Fairbanks is famous again. Yes, folks, we are Number ONE! We have broken the World's Pollen Count set in Sweden some years ago. A "high" pollen count is around 475. Just a few days ago the birch pollen count hit 4,439. Even people without allergies were wondering why their eyes were feeling so strange, and people with allergies had some eyes swell shut completely.
I had all kinds of cute and endearing dog things I was going to write about, but since I have to exert IRON WILL not to grab my nose, eyes, and face in general every ten seconds, I will keep my hands on the keyboard and keep typing. Except when I'm putting in two kinds of eye drops and using various inhalers.
This all started with the Winter That Never Was. Last winter we hit 20 below once. That's it. No 30 below, no week of 40 below and certainly no weekends of 50 below. No, we stayed above zero almost the entire winter. To top that off, we had a huge snow dump at the beginning of winter, and then little to no snow the rest of the winter. By the time it did snow again, months had gone by and people rejoiced that it was snowing!
It was exceedingly strange and creepy not to have a normal, Alaskan winter. Some people were really digging it, saying, "It's so nice and warm!" Of course to Alaskans 20 above is warm. Heck, zero is warm! But I only wore my Michelin Tire Man Down Jacket about ten times last winter. My Fall coat got the most use, and sometimes I just wore some shirts and a sweatshirt. Pussy willows were out in March. March. MARCH!
By April 26, the snow was gone, and we had leaves on the trees. The National Weather Service announced that April 26 was officially Green Up. This is two weeks to a month earlier than usual, and yet another record for Green Up in Fairbanks. It's the earliest it has ever been!
Within a week the Allergy Season From Hell exploded. There is gorgeous weather out there and if the trees would stop having sex we could enjoy it!
I have allergies and asthma. Yet I'm doing pretty well, as long as I can keep my hands off my itchy places. Eye drops keep me from waking up in the morning with gashes on my face from trying to claw my itchy eyes out while I sleep. Seriously not making this up!
I have a friend whose lungs are itching. I've had that before. So if you see someone slapping themselves in the chest and ribs, and scratching in the armpits like a chimpanzee, you can conclude that a) Fairbanks people are crazy (possibly true), and b) they have birch allergy.
It makes me understand dogs better, too, because here I am, sticking my finger in my ear and clicking my throat, which in the end makes my throat more sore, but sort of feels better and why the hell do I feel compelled to put my finger in my EAR? How many times have you seen dogs trying to put their paws in their ears, or making weird throat noises and you never, ever figure it out? It's got to be something like this. (So see? I did get some dog stuff in there!)
So here's my allergy survival plan:
I have asthma and allergies so, as per doctor's orders,
- Zyrtec and Singular every single day. I want to take more Zyrtec but resist, resist until I can ask the doctor if it's safe!
- Advair twice a day.
- Flonase daily until I figure out that it either doesn't work or gives me nosebleeds or turns my nose into a <insert comical side-effect object here>
- Stuff I figured out works: Antihistamine eye drops, then wait a few seconds, then the gel eye drops (Refresh, etc) and that seems to keep the antihistamine drops from drying out my eyes, plus makes the former work longer.
- Every time I go outside I: a) wear a baseball hat, b) wash my hands, face and especially my eyelashes and eyebrows in cool water.
- Wash my hands after petting the dogs. When they go outside I think they become Blimps Of Pollen. And washing the dogs is NOT an option.
- I cut my bangs short. They were long enough to cover my eyebrows and artistically, if raggedly hang around my eyes, which means they were also filtering pollen right INTO my eyes. Short bangs are now cool.
- I quit wearing scents in the summer because they tend to attract mosquitoes. And I'm too busy to do the makeup thing except for some lipstick. But the last thing I'd do is put mascara on. Sticky mascara, and sticky foundation...I can just imagine how my pollen would stick to you!
- I have a light shirt for going outside that I put on, and then take off as soon as I get inside. That way I'm not wearing pollen-covered clothing all day.
- Things I am considering: a) Buying some swim goggles to wear when I go outside. Seriously. b) Getting out my particulate mask with the two cans on it, that I use when apocalyptic fires come to call. Only downside to wearing goggles and the particulate mask (are you my Mummy?) is that I might feel like I have an alien facehugger on my head. Also, when the mosquitoes get bad, wearing a head net on top of those might bring Men in Black to take me away.
If I see another Alien in Fairbanks I'll know I've helped someone today.