An Open Letter to My Immune System

My body is a drama queen.  Not me personally; I’m pretty low maintenance.  In fact there’s been no makeup-wearing,

Hope, left and Mr. W., right, in the emporium

heels or hair blow-outs for the past two weeks; I still feel pretty.  My immune system, however, is a raving goddam lunatic.

For a week this summer I babysat two full-grown pussycats in my home.  I knew going in that I had cat allergies.  But I needed short-term mousers, so they were chauffeured to and from my Jersey City mouse emporium in their own private Pet Taxi, paid for by their foster mother.  They were then free to sleep 26 hours a day on my bed, roll around on piles of clothing, lounge on the cool bathroom tiles and catch as many mice as possible.

Hope was low key and affectionate.  Mr. Wonderful liked to strut around the apartment.  Within an hour of getting here, he emerged from the kitchen triumphantly, one cheek bulging and an antenna sticking out of his mouth.  He dropped a wriggling, giant water bug at my feet to show me how he felt about me (positively), and then ate it.  I was extremely pleased, and we played follow the string for many hours.

One night I heard pattering across the floor, and Hope confirmed my suspicion that a mouse was in the living room.  She was in Attentive Mode and hunkered down into Strike Mode but the moment, and then the mouse, passed.  She fell back asleep on my ankles.

Okaaaaay.

The week passed, their foster mother returned to claim them and our visit came to an end. Neither caught any mice, but I shot some great video of Hope rolling around ecstatically with a catnip toy.  I noticed that after a week with both of them, my only allergy symptom was that I felt more tired than usual.  When I spend weekends at my brother’s house with his four cats, I’m sneezing and out of breath within 24 hours.

Maybe my allergies have subsided! I thought a few months later as I remembered how affectionate Hope was.  She was playful, quiet and so loving that I decided to adopt her.

Hope is content

And then six weeks later I had to give her back.

I dropped out of my weekly cardio class, sobbing when I couldn’t do a simple jog I’d had no problem with a month before.  Climbing up one flight of subway stairs had me wheezing and afraid there wasn’t enough air to live on.  I started walking slowly to get less winded.  My lungs were full of cotton; I sneezed and coughed, my eyes swelled up and watered.  I limped around, flu-like because the allergies were completely debilitating.  My body was flooding itself with histamines to rid itself of an evil, vicious pathogen which was actually TOTALLY HARMLESS CAT DANDER.

Guess what, immune system, you were battling the presence of kitty skin particles, NOT TYPHOID, RUBELLA or MALARIA, you freak show.  I had to give up my precious little girl because you’re lousy at making distinctions?  Are you listening to this conversation right now?  I was having a LOT of fun with my pussycat, which I loved and bought toys for.  I gave her special breath-freshening treats, organic wet and dry foods, cat nip spray that drove her wild, full reign over my mouse emporium and full access to my HEART.

I’m waiting for an answer.  I have all day.

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