Is Your Job Allergy-Friendly?
"The task is not to control the wind, but to direct the movements of the ship so that it stays on course."
-Michael & Jessica Hinz
Millions of people around the world have allergies. As we allergy sufferers know, having this condition can be very distressing. We have all the stresses of life to deal with, plus managing our various conditions. I have personally tried to take steps to minimize my flares.
Finding an allergy-friendly job
A key way I've tried to manage my allergies and flares has been finding an allergy-friendly job. Or so I thought. I am not so sure anyone can find the perfect allergen-free workplace, but I've certainly tried.
Years of working with photographic film and paper
In 1996, I began working for Kodak, the iconic film and photography company in Middlesex, England. I did not know it then, but it would spell trouble for me as the years passed by.
The impact on my health
I dealt with chemicals and emulsions and regularly worked in very hot conditions. From the years between 1996 and 2005, my allergies completely and utterly spiraled out of control. My working environment was hell for people with allergies.
I knew it then but found it increasingly difficult to make the necessary changes in my life. During this period, my breathing was labored. I'm sure working with chemicals played havoc with my asthma.
My skin would sweat and become itchy while on shift, and it was a time that drove me mad. When I finally did get around to changing my life around, it was a bit too late. But better late than never.
Training as a driving instructor
I needed to make a change after a decade of working with pungent chemicals and emulsions. In early 2005, I decided to pivot and become a driving instructor. Obviously, it goes without saying that I was excited about how rewarding it would be to train and offer young people a skill for life, but I also focused on being able to control my environment.
Better control over my work environment
I literally dreamt about working in an allergy-free zone. I would keep a clean car with a portable vacuum in the trunk. Various rags and dusters to keep the vehicle to a high standard would help keep the allergies at bay. But no matter how you think you may have things under control, there are, of course, external factors to consider.
Nothing will be 100 percent allergy-free
I was finally taking more control over my allergies and improving my life. What I have subsequently learned through my career experiences is that there is not a lot you can do to manage allergies if you are training people who have pets.
When they enter your car, you can sometimes see all the cat or dog hair on their clothes. I politely tell them to avoid too much contact with their pets before their driving lesson. Even then, my eyes will swell and become red and inflamed. My skin starts to sweat and itch, and my breathing becomes slightly restricted. It is a nightmare!
Allergies can hinder your job performance
Having an allergic reaction to pet dander on a student's clothing is also embarrassing. I know that students can see that I am struggling and that's not a great look, professionally speaking. I don't want the students to lose confidence in my training abilities.
The only thing I can do to combat the pet dander is to take antihistamines, which I keep in the car, but I am too late to use them more often than not.
Does anyone else find their job is good or bad for their allergies?
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