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I spent this afternoon dusting and vacuuming our tiny little (really tiny-- about 8' x 8' plus closet) bedroom. From top to bottom. Pulled off the mattress and bed slats to uncover a truly horrifying amount of dust, dust gathered in great gray clumps, dust that appeared to be only hours away from constituting itself into a living organism and going after the cat.
Lots of other stuff under there too: SnoreStrip tabs, New Yorker subscription cards, old New Yorkers themselves (look! there's Woody Allen! He's an old New Yorker! ...oh, never mind), ponytail holders... and the thermometer! We wondered where it went, and there it was all along. Kidnapped by the dustballs for their own nefarious purposes, no doubt.
I attacked the dust viciously with the vacuum and vanquished it. Then I put everything back until the bedroom looked almost exactly the way it had before, only slightly tidier. There was no sign that the whole endeavor had taken me three hours. Kind of dispiriting, that.
I threw lots of stuff away. Old clothes. Our wedding garlands, too; they'd been hanging on the ends of the closet curtain rods (the closet doesn't have a door, just curtains-- really it's just the end of the bedroom chopped off). They were very dusty and kept shedding blooms. They will be seven years old this August. Every time I look at them I'm reminded that RW's garland was better than mine. My garland was kind of skimpy. It was okay at the time, it looked fine on my head, but it didn't dry well. Now that reminder is gone, along I hope with all the dust that was aggravating Mermaid Girl's sniffles and eczema.
Turns out she's allergic to dust mites. And cats. We only found out last Tuesday, after what turned out to be the longest fifteen minutes of my life, as MG sobbed and writhed in agony in the allergist's office and I held onto her hands because the nurse had been very firm that she ABSOLUTELY COULD NOT TOUCH HER BACK for the length of the test, which was twenty or so little scratches on her back, and by the end of the test about half of them were horrible red welts, which she said really, really hurt, and I believed her. It was worse than her vaccinations back in September, worse because it took so long and because she was really trying, trying so hard not to touch her back. She grabbed my hands and we practiced together taking deep breaths and then blowing out very hard. She tried to blow hard enough to move my hair. We'd read a little, then she'd start crying again and we'd have to go back to breathing.
After about five minutes the nurse came back in, glanced at MG's back, said, Oh, she's definitely allergic to dust mites, and popped a video in with instructions to both of us to watch it while we were waiting for the test to be over. It had lots of helpful hints about putting special covers on bedclothes and ripping out carpets and throwing away stuffed animals. Also some truly scary close-ups of dust mites. After a couple of minutes I twigged that the video was just making everything worse, also what with all the hand-holding and crying I really wasn't absorbing the information very well, and that I did indeed have the power to turn it off. So I did and we returned to breathing and reading.
I didn't know ahead of time what the test would be like, which is just as well because I couldn't lie to her about it and telling the truth would've made it even worse, as she'd have been terrified beforehand and we all know what fear does to your pain sensors. But then it was over and the allergist came back in and gave us a little information about cats--in a nutshell: best to get rid of the cat, but no one ever does that unless it's very bad athsma which this isn't, so just try to keep it out of her room, and when it dies don't get another one-- and a lot, a whole lot, of information about dust mites and the alleviation measures that can keep them down.
So, when Shy Kitty dies (which could be in a year or in eight years, he's twelve but he's a scrappy old thing) we'll get a turtle. Or a snake, maybe. Or tropical fish. And we may end up putting hardwood flooring down, at least in the bedrooms. And RW spent the morning while we were at Hebrew school dusting and vacuuming the Girl's room, so now both of our ajoining bedrooms are relatively dust-free, or at least better than they were. And we have to go get a special mattress cover for her bed and wash everything more often than we've been doing, in hot water. And not leave her extra sheets in an open laundry basket on top of her wardrobe any more. And discourage her from bringing stuffed animals into bed. (Barbies are okay, though! Score another one for Mattel!)
I find myself wanting to sheathe everything in plastic; such a homey touch.
Dust allergies, anyone? Suggestions? Reassurances? Vaccum-cleaner recommendations? I've got the lovely pamphlets the allergist gave us, but it's more fun to get information the old-fashioned way, from the Internet.