Friday, April 30, 2010
Death By Pollen
The bugs are back and the phones are ringing! The first few weeks of spring feels like Christmastime for us at Holmes Pest Control. A long day with longer hours is our version of heaven. But with all the joys the sound of bugs buzzing brings to my ears, there is a downside to my springtime glee…pollen. My life is miserable from the pollen than covers everything in Nashville. One thing that I did not count as part of living here was battling allergies. I heard about a folks who had watery eyes and running noses from time to time but I did not realize they were suffering or near death. Is death by pollen even possible? When someone would call in sick because they had allergies, I would laugh and think you got to be kidding me. I also thought they were lying and lazy. Oh, how the tables have turned.
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 about 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. Sure enough, I was told I had allergies and given a prescription. "Cured", I thought.
Nope, not so quickly. 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. Then 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 to my regime; I was highly allergic to pollen and several flowering trees. My doctor warned me to avoid flowering trees, especially 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 trees. When I saw the flowers, I recoiled as if I had seen a monster. My entire subdivision was landscaped with Bradford Pears 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 committee, all flowers got to go. When I arrived home, I got rid of as many of the lower branches off the trees. Defying 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 every bloom within my reach was 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 could feel the neighbors’ shocked eyes peering through their windows. Their lawns were manicured and picture perfect and they did not destroy beautifully blooming plants.
I felt smug for the moment but my life had changed. Getting rid of the flowers was only the beginning; my home was redecorated for allergy suffers. I spent thousands on ventilators, air purifiers and special filters for my sensitive respiratory system. A house that once had plants and pictures galore was stripped down to the bare walls. Carpeting was 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 high count plain sheets. My home life focused on what kept the pollen, dust mites, and anything that could make me whiz away from me. No house beautiful here, I was living like a vegan without meat. Death by pollen was real to me.
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 Michael who keeps returning in Friday 13th. 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.
Returning to the doctor, I 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 threw in the towel and die of pollen and/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, they had a trick for every sniffle. Most of us were transplants to Nashville. Nashville's high pollen count is not included in the “Visit Music City” brochures. I wondered if I was being fooled into joining a cult but I went faithfully with my tissue box, sniffling and begging God to end my misery.
Last year, a prayer was heard. A woman in our group, who looked like a gypsy and smelled herby, came with a few suggestions that I had not tried. Before the evening ended, she pulled out pills that she vowed would make me feel better. I thought a hidden camera joke was being pulled on me. I did not question her and grab a few pills and ran 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 they were illegal, I needed to know how to get more. I know people.
I founded out that the pills were bee pollen from local bees. Bee pollen...life is a joke. I kill bees for a living! A pest control operator was taking bee pollen to end her ailments. God does have a sense of humor. Over the last year, I have taken bee pollen pills along with liquid B-12. This routine literally keeps me breathing in a year that is being deemed the worst ever for allergy suffers. I have been to the doctor twice but I am better than previous years. Flowers are in full bloom in Tennessee, but I am able to get outside to work and I am making an effort to lose weight.
Hopefully, I have ended my battle with blooming trees and flowers. All trees in my yard have been topped. No curb appeal for my yard! If you are an allergy suffer, become an informed advocate. Don't suffer silently or alone. My site of choice is www.pollen.com