Allergies Keep Rising ’Round My Head

Reports of  the worst ever year for allergies proliferate. The news follows last year’s report that 2010 was the worst ever.

Whatever the experts say, I’ve had two weeks when I could barely stand to wear my contact lenses, which felt like two little pieces of sandpaper scraping up and down under my lids. Larry’s car, which is dark green, turned neon yellow overnight – something that has never happened before. The sidewalk across the street from the house looked like the yellow brick road in The Wizard of Oz, except it wasn’t  brick, just whirly-birds and pollen from the maple trees.

The only time I remember anything this bad was several years go when Larry and I went to a wedding in Richmond, Virginia. The doorman at the hotel greeted us with, “You’re not from around here are you?” He couldn’t see the license plate, so we asked how he knew. He pointed to all the cars in the lot, then pointed at ours, “No pollen.” Every single car from the newest midnight blue BMW to the more downscale Fords and Chevys was covered with a deep coat of fine, fine yellow dust. Needless to say, by the time we left, everyone thought we were locals.

So is 2011 the worst pollen season ever? Maybe. Maybe not. Jack Shafer just loves phony trend stories. He says no, though he does assure the world that he’s not a “pollen denier.” One measuring location said it’s only the fifth worst in twelve years. That stat probably doesn’t really matter to the poor, tired masses of bleary-eyed, sneezing, wheezing sufferers. The problem with measuring, Shafer says, is that pollen levels vary dramatically from day to day and location to location. So maybe it is the worst in southern New England and not elsewhere.

No matter the level, those of us who are seeking relief have some options. If I sneeze more than three times early in the day, I’ll take an anti-histamine at bedtime, no earlier because the stuff knocks me out. I also try to avoid hanging out in the garden if it hasn’t rained in several days, which is not a problem recently.

I started eating honey from local hives last year and it really seemed to help. This spring one of Larry’s customers gave us a huge container of local honey and within a day after I ate a spoonful, I noticed a difference. At first I thought it was because my own special pollen had finished its cycle, but there was a yellow haze upon the land three days later, so that wasn’t the case. This may be the best solution yet.

If things grow really awful in the daytime, I just put several drops (or more) of Tabasco sauce on a cracker or rice cake and eat it. Some people consider this administering a counter irritant, but it works every time. Since I’ve long since burned out the heat sensors in my tongue, there’s almost no pain involved.

And the best advice I ever received from a doctor: Move to a completely different climate. In our case that would be something like Arizona. No thanks. I’ll keep sneezing.

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