|No more milk from you|
Thursday, 28 November 2013
Stop doing all the things you enjoy and you'll feel fine!
I’d been meaning to do it for two years. And last week I braced my loins, clenched my gluteus maximus and immersed myself in the murky world of allergy testing.
A decade ago, for no apparent reason, I began to suffer with recurrent episodes of malaise, characterised by a runny nose, frog-spawn phlegm and eyes so red you’d think I’d binged on the blood of ten rosy-cheeked virgins. These reactions rarely lasted longer than 30 minutes and did not incapacitate me; they never stopped me completing the day’s schedule, but were an irritant.
I first assumed I had contracted some form of hay fever, but I could detect no seasonal pattern; I am just as likely to be sniffling and chewing gooey spittle in a snowy winter as in the sunny spring. They can also emerge at any time of day.
Recently, a work colleague suggested that I must be allergic to something and recommended that I get myself tested. He gave me the number of an ‘allergy practitioner’ who dispensed her wisdom from the health-food shop in my local town. Curiosity raised, I phoned and arranged a ‘consultation.’
Upon entering the shop it felt like I had stepped into Severus Snape’s apothecary, an elongated, narrow room with shelving to the roof, each crammed with lotions, potions and jars of desiccated seeds. I expected to be confronted by Harry Potter making a hasty retreat with the Veritaserum truth drug secreted under his robes. Instead, I was welcomed by a vivacious lady in her early 40s, with a permanent smile and a level of animation suggestive of amphetamine intoxication.
I had expected to be interviewed in the privacy of a room above the shop, but the allergy practitioner pulled a small, wheeled table into the centre of the floor, adjacent to the shelving, and beckoned me to sit down opposite her, as if we were about to arm-wrestle. My consultation proceeded in the company of the elderly shopkeeper and a gaggle of customers purchasing their weekly fix of multi-vitamins and soya milk.
‘How are your bowels?’ she asked.
‘OK for the most part; although at times a bit volatile,’ I replied, my voice fading to a whisper as a female customer leaned across me to pick up a jar of Omega 3 + 6.
‘So you fart a lot’ she said. ‘Of course you do – you’re a bloke.’
I considered sharing the empirical evidence that women fart as much as men, but censored myself as two young women entered the shop.
This highly qualified professional asked me to hold a chunky metal electrode in one hand while she pressed a probe onto the middle finger of my other hand. She then proceeded to place, one-by-one, a sequence of vials into my palm, her machine emitting a squeal (like a mouse being castrated) the pitch of which apparently indicated my level of intolerance to the substance therein.
The verdict? What stuff do I allegedly have intolerance to? She could have saved a lot of time, and avoided the electrode jiggery-pokery, by simply asking me to list the things that make life worthwhile: beer, white wine, red wine, bread, cheese, ale, lager, cow’s milk, onions and coffee.
For the love of all that’s holy, if I’d stayed 10 minutes longer I’m sure she would have diagnosed an intolerance of Mrs Jones’ boobies!