I have had seasonal allergies all of my life: all seasons, all allergies. If you don’t eat it, I’m allergic to it. When I was young I would wake up sneezing every morning, at least during spring, summer and fall. We didn’t have air conditioning and so we slept with our windows open. One window fan pulled air with bits and pieces of creation in every window and through the house.
We had chicken houses with thousands of chickens. Every twenty weeks they had to be cleaned out; we shoveled the sawdust and manure compost into the back of a pickup truck by hand and drove it out into the fields and spread it by hand. There were two houses 30 feet wide, and 300 feet long with six to eight inches deep of compost. Once all the manure was out we spread fresh sawdust throughout the houses, all by hand.
With every shovel full of manure, dust would fly. With every breath inhaled, you get the picture. And I sneezed, and sneezed, and sneezed. As I approached adulthood, we moved to Alabama away from the chickens and the sneezing subsided to be replaced with constant drainage. (Now that’s a gross thing to have to read about.) With the drainage came a constant irritated throat, sinus infections, and bronchitis. It didn’t matter where I lived, Alabama, Tennessee, Illinois or later on Kentucky, the cycle was the same. Several times every year I would get pretty sick. The exception to all of this was our three years in North Dakota. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a sore throat wasn’t normal.
By the mid eighties we were in Cleveland and the cycle was getting the best of me. I gave in and sought out an allergist. I completed a series of shots, two every week for over a year then gradually reduced in frequency until completed after three or four years. I drove to downtown Chattanooga for the shots. In the stress of life I told myself the routine trips to Chattanooga were one thing I was doing for myself. I relaxed and read magazines just for pleasure. Every week I looked forward to getting my shots.
As the series progressed the vicious cycle ended. I was pretty healthy for over a decade, but gradually my allergies worsened and the cycle returned. I have been back on shots for the last decade, two every month for the last year or two. But in the last couple of years my symptoms have worsened even with the shots. I often wake up sneezing and can begin a series at any moment. Anything can set me off, pollen and perfume are the biggest culprits. Zyrtec has proven a good supplement for the shots.
Last week I ran out of Zyrtec and kept forgetting to pick some up. Tonight, I road over to the church in order to sit in on the youth group meeting. As soon as I walked into the building something triggered the worse allergic reaction I have ever faced: itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, and a dry scratchy throat. I left and went to CVS where I purchased a year’s supply of Zyrtec. Within a couple of hours I was feeling pretty good. [If you have read all the way to this point you deserve a reward or else you are a masochist.] I am thankful for modern medicine, especially OTC Zyrtec.
September 29, 2010