You know - one that looks like this.
Or maybe this?
But I don't.
Not only do I not have pictures, but I have no remarkable allergies. Said Dr. Martin Broff at South Shore Allergy and Asthma, "There is nothing I can do to alleviate your poison ivy. And your seasonal (various pollen) and perennial (cat) allergies are unremarkable enough that neither prick testing nor immunology treatments are really needed."
After seeing my weak smile, he continued, "I'm afraid I'm disappointed you."
Yup. That was disappointing news. But not surprising. While I didn't get a cool picture or a breakthrough on how to manage my allergies, I did learn somethings during my 45 minute consult.
Top ten things I learned while talking with Dr. Martin Broff
10. Contact dermatitis is a chemical allergic reaction that happens at a cellular level. Because of this, it can take up to five days for a reaction to fully emerge.
9. Contact dermatitis is fundamentally different from, say, a ragweed allergy, which is a result of a protein binding/cleaving deficiency that takes place almost immediately.
8. There are three ways to treat allergies - avoidance, medication and immunotherapy (aka allergy shots).
7. The number one allergy is to dust mites. And the number two is to cats.
6. The number one allergy trigger in schools is cats. Not because there are cats in schools (as a general rule), but because cat allergens, like dust mites and pollen, is everywhere.
5. OTC medications that treat the symptoms, like Claritin and Allegra, are generally as good as the prescription stuff.
4. Nasal sprays, like flonase, just became available OTC last month.
3. There used to be immunotherapy treatments for poison ivy. But they didn't work. In fact, said Dr. Broff, "they actually did some damage."
2. While goat-scaping is intriguing as an strategy for eliminating poison ivy, at least annually, there is no guarantee that the allergen won't be found in whatever is touched by whatever is eliminated by the goats.
And the number 1 most important thing I learned while talking to the allergist?
If mattress covers and air duct cleanings are deductible as a legitimate medical expense for people with traditional allergies, then it stands to reason that I may be able to deduct one professional yard cleaning to eliminate the poison ivy each year.
45 minutes after my appointment ended, I was already back to my daily dose of Claritin. Which I needed because I was turning over dusty piles of paper looking for receipts from the landscaper we hired to eliminate the poison ivy in 2014. (Fingers crossed it works!)