Essay

Allergies

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I love springtime but I suffer terrible allergies. Debilitating, grating allergies that sometimes prevent me from leaving the house. Most people seem to be affected by the yellow stuff that shows up on cars and in puddles. I am not bothered by that sort of pollen. Although, much like a traffic light, the yellow stuff is a warning that the pollen that sets my immune system on fire is on the way. 

I’m pretty sure it’s ragweed that makes me the most ill. Ragweed is everywhere and it emits invisible spores. The fact I can’t see the enemy is the most frustrating part. If it was the yellow stuff, I’d have a marker. I could go, okay it’s sneezing time for a few weeks until this stuff clears up. Ragweed pollen may not paint cars but it does use my nose as a siren, letting everyone know it is around.
 Ragweed. What a stupid name. Did they used to use it to wash windows out on the prairie?  

Seasonal hay fever starts in my head. All my energy will be zapped. I’ll be tired and cranky like I’m just getting over a cold. Then it moves to my nose and throat. You can itch the back of your throat with your tongue only so much before it turns raw and then you’d like to rip your face off so you can scratch back there. Sadly, this method is only effective once.

Sometimes I sneeze so hard I worry that one of my eyeballs will be jarred loose. My grandfather used to sneeze 20 times in a row. He’d start sneezing and his grandchildren would begin counting out loud. I think his record was 32. I don’t sneeze like that, thank goodness. If I did, I don’t know if I’d be sitting here today. I do sneeze a lot in the spring though. The worst time to sneeze is after eating a big spoonful of peanut butter. There’s no return when you start feeling that familiar tickle with a mouthful of Jif. You can’t spit it back into the jar and you can’t chew it fast enough to minimize the blast radius. Sorry, but I know you can relate.   

The worst allergy attacks happen after I play golf. I don’t know if it’s the grass germinating or the ragweed. I’m fine during the round. In fact, I’ll feel no warning signs of what’s to come. It only happens 4-5 times a year, but last year, I almost had to go to the hospital. I was on a golf trip in Pinehurst. I was staying in the loft of a very old house. Mold and whatever else had to be flying out of the air-conditioning on me all weekend. I was fine until the second night. I got into the bed and within an hour, my nose completely closed. I couldn’t blow it because the inside was so swollen nothing would come out. My eyes were bloodshot and my face even began swelling up. I’ve had lots of allergy attacks in my life, but this was the worst. I think it was the combo of grass and mold. At 4 AM, I was able to fall asleep, otherwise, I was going to the hospital. Stupidly, I didn’t have my allergy medicine in my dopp kit. Mark that down in my big book of “Why.” I was able to get some FloNase early the next morning. That stuff really works. I should have sent a thank-you letter to Glaxso, Smith, Kline because they saved my golf trip. 

I don’t understand allergies. A kid inhales some peanut dust and his body thinks it is so toxic that it finds it necessary to almost kill the kid in order to protect him from the dust. Why should germinating plants affect us? Spring is supposed to be enjoyed. It’s a time of new beginnings, beauty and warmth. If you were lucky enough to survive the winter, spring is your reward. I love spring, except when I feel like the air is trying to get me. I have a disgusting habit of keeping a paper towel in my pocket so I can have something to blow my nose in if I need it. In college once, a girl was flirting with me at The Dirty Dollar bar and she stuck her hand in my pocket. It was hot until she grabbed ahold of that snotty paper towel. The flame was extinguished by snot. 

When I have an attack like the one in Pinehurst, I usually have to blow my nose 3-6 thousand times in a night. The Pinehurst one was different because I blew my nose a lot but got no relief. Usually, my nose runs like a faucet. People make that comparison too much, but I’m serious; water runs out of my nose so much that I can’t sleep because it makes my face and pillow wet. When these attacks happen, I have to get in the bed. There’s no sense in trying to do anything other than that unless I could fashion some sort of snot bag out of a horse’s oat bag. 

It seems so odd to me that rays of light travel 93,000,000 miles from the sun to the earth, touch a ragweed in the right way to cause it to release an invisible spore, that spore then goes into my nose and my body has such a bad reaction that it makes my pillow wet with snot. Thanks, Copernicus.

Artificial scents also make me ill. I can’t even be around a dryer vent if the clothes were washed with scented detergent. Imagine what the candle and essential oil craze has done to me. If you are a hit man and you have been contracted to kill me, no need for weapons. Buy some lavender essential oil and pour it on me in my sleep. I won’t see dawn. I know the things are popular, but I think essential oils are an invasion of my nasal privacy. I had jury duty the other day and the lady that sat next to me was covered in lavender, my arch nemesis. I’d put on ragweed oil before I touched anything lavender related. The only real effect I’ve ever heard essential oils having on people is they were found to block testosterone in some boys in Europe, causing them to develop bosoms. I like to grow my bosoms naturally with cheeseburgers, but you do you. 

We’ve hit another spring and I’m sitting here feeling groggy. I am thankful the weather is getting more pleasant. I do so enjoy nice weather and the beautiful days that happen here in Charleston, and you can read about that in this post. I am willing to trade the allergies for the wonderful weather. I just have to prepare myself for the coming few days of misery and do my best to get through the attacks. This is my 32nd spring and I think I’ve gotten pretty good at dealing with the allergies. I’ll never get that girl in bar back, though.

 

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