Seven years ago, I caught a cold that wouldn’t go away.   The runny nose left me dehydrated and exhausted and was accompanied by sneezes so powerful that my eyes would explode like volcanos of hot, mascara’ed saltiness while twin rivers of black gook oozed down my 
“Are you okay, Miss Amy?” the concerned kindergarten students I worked with would ask, confusing my red, runny eyes and smeared makeup for the tears of an emotional breakdown.

And I would pat their arm, and tell them, “Yes; I’m alright.”  Even as we both knew I must be lying.   Because all they had to do was look at me.

Then things got worse.

The congestion—in what I thought was it’s big finish—clogged up my sinuses to the point that I became unable to hear their 5 and 6 year old voices.   They would ask me for help with their math or with sounding out a word, and I’d turn their head to face me so I could read their lips as they repeated their question.

I was hearing-impaired.  My cold had become a disability.

One week later, I finally visited a doctor who was so professional that she actually managed to leave the “Duh!!” off of “You don’t have a cold; you have allergies,” and—within another two weeks—I had beat back the mucous invasion with some heavy-hitting Big Pharma darlings.

My allergies had gestated for 40 years, and made their appearance with a ground swell requiring tsunami sirens.


My mom lived with year-round allergy symptoms courtesy of an exceptionally sensitive nose.

She always had a tissue with her—always; often tucked up inside her sleeve—and she classified them according to their level of degradation.

Stage 1:  new

Stage 2:  used once; no rips, not crumpled

Stage 3:  used more than once; ripped, starting to shred

Stage 4:  shredded; intact only because of the glue-like properties of snot

Her tissues would often engage my gag reflex, and watching her blow her nose into a Stage 4 was like looking into the shit-abyss of a Port-O-John.

Inevitably, Mom’s intimate and longstanding experience with allergies led to a desensitization about the etiquette of mucous management, to the point where her public persona often involved honking into her tissue using an uncompromising technique—dual alternating nostrils at full force—akin to heralding the arrival of the queen, the volume of which was always powerfully magnified in my head because of a potent combination of surprise and embarrassment.  As she reached into her sleeve to pull out a used Kleenex in varying states of decay, I am ashamed to say that my teen mind was not very compassionate, for it would be many years before I would be able to understand her misery and restrain the impulse to run from her as she blew and to keep my mouth from shrieking should, after the fact, any unaccountable droplets of wetness manage to reach the exposed portions of my skin.


A few years ago, the school I worked at gave my friend Karen and I the responsibility for collaborating on end-of-year testing.  Karen is much older than I, and even though she'd done the task before, was still less confident in her abilities, simply because of the pressure; at our underperforming, extremely vulnerable school, testing was an evil that both teachers and students detested but without which we'd lose federal funding, making compliance to the attendance and testing standards a logistical nightmare that if not performed correctly, could make all of us lose our jobs.  It's a very tense time.   

So naturally I spent the day before testing doing yard work and came to school the next day unable to function.  

As Karen looked to me for guidance, I looked back at her with the equivalent of a Stage 4 brain (intact only because of snot) struggling to maintain any kind of awareness of what the hell she was saying to me, caffeine-resistant exhaustion, full-on itchy, watery eyes and puffy face, and sneezing, clogged nose, impeding neural processing to the point where the only thoughts powerful enough to get through the non-optimal viscosity were unspoken pleas to the world to just stop whatever it was doing and let me lie over there in the corner of this classroom under the testing manuals.    

And now here we are again.  Spring.  And my lawn needs to be mowed.  Again.  

The weather is warm.  And the sun now open for extended hours. I really want to be outside.  

But Spring is such a tease; who I wait for all winter, then like a lusty temptress, betrays me by spiking my drink with a poison I can neither see nor taste.  

And it's a hard lesson to learn that love affairs with anything lusty should be brief and cautious, for that day we started testing, when the whole school ran around looking to Karen and I for confidence and calm, I ended up handing the wrong testing manual to a teacher and--at the height of stress season--did everything wrong and had to make a third-grade class retake an entire section of their end-of-year math test.  

Damn it to hell, the struggle is real.

Views: 263

Comment by alsoknownas on May 25, 2016 at 9:22am

I just read this through half open eyes. I am currently on a caffeine IV drip but will need to set it aside in a moment to dash out to meet a client.

This year's allergy season has been one of the worst, making sleep a quick grab at a few minutes here and there. The time in between is reserved for tossing and turning, sitting up abruptly to avoid choking on who knows what draining down the back of my throat.

I completely understand.

Comment by Amy Brook Palleson on May 25, 2016 at 9:38am
I laughed at your comment, aka, even though I know it's not funny to feel that way; it's just almost comical how completely invasive this stuff can be.

I read somewhere that they think allergies are getting worse for people because of climate change. I got cocky last night and we had a great dinner on the patio, like somehow there will be at a surprise ending on the endeavor.

Good luck. Caffeine-drip your way back to normal functioning!
Comment by Amy Brook Palleson on May 25, 2016 at 9:44am
Not sure why it says great" dinner up there; it was actually relatively mediocre. I'm on my phone, and autocorrect really likes to mess with me
Comment by JMac1949 Today on May 25, 2016 at 9:47am

My Dad and Mom had hay fever allergies and then when he turned 60 he became allergic to damn near everything.  He went to an allergy specialist and underwent some needle sample therapy and pretty much came out on the other side of it, although he was still crazy allergic to Holly and Mango.  That was sad because he really loved mango.

Comment by Amy Brook Palleson on May 25, 2016 at 10:16am
Dang. I've heard of that happening, JMac. My dad loved chocolate until his mid-40's when his throat closed up one night after eating some. I've actually heard that people can actually crave foods they're sensitive to because of the chemicals released (cortisol, and such) when they eat them, so I wonder if many of us unknowingly ingest and therefore cause our future allergic responses to these foods.
I myself can't eat sugar and corn gives me a hard time but the latest thing has been getting of gluten which is so de rigueur these days
I'm almost embarrassed to admit it. But I feel much better off it so...

Thanks for reading! Hope you're doing good!
Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on May 25, 2016 at 10:44am

Oh the struggle is VERY real!  Me and my Flonase are inseparable this time of year (our old barn and mowing are Flonase zones)!

You know what help my allergies the most?  Tile/wood floors.

When we lived in Cali for a while we had carpet and I was spraying snot for 9 months a year.  Once we changed our flooring to tile it got a LOT better.  It also stayed good living now on wood floors (my Roomba is much happier now too!) because for ME it is a "dust" thing.

BTW, I joke a lot about "dusting" with a snow shovel and leaf blower, but IRL I'm kinda anal about dust in my house.  I even put in an air mover with a Hepa filter and now I only spray snot when I want to!  LOL

Comment by Amy Brook Palleson on May 25, 2016 at 11:05am
Haha! "Only spray snot when I want to", and now I've got a mental picture of the future of my self defense in which I disarm intruders using only my wits and a nose packed with mucous. I can't tell you how quickly I'd duck under that fire.

Good advice on the tile and Roomba. I'm at the point where money has become no object. :)

Thanks for reading and "Long live Flonase."
Comment by Myriad on May 25, 2016 at 2:16pm

Sounds awful.  I have so far avoided allergies, despite 40 years in an old house in the company of animals.  Or maybe I have chronic low-level - I blame my frequent post-nasal drip and occasional coughing spells (so severe they alarm onlookers) on my Scottish sinuses.  But maybe... 

Comment by Zanelle on May 25, 2016 at 9:52pm

No allergies for me but here in mildew land tropical hell/heaven I am very conscious of the air and have fans going at all times.  Breathing is so important.

Comment by nerd cred on May 25, 2016 at 10:45pm

“You don’t have a cold; you have allergies” is exactly what I was thinking until I got to that line. (Sneezing is often the divider, said an MD friend.)


I get the generic versions, (both Target and Costco have them though Costco is cheaper) therefore double dose everything except D/N at the height of the season. (With MD approval.) Double flo-nase all along.

The year I got sent home from work because my coughing and sneezing was too disgusting for people to be around, once I started all the meds I had alarms set all day on my phone to take something or other.

Worst of it was a month or so ago when I was sure I was about to drown in my own snot many times. I had to time going anywhere very carefully because if the meds wore off people would call ambulances before I could stop coughing long enough to tell them not to.

This all got really bad just a few years ago. Before that it was just bad.


Making it worse, I can't blow my nose so the nasty all goes post nasal. Without mucinex it can collect at the back of my throat in a way that's very hard to move it and making my throat very sore. Years ago that happened and I had some sinus infection besides. I hacked and hacked and horked up a fist sized greenie out of my throat. Fist. Sized. Disgusting. As soon as it came out the sharp pain in my throat went away.

When I was 10 I had to drive tractor for my uncle baling hay. I drove in the hot August sun from 1-7 pm, without glasses, with allergies. I thought the headache was going to kill me.

Thank god (or big pharma) they made flo-nase OTC. I got the 3 pack at Costco.


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