Allergy season is here again and it feels terrible… just complete and absolute misery.
My nose is congested all the time. It does this strange thing where one side will get really congested while the other one will be clear, and then all of a sudden they’ll flip flop with the other side being completely congested and the first side being clear. This makes no sense to me. I mean it’s not like one nostril sees different allergens than the other and yet they can react so differently. Explain this to me SCIENCE!
The worst of course is when they both get clogged at the same time and I become an obligate mouth breather, walking around with drool coming out the sides of my mouth because I don’t want to suffocate.
And let’s not forget the constant drip of snot thats gushing out of my nose. I’m so busy wiping my face with Kleenex that I can’t even be bothered to find the trash can, so the ground is littered with the carcasses of used tissues. Yes, disgusting I know.
The thing that probably interrupts my day the most is the sneezing. For some reason they always come in threes. I’ll be in the middle of working on something and then a trio of violent sneezes will explode out of nowhere. This of course happens when I’m eating and have a mouthful of food… and doesn’t end prettily. You’d think there’d be some sort of anti-sneezing reflex while chewing… and in my case you’d be wrong.
The part I hate the most is when I feel the urge to sneeze… but can’t sneeze. I’ve discovered that for a sneeze to occur, the sensation needs to cross a certain threshold before the sneeze can actually happen. What happens to me is that I’ll feel the sneeze starting to come with that tickle in the back of my nose. I’ll actually scrunch up my face, inhale… and then nothing. The sneeze won’t fricking come.
My face will be contorted for few minutes trying desperately to find a way to trigger the damn sneeze to come. I’ve even tried sniffing pepper, like in the cartoons, hoping to trigger the sneeze, but it never works. I’m just left with pepper all over my clothes and feeling more congested.
And my eyes. My poor itchy, red, itchy eyes. It always feels soooooooo good to rub them and yet those brief few seconds of bliss ALWAYS result in subsequent hours of misery. The intensity of the itchiness worsens which begets more rubbing which begets further itchiness until I want to scratch my eyes out.
This all comes together into quite a sexy picture I know.
The BJJ Cavewife does not suffer from allergies.
Even when we walk through a cloud of pollen, the strongest reaction it might elicit in her will be a dainty sneeze… atchoo, and then she will continue on her merry way.
Whereas I’ll be next to her clawing at my eyes, face contorted either trying to sneeze or recovering from a trio of explosive HAAATCHOO, HAATCHOO, HAAATCHOOOOOOOs, and desperately trying to find a napkin or tissue to wipe my face with so I can appear somewhat civilized.
Things really devolved for me when my sleep was affected. Because of the constant nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, dripping snot, and itchy eyes, I just couldn’t get a good nights rest, which of course exponentially worsened everything. Something had to be done.
Here’s what I did:
1. I spent a fortune on the Dyson V6 Absolute Vacuum
While I’ve always been a fan of tech, I never imagined I’d be the sort of person that would spend almost $500 on a vacuum, but here I was picking up the top of the line cordless Dyson vacuum. The next model down is ‘only’ $300, so why did I opt for the most expensive model? Two words. HEPA Filter! It’s the only model that provides HEPA filtration. Now I can’t really explain the technology behind HEPA, but all I know is that it removes allergens, which is all I care to know. I also wanted a cordless vacuum to make it easier to get to all the nooks and crannies of the house to make sure I get rid of as many allergens as possible.
Vacuuming regularly actually helped a little. I’m not entirely sure it needed to be a $500 vacuum, but I definitely wasn’t in a rational state of mind. I was suffering so much that I was willing to pay any price! This is an amazing piece of machinery though. We’ve found that it has as much if not more suction power than a normal upright corded vacuum.
If you’re interested, they’ve now released their next line of cord-free vacuums with the Dyson V8 Absolute being the newest top of the line model. I’m perfectly happy with my V6 and won’t be upgrading… to the relief of the BJJ Cavewife.
2. I ate local bee pollen and honey
Local bee pollen and honey are touted by homeopaths as a way to inoculate the immune system to allergens that it will be exposed to when allergy season comes around. The correct way to do this I’ve read, is to use steady doses in the Fall and Winter so that when Spring comes around your body will be ready.
The BJJ Cavewife was kind enough to search the local co-op and was surprised at how expensive pollen is. A small packet of pollen that’s half the size of a sandwich bag costs $10.00! Because she loves me and saw that I was already so desperate that I was willing to blow a nice chunk of money on a vacuum, she picked up a couple of packets for me.
I sporadically took some as Spring approached but definitely wasn’t as good about it as I could have been… which probably explains why my allergies are still so bad this season. Also the whole local pollen and local honey thing can be complete hogwash. I’ll have to be better about taking this stuff next year to really figure things out.
The jury’s still out on this one.
3. I tried hiding inside
The weather has been gorgeous and the sun has been out and the temperature hasn’t gotten stifling hot yet, making it the perfect time to get Vitamin D the natural way (Suns out guns out!), but it just wasn’t worth it to me. Natural vitamin D be damned, I’ll get it through supplementation.
I did my best to go from house to car, car to work, work to BJJ, and BJJ back to house, and this works to a degree.
Alas, life will get in the way and I’ll be confronted with an outdoor parking lot. Or one of my best friends will visit and we will get it into our heads to play basketball in the park. Or the BJJ Cavewife will be tired of living her life with a recluse, so we’ll go on a nice walk to get out of the house.
And then the suffering resumes.
4. I took over the counter meds
I generally like to avoid medications as much as possible but I gave in this season. It was affecting my sleep which affected my work the next day and that’s when enough is enough.
Allegra – Supposedly provides 24 hours of relief. In my case it provided 0 hours of relief. Fail.
Claritin – Another purported 24 hours of relief… and yet another fail.
Zyrtec – 24 hours of non-drowsy relief on the box. This gave me 24 hours of drowsiness and 0 hours of relief. BIG FAT FAIL.
Benadryl – While this brought a bit of relief, it also left me feeling drowsy for the following day. Not good for work.
Sudafed – I made sure to buy the kind that they only keep behind the counter (pseudoephedrine). This is the kind where in order to purchase it you must consent to being interrogated by the pharmacist and having your ID checked to make sure you’re not going to make meth. Unfortunately this also did nothing for me.
One day when I was commiserating about allergies with a group of friends these two drugs popped up in the conversation. Two drugs I hadn’t tried yet. That night we went straight to Target to pick some up.
Xyzal – Apparently this was just recently approved as an over the counter medication. I was surprised to learn that it’s chemical structure is mirror image of cetirizine (Zyrtec). It’s advertised as being non-drowsy while providing 24 hours of relief.
Flonase – A topical steroid you spray into your nostrils daily which is also supposed to bring 24 hour non-drowsy relief.
By golly this combination worked for me. I felt mild relief after the first day and it just got better from there with no drowsiness whatsoever. In fact, I don’t think I sneezed ONCE the entire time I’ve been on these two miracle drugs. I barely touched a Kleenex except to wipe some blood off my finger from a blood sugar check. My itchy eyes improved dramatically.
And most importantly I could finally get a good nights sleep.
I’m too afraid to shake up the good thing I have going right now to actually explore whether it’s either one of these or the combination of the two that is helping me… Maybe one day when I’m braver I’ll figure it out… but today is not the day.
6. And look what I just got in my E-mail… an ad for allergy supplements!
… and you know what? Remember how I said I’m a sucker? Thorne’s timely marketing email worked on me. I ordered one of each…
Who knows if these will actually stabilize mast cells and down-regulate an overactive immune response enough to bring me relief but I’m tempted to figure it out. I know this isn’t exactly rational, but a part of me is always more willing to use supplements as opposed to actual pharmacologics. I’ll really need to explore this thinking at some point…
The stupid thing is, I’m not even sure I’ll be using these things this season since the Xyzal and Flonase combination is working so well. At least I’ll have something ready to go for next season… to go with whatever bee pollen I have left.
Here’s one more gif for the road…
*Image found here