There are two times of year that I adore. When winter shrugs off its snowy coat and melts into the muddy smell of spring, I revel in the way my heart lifts. When summers heat gives way before the chilly kiss of a fall breeze, I snuggle into the season with delight. You all know how fond I am not of change, but the extreme changes between seasons are different. They are magic.
Unfortunately, as I have slowly begun to grow older, my sinuses have decided that they are going to tow the party line on distaste for change. What used to be a minor case of congestion and watery eyes for a day or two each spring and fall has grown into a beast that rides around in my nasal cavities for weeks. It’s not a cute beast of the sort a body might be inclined to domesticate either. Full-grown allergies, my friends, are loathsome.
They’re also sneaky. Each year, they’ve been getting worse by degrees so small that I hardly noticed the change. It didn’t even occur to me that I could fight back until I was talking with my doctor about my fruitless battle against the ear wax that it seemed no amount of aural hygiene could keep from plugging up my ears last spring.
“It might not just be ear wax,” she told me. “If you have allergies, it could be congestion. Try taking a non-drowsy decongestant for a few days when your allergies are at their worst.”
In the spring, this worked like a charm. Two or three days of some generic anti-allergies-D and I was on top of the world again. When the allergies attacked this fall, I waited for what felt like it might be close to the peak of the bad allergy run and enthusiastically embraced better living through chemistry. I felt great.
The trouble is…the allergies haven’t gone away yet. My doctor said I should only have to take the pills for a few days during the worst of the season, but I’ve been waking myself up with sneezing every morning for a month now. It’s getting old. Chemistry, it turns out, can only take you so far. I had taken the pills maybe five or six days in a row when I noticed that I was feeling as hyped up and anxious as though I’d been consuming caffeine. Given that caffeine is on my list of things to avoid 351 days of the year, I didn’t know what to make of this until I recalled that non-drowsy allergy medicine is one of those substances you’re only allowed to buy in small quantities because it can be used to make some version of speed.
Sure enough, when I looked at the warnings, the box said to not take the stuff for more than a week at a time and noted that increased anxiety was a possible side effect. There you go. With great grief, I stuck the box back in the cupboard instead of taking my daily dose. Anxiety and I do not need to be spending any extra time in one another’s company, so I resolved to content myself with tissues and fluid and hope that the worst would soon be over.
That was when I discovered another weapon nature has tucked into the arsenal of the allergies monster. Sand in the eyes. I would be fine for most of the day, but come seven or so in the evening, my eyes would begin to burn as if some nasty thing was stabbing them randomly with pins. No amount of flushing or basic eye drops would reduce the agony. Even closing my eyes was painful. This went on for three or four evenings, putting me on the verge of calling my doctor, when John wondered in passing if there might be better eye drops for whatever was going on with my eyes than just the plain red eye removal ones we had in the cupboard.
Have I ever mentioned that I could spend the rest of my life kissing that man?
We went to the grocery store the next morning and sure enough, there are better eye drops. Being a person who was more fond of my optician than my pediatrician as a child, I have had all manner of things dumped into my eyes, but I was still unprepared for the hundreds of options we found in the grocery store, of all places. If this was a carefully curated selection of the most popular options meant to get the best profit for limited shelf space, then I don’t want to guess how many eye drop companies there are in this country. I’d like to say I’m all in favor of small companies and diversity in options, but let’s be honest. My eyes were in pain and the print was small…I went with the one on the top left that had the word “allergy” in large print on the box.
So far, I am not regretting it. My nose may still be in a certain amount of distress, but I’m counting myself lucky that I can see to enjoy the magic of the birth of fall.