i’m allergic to my new apartment!

Screw you allergies. I got back up now. Yes, I am wearing a mask until this laundry is done.

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.

Please work please work please work

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!

New block #Chicago #ukrainianvillageNew living room!new apartment snapshotsUnpacking and unpacking and unpacking


21 responses to “i’m allergic to my new apartment!

  1. get yourself a swiffer jet dry mop. i use them for the boxer’s hair that sheds all over the damn place. i’m slightly allergic to her and it’s helped to get rid of a lot of her shedding hair. also, clean with microfiber towels. order them in bulk online, much cheaper.

    • The crazy thing is that there was little hair– that’s why I thought it was clean! Those microscopic dander things are ridiculous! That being said, I’m telling The Mister to add both of these to our shopping list. Sway sheds like a beast, it’s too much!

  2. You’re not alone! I’m allergic to my house (which we rent). And because I’m allergic to pretty much everything that grows in the ground or floats in the air, there’s no telling what’s behind my chronic snotty nose. Which reminds me, I was going to give my neti pot just one more try….

    • Oh no, Robyn! It’s so horrible, to feel uncomfortable in your own home. I would really recommend bioAllers– they have a dust and allergy version, too. I picked mine up at Whole Foods and am in LOVE with it. I really think it may help!

  3. Ackkk!! Can’t stand it. We had a similar experience in one of our rooms because we viewed the apt under low light and excitedly. Now, after having uncovered many problems we are very well-informed should we rent some other locale. And just to think, the landlady initially said she couldn’t smell a thing — figures. Try wiping down the walls with vinegar-water solution? -Juice

    • I did wipe down our doors with vinegar and water, that is a great suggestion. I love using vinegar to clean. The walls were freshly painted, so we at least had a little bit going for us! I’m so sorry that it happened to you, too. I will definitely not be moving anywhere where a cat was in residence anytime soon.

  4. My heart goes out to you..especially after sharing in your joy re: finding a place that fits. Here’s a natural suggestion that’ll work wonders for your nose: a neti pot. Happy nesting!

  5. Good grief! I’d get on the phone to the property management company FAST. Their maintenance guy should have cleaned the apartment. Also, should you need to move, you will need verification that you contacted them and what they did to try and alleviate the problem. Keep records.

  6. how awful, sorry to hear about your troubles.

    let me tell you my near death story, 2 of my dearest friends moved to chicago, I invited them to stay with us, there was a finished room with bath in the basement, they brought along thier 4 cats which had the run of the basement, when they moved to thier own place some months later, I went down to clean up, I sweswe

  7. yikes, posted prematurely, anyway, I swept, not aware of the clouds of toxic dader swirling around me, & after a few minutes noticed my throat had closed up, my nose & eyes had swollen shut, I blindly felt my way out across the long room & out the door to the gangway, I lost consciousness, expecting my drug dealer neighbors would find my dead body, miraculously, I was restored , I was able to see & breathe again

  8. one thing I learned is to use a wet mop to sponge down all surfaces wall, ceilings, floors, doors, tops of cabinets, pantry shelving, behind & under the stove & fridge, including common hallways, which I did after an upstairs neighbor moved out with her cat, also if you have gas forced air hire one of those companies to vacuum out the ducts, so noe new dander blows out when the heat is on, ok good luck

  9. can’t remember the name, there was a coupon in the phone book or mailer, they sucked the nasties out real good, even drywall dust from 10 years ago, yelp may be able to help with recommendations

  10. OMG!! They don’t sell that brand here and I have it for dust….A TRUE MIRACLE WORKER!
    Also, why are people so friggin nasty? The girl who lived in our apartment before us wasn’t terrible, but I’m a bit of a clean freak going into new to me spaces and she didn’t wipe down the walls or anything. And neither did our landlord/management company. But holland is weird. You’re lucky if you move into a spot with kitchen appliances and FLOORING. I kid you not.

    PS your new apartment is rad.

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  12. im totally exhausted from allergy to cat fur residue.
    has anyone tried the injections desensitizing shots frm allergy specialist?
    i moved into a old rental apartment blah blah,then noticed sneezing,runny nose,sinus aching,itchy eyes,am mentally exhausted.is a nightmare.then neighbour told me previous tenant had 3 cats.
    its been steam cleaned but is old carpet.
    am going to move out when find new place only been here 3 months.
    indoor cats is a ridiculous/selfish idea.please dont have them in rental flats.

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