up in Florida (too close to the coast where it is hot and damp but not enough foresty cover for mold to grow), suffered terribly in Upstate SC, and can suffer from it again on a completely different continent. So not only were the pollen counts very high here in France this summer, the conditions were right for an outbreak of Alterneria.

Dr Allergy is still sending me for a blood test to confirm, as well as an x-ray of my sinuses, but most likely the treatment will be the same that my regular doctor gave me, which works perfectly. Even if nothing changes, it is such a relief to know exactly what I'm allergic to and what to look out for in the future!

PS: I didn't leave the doctor's office until 6pm for a 3:30 appointment. She insisted I call my MIL from her phone to let her know I was on the way. I guess I would usually be, at the very least, annoyed under such circumstances, but she was so very nice and very clearly explained everything so well that I'm actually looking forward to my next appointment!


JChevais said...

I sort of love chatty doctors. I still see my crazy GP (I told you the story right?) and every visit, I know that I'm not going to understand anything he's saying. Sometimes he'll even have his laptop in there with photos of his trip to Cameroon scrolling by on the screen. He'll say something about the photos and then change gears and say something bizarre and completely off tangent.

Ksam said...

Is there any possibility of doing the "desensibilisation" treatment? I didn't do it for the full time since I was only allergic to Bretagne (lol) and my allergies disappeared once I moved away, but it definitely helped reduce my symptoms while I lived there.

Roxanne said...

Doctors in the US often run an hour late too. We just don't get the kind, chatty doctor. We get the abrupt, rushed, arrogant doctor who can't be bothered to listen to one's history. I'd take your doctor any day!

Vivi said...

Ksam: This is actually the first year in five that I've had the problem, so since I know what it is and can control it with medication (and it may not even pop up again next year), I don't think it's worth it. However, if I ever lived in a place where it's really bad again, I would probably look into it.

Roxanne: I had some really great doctors in the States before I moved here, but "rushed" probably would describe all of them to a "t"!

Syl said...

Vivi I love your blog, I can't believe you've been doing this for so many years! I've only been able to read a few posts here and there but I'm enjoying it very much.
How amazing for you to have your almost day to day life recorded, it's like writing a memoir.
I just started blogging and I'm far from being a good blogger, but I also wanted to write about my 'little project' of living in Paris for a while.
This is all new for me but I'm looking forward to making it a place where I can express my thoughts and experiences as I work on making my dream become a reality.
I'll keep reading you, thanks for sharing your life!