There's an UGLY side to Autumn

Oct 16, 2015

    How is it that gun-metal skies, golden leaves, and russet milo fields can stun the eye yet cause eyes to swell, noses to run, and throats to itch badly enough that sufferers want to take a wire brush after them? Every fall, these irritating symptoms remind me that spectacular seasonal beauty comes with a price. I don’t even have to stand in a field of this attractive grain. Living in the vicinity is enough to drive me and others nuts.

That price includes twice-daily, high-powered allergy pills that seem to control the itches and drips two or three of the 24 four hours they promise to deliver. Add to that pill supply multiple boxes of Kleenex and rolls of super strong, soft Viva paper towels to handle obnoxious drainage. Eye and nose drops sooth irritated, red eyes and inflamed nose membranes. Nothing addresses the incessant throat itching that induces pig-like snorts and grunts or the itchy welts hidden under long sleeve shirts and slacks. Hard to believe, but acres of gorgeous russet milo are the fiend in this annual curse for Great Plains allergy victims.

These folks are everywhere.  You hear them sneezing and hacking in the row behind or ahead of you in church or at the movie theater. They’re the person with bulging pockets of tissues. Janitors dump trashcans regularly to stay ahead of these snotty people. Out of the corner of your eye, you see them discreetly wiping a drippy eye or nose. They itch, so you notice them trying to scratch without drawing attention to themselves. It’s a cruel season for those sensitive to milo.

Steroid shots offer significant relief, but they have side effects that I prefer to avoid. As a result, I try to tough out the worst of these annual symptoms. Unfortunately, I used up all my luck this fall. No matter how I timed taking allergy pills, I couldn’t get control of the drips, itches, and weird noises . I tried natural remedies like eating locally produced honey. I even resorted to mind over matter practices to control that terrible irritation that triggered those disgusting pig noises. Despite great intentions, I learned my mind wasn’t stronger than the allergens produced by this beautiful grain. It took everything in me to resist scratching my throat in public. How do you explain to a class of teenagers that their teacher isn’t really hacking up a giant hairball?

The turning point was when I couldn’t sleep through the night.  Burning urges to ream out my scratchy throat defied even the most pleasant dreams. Midnight bouts of violent coughing disturbed not only human household occupants but also our pets. I finally caved. I had to have the injection.

I don’t know why I waited so long to call the doctor. Within four hours of receiving an almost painless jab, I was a new woman. The sneezing and coughing reduced to almost nothing. My skin felt like new flesh, and the urge to make porcine sounds vanished.

One little poke with a sharp needle and I don’t mind driving past field after field of reddish orange grain. Heck, I might even volunteer to join a harvest crew and get right In the middle of my fall nemesis.