This is a very long post. If you simply want to see some little images of our new place and don’t want to read a sickly gal blather on about feline allergies, scroll on down. They’re at the end.
Hello, SARS mask. The last time I tied one of these around my face I was angrily scraping pigeon shit of off our old balcony rafters wearing a t-shirt with FEMINISM LIVES emblazoned across the front. This time I am using it to sort laundry.
We moved into our apartment one week ago yesterday. That Sunday it was everything I dreamed of. I was exhausted by 8:00pm and determined to pass out (I took everyone’s advice and made sure our bedding and towels were at the ready immediately) but couldn’t take the clutter. Up I stayed, past midnight, organizing the kitchen until we had at least one room in the house that resembled normalcy.
There’s the bootleg before and after, as posted on Instagram that night. I went to bed content, excited to arise the next day and get started on making house into home.
And then I woke up.
Early, because of said excitement. I think I got a total of six hours after a grueling day and only receiving about four hours of shuteye the night before. I hurriedly started unpacking and unpacking and unpacking and half hour into it was completely overcome by sneezing. Sneezing and a runny nose and a fuzzy head that has lasted since… last night, with a brief break on Friday and Saturday and smaller fits of sneezing when I left the house for work. My nose is rubbed raw and slathered in Vaseline but I am finally starting to feel a little bit normal. More on that miracle in a bit.
Why all the allergies? A cat. A long haired cat. The former resident of this here abode, along with two indescribably filthy human beings, maybe even worse than the two who occupied our last apartment before us. Remember how when we were apartment hunting I told you how disgusting humans seemed to be? This apartment was one of the worst examples: we actually came back to view it a second time after crossing it off of our list early on. It was on the market for much longer than the other units we viewed, a fact I can only attribute to the layer of grime over every surface and the hairballs in every corner. Still, it never even occurred to me that this would pose such a huge problem. I didn’t even correlate CAT with ALLERGY on either visit to the apartment. I don’t even think I sneezed. I knew I was allergic to felines but didn’t imagine their dander’s staying power: six to nine months, maybe a year.
Even when the allergic reaction started, we chalked it up to high pollen counts in our area. An allergen-ridden fall was projected on every weather website out there. The Mister thought the dog was bringing in ragweed pollen after walks. When our local CVS was out of 75% of their allergy meds, we were positive that this was a simple seasonal allergic reaction that everyone was feeling– something I had never gotten before but maybe due to the stress of the move it had decided to manifest.
But it persisted. And persisted. Sometime in the evening of day 2 or 3, a lightbulb went off. THAT DAMN CAT. Duh. Why hadn’t I thought of that, I thought while my nose dripped onto my chest.
To spare you the long ordeal this has been– the crying-in-the-shower moments, the transcripts of calls to AJ and KB complaining and snotting up the phone lines (which have to be done at least 100 feet from my house since AT&T gets ZERO CELL SERVICE here), the contaminated trash can that had to be emptied once a day, the hours of internet research… let me just tell you what we did so you don’t have to go through the same thing.
1. bioAllers Animal Hair & Dander Allergy Relief. Hollar. These little drops of goodness have saved me in a way that Zyrtec, Allegra, Claritin, Alavert, and even good old fashioned Benadryl have not. Fifteen drops under the tongue every three hours or so and a world of difference. No foggy head, no dry mouth, no sleepiness, no side effects, period. They are a godsend. I started them on Friday evening and slept like a baby that night for the first time in days.
2. Allersearch ADMS Anti-Allergen Spray. YES. More, please. The Mister WORKED this place with this spray and certified elbow grease. It cannot have been easy to cart around our heavy assed vacuum and its short hose attachment; one that required him to actually lift the body of the machine up a step ladder to get each rafter, door molding and beam. I cannot stress how important it is to get the tops of everything in your apartment. The cleaning crew that our management company sent in did a nice job on the surface but once we looked a little deeper we knew where to find that pesky dander. It loves to settle atop high surfaces. He even found a decrepit luggage bag and cat poop above our new built-in hutch. That had to have been a major source for allergens.
4. Take the blinds down. If your rental agency or landlord provided blinds or curtains, get them out. Save the pieces, wrap ’em up nice, make sure that you can put them back if you need to, but no amount of cleaning is going to get them allergy-free. My curtains may look a little bootleg right now due to the haste I made in getting them up but I feel so much better now that the majority of the yucky blinds are out of this unit.
4. I mentioned that Friday and Saturday were OK with the introduction of my bioAllers. Sunday was another story. The last thing I had to fully unpack were our boxes of clothing. Really one big box as we brought over everything else in luggage. The minute I opened that box: sneeze parade, again. I was heartbroken. Didn’t know why this was happening. Couldn’t believe it. I had washed every single item of clothing in that box before I packed it, knowing that the days of free laundry in our old building were behind me. Didn’t matter. 10 days in a box? A box I took from work that contained produce from a local farm? Not a good look. Here’s where the mask comes in. I learned my lesson last night. I’m not taking it off while touching those clothes until they come out of the dryer. Which should be… about now. The Mister brought home a dozen of the masks from work today and I plan to use them whenever I need to get into something dusty. I’m taking no chances. I’m sure the new neighbors loved seeing me have an entire phone conversation with one of these on earlier.
And that is my epic allergy story. I’m praying, in the way that I pray, that this is somewhat over. I can breathe through my nose for the most part and I’ll be sticking with bioAllers for awhile; the reviews around the web are mostly from cat-allergic people who choose to live with them as pets so I’m counting on it to keep working its magic. This apartment is probably the cleanest it has ever been and though we got off to a rough start, I think we’ll be just fine. Worse comes to worse: a HEPA Air Purifier, which run around $500-800. I know I can avoid that with positive thinking… right?
Here are some snapshots I’ve posted on Instagram this week, starting with one of our new block. I’ll be taking proper photos soon. It’s coming together fast!