When I was little, kids used to stop me in the middle of recess to ask me the same question.

“Were you in a fight?”

It’s true. I’m not sure what you’re thinking at the moment. Perhaps you’re trying to piece together information as to why children between the ages of six and thirteen were asking me this question on a regular basis. Whatever conclusions you’re coming up with are probably better than the ending of this story. You think I was a rebellious kid? Always picking fights with older bullies who picked on my friends? Maybe I was mean and always fighting with kids, so other students always wondered whether or not it was true? No no… It was none of that…

“No…”

“You weren’t?”

“Uh-uh. Why?”

“You have black eyes. You look like you got punched in the eyes.”

The circles under my eyes used to get so dark, children actually thought other kids had punched me in the face. In reality, instead of children attacking me, it was actually my own body. Allergies. And I was allergic to basically anything. Grass seed, pollen, dust, the teensy bugs that lived inside the dust, weeds, and even stuffed animals… My allergies would get so bad that my nose would clog up causing the extremely dark bruising around the corners of my eyes.

When I moved to Washington after the third grade, my allergies seemed to lighten up. I didn’t ever expect it since there’s a lot more grass, dust, pollen, trees, and whatever else here. However, I didn’t suffer nearly as bad as I had when I was living in Southern California. But that changed last summer at Creation Fest 2002.

The night we had arrived to the Gorge in George, Washington, I lay on my cot, not breathing. I woke up about 25 different times in the night because I’d stopped breathing. That morning, the girls woke up at about 5:30 am and I got up with them and we went to the showers. I hardly slept at all that night. Something in the air at night caused me to have one of the worst allergic reactions of my life. I barely slept at all that entire trip. A total four days. Instead of sleeping, I would walk around wrapped in a sleeping bag and I would clean the campsite. I’d stack chairs and throw away trash or put cans in the recycle bag. I kept myself busy until I felt I could sleep. However, sleeping became somewhat of a risk since I would wake up gasping for breath.

Spring has come and I’m afraid my allergic reactions to things are as bad (if not worse, I can’t really remember) as when I lived in California. The other morning, I was shocked when I looked in the mirror because I finally saw what those kids could see. I looked as though I’d been in a fight.

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