Expect the Unexpected

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The reason for that sneezin’

Minx checks out a tree to make sure it has a sufficient number of allergens to bring into the house.

Minx checks out a tree to make sure it has a sufficient number of allergens to bring into the house.

I thought allergy season was supposed to be in the spring. It’s July, so why am I still sneezing?

My allergies aren’t horrible, but I find myself getting watery eyes and a runny nose, and I know it’s not a cold. So I figure it has to be allergies.

As luck would have it I was working on a story and happened to be speaking to a doctor who specializes in allergies. I decided to solicit some free medical advice. Admit it, you would too.

He told me the number one cause of environmental allergies is tree pollen.

In spring, when beautiful flowering trees were in bloom, who knew that’s they were quietly spreading their evil microscopic pollen onto us.

Birch trees are very bad for allergy sufferers.

Birch trees look so innocent.

Well, that explains why during April and May, my co-worker was sneezing 10 times every hour. We’re not talking little “ah hems,” we’re talking sonic boom”AHHHHH….CHOOOOS!”

He doesn’t even sit in the same room as me, but each time he sneezes, I jump. I asked him if he was okay. He said, “Yeah, it’s just allergies.” I said, “Are you doing anything about it?”

“No, not really,” he said as he wiped his runny nose. Gah.

There’s one type of tree in particular that is the worst offender of all as far as allergies are concerned. Very, very bad. Avoid it like the plague, the doctor said. Fortunately, he assured me, there aren’t too many of these trees around here.

So what is this Shrubbery of Doom?

“Birch trees, the worst pollen comes from birch trees,” he said.

Birch trees? BIRCH TREES? Doc, have you seen my yard? It’s FULL of birch trees!

After I stopped my kvetching, he reassured me there were steps I could take to mitigate the potent pollen from birches and other nasty allergens.

1. Stay indoors whenever possible. Turn on the air conditioner.
— Okay to some extent I can do this. I work indoors. But I have a garden and plants and I love my yard. Besides, aren’t these allergies supposed to be seasonal? Springtime? We’re in summer now. Apparently birch pollen lingers through July. I’ll spend more time indoors.

2. Change clothing frequently and wash frequently. Pollen is invisible and gets into your hair and pores without you even knowing it. Washing helps get it out.
— Reasonable, yes I can do that. But ewww. Now, I’m imagining my hair full of pollen.

3. Don’t dry laundry outside.
— But doc, I ALWAYS dry my laundry outside in good weather, especially sheets, they come out so nice. Plus it’s cheaper to dry things outside! Why run the dryer and crank up my electric bill when Mother Nature can do the job for free? Well, he said, bedding and sheets are pollen magnets when they’re hanging out on a clothesline. Eww again. Now I’m imagining myself resting my face each night on a pillowcase doused in pollen.

So Minx, you ready for your bath?

So Minx, you ready for your bath?

4. If you have pets that go outside, wash them, they’re pollen magnets too, it gets into their fur. Wherever they go in your house they are spreading pollen.
—Noooo! I have two cats, Frankie and Minx. Frankie’s not so bad, he rarely goes out. But Minx! She lives for the outdoors. She waits at the door each morning with her tail bobbing, and when it’s opened just a crack, she zooms out. When she comes in she likes to sleep on my bed. Wash her? Doc, have you ever tried giving a cat a bath? You will hear loud shrieking screams of horror, and those sounds will be coming from YOU as you attempt to wash a growling hissing monster that wants to scratch your eyes out for even thinking about washing it.

Well, he said, there are always over the counter medications you can take for mild allergies. There’s prescription nasal sprays which are effective too.

So, weighing my options, I’m living with my allergies for now. I avoid the side of my house with the birch trees (like that’s doing anything). I take an extra shower each day and change my clothes when I get home. And I’ve stopped drying clothes outside, for now. That one hurt.

But I can’t, I just can’t wash Minx. When she comes in I brush her off with a towel. It’s the best I can do.

Is any of this helping with my allergies? I don’t know. I figure I just have to tough it out until August when the doc said trees and grass will stop releasing their pollens.

Right, then it will be time to get ready for fall allergy season.


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