Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Return of the Mutant Mucous Monster

There it sits by itself, having driven everyone away with its testy growling – a hunched, lumpy, purple creature with vicious red slits for eyes and a huge, swollen maroon nose.  A steady drip of fluid runs down its face and it periodically lets loose a hacking, phlegmy cough or an explosive, messy sneeze.  A mountain of crumpled used Kleenex rises at its feet, and a package of cough strips is its constant companion.  It is the Mutant Mucous Monster – aka me, in the throes of a seasonal allergy attack.

When I dwelt in South Dakota, alfalfa fields and dead leaves swelled my eyelids into puffy pillows.  In New York, the tree pollen that drifted like snow every spring kept me mopping my cracked and streaming nose until the abused skin peeled off my upper lip.  On vacations, I sneezed for days after encountering the pine forests of the Catskills and the Pensacola Killer Mold.  And now I live in Arizona, where both the spring and the autumn are filled with the dust, mold, and pollen that make my life temporarily a living hell.  Add to this the fresh air fiend I live with, who can’t understand why our windows should remain shut unless I’m actually broken out in hives (LIKE I AM NOW), and you can see why I consider this the least wonderful time of the year.

I’ve never been able to understand the evolutionary usefulness of allergies.  Surely they rank only slightly above the mosquito on the list of God’s Bad Ideas.  In an earlier era they would probably have killed me off in childhood.  Fortunately I have no children of my own; they might well have been plastic bubble babies.

I suppose I should bite the bullet and start desensitization shots.  I tried them once before; they worked fairly well until I moved across the country and encountered a whole new set of allergens.  Unfortunately, I hate needles, and my insurance won’t cover the cost.  Maybe I can cadge a free sample of Nasonex from my doctor; I did that last fall with reasonably good results.  Otherwise, I suppose I will tough it out with Puffs Sensitive, Visine-A, cough syrup, and double doses of minimally effective over-the-counter allergy pills one more season and hope I can afford the shots next spring.

Why have I never bought stock in any of the tissue manufacturers?

“I used to wake up at 4 A.M. and start sneezing, sometimes for five hours. I tried to find out what sort of allergy I had but finally came to the conclusion that it must be an allergy to consciousness.” ~James Thurber

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