My life changed dramatically when I was in my early 20s: I stopped dreading pollen-filled summers.
For the previous decade my summers were filled with sneezing, and the consequent sore stomach muscles, sore throat, sore nose, stuffy head and exhaustion, courtesy of my hayfever allergies.
Life was miserable with hayfever. When the symptoms appeared I could take some anti-histamine tablets that dried up my nose and throat and made me feel horrid. I often found the ‘cure’ worse than the hayfever.
The worst experience was one Christmas before I knew I was allergic to pine trees. We had a real pine tree in the lounge, and were busy with Christmas dinner and all the usual activities. I started sneezing early on and downed an anti-histamine tablet.
Things didn’t get better though, and as I recall I even took a second tablet. I was in the lounge, utterly miserable and puzzled abut why I was still sneezing. Once I removed myself from the pine tree the sneezing eased up. Since then I’ve avoided being in close quarters with pine trees in enclosed spaces.
In my early 20s at some point I discussed my hayfever with a (new) doctor. She prescribed me Beconase — a preventive nasal spray. It was a miracle. The doctor explained that it blocked up the allergen receptors so the things I was allergic to couldn’t take hold. Because it stopped the allergy from ever occurring in the first place I had no more sneezing, no more misery.
Apparently it contains steroids, but I don’t care that much. I’d rather have my summers back than reject the steroids.
That said, I do try to limit my use, which is why a few weeks ago I stopped using the spray. I didn’t start sneezing after a day or two so I thought maybe there wasn’t much pollen around and I was OK.
What I’d forgotten though were the other effects. I spent a week being ‘fuzzy’. I’d wake up in the mornings feeling tired. My brain didn’t seem to work right. I was living in a fog. My writing work was suffering.
When my throat started itching I suddenly realised that I was probably suffering from hayfever. I pulled out the spray and within a fairly brief time was feeling more clear-headed again.
This isn’t an ad for the spray I use. Partly I’m writing this post to remind myself about hayfever’s effect on me.
If you’re in New Zealand and suffer from allergies take a look at the Allergy NZ website. In NZ or anywhere else talk to your doctor if you think you may have hayfever. ‘Fuzzy brain’ is no fun and there are ways to deal with it, if hayfever’s the cause.