Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Fought a Blooming Tree and Nearly Died


I have lived in Tennessee for over twenty years and I love it here. It has a hometown feel and big enough to not get bored with life. There is always a luncheon, gala, or ball to support your favorite charity and enough Star power to light the night sky. The city's charm captured me and would not turn lose.

One thing that I did not count as part of living here was battling allergies. I would hear about a folks who had watery eyes and the sniffles form time to time but I did not realize they were suffering. When someone would call in to work sick because they had allergies, I would laugh and think you got to be kidding me. I would immediately think they were lying or lazy.

In early 2005, my laughter and judgment stopped abruptly . Like a child with asthma, I suddenly had troubling breathing. The walk to my truck was only a few steps but it felt like a country mile. By the time I got inside the truck, I was breathless and could feel my eyes swelling. I had no clue what was happening to me.

As the spring moved in, my symptoms got worst. I was bedridden for days wondering why I was so out of it, swollen and gasping for air. In May, I was sharing with a friend about my plight and she advised me to see a doctor for my allergies. Allergies? Allergies do not leave one feeling an inch from death's door. I found her information hard to digest and finally went to the doctor to find answers. Sure enough, I was diagnosed with allergies and given a prescription. Cured, I thought.

Not so for me. My allergies were "special", like me. My first prescription was about as effective as giving me bubble gum to cure the flu, I was switched to another brand. And another. And another. My agony lasted until September when the temperature cooled. When '06 rolled around, I was prepared mentally but still made several trips to the doctor for relief. Shots were introduced and I was told that I was highly allergic to pollen. My arm was stuck and probe until I looked like the Michelin Tire Man. My doctor warned me to avoid two flowering trees, the Bradford Pear and Dogwood trees.

The trees I remembered from my childhood were Magnolia, Pecan, and Oak. I asked to see a picture of the blooms. When I saw the flowers, I recoiled and became teary eyed. My entire subdivision was beautifully landscaped with those trees and several were in my yard and my neighbors' yards. No wonder I felt like death, I was surrounded by blooms that were killing me.

On my drive home, I said to hell with the neighborhood beautification crap. Those flowers got to go. After arriving home, I started cutting as many of the lower branches off my trees. Defying the pollen and swelling by the second, I pulled up tulips and went after the rose bush as well. Gasping for breath and barely standing, I did not stop until everything with a bloom within my reach was chopped up and carried off. I felt strong mentally but sick as dog. I was covered in bumps and welts and my eyes were small slits on my disfigured face. I might die, I thought, but at least I put up a good fight. I saw my neighbors watching me with dismay. Their lawns were manicured and picture perfect. Their friends(or neighbors) did not destroy flower gardens. I did not care, I was never going to be asked to Chair the Antique Garden and Flower Show, anyway.

I felt smug for the moment but my life had changed. Although a few blooms were gone, I still had to outfit my home with special filters. I spent thousands on ventilators and air purifiers. A house that once had plants and pictures galore, was stripped down to the bare walls. The carpet was taken out and replaced with tile. Nothing that attracted dust was considered attractive anymore. Beds that once had colorful comforters,linens and decorative throw pillows, were stripped and remade with allergen resistance pillowcases and plain white sheets. My home life focused on what kept the pollen, dust mites, and anything that could make me whiz outside. I was living like a vegan without meat. I nearly died trying to fight blooming trees and plants.

As for the blooms in my yard, what I thought was a done deal was apparently a pruning. I woke up one night with that awful gagging feeling. Holding my throat,I knew right away that a flower blooming was somewhere nearby. At sunrise, I looked out the window and what I saw reminded me of the bogeyman in my dreams. The blooms that I thought I had gotten rid of were back, bigger and brighter than ever. They were leering at me, daring me to come outside.

I went to the doctor that morning and was put on steroids. Steroids! Big girl pills for sure. I was going to get bigger than Oprah. No amount of exercise was getting rid of steroid fat. Before I would throw in the towel and die of pollen or fat, I decided I was going to become an informed patient. I became internet savvy, researching holistic and natural ways to fight my allergies. I was determined not to be on steroids for long. I even found an allergy suffers' support group. Yes, I know what you are thinking but I was desperate. I was sick of being sick.

In my support group, the suffers had a trick for every trade. Most of us were transplants to Nashville and were not aware of Nashville's high pollen count reputation. I wondered if I was being fooled into joining a cult but I went faithfully every month with my tissue box, sniffling and begging God to end my misery.

One month last year, a prayer was heard. In walked a woman into one of our meetings looking like a gypsy and smelling herby. She came with a few suggestions that I had not heard before. Before the evening ended, she pulled out pills that she highly recommended. She vowed we would feel better. I thought a hidden camera joke was being pulled on me. No one questioned her and grab the pills. I got one and went to the bathroom. I said a quick prayer and swallowed. Hey, do not judge and I nearly died fighting a blooming tree!

Within a few hours, I started feeling a little better. I called some of my fellow suffers and asked what the heck was happening. I felt better and wanted to make sure I was not taking anything illegally. If it was illegal, I needed to know how to get more.

I founded out that the pill was bee pollen. Bee pollen...life is a joke. I kill bees for a living! A pest control operator was taking bee pollen to ended her ailments. God does have a sense of humor. For the last eight months, I have taken bee pollen pills along with liquid B-12. This routine has literally cleared up any problems with my allergies. I have not been to a doctor in several months. Flowers are in full bloom in Tennessee and for the first time in several years, I have been able to enjoy evening walks. And I have lost weight.

Hopefully, I have ended my battle with the blooms. All trees in my yard were topped or shredded for paper. If you are an allergy suffer, become an informed advocate. Don't suffer silently or alone.
For a support group in your area visit:
www.allergysupport.org
www.allergies.meetup.com

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