The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

August 13, 2013

Dealing with Oklahoma’s allergies

By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

— Are you one of the many sufferers of Oklahoma allergies? Think about it.

We had a doctor friend who had practiced medicine back East somewhere, with a specialty in allergies. He was barely eking out a living. He moved his practice to this great state and was so busy he could hardly find time to go to lunch. He told us once that this area of the United States is the allergy capital of the world, and he was glad he moved here.  

We have dust all the time. We have pollen all the time. We have mold all the time. We have cedar trees and  cottonwood trees and Bermuda grass and wheat chaff and elm trees and goldenrod and rag weed and sand and every kind of allergy-causing substance known to man, right here in our own backyards. We  cannot escape it. It stays with us in the spring when things are blooming out, and in the fall during harvest time. Is it any wonder that we all sniff and blow and snort and sneeze and cough all the time, and have watery eyes?

Even our pets suffer allergies in Oklahoma. Our precious little dog has grass allergies and other contact allergies all year-round. Our wonderful vet has tried everything, and I mean everything, to find help for him that will not harm him in the long run. We feel so sorry for him, but we have seemingly tried everything and he still scratches and is so uncomfortable (the dog, not the vet.)

It seems allergies to medicines are the worst. People can have reactions to antibiotics which develop all at once after the patient has taken them for years with no side effects. When Jim was in the hospital in April, he was given several antibiotics.  Then one day, he complained about his back itching badly.  I (with my vast medical training and knowledge, ha!) assumed it was because he was lying on his back so long. When we showed it to the nurse and doctor, they said he had developed an allergy to one of the medications. When that was discontinued, the rash got better fast. I did not know allergies were developed suddenly. I thought we were born with them.  

I feel so sorry for people who are allergic to foods. It is no laughing matter to those who have terrible reactions to chocolate, gluten, peanut butter and/or peanut oil, eggs, milk products, fruits, vegetables and most anything edible. It is very difficult for them to dine out and know what they are ordering. It is even worse for little kids who are deprived of popcorn and ice cream and other goodies that kids enjoy at parties. They must feel terribly left out of things.

Many people are allergic to animals, including cats, dogs, birds and other pets. They begin to cough and wheeze and their eyes water just being around pets or where pets have been. We have dear friends who visited us, and she got so stopped up and red-eyed and miserable they had to get a room in a motel, and all because of our little dog. She was deathly allergic to pet dander. They didn’t think about it and we didn’t know about it in time to make other arrangements. Her health was more important than anything. She told us they had tried to have a bird in their house, and  she couldn’t stand it more than a day and they had to take it back.  

Allergies can be deadly. We had a neighbor who is very, very allergic to wasp stings. The first time we met him, his eyes were swollen shut. He could barely see through the little slits in his eye lids. My brother is the same way with  bumblebees. He has to  be very careful when he mows hay meadows that he doesn’t drive the tractor over a nest. He will abandon the tractor and field, if need be, to avoid being stung. He carries an EpiPen with him because of his allergies.  

We invited some dear friends over to our  ranch once to ride horses and spend the day out in the outdoors, picnicking and seeing the countryside. We had a great time, except for their oldest daughter, Nancy, who was deathly allergic to horses.  We had not gone a mile before her eyes swelled and she could hardly breathe. She was very allergic to horses and barns and hay, and was absolutely miserable all day until we got back to Enid.

Another allergy that occurred that same day was after we got back to Enid, the chiggers took over. No amount of doctoring will make the irritation go away. Chigger bites can actually make a person sick and run a temperature. One doesn’t really know they have been bitten until about eight hours after they strike silently — then it is too late! Needless to say, we had an eventful outing  in Pawnee County that day! Oh, what awful memories and allergies!

This little poem sums it up:

“I couldn’t do a thing today. I had asthma  and was wheezing

I had a stuffy nose, red eyes, and rash and some very powerful sneezing,

And itchy eyes with blisters. I was blotchy, red and hivey,

Like chiggers, stings, or bites, and a patch like poison ivy.  

I had trouble with my breathing,  It could have been from mold.

But I’m sure it was from allergies, and not a ‘common cold.’

I have suffered! It was awful! But I’ll feel much better soon.    

The pills are finally kicking in, to save me from my doom.”

We have heard of people who are allergic to work. Oh, sure! It does make a good story. It seems that in the hot summer, I become allergic to cooking much.  So I prepare easy desserts that I can do in stages and layers like this one. Serve it with a salad, and dinner is ready.

Lemon Dessert

Layer one:

1 stick butter or oleo

1 cup flour

1⁄2 cup finely chopped pecans

Mix well and press in 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees 10-12 minutes. Cool.

Layer two:

2 cups whipped topping

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar        

Mix and spread on top of crust.

Layer three:

2 (3.4-ounce) boxes instant lemon pudding (or other flavor)

3 cups milk

Mix  according to package directions. Spread over layer two. Top with more whipped topping and sprinkle with a few chopped nuts, lemon zest or both. Cool.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.