My Enemy Springs Forth

At what point do you cease having allergies, and allergies have you? Three years after moving to Texas, I’d gone from living in a happy, healthy environment to having a wide range of local things I’m allergic to (including mesquite, cedar, cottonwood, and pecan pollen.) I’m running out of biomes for living.

Thankfully, I live in a first-world country with the miracles of modern medicine. I have a range of product to choose from, none of which work as well as advertised. And one of the side effects not listed on the bottle? Most of them kill my creativity.

It’s very odd, living in a head that’s empty of all story, and only has a few thoughts rattling around. Do most people do that? It’s very frustrating, too, because if I’m going to be too sick to be at work, darnit, I should be able to work on the WIP!

I am a geek: I’ve started charting my the side effects for this writer:

Claratin-D: completely kills creativity. Works for about 6 hours.

Benadryl: Wow, it’s empty in my head with no thoughts at all. And then I pass out.

Allegra (24 hr): Writing is choked down to 2 paragraphs in 6 hours. The effectiveness against pollen seems to stop about 4-6 hours in.

Zyrtec (24 hr): Got 1000 words in, so yay! Seems to be mostly but not completely effective for about 4 hours, and then barely takes the edge off for another 4.

Oh similar pollen sufferers, how does this jibe with your experience?

27 comments

  1. My sister, having been given soy-based baby formula back when they told us this was a good idea, is allergic to pretty much anything that makes pollen, and lives in Pollen Hell. She had desensitization treatments, which helped considerably (she is now miserable only occasionally, instead of year round). She also consumes local honey, which contains enough random pollen to have a small but helpful effect.

    [Soy is a broad-spectrum allergen. It also gave baby sister the colic, with the most astonishing projectile vomiting.]

    Side note: name-brand Zyrtec is time-release. Generic same-drug is not. When the effect is to empty your head, I recommend a full thyroid workup (especially if over age 50. Do not settle for TSH test.)

  2. I’ve never had hayfever until I moved to Australia, and I get runny nose hell whenever someone mows the lawn if it hasn’t rained in a while. Hatehatehate. Then there’s the dust and food allergies, which I can mostly avoid. (All the super trendy sugar substitutes, including stevia = headaches, vomiting, itching, wanting to tear my tongue out, dizziness and generally feeling like death. I HATE that they’ve gone and put it in Fanta and Sprite – the normal ones.)

    Benadryl basically knocks me out, but it WORKS like woah. I don’t recall having tried any other antihistamines. I might have tried the local Claratin or Zyrtec, and I don’t recall side effects.

  3. *stands well out of smacking range and sends sympathetic vibes, and hopes that the allergy fairy continues to avoid her*

    1. I most sincerely hope allergies continue to avoid, you, too! Enjoy your health, and the great outdoors!

  4. OTC Fluticazone as a preventative, and generic Sudafed™ or generic OTC [as opposed to behind the C] 24-hr no ephed Sudafed™. And the occasional generic antihistamine, at night when I’m not trying to be creative.

  5. These steps help me and were recommended by a variety of allergists.

    Keep all windows and doors closed. Stay inside as much as you can during prime allergy seasons. A hepa-filter or similar air filter by your bed. Another by your work area. A whole house air filter if you can afford it. Pay intense attention to changing out your house central air filter if you have central air.

    Neti pots are kind of weird, but they wash the pollen out of your sinuses and are cheap. If you mix your own saline, make sure to use plain salt and pure water. I use RO water. Store bought wash kits are available and convenient, but get expensive over time. I buy some for travel.

    One of my early allergists told me to not dust too often since dust usually has lots of allergens. Let the dust settle and use a method to remove it that does not get it into the air. A dampened cloth works pretty well. Not that I dust very often.

    If you keep the allergen level down in your house, the antihistamines have a chance to work.

      1. I started the War on Dust when I started avoiding the sunbeams because they looked solid.
        I have three floors. The main/ground/first floor is fully engaged. It’s a very time-consuming effort, but I have made enough progress that I’ve stopped the antihistamines. The sunbeams have been reduced to ghostly translucence from near-solidity.
        I still haven’t gotten a clean bucket of mop water after mopping – even at three times per week – but it is getting better, after months of effort.

    1. Mold can be an allergen. Mold can grow whenever you have enough surface area, humidity, and temperature.

      There are two interesting additional sources of surface area. One, these days they have opted to line the HVAC ducts with fiberglass. IIRC, this is a felt, and obviously has a much huger surface area than clean sheet metal.

      Dust particles also have surface area.

  6. Fluticasone (nasal spay) works really well for me to prevent allergy symptoms. I have noticed no side effects. It did take 2 weeks of ramp up use before the spray achieved its full protective effect.

    1. My husband, who has severe seasonal allergies and asthma, has found that his allergies are less severe when he avoids eating wheat. Evidently, wheat tends to have an inflammatory effect on the body, which worsens the allergic response.

  7. Let’s see. I’ve discovered that I have enough enough allergies that the desire to burn all plants to ash is almost close to sane.

    Bunch of different prescription and OTC that together let me function enough to actually do things. Woohoo!

    The mechanism in allergy shots can also be done in the form of allergy drops.

    Those combined have let me do more than I’d been able to do for many years. But I still have problems that are challenging my ambitions. On the creative writing side, I’ve been working on something for over a year. For about 3/4 of a year I’ve known what needs to happen, and have been stuck in outlining/plotting purgatory. Some has been RL busy, some skill, some other health issues, but some has been capacity problems from allergies/sinus disruption of sleep.

    I’ve been investigating deeper issues. With some possible success.

    Anyway, hearing your description makes me wonder if you have a more fundamental issue driving the sensitization, and might want to consult a specialist doctor.

  8. Claritin, Allegra
    – black pall of depression
    – also, probably no more addictive than heroin; getting off them after several years was miserable

    Zyrtec
    – tunnel vision, black sparklies, no noticeable affect on allergies

    Benadryl
    – seemed to work fine for allergies, when I was awake enough to notice. Fine for a sleeping aid, though.

    shots
    – after record-keeping for some months, determined they were doing nothing other than absorbing money

  9. The Midnight Disease by Alice Weaver Flaherty is interesting on the effects of drugs on creativity, though not specifically allergies.

  10. I’ve got auto-immune issues, so I don’t know if my experience will match up with yours.
    I use OTC generic fluticasone spray (Flonase), which is designed to shoot up the nose, as a topical agent where I wear my Butrans patch (this is under the advice of the NP handling my case). It’s helped A LOT in cutting down on the inflammation that almost made it impossible to wear the patch.
    During this past month, which was flu, pneumonia, and strep, consecutively, I also sprayed it up my nose and experienced some relief.
    Sudafed (OTC but you have to get it from the pharmacist) has been good to clear my head and not make me drowsy.
    Diphenhydramine AT NIGHT (!) has kept me from waking up suffocating and probably also helped me to sleep.
    I CANNOT tolerate any of the other stuff. Makes me feel as if my head is wrapped in cotton wool. Even the small amount of dextromethorphan that is in the Mucinex I had to take this past month makes me feel goofy.
    I also have to ALWAYS have a handkerchief with me, because my nose will start running for no apparent reason.
    Dear D, you have my sympathy!

    1. One of the things I live on is the generic guaifenisin. Active ingredient in Mucinex.

      I take the generic specifically because of concerns about one of the aluminum compounds that is, IIRC, a inactive filler in the brand name. Same reason I’m back onto the brand name zyrtec.

      Generic guaifenisin pills are available in a range of doses, including max strength extended release, and some are dye free.

    1. Until some [redacted] decides to bring in all the plants from elsewhere “to make it more like home.” [See also, Arizona].

      1. Well, mesquite, cedar, sagebrush, burro bush, all of the native weeds… Really, most of Arizona has never been all that free of allergens.

        Now, that being said, if anyone waves that imported symbol of peace under my nose – I go to war! The absolute worst allergy attack I have ever had was in downtown Phoenix at olive blooming season.

  11. Sounds familiar. The number of things that turn off the words is unfortunately large, but I usually can write if I only take them to sleep, or just for a couple of days. Long term usage, and I can’t write for a week after I stop.

  12. I’ve had decent luck taking local honey, and believe it or not there are some homeopathic drops that served me well when I went home for my reunion. Unfortunately don’t have the name of those.

  13. Absolutely! Job performance and writing ability (mostly performance reports for the guys and gal in my office) greatly suffered while I was stationed at Travis AFB in California, which has got to be ground zero for central valley allergies. Breathing is great, but not so great if it’s the only thing you’re doing. On the other hand, the alternative to breathing isn’t all that great either; and I’m not ready to take the long dirt nap.

  14. Sometimes even little things can help, we switched furnace/AC filters to some allergen filtering ones [3M 2200 Series Filtrete Filter] and they make a nice difference both in counter dust and in how dirty the CPAP filters get. Leaving the fan running full time loads one up with crud fast so we change monthly.
    Dusting with a lightly distilled water dampened micro-fiber towel picks stuff up without raising dust or leaving any hard water residue.
    Got a floor sweeper (suction only, no beater bar) with a HEPA filter and run it over the floors, hard and carpet, doesn’t look like it is picking up much until you wash the filter and see what runs out.
    We haven’t had to resort to individual room filters here, I have had to do that in the past in other places. One near each door and dusting myself down near it when returning home seemed to help.

  15. My mother had allergies to wheat, peanuts, milk, chicken …. I can’t even remember it all. She took massive doses of B vitamins, particularly pantothenic acid and got quite a bit of relief. She used to recommend the pantothenic acid in 100 mg doses to hay fever sufferers and more than one told her it helped.

    Part of the theory is that allergies overwork your adrenal glands and B vitamins help that stress reaction. When it works it takes a bit of time to kick in. So not an overnight help. I hope I’m not banging this drum too often.

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