I was feeling pretty lousy in the spring, worse in the summer, and not so great in the fall. Sneezing, scratchy throat, watery eyes, off and on for months. So I decided to visit my daughter’s allergist. After the doctor took my health history, a nurse treated my arms like pin cushions in trying to ascertain what, if anything, I was allergic to.
The good news is that I am NOT allergic to any animals or any foods; so no peanut allergy, like my daughter has. The bad news is that I am allergic to – and no, I don’t know what they all mean – ragweed, mugwort, pigweed, plantain, sheep sorrel, grass, rye grass, timothy grass, June grass, red top, sweet vernal, ash, birch, elm, hickory, maple, oak, poplar and willow. In other words, I am allergic to tree pollens, which begin to appear in the US Northeast in mid-March and are present into June; grass pollens, which appear in late May and are present through the summer; and ragweed pollen, airborne from mid-August through September.
One course of action would be to remain in air-conditioned buildings from late February to October; hardly practical, and boring to boot. The other option is to start on a weekly regimen of allergy injections called immunotherapy, which, ideally, will lessen or eliminate some of the ailments I had been experiencing. I started in December, because the idea is to build up the immunity over time, so when allergy season kicks in, I’ll be less affected.
I get shots in each arm once a week, with gradually increasing doses of treatment. I could do as often as thrice a week, if I had the time; if it’s less often than once every couple weeks, its efficacy is lost, and I have to start the regimen all over again. The most difficult part, actually, is the waiting around for 30 minutes AFTER the injections, to make sure I don’t have a severe reaction, which, as they like to let you know, could be anything from an itchy throat or runny nose, to chest tightening or hives, to, in rare instances, drop in blood pressure, shock and even death.
So far, so good.
Allergies by Paul Simon, a minor hit, #44 in late 1983