Feeling Like A Burden Is A Terrible, Terrible Thing

My nose plugs up and I can hardly breathe when I’m around cats too long.  I don’t know why I’m allergic, I just am.  One time I stayed over a friend’s place with three cats, and I woke up with red hives.  It was a surprise that I was able to fall asleep at all, because I could have sworn I sneezed over 100 times until the underside of my nose bled.

One of my best friends invited me over to visit her childhood home this fall.  Her mother lives near Boston, and unlucky for me another downside of East Coast living is the enormous pollen count.  I remember countless days when I couldn’t go to work because my allergies were so bad.  Ever since moving out West, my reactions have been much tamer.  The San Francisco Bay acts as a natural filter, sucking out stagnant air to sea.

In addition to being out East, my friend’s mother also has a couple of dogs and cats!  She sees this trip as a fun homecoming to introduce me to where she grew up.  To me, I have no attachment there and it’s like going to a gas chamber for vacation.  Imagine only being able to breathe through your two front teeth.  That’s how I feel sometimes when allergies attack.  You can’t get enough oxygen, so you aren’t able to speak.  You lose energy and let sleep take over even though it’s in the middle of the day.

THE QUIET PLEA

When I asked my friend if it was OK to ask her mother if she could put the two cats in the basement during our visit, she paused.  Sensing her objection, I offered up a solution of putting the two cats in the basement only at night, and let them out during the day when we go out and explore.  Another pause.  Fine, at which point I felt thoroughly disappointed.  I’ll just go get a hotel room for $100 bucks a night I tell her, which is absolutely silly because there are two perfectly empty bedrooms at her mother’s house.

There was no compromise with my friend.  She mentioned that one of the cats would object and start meowing and clawing at the door if she was left down in the basement.  Oh really?  That’s too bad.  It’s not like a dungeon down there.  I’m well aware of East Coast homes where many of them have fantastic basements filled with TVs, furniture, beds, and wet bars.  A thousand square feet of living space for a cat is like 10,000 square feet of living space for a human.  Nope, she doesn’t think it’s a good idea and is hesitant to ask her mom, who so happens to be very nice.

I’m sad, because when she comes over to my parent’s house, there’s nothing we won’t do to accommodate.  For example, my parent’s house has a crazy neighbor on one side.  The neighbor often talks out loud to herself and busts out in song.  Her dog barks incessantly, and we are forced to hang out on the other side of the house sometimes.  One visit, I found my friend sleeping on the sofa in the living room due to the noise, and that bothered me.  It bothered me so much that I went with my father to see if we could get some airtight, double paned windows so she wouldn’t have to wake up in the middle of the night.  Isn’t that a thoughtful gesture?  I’m thinking of the future.  We’re going to get those installed, I promise.

I’LL TRY HARDER

If I was mega rich, I wouldn’t feel so bad about my friend choosing her cats over me.  I would say “no problem” to $100/night motel rooms, and would probably want to stay at $300 a night resorts where I could be pampered with room service, a spa, fine dining and other amenities.  But, no, I’m not mega rich.  I work on a loose budget and like to save money where I can.

So here is another reminder as to why I seek financial freedom.  I don’t want to get my feelings hurt if I have to be compared against someone or a fuzzy animal.  I gave her a couple chances to see if she could accommodate, and she just stayed silent.  I don’t want to be sad or angry at my friend for putting her in a tough decision. I know she loves her cats dearly, but some would say that we are in love too.

Send me to the Four Seasons and let me spend large sums of money for a hotel room even if a cozy room is available for free.  I’m sorry for being a burden to you and your cats dear friend.  It’d be nice to discover medication and fancy, non Darth Vader-like contraptions that can help alleviate my allergies, but nothing seems to work.  For now I’m no better than a cat, which is enough motivation to write this post and work harder at achieving my financial goals.

Readers, what are some of the things that frustrates you or makes you sad, which could be alleviated by having lots of money?

What would you do in my situation?  Would you still bother going?

Maybe I’ll just go up to Tahoe and do some soul searching.  She’s a lovely person and perhaps I have to just change my expectations.

Regards,

Sam @ Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

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Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    Sam,

    I know exactly how you feel! Actually, fun story. The first time I visited my fiancee’s family, I learned they had 3 cats in a smaller home. It was ok the first day: itching eyes, constant congestion, etc. By the second day, my allergies had taken hold and I could barely breathe. I was in the hospital by that evening getting shots so that I could breathe.

    Now, I think cats are absolutely adorable, and there are certainly plenty of cats waiting to be rescued from shelters. At the same time, I’m always a little disappointed when friends have cats because it really limits my ability to spend enjoyable time at their places! In fairness to my soon-to-be-inlaws, they are now tremendously thoughtful when I visit: putting the cats in the basement, cleaning up the hair, etc. But it can be a bit awkward, just as you say, feeling like a burden!

    • says

      Oh wow, glad you are OK! I sometimes feel that only people with severe allergies know how I feel. Everybody else can pretend, but really, they’re just thinking “uh, huh, come on.. how can a cat make you feel so bad” or something to that nature. And since I know some people feel this way, I start feeling like a burden. That’s fine, if I’m not very close to the person…. but if I am, that’s just a sad feeling.

  2. says

    My son is horribly allergic to cats, and I mean hospitalization type allergic because he gets severe asthmatic reactions. So there are many people we do not visit if they have a cat. Even if they do put the cat in the basement, that dander is everywhere. But, even if he had more sneezy type allergies like in your case, I would not go if staying at the house is the only option. I cannot stand feeling awful, what is the point? Unless you just accept you will have to spend some money and stay at a hotel like you would on a normal vacation.

    I do wonder though if your friend is really choosing the cats over you, or if she is more afraid to confront her mother. Maybe it is deeper than just the cats? I know many adults that still will not stand up to their parents, no matter how old they are.

    • says

      It’s hard feeling awful as well. When we’re sick, all we want to do is feel better and no amount of money can make us feel better. But, in this case, I was willing to try and feel a little awful, to be with her and spend time in a place she wants to go back to anyway since I’ve never been.

      It’s probably deeper than just cats. She probably feels like SHE doesn’t want to be a burden to her mother. I was just hoping that she empathize more and talk things out instead of stay quiet. Again, nobody knows how bad severe allergies feel until them have them themselves.

  3. says

    “what are some of the things that frustrates you or makes you sad, which could be alleviated by having lots of money?”

    I think I get frustrated when I shouldn’t/don’t buy stupid but not crazy expensive items. Does it really matter if I pick up that new $500 computer? I’ll survive but what a stupid waste of money.

    You’d survive the couple hundred dollar hit, so the question I have for you is – do you think WHEN (not if buddy) you are ‘mega’ rich you’d actully spend the cash?

    • says

      I’m not sure if I’d spend the money on a hotel room if I became mega rich E-Dog. I find it utterly wasteful, and then I feel guilty if I have to spend money on a hotel room when there’s a perfectly good one for free at a friend’s place.

      Maybe I’m stubborn that way, and it’s more about principle. However, hard to say what I’d do, b/c after this experience, I may just change the default setting to “I’m staying at the Four Seasons”, and would love to have you and your mother over at the hotel or a restaurant for lunch etc.

  4. says

    That is a crappy situation, man. I run into it more often than I’d like because many friends I visit have furry pets. I just load up on my loratadine and, as you mentioned, spend time outside.

    To answer the question- having money would solve the problem of so much time spent away from family and friends. As a researcher I have a fluid work schedule but I don’t see people very often because they are far away and travel costs money!!!

  5. Charlie says

    I’m so sorry to hear that. It’s so easy to forget how fortunate our health is until we’re sick. I had one of the worst stomach aches in my life last night and couldn’t do anything except lay down in a ball and try to block out the pain. All I wanted to do was to feel normal again. It kills me that my mom has had pain like that almost every day for the last several years and she’s tried every medicine, procedure, and treatment in the world and it doesn’t go away. I try not to think about it because it makes me so sad that she has to cope with that. I really don’t know how she’s managed. Sometimes she just sleeps on the weekends because she’s in too much pain. How awful is that. And gosh, what if it’s genetic…shudder… I should take better care of her.
    I have allergy attacks myself, but nothing compared to what I’ve read here. Dust is what gets me the most. If I clean the house I get an attack, and if I don’t clean the house, I get an even worse attack. I need to remember to wear a mask next time.
    That’s so generous of you to think about putting in new windows to mask the noise of the crazy neighbor at your parents house. I try to help my parents with their house when I go visit too. I always look for some of my old things I can bag up to give to charity to help de-clutter things and try to do little things to keep the house in fair condition.
    Sorry to hear about your friend. I’ve had situations like hers in the past where I get so choked up with emotion that I can’t speak. It’s like being a deer in the headlights when all you want to do is move/speak but your body is frozen even though your mind is screaming things. Sometimes I can’t think of how to say what I’m feeling that nothing comes out at all and it just makes things so much worse. I don’t think she was choosing the cats over you, after all you did offer some great solutions, I think she just had so much going on in her head that she couldn’t express herself properly. Hope it works out. I wouldn’t think of her as less of a friend. I think she just needs to work on communicating better.

  6. Geek says

    I have completely awful cat allergies (to most cats.. I’ve met one or two I’m not allergic to). I can’t see due to watery, red, itchy eyes after about 2 hours, even WITH allergy medicine. I have been in your situation nearly exactly in college (without the income), and I lived with open windows, a little vacuuming, and one cat-free bedroom that was washed before I came. It was mostly tolerable, and yes I spent a lot of time outside, and it was very kind of his mom to do anything at all for me and let me stay over.

    No one owes you a free room. If they are offering one, be grateful and make your allergies known. If they don’t make arrangements and you can’t stand your room: “I’m so sorry, but my allergies are just terrible. I’ll see you first thing in the mornings for breakfast” and off you go to a motel or hotel. Be sweet. Make jokes about yourself. Pet the cats and tell the cats you’re sorry to be so wet around them.

    Don’t go all Emo. (“but some would say that we are in love too.” Oh! Sniffle!) Grow up, and spare this poor woman all of this “Oh I’m such a burden” bull.

    Unless that’s what turns her on….

    • Powell says

      Now I can see why you are unmarried. You’re pretty heartless and I don’t think anybody will ever want to call you his own. Take your anger out on someone else, not because you’re unnattractive and out of shape.

    • says

      Thanks for being so cold. Really appreciate it. You have no idea who this person is to me.

      I guess this is what happens when I open myself up, so it’s my fault.

      Do me a favor. Start a blog yourself and write about things that you feel sad about. Let me know how you feel when someone totally disregards what you are writing.

      I want to know why you are so callous?

      • Geek says

        It’s fine to open up, but you are feeling resentful for getting to meet the parents (or whatever other significant gesture may be happening here).

        To others running to the defense, my original post included more than the last lines.
        1.I’ve been in this situation and sucked it up, politely, with a smile to his family. (We’re still together 8 years running)
        2. It is uber-kind of family to offer you a free room. Be a charming guest.
        3. You have nothing to complain about. This is a big deal in a good way and you are stressing about nothing, and in a way that doesn’t become you.

        • says

          Resentful for getting to meet the parents? Huh? I know I’m not that great a writer, but where do I say this? I’m disturbed that a very good friend of mine is unwilling to compromise about putting her cats in the basement b/c I have allergies, despite me willing to go all the way out there and visit and subject myself to some discomfort.

          Can you please start a blog? And can you please tell us why you have so much anger? Did someone pick on you or make fun of you when you were younger? If so, that sucks and I can see why you are so callous. And if not, then you are just cold, and I feel sorry for you.

        • Geek says

          Trying again:
          1.I’ve been in this situation and sucked it up, politely, with a smile to his family. (We’re still together 8 years running)
          2. It is uber-kind of family to offer you a free room. Be a charming guest.
          3. You have nothing to complain about. This is a big deal in a good way and you are stressing about nothing, and in a way that doesn’t become you.

          How is that callous or angry?

          • says

            You writing “Grow up”, and saying “bull” to how I feel are the two words and phrases that tick me off about your comments.

            I agree with Powell and The Genius. You must have gone through some very difficult times where you were picked on or made fun growing up or in adult life to so easily disregard what I write.

            Please, I’m begging you to start a blog so we can throw stones at you too. Please? It’ll be so much fun.

        • The Genius says

          How can you pretend you know anything and call it “bull” complaining about nothing? Why do you complain that you are out of shape if you don’t excercise and eat right? Why do you complain that you aren’t married yet when you’re not a nice woman?

    • The Genius says

      Insensitive. Good job Geek! I think you miss a much deeper meaning to this post, when Sam refer’s to his “friend.” Oh well, someone people are just clueless so just realize you’re another one of them.

  7. says

    I can emphasize with what you’re going through. I live on the east coast, and I also have allergy problems. It’s not quite to the point where I feel like that I’m in a “gas chamber”, but I often sneeze multiple times in a row, and sometimes it gets to the point where my nose starts bleeding. Some days, it gets to the point where my eyes become very itchy and my face turns a little red. Other days, it’s not so bad and I can spend a lot of time outside without sneezing. Allergies are really an annoying problem to have…

  8. says

    I own three cats myself and treat them as my kids. However, if a dear friend were coming to visit and they were deathly allergic, I’d have no problem placing them in the basement for the evening. Luckily, most of the people I know aren’t allergic and those that are can stand to be around my cats for short periods of time. I actually bathe my cats twice a year which removes some of the dander, which is the root of most cat allergies. I think the hairless cats don’t produce dander, but they are awfully strange looking animals.

  9. Sandy L says

    This is what I heard from one person “my animals are like my kids”.

    She let me sleep in her spare room once and assured me “the sheets are clean”. What she meant by that was that no human has slept on the bed. Come to find out, the guest room doubles as a giant cat bed for her 3 cats. Nice. That was the first and last time I slept there.

    In the morning when she saw my eyes, she admitted “you told me you had allergies, but I didn’t realize they were that bad”. She knew the bed was covered in cat hair, but chose not to tell me.

    I’m convinced that many pet people think that non-pet people use allergies as an excuse. Like it’s just your lame way of trying to be polite and not wanting to be around “their babies.”

    • says

      Thanks for the story Sandy. It’s hard for people to truly emphathize if they haven’t gone through the experience themselves. I CANNOT imagine what it’s like to give birth to a child, that is why I have the utmost respect for any woman who has gone through this process!

      I can understand how pets are loved like an owners children. I really do, b/c I have a pet myself. And so, I don’t want her to choose between the comfort of her pets, and my health.

  10. says

    What would you do in my situation?

    I would tell myself that everything is rational.

    That’s intended as a playful dig at someone who once wrote a blog post making the case for this claim. Presumably on a day when he wasn’t working through the complications of love among the humans.

    Rob

    • says

      So what would you do? Is your comment completely just to dig? If so, then you are growing into your reputation.

      Everything is rational, which is why it’s probably best if I just vacation elsewhere and not be a burden on her.

      • says

        Oh, my! My comment was intended to needle you, Sam. For heaven’s sake!

        I think you handled it fine, Sam. I was just teasing you about the rational thing,
        re which we disagree. I would be tempted to say that nothing is
        rational with the humans and that that’s probably a good thing. Love is not
        rational! It’s 100 percent crazy and 100 percent great!

        My “reputation” is that I am this horrible, horrible, horrible person who reported
        the numbers that people use to plan their retirements accurately. I’m 100 percent
        bad, Sam. Everybody knows it too. People are far better off not knowing the
        correct retirement numbers. The way our economy is going proves this!

        Rob

  11. says

    I totally sympathize! I have asthma and cats set it off pretty badly. I’m usually okay around just one if I am on loratadine (Claritin), but two or more cats in one house turns me into a wheezy squeaky toy whether they are in the room or not.

    I also feel like a burden when I mention my asthma in advance because some people take it as an implication that their house isn’t good enough for me or something. My friends and I don’t have issues about it…we just meet elsewhere or at my place.

    In your situation, I would vacation elsewhere. I’m sure your friend is just worried about mentioning it to her mom, but that’s not an excuse to make you suffer. She needs to suck it up and approach the subject nicely with her mom in my opinion. If my friends have issues, I’d want to try to make it better…that’s just part of being nice, right?

    On a side note, if you are ever around cats again, don’t touch your face with your hands and you’ll last longer. The dander gets on my hands from doorknobs and seats and couches, and then I touch my face and get it in my eyes…I can last a few hours around a couple of cats if I just make sure to keep my hands at my sides, lol. :-)

    • says

      A fellow allergy asthma suffering! Rock on! I turn into that wheezy squeky toy too, and gotta get out. Unfortunately, once it hits me, it lasts for 24-48 hours.

      I won’t touch my face, thnx for the tip. Funny thing…. I don’t think I’ve touched a cat in 5+ years! My parents compound/neighbor actually has two cats, but they live outside and roam free so things are fine when I got to their house.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Best, Sam

  12. Larry says

    What would you do in my situation?

    Or rather, what would you have done?

    I think I would have told her how much I wanted to come and visit, but that I’m concerned because I have a severe cat allergy. Then I would leave the solution up to her. Problem is, by suggesting yourself the solution of putting the cats in the basement, you’re (inadvertently) putting her in an uncomfortable position and making her feel you’re imposing conditions on her hospitality. It’s like cooking a meal for a friend and having them say they don’t like the main ingredient you’ve chosen for the dinner.

    • says

      I think that’s a good point, which is why I’m probably not going to go. I thought our relationship was beyond that where each other comes first. But, it’s not the case. I’m not flying for 12 hours, and another $1,000 bucks to go stay in a place I have not ties to. No big deal. Happy to go our separate ways.

  13. says

    People always let me down, or don’t do what I would do in their shoes…

    I bet she felt horrible about having you go to a hotel… Stick it out, maybe some day this will be something you laugh over :)

    I know your pain though, I stuffer from allergies too. So much so, that I ended up getting immunology treatment to help lessen the symptoms. It took 5 years, but life is much much better for me.

    Drat, low pollen count! Another reason I wish I lived in San Francisco!

    • says

      Seriously, I would BEND OVER BACKWARDS to accomodate someone who I really cared about and was visiting for the first time, especially if s/he had allergies or something that conflicted. And since I would do anything for that other person, when someone else doesn’t do the same, I feel slighted.

      I think this is how friendships or relationships start to break. One person cares more than the other, or conversely one person doesn’t care as much, and they start to drift apart.

      I’m glad your allergy symptoms are much better. Life sucks when we are sick!

      • Geek says

        If your parents would bend over backward to accomodate someone YOU loved, then they are very unique and special parents. My man’s parents are very polite, but he and I definitely sleep in unique places (the floor, the basement, the great room balcony) when we visit.

        Consider: maybe this lady’s parents will view you badly if you are the reason for the beloved pets being locked in the basement. Interpreting this as “I care more than you” makes no sense :(

      • says

        You don’t always get back as much as you give. In fact, with some people, you
        can give so much, but never get anything back. I’ve learned a couple of lessons
        in my life:

        * Get used to things not always seeming in balance. Try not to think of it in
        those terms.
        * With some people, when you see that it’s very lopsided, then stop extending
        the hand!

        In this case, I think the first point applies more. Perhaps they just don’t under-
        stand how your allergies affect you, or perhaps it would create an uncomfortable
        situation with the parents. Even if you would do it, sometimes you just can’t
        think of things that way and deal with it…

        • says

          After reading some more, I can see why you can feel that it might be more like the second case! You would go this far for the other person, but it seems like a small request is too much for them.

          Maybe talking things over will help things out. I hope it works out for you, man…

  14. Emily says

    Sorry about that, how frustrating. I think if I was in your shoes I wouldn’t take this to the level of questioning your friendship with her. It’s not your fault that you have allergies, and it’s out of her control that her mother has so many pets and unfortunately it ended in an awkward and uncomfortable situation. It would be hard for me not to feel hurt that she didn’t dive in to help but I’m sure there’s a lot more going on in her feelings that didn’t come to the surface, and it’s also not her current home is it?

    I think if I had a severe enough allergy I probably would have declined the offer to stay there all together and would just avoid the risk entirely, especially if the cats have lived there for a long time. If I really wanted to see my friend I’d bite the bullet and stay in a cheap motel, spend time with my her outside of her house and not have to worry about getting sick. No one wants to think about getting sick on vacation after all.

    I know from experience living with a roommate with cats, that cat fur goes EVERYWHERE and even thorough vacuuming and putting the cats in one area isn’t going to keep it out of the air, off the curtains, furniture, out of the vents, etc which could be dangerous for you. Every time I visit my brother’s house I still find cat fur on my clothes weeks and months later even after several washes and his place is pretty neat. Cat fur is the hardest stuff to get rid of. She must know this, especially if there are multiple pets in the house, and perhaps after hearing about the seriousness of your allergies she felt selfish about inviting you to stay somewhere with such a big risk of you getting sick.

    Hang in there and really hope you can stay friends. Good friends are few and far between in life and no friendship or person is ever going to be perfect. Even though I’d like to think I’m a pretty good person, I still do and say some really stupid things at times so I try to be patient and forgiving with the people I really care about b/c I know they’ve done the same for me. We all have to make mistakes to learn and become better people. It sounds like you care about her a lot so hope you get to spend time with her even if it’s somewhere else. best of luck!

    • says

      Emily, what a nice and thoughtful comment you have written. THANK YOU! I needed that. You sound like a lovely person, and you’re right, no relationship/friendship is perfect.

      I don’t think it’s anybody’s fault either. And I didn’t get angry at her. All i did was feel sad, and I have a right to feel sad, b/c that’s just the way I felt. How do we control our emotions? I don’t have a right to fight or yell at her at all, b/c it is what it is.

      Today’s post was an outlet for me to vent my sadness, that is all. I’ve learned a lot from reader’s comments such as yours.

      Thanks again!

  15. says

    Kinda shitty, people can be weird about animals. On the flipside, we have animals and when we have a family party or something some people just don’t even come or come and leave. Aren’t there allergy shots and medication for stuff like that when it’s known they’ll be around animals? In some cases, even if you move an animal, just being in the house will at least bring on some reaction. Tough situation, but hey, you’re still friends, right? Could have done much worse to you.

    • says

      Yes, we’re still dear friends, very close. We’re talking things out now. It’ll be OK.

      I guess everybody wants to search for that someone who cares for you as much as you care for them. That could be bliss, although it’s so rare the case.

      • Geek says

        Expressions of caring are different for different people. For you its going way out of your way. For her, it is probably something else. Does she do something special for you now and then?

        Have some faith in her feelings.

  16. Lovingkind says

    I’ve lived in Washington and allergies always made me miserable. Life surely was less fun to live when allergies made me difficult to breathe and cause me headache! I am glad that I don’t live there anymore.

    I know a few people whose allergies sometimes got so bad and had to be sent to Emergency Room! When they can’t breathe and have asthma attack, it can be life threatening!

    Here is a little information about “Asthma” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82gn_rDRpHk

  17. says

    Hey Sam. I have a confession to make. We have four cats – Sneaker, Dido, Everett, and Ator. One of my sister in law’s has bad allergies to the cats and whenever she’s going to come over, we always vacuum and barricade the cats in our bedroom (which has their food and water).

    What would you do in my situation? Would you still bother going?
    –> Sam, I’d ask yourself what your standards are. I’m assuming you really like this girl and are looking for something more than friends (correct me if I am wrong). Was it really her that wouldn’t budge, or was it her mom that was really the one that wouldn’t budge. If it was her that would not budge, in my opinion you need to ask yourself what your standards are for the person you want to be with.

    Coming from my experience (almost 10 years of marriage now), it only has worked because we both are willing to compromise and bend over backwards for the other. It just wouldn’t work otherwise. Use this as a guide for what your future will be like with this woman in my opinion. If it really is her not budging, then what else will she not budge on?

    Still, I wouldn’t just give up on it. Maybe this really is the only thing she has no give on. Maybe she’s afraid of her mom getting upset. I’d at least investigate it more and ask her to see if there is a deeper issue to it.

    Hope this helps Sam.

  18. says

    Sam, your allergies sound awful. I don’t have allergies myself, so I can’t even begin to understand how it feels to be in your shoes. The only thing I can think of to help you is to offer some questions.

    If this ended up severing your relationship would you regret not spending that $1000 to stay at a hotel? A thousand dollars isn’t a drop in the budget for anyone by any stretch of the imagination, but it sounds like she really wants to show you her childhood.

    Were there other instances where she could have gone out of her way to help you but choose not to?

    Do you think this could be an opportunity for you to show her how much she means to you? While the money you would spend would definitely cost you and your loose budget, perhaps it would be a much more significant sign to her that you value what she finds important (showing you around her childhood home)

    Either way it seems like a really unfortunate situation that she didn’t extend and offer to accommodate for you. If it truly were important to her, you would think that she would go out of her way in any way possible to make the decision of you visiting easier. Does she know (as in seen it first hand) what happens to you when your allergies start acting up? Maybe she’s like many people out there in the sense that she’s a non-believer of how bad your allergies can be.

    I wish you the best in deciding what to do.

  19. says

    When I read this story, I felt so bad for you!

    So you take reactine/ claritin and it does nothing for you?

    It’s not like you were asking her to put the cat down or anything, you just asked her to put the cat away for a night…=( She must really be a pet-person.

    I know of relationships where one partner gives the pet away because the other is so allergic.

    lol, you snuck in a ribbing to the East coast again =)

    I didn’t know allergies are bad over there.

    • says

      Thanks Y&T. Claritin is like coffee… doesn’t work at all. I find that saline nasal sprays and Nasonex nasal sprays help though.

      She really is a pet person, and is wiling to drive 4 hours roundtrip to go see the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, where I’m happy to just drive 25 minutes to the Zoo :)

      Didn’t mean to rib the East Coast! But, I think the fact that my allergies were so bad there stuck with me consciously or subconsciously, and why it’s hard to ever go back!

  20. Lovingkind says

    Sam, I think you are lucky to have so many friends like Jeremy, Ace, Emily and others here. Wonderful comments and very thoughtful. Good luck with whatever you have to do!

  21. says

    Just throwing this out there, but have you considered whether the severity of your allergies could be linked to TMS, a la Dr Sarno?

    He does mention allergies in Healing Back Pain. Maybe be worth a re-read?

    • says

      I definitely think there is a link. The thing is, I don’t know if I will get massive allergies if I go out East, b/c I haven’t been out East for years. I think out West has been much better for my allergies as I rarely ever have a debiliating attack anymore…. seriously, next to nil, and if so, only for the day, not multiple. But, perhaps it’s partly b/c of Dr. Sarno’s book about totally taking things in and being mindful.

  22. Mike Hunt says

    Sam,

    I understand how you are feeling.

    My best friend from college has two schipperke dogs, they are total attack monster ankle biters to any visitors, particularly men who are tall (like me). When I come to visit them their dogs terrorize me every time I get up from a seated position. I’ve asked them to put them in the room somewhat jokingly but they ignore that. The dogs are like family to them.

    I’ve decided I will no longer visit them until the dogs have passed on. Sometimes you can still have a good friend even though one or two areas appear to be thoughtless.

    -Mike

    • says

      Ankle biters, yikes! Great term used for different things I guess. I’m probably going to wait it out as well. It’s a very far way to go, with no direct flights, a lot of time, and money just to go live in Motel 8. I’m happy to just have them stay over my house here.

  23. says

    Sam,

    I also find this story very funny indeed. Clearly, they are prioritizing the cats over your inconvenience. Although I appreciate that is there decision, I understand your hurt because you and your family would been over backward to accommodate her. I also find it easy to give more than I get, which is fine up to a certain point where you feel used. It’s a toss up about what I would do in your situation. I would likely do the hotel but let them know how I felt.

  24. says

    In the future, I would make sure any host or hostess did not have cats before I would agree to stay there. Yes, people are strange about their pets (should we say family members?), but it is their house and their pets and their routines that are being disrupted when they have company.

    But I would also want to have a heart to heart with my friend. Making accommodations for a friend goes deeper than putting cats in the basement. Are there other areas where she is too rigid?

    Your own words: “There was no compromise with my friend.”

  25. Meadow says

    Hi Sam:

    What would I say / do in this situation?

    Whether it was a best friend, girlfriend, boyfriend, whoever, I’d say, “Thanks very much for the invitation. I’d love to come and visit your childhood home, but as you know I have very serious allergies to animals”.

    The dialogue would unfold however it would unfold, but the overriding message from me throughout would be, This is nothing personal: it is a problem we would need to troubleshoot before I would be able to accept your invitation. I’d let the other person suggest solutions and respond accordingly.

    Good luck!
    Meadow

    • says

      Thanks Meadow. I don’t think it’s too personal now that we’ve discussed about it. It just felt personal when there was really no response from her. I didn’t get angry, snap, or whatever, I just kinda sat silent as well, just sad. Thnx for your thoughts.

  26. says

    Awww, Sam, you’re not a burden. It’s no burden to have a friend or loved family member, even if he’s allergic to the darned cat. It’s the cat that’s the burden!

    If I were in your predicament, I absolutely positively would NOT stay at a house where animals made me break out in hives, sneeze till my nose bled, or wheeze. Some folks just don’t understand how uncomfortable the presence of animals can make a person who’s allergic to them.

    Case in point: when ex-DH and I were in our late 20s & early 30s, we had four dratted Siamese cats. Once we had a meeting of service group that he chaired. I locked the cats up to get them out of the way, and because…yes, some people are allergic to cats. All these nice folks came over. One of them sat on one end of the sofa, where two of the puddy-tats liked to nest.

    The poor man actually had an asthmatic attack! He hadn’t had an allergic reaction to cats in YEARS, but as it develops, Siamese cats are actually more allergenic than other varieties. Heaven help us.

    Locking the cats in the basement doesn’t help. Cat hair and cat dander expand to fill all space available (no joke…it’s TRUE). The stuff gets all over the furniture and the walls. One study I read claimed it can take as long as six months after a cat leaves the premises for the hair and dander to be cleaned out of the environment well enough to spare allergy symptoms their various baleful symptoms.

    We learned to tell our friends that we had those allergenic beasts and, if someone was sensitive, to find other places to get together. If I were on the receiving end of the allergies, I’d try these strategies:

    * If someone who has a dratted cat invites you to visit as a house guest, insist on staying at a hotel. But don’t use your allergies as a reason, because that will just make you sound like you blame them. Say something like you need the quiet time to work on some big project you’re bringing with you, or whatever other nonsense you can dream up as a white lie.

    * When you want to get together with friends and relatives who have allergenic pets, invite them to your house or go out someplace with them.

    * If you can’t gracefully get out of visiting a home where the little walking allergens live, before you leave your house drop the largest dose of Benadryl you can tolerate without falling over face-forward into a coma.

    I won’t have a cat around my house any more. One of the reasons is that I value my friends more than I ever would value a cat.

    • says

      Funny Abut Money – Thanks for your suggestions and thoughts! It’s all I wanted to hear and feel that I wasn’t a burden on my friend and her cat, but that’s how I felt unfortunately. You provide some excellent, rational suggestions, and I’ll definitely go with that.

      Massive does of Benadryl and some coffee perhaps! Hmmmm, maybe that’s a dangerous mix!

      6 months to clear the house of the allergens, I can see that completely. I guess I’ll just stay at a hotel or not go.

      Best, Sam

  27. Holly says

    Sam– Look into sites where hosts offer a spare bedroom for rent. That would be way cheaper than a hotel. Just make sure that there aren’t any cats!

    I know some people in my family get shots each week for allergies, but they can be expensive and may take a long time to work (like 6 mos. or a year!). And, of course, you only suffer in certain special situations.

    My parents have a friend who is alllergic to both cats and dogs. They specifically always keep their dog out of the guest bedroom to accimmodate her. When their dog died, they even went so far as to get a dog that they claim ‘doesn’t shed’. I swear it sheds, though!

    I don’t think I would bother visiting this friend. If she’s afraid to ask her mom, she could have just fibbed and said that she had asked, but that the mom was unwilling. Why would anyone refuse this simple request, anyway? It sounds selfish and backward to me, I’m sorry to say.

    • says

      Thanks for your thoughts Holly. It’s funny how I’m not allergic to dogs, and I am to cats. I mean, what’s up with that, Body?

      I can’t help it, and she can’t help it that she couldn’t express what she had to say in a ready manner. She did come back eventually and say she agreed with the suggestion of having the cats downstairs in the evening, but she couldn’t say so immediately, which obviously leads me to wonder whether she truly means it.

      Maybe the search for that ultimate compatible person is an illusion, which is why there are so many fights and breakups. Relationships take WORK and lots and lots of open communication. I think I’ll go write a post now about the topic :)

  28. Dave says

    Have you looked into possibly fixing your allergies? I heard a story on “This American Life” podcast a couple of months ago about a guy who had severe allergies and fixed them by “infecting” himself with parasites (hookworm) – perhaps not something you’re interested in, but if allergies are really getting in the middle of your life – check it out:

    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/404/enemy-camp-2010

    The story is in Act III.

    Maybe somewhat extreme, but the “science” falls under what is described as the hygiene hypothesis:

    Hygiene hypothesis

    The hygiene hypothesis states that infants and children who lack exposure to infectious agents are more susceptible to allergic diseases via modulation of immune system development. As Mary Ruebush writes in her book Why Dirt is Good, “what a child is doing when he puts things in his mouth is allowing his immune response to explore his environment. Not only does this allow for ‘practice’ of immune responses, which will be necessary for protection, but it also plays a critical role in teaching the immature immune response what is best ignored.[35]” The theory was first proposed by David P. Strachan who noted that hay fever and eczema were less common in children who belonged to large families.[36] Since then, studies have noted the effect of gastrointestinal worms on the development of allergies in the developing world. For example, a study in Gambia found that eradication of worms in some villages led to increased skin reactions to allergies among children.[37]

    Although the exact mechanism is unknown, scientists hypothesize that the helper T cells are key players. Allergic diseases, which are immunological responses to normally harmless antigens, are driven by a TH2-mediated immune response. Bacteria, viruses, and parasites, on the other hand, elicit a TH1-mediated immune response which inhibits or down-regulates the TH2 response.[38] TH1 also inhibits the activity of TH17 which is heightened in numerous inflammatory diseases including multiple sclerosis and asthma.[39] More research is currently being performed to better understand the possible mechanism for the hygiene hypothesis.

    - Kind of makes sense.

    • Lovingkind says

      That’s an interesting hypothesis! So true about “what a child is doing when he puts things in his mouth is allowing his immune response …” , (para #1 of your H. hypothesis) but “infecting” myself with parasites? I will never dare to do it!

      Many people overcame allergies by changing diet to more natural food, e.g., fruit, raw vegetables and juices. One gets important nutrients and vital stuff, like antioxidants which help fight allergies, from fresh food. Processed food has too many unknown ingredients added to it to make it taste good. These added ingredients eventually cause us problems. Of course, most of the nutrients in processed food are lost during the process.

    • says

      Hey Dave, I guess that kind of makes sense, just like how vaccinations are actually low strains of the virus the vaccination is trying to counter.

      My allergies are actually very mild now, especially since I rarely play golf (allergic to the grass and stuff that kicks up after each thwack). If I were to ever move to a highly seasonal area, I will definitely think about treatment more closely.

      Best, Sam

  29. says

    Never use to be but im allergic to cats now also. hives and all.

    What could I alleviate by having tons of money? OH boy… I could retire… quit the job I hate. No more getting up at 5am! Actually I may still get up early, but I would not have to leave the house and do the commute in traffic, you know the rat race!

  30. says

    It’s crazy how much emotions play into things like this. It’s not your fault that you have allergies and it’s not her fault they love the cats.

    (well I do find issues with people choosing pets more than other people, but that is a side topic!)

    If everyone was willing to put emotions to the side, open up and brainstorm, we might find more solutions. :)

    And I’m from Maine, so if you don’t mine the drive you can stay with my family :)

    • says

      Howdy Jaime! Thanks for your offer! That’s very nice of you. Yeah, it’s a communication issue we had, but it’s been resolved. No hard feelings, and we’re going to both work on communicating better. I was just really sad when there was silence from my suggestion. I didn’t yell, attack or anything. I ended up staying quiet and sulking as well. But, it’s all good now. It was quite cathartic writing out my thoughts in this post.

      Hope all is well!

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