Rocio Prieto's Severe Asthma and Allergies Impacted Her Career, Her Relationships, Even Her Fashion Choices

Rocio's asthma treatment at the University of Illinois Hospital

"I had asthma growing up but not allergies. However, as I got older, I developed severe allergies as well.

August and September were the worst. Ragweed season increasingly meant wheezing and I relied on my inhaler more and more.

I got rid of my rugs. I had protective covers on all my pillows. I couldn't wear down coats. I was severely, acutely allergic to cats. It was so bad that in a graduate class, I walked in and immediately couldn't breathe. It turned out a student in the previous class had a cat.

I loved my job at University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System's Urban Health Program but I was just miserable coming to work, because there was carpeting. My asthma flared constantly. I couldn't walk very far at a time.

When my son told me he and his girlfriend got a cat, I said, 'Oh no, I can't hug you anymore!'

I had attempted in the past to get treatment. But during the tests to see what I was allergic to, I had such a severe reaction that they stopped everything. I never went back and never got treatment.

I have a friend who is a nurse at the University of Illinois allergy clinic and she convinced me to see Dr. Nyenhuis. Dr. Nyenhuis told me I was a candidate for allergy treatment and I figured I didn't have much to lose.

Knowing my history, Dr. Nyenhuis carefully monitored my initial testing and I got through it. Then I got weekly shots for six months. Now, I just go in for maintenance once a month.

It has completely changed my life. I don't use my inhaler. I can wear down coats. I can go to my son's house and play with the cats and I don't even notice ragweed season anymore.

It's a good ending. I'm so excited."