From scoff to cough


I was born with an iron stomach and a strong will to avoid taking even an aspirin if I could help it. I’m told I was a preemie and, as such, could have been a more “delicate” child.

Instead, I sailed through my childhood and twenties with barely a sniffle.

In nearly three decades I had only a mild case of chickenpox, a mild(ish) case of food poisoning (still wanted to die though), a nice case of pink eye (don’t share eyeliner, got it!) and some garden variety poison ivy.

All in all, I was able to avoid being on a first name basis with medical staff and barely even visited a pharmacy. I simply did not get sick very often. Life was good and the breathing was easy!


As a result of my ridiculously healthy childhood, I also tended to scoff at allergies. Instead of being grateful, I confess I was somewhat … cocky.

I truly thought people were making them up since neither I or any member of my family that I was aware of, had them. I could never quite fathom how people were wandering around sniffling over … air? I meant that’s how it seemed.

Who are these people who couldn’t handle the weather? Pollen? Dust? Dander? Were they just not trying to be well? How can you be allergic to life?

I remember friends missing school due to severe seasonal allergies. I assumed they just had gullible mothers and daytime television to catch up on. Allergies? Please.

Well, let me tell you karma is real and enjoys a strong sense of irony because over the past few years I have become allergic to all the things.

It took me years to figure out that I didn’t just have a “weird cold.”

That the tubercular cough and gasping and wheezing that caused friends and family to fear I was carrying the plague was more about the dust, mites, pollen, mold or something else entirely than it was just that I had a “bug.”

These days it’s difficult to tell what might trigger me to sound like I’m hacking up a lung. Dust is a great trigger which is fitting since I work in a field where I dig through vintage goods and antique treasures on the regular. So that’s working out well.

I need only to pop open an old trunk or box and get a whiff of the “old” to be irritated, literally. I would wear a mask but that is just so off-putting when taking a closer look at beloved heirlooms.

“Here just let me slip into this HazMat suit and we will see what your MeeMaw left you …” Nice.

I’m told I may have also developed asthma. That’s nice now that it’s far too late to get me out of gym class. Where was asthma when I needed it in eighth grade?


I do try to be vigilant. Cleanliness is next to Godliness and makes it a lot easier to breathe. Unfortunately, I have also developed a strong allergy to most commercial cleaning products.

This means that even as I work to eradicate the dust, mildew, etc. I have to do so with only the most basic, old-fashioned home remedies. Note: vinegar is not it.

I’ve tried to clean so much with vinegar that our home smells like a combo of an old sock and the french fry stand at the fair. Still, I sneeze.

Speaking of scents, I’ve recently expanded my list of “things that are trying to choke me” to include scented candles and wax tarts. This hurts because I love those things.

My life goal was to have my entire home smell like the candle shop at the mall. You know those people who say they can’t stand those places because the scent gives them a headache?

I was the opposite of these people! I wanted to pumpkin pie orchard apple scent the world — if I could.

Now, just a hint of one of those has me gasping for air. Pumpkin pie scented air of course. I also heartily apologize to all my fellow sufferers for the years I didn’t believe.

I now know firsthand that allergies are nothing to sniff at.


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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.



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