Hi, I’m Mary, and this is my column no one asked for about things I like!
I’ve been looking up a lot of recipes online lately (I’ve been brainwashed into thinking I need to incorporate more turmeric into my diet. Thanks Gwyneth!) and have realized that (internet) age-old joke about having to scroll through an endless personal essay to get to a damn recipe is, unfortunately, true. Upon this realization, I couldn’t help but wonder (haha) if this column is guilty of that same cyber crime. But then it hit me that I never provide anything as helpful as a recipe, so this entire endeavor is one long, useless intro to nothing. Phew!
So I’ll spare you the nonsense and get straight to the other nonsense: I have seasonal allergies. That may not seem like much of a confession, but it took me a long time to admit to myself that every spring and fall, I feel more or less constantly like more or less shit. It probably took me so long to come to terms with my pollen aversion because I grew up in New England (Massachusetts but NOT Boston) and spring and fall are all we have!!! JK, spring lasts one week, max, and summer is pretty nice there.
The fact of the matter is that, like many people, I didn’t develop allergies until a little later in life (my 70s. JK). I’ve heard (read? Hard to know) that most children with allergies grow out of them while many people who didn’t have allergies as kids develop them in adulthood. It wasn’t until college that mine got bad, particularly the spring of my freshman year, when my allergies brought on a nasty sinus infection that lasted a whole month. Instead of stopping to think about why my nose was oozing neon green and/or consulting a doctor, I took my illness as an excuse to stop working out and start gorging on peanut butter crackers. Rather impressively, I managed to gain the whole of my freshman fifteen in that snot-nosed month-long period.
When I returned home for summer break determined to work off my new paunch, I talked to a physician about my aching head and blocked nose. He said, “Oh yeah, you have a sinus infection. Probably because you have allergies,” then hopped back on his tractor and continued to mow the lawn (he was my dad. Still is!). His diagnosis was a revelation, as was the Z-Pack he prescribed me. I could breathe through my nose again within days! I was even able to exercise (and starve. My allergies weren’t the only ailment that flared up during my college years — so did my eating disorder lol) off the weight before I returned to school in the fall.
Since then, I’ve gotten at least three sinus infections a year, though some years that number is probably closer to six. I can tell when one is coming on now, and usually have a Z-Pack ready to go just in case. As much as I love them, however, taking antibiotics regularly is apparently pretty bad for you! So, after one particularly sinus-challenged winter a couple of years ago, I asked my dad what I could possibly do to prevent my near-chronic illness. He told me to take Claritin every single day, year-round.
By then, I’d been in the habit of taking Claritin (or, more often, budget generic loratadine purchased in bulk, on sale) for years, but it had been a steep learning curve. When I first began taking the medication, I popped one only every few days, when my allergies got really bad. Eventually I realized that it really only works if you take it every day, as suggested on the bottle which I finally read for the first fucking time haha whoops. I started taking it daily, but only during the spring and fall, when my symptoms got really bad. As a result, some winters I’d find myself fighting off three separate sinus infections, wondering what allergen could possibly have caused each flare up when all the plants were brown and frozen.
The problem, I’ve come to discover, is that I have particularly sensitive sinuses (I’m not like other girls) which are agitated way too easily and by almost anything: allergens, dry air…actually just those two things but they’re both unavoidable! Even the smallest irritation in my nasal passages can erupt into a full-blown sinus infection, laying me out on the couch for days. Sinus infections suck, though I have to admit they’re not quite as bad now as they were in college, when they’d cause chronic bloody noses that sent me running to the bathroom in the middle of Spanish class. Everyone at school probably thought I was the biggest coke head on campus even though I wasn’t rich, hot or popular enough to be offered cocaine more than once during those four years. (The one time it was offered to me, I refused it — OK Mom? She’s dead but I never told her about that and, after her horror that her baby was once in the same room as cocaine abated, she would have been proud.)
Though no longer mortifying, sinus infections are painful and debilitating, though fortunately I’ve been getting fewer since I heeded my father’s medical advice and started popping allergy meds with my morning coffee. Still, no matter how much Claritin I take, there’s no way I’ll make it through spring without at least one sinus infection. Allergy season is just beginning — the buds haven’t even burst yet — and already I’m walking around with a dull ache between my brows, wheezing because it’s hard to breathe deep when it means huffing pollen.
Still, I wouldn’t trade the onset of spring for anything, not even clear nasal passages. After this especially long, cold, bleak winter (it wasn’t actually all that bad but it felt endless to me), I’m ready for warmth, sunshine and technicolor bursts of florid life — even if it means my eyes will be watering until beach season.
As always, I’d like to clarify that this is NOT a sponsored post. I received nothing for it and am pretty sure no one cares that I have allergies. Still, if anyone is reading and ever wants to give me literally anything for free, Claritin or not, I WILL TAKE IT!!!!!!
Anyway, I hope this was helpful. I’ll be back with more unsolicited recommendations soon!