28 October 2011

Time for Allergies

Fall tree leaves.
Welcome back. Here it is, late October, and we’re still waiting for the first hard freeze. That would put a stop to those pesky pollen generators for another year. It’s not for me. It’s for my daughter and the other sneezing, nose-dripping, eye-itching, and sometimes worse, hay-fever sufferers. 

I don’t know why, but seasonal allergies and I went our separate ways years ago. They used to wipe me out.

Growing Up With Hay Fever

Hay fever found me in my mid-teens, a few minutes after a friend and I watched his father burn a large field of weeds. We got smoked. Coincidence or not, I exhibited every conceivable symptom a few minutes after the burn. Those symptoms recurred for at least 30 years, as long as I was in the country, beginning around mid-August. The available medicines could turn me into a turtle.

It wasn’t until the summer after my first or second year at college that I offered my arms for allergy tests. The only part of that early morning appointment I remember is the doctor looking at me, hearing me mumble something, then telling me to sit down and put my head between my legs.

I accepted his advice and didn’t pass out. Because my mother was present, I thought it best to go with fear of the tiny needles rather than late night of heavy-duty partying as the cause. As a reward, I was presented a list of my identified adversaries: ragweed, dust, feathers and lesser stimulants. 

All in the Family

For any geneticists, I should note that neither of my parents had seasonal allergies. My brother, who didn’t get smoked by the burning field, started suffering from hay fever years before I did. (No surprise; he’s older.) He had so many other allergies, what was one more? When he was a kid, he ate black raspberry ice cream and they had to rush him to a doctor or possibly the hospital. I never got that straight.

To date, my son hasn’t been bothered by ragweed or late-summer allergens. Instead, he's miserable for a month in the spring thanks to some unfriendly trees in this region. When he was quite young, we took him for allergy testing. Needles? Oh, sure. They gave up after an hour of him climbing the walls.

Other Allergies

I’m no longer beset by hay fever, yet perfumes and fragrances can do me in. The entire cosmetic line my wife favored when she and I first got together was in jeopardy until we determined that the non-fragrant, hypoallergenic, couldn’t-possibly-bother-you cosmetic base was the culprit. Being a mile downwind of that base was enough to shut down my breathing, clunk.

Six years ago, I was convinced my allergies were kicking up again, at least in our house. It got bad enough that I underwent the barrage of allergy tests again. I was thrilled to see Cats way up there on my Avoid At All Costs list. Finally, a chance to live feline free. Surely my wife would take action.
Warren’s airborne allergen test results.
Nope. It’s not that she felt a cat was more important than I was. It’s just there were three of them and only one of me.

Anyway, I stopped the allergist’s recommended treatments, left prescriptions unfilled and canceled follow-up appointments when I realized our furnace filter was passing more dust and particles than it was capturing. Better filter, problem solved; keep the darn cats.

Those allergy tests also showed that grasses bothered me. No pity there either. I still mow the lawn.

Wrap Up

Warren and his mask.
Another reason to welcome the end of October is Halloween. I don’t eat candy, but I get to hand it out, wearing the patched-together mask I’ve used since Halloween was invented. Come trick-or-treat on Monday; you’ll see.

Thanks for stopping by. I’ll write again in about a week.

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