Ah, in gentler times, it was called hay fever.
Well, when I was a kid, that’s what we called it. And it was treated with a hot shower and an afternoon off from mowing the grass. (Yes!)
I’ve always had hay fever, and I pretty much knew I was allergic to grasses, so when I moved to Davis, CA to complete my undergraduate degree, I stocked up on Chlor-Trimenton and, later, Claritin. I pretty much spent my entire late teens and early twenties drugged. Looking back, I should have truly been drugged, then I could have at least had a good time. Nevertheless, despite sneezing, blowing my nose, and feeling drowsy all the time, I managed to compete on the cycling club, finish my degree, and generally behave like a normal human being.
I used to live here (Image by rheauchyr via Flickr)
Upon moving up to the Sierra Nevada, I realized I didn’t have to live my life in fear of a breath of fresh air. Though the things I am allergic to live up above 6,000 feet, there’s a significant amount less. So much so less, that I no longer needed over-the-counter allergy medication.
I got into hiking, running, mountain biking and whatever else I could do outside. I had my moments, but, overall, my respiratory health was much better in the high, dry air of the mountains than down here in the California valleys.
We live in Santa Rosa, California now. At 164 foot elevation. Near the ocean so we get lots of rain. And there are LOTS that grows here. Especially, grass.
Now I live here (Image from GeoImages Berkeley)
But, I had 20 years in the Sierras. Somehow, I forgot just how horrendous allergic reactions to tiny, itty-bitty, plant SPERM CELLS could be.
Every shallow breath I take induces a sneezing, wheezing, or coughing fit. ARGH!!!!
I went to see an allergist earlier this year. I thought, I’m gonna be proactive. I’m gonna find out what I’m allergic to and take allergy shots to build my tolerance up. This summer might be bad, but I’ll weather through and next year will be better.
Turns out, I’m allergic to a few things. Here’s the round-up (rating 1-4 refers to the size of the welt the allergen induces in the skin test, 4 is the worst):
Right Arm, Allergy Skin Test
- 4 – Grass (they don’t say which, they just list GRASS, as in all grasses)
- 4 – Alder
- 3 – Sycamore
- 3 – Mulberry
- 3 – Elm
- 3 – Olive
- 4 – Cottonwood
- 2 – Walnut
- 3 – Oak
- 3 – Eng. Plantain
- 3 – Maple/Elder
- 2 – Birch
- 2 – Ash
- 3 – Dock
- 2 – Willow
- 3 – Juniper
- 1 – Privet (take that! – nasty Privet!)
Left Arm, Allergy Skin Test
- 3 – Acacia
- 2 – Lambsquarter
- 2 – Care/Pigweed
- 3 – Sage/Mugwort
And…wait for it, it’s a good one:
What the freak!? Dog? I’m allergic to my dog?
The only things I am not allergic to, on the range of tests given, are dust mites, milk and cats. Nevermind I could have sworn I was allergic to cat, the experts had spoken. The allergen serum ordered, I started my shot schedule. Because I’m allergic to so many things, I get poked friggin’ SIX TIME A WEEK.
I could show you the welts those shots produce, but I have your lunch to consider.
Basically, my life sucks at the moment. The pollen is so heavy in the air I can barely breathe AND I’m getting shots each week of the very same allergens. I’m dying.
I finally had to call the allergist and ask him to do something. Thank the powers that be (I know, I’m an atheist, but times like these…), there’s prednisone. Of course, that comes with its own scary side effects, but at least, I’ll be able to breathe, and my bike ride into work won’t turn into a race between how fast I can get there and how much snot I can produce.
And my dog just got skunked again. I’m not complaining. Really.