I was told, aged 11, that I would grow out of it.
Here I am, aged 59 ½, sniffling and snuffling with the best of them.
To be fair, it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be – I used to be a mess of itchiness (the eyes! the throat!), sneezes and sniffles from April through to September. Now I really only suffer for a couple of months.
But it seems particularly bad at the moment – I’ve taken more tablets in the last 3 or 4 days than in the whole of the season so far. And for me, it’s often worse just after it’s rained. I’d always thought that was weird until I googled it just now and it turns out to be a thing! Who knew!
So right now, after the thunderstorms yesterday, and because the tablet I took before I went to bed has now worn off, and because it’s so warm I slept with the window open, I’m sniffly, my eyes itch and my skin itches. Even the inside of my ears and the corners of my mouth itch. I’m only supposed to take two tablets a day, so I should really wait until about 8 o’clock before I take another one.
I’ve always felt I needed to apologise to people and to explain that it isn’t a cold, it’s hayfever – but these days, even more so, as I can feel people looking at this snivelling wretch and wondering if it’s coronavirus (even though sneezing, itchy eyes, and a desire to stay indoors aren’t symptoms of coronavirus).
Over the years, I’ve tried various remedies and preventive measures. My mother was a great believer in splashing the face with cold water. And to be fair it did give some temporary relief – for about 5 seconds – I guess it physically washed the pollen away. But it always came back.
Eat honey, some people said. I don’t like honey really, not in the large quantities that would be needed. And it’s got to be local honey – not much help to a city girl like me!
Many years ago I got my tablets on prescription, but now they’re available over the counter. That makes life easier, as I can just pick them up at the supermarket with my shopping.
I used to find that wearing sunglasses outside helped with the itchy eyes – I guess it’s a physical barrier – and now that I wear glasses all the time the eyes aren’t as bad. But I still have to take them off to sleep, so I wake up with itchy eyes particularly on hot nights when the window’s open and it’s just been raining. Like last night.
Eating toast helps the itchy throat. So that’s breakfast sorted.
It’s also been better or worse depending on where I was living. Devon was a nightmare – all those narrow Devon lanes, you just couldn’t get away from it. Shetland was lovely, as so little grows up there anyway. Living on ships was a dream – until we got into port.
And over the course of the year, the symptoms change. I guess different pollen affects me in different ways. Sometimes I’ll be very sneezy, then the itchy throat drives me mad. Right now the skin around my face and neck is very tickly and itchy, particularly the corners of my mouth, the sides of my nose, and along my jawline.
And another thing – it doesn’t involve hay, and it doesn’t cause fever.
What’s the point of it? Do other animals get allergies? Bit of a design fault I think. Sniff.
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