COLUMN:Allergy season nothing to sneeze at

Reporter's Viewpoint

It is June – my favourite time of year along with July, August and a bit of September, weather depending.

The sun is finally showing itself and sharing a bit of its heat with us, the flowers are in full bloom, days are long and the shorts are out from the back of the closet.

Even when it rains, it is still bright compared with the dark, grey, gloomy and cold days of winter.

But this is also the time of year my allergies go into overdrive.

It’s the season to go through boxes and boxes of Kleenex, feeling like I have a bad head cold for three months straight and popping anti-histamines to try to stay functioning.

My sinuses often feel like they’re about to explode, my throat is itchy and I’m generally feeling terrible at just the time of year I want to be outside enjoying the good weather, not lying down feeling like I’m underwater.

To top it all off, when my skin touches certain grasses, I break out in hives.

So, on my worst days, I’ve got red eyes, a runny nose, an inflamed throat and nasal glands and red, bumpy skin. Aside from the scary physical appearance, my allergies make it difficult to function normally.

On top of the expensive over-the-counter anti-histamines I take, my doctor prescribed a corticosteroid nasal spray last year.

For the first time since I was six years old, I could breathe freely in June and I was able to do my job and bike outside in relative peace.

But it did nothing for the hives problem, so it was still long sleeves and long pants when outdoors on a hot July day.

And the steroid inhaler can have some nasty side effects – nosebleeds, nasal ulcers, headaches, or back pain to name a few.

So last fall, I decided to try something new. Rather than popping pills with an array of chemical ingredients unknown to me, or use the steroid spray, I decided to try desensitization shots.

The basic premise is this: by injecting myself with what I am allergic to once a week for six months to a year, then every month for the next couple years, my body will slowly build up a tolerance.

I’m about seven months into the treatments now, which are administered by the nurse at my doctor’s clinic. And so far, while they haven’t had any effect that I can see on reducing my sensitivity to the outdoors – this has been a particularly bad year for me – I have had an anaphylactic reaction to the shots on two occasions.

Apparently, I am that slight chance my allergist told me about before ordering the serum for me. As a result, he’s modified the dosages and schedules for me so that it is going to take longer than expected to reach my maintenance dose.

Some of my friends have asked me why I continue through the process in light of the stress and time it’s taken – I have to hang out in my doctor’s office for half an hour each week after receiving the shot.

But several people I’ve talked to who have gone through the process say sticking it out is worthwhile.

Allergy-free people don’t realize what living with seasonal allergies, depending on their severity, is like.

It’s a condition that comes back every year and makes me sick for several months each year.

And it’s frustrating because the tree and grass pollen that my body reacts to is harmless to people. My body is essentially making itself ill by mistake.

If this works, it will greatly enhance my quality of life at this time of year.

That’s worth the time and effort.

If not, perhaps one day scientists will figure out a cure. I live in hope.

reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Just Posted

Nanaimo rapper Sirreal plays the Port Theatre on June 25. (Photo courtesy Alanna Morton)
Nanaimo rapper Sirreal and friends play the Port Theatre

Live-streamed concert the second in venue’s Discovery Series highlighting local artists

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement, stating that Nanaimo will see temperatures between five-10 degrees above seasonal the next two days. (News Bulletin file)
Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement, stating that Nanaimo will see temperatures between five-10 degrees above normal the next two days. (News Bulletin file)
Heat wave will see Nanaimo temperatures rise 5-10 degrees above normal

Sun with highs of 28 C forecast by Environment Canada for Harbour City on Sunday and Monday

According to a staff report, Regional District of Nanaimo has seen some $13.6 million in grant applications approved between Jan. 1 and May 15. (News Bulletin file)
Close to $14 million in money granted to RDN in first half of year

Successful grants include more than $4 million for transit service in Regional District of Nanaimo

A section of the rail corridor on Vancouver Island. (Black Press file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Put rail trail right overtop of the tracks

Removing tracks would be a horrendous expense, says letter writer

District of Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain, left, and Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards sign a memorandum of understanding outside Snaw-Naw-As Market on Friday, June 18. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Lantzville and Snaw-Naw-As sign memorandum of understanding

District and First Nation create joint working group

Robin Dutton, left, and Peter Sinclair are taking their mountain bikes and travelling down trails in the Mount Benson area June 19 as part of a 24-hour fundraiser benefiting Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Full-day mountain bike fundraiser gives financial support for Nanaimo food bank

Event part of Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank’s Food 4 Summer campaign

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding partnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read