I have an appointment at Nottingham Allergy Clinic later today and I'm weirdly excited about it.
I developed seasonal allergies as a teenager and I've struggled through summers for 20+ years now. I don't suffer like some people do, an attack doesn't turn into asthma for instance, and I don't have any skin reactions. I just sneeze. A LOT.
Sneezing may not seem serious but at the level I do it, it's a problem. I've had to be off all antihistamines for 72 hours before my appointment and wow, it's reminded me of how bad it can get unmanaged.
Thankfully I have a sitting still and thinking job, and I work from home, otherwise I would have to take this week off work. I could not do a manual labour job when it's bad, I don't think I could do any kind of public facing job - no one would want to come near me, and I definitely could not work with food. I would not be safe driving to work either, violent sneezing and eyes that are swollen shut when you're in charge of a car is likely not going to end well.
Even sitting and thinking is hard work when your eyes are running, nose is tickling (that is not a strong enough word for what my nose is doing to me) and yesterday, oh the inside of my ears was itchy, it was torture. I would have given up all my MI6 secrets for some Benadryl to make that bit go away. And the headache from the pressure of constant sneezing... I'm also exhausted, it obviously takes a lot of energy for my body to mount this over the top defence against deadly and terrifying... plants... and so by the end of a bad day I'm knackered, but then I don't sleep well and the following day I wake up feeling something very similar to a hangover. The gift that keeps on giving.
It makes me wonder how much this has affected my life in the past. I know I struggled with exams as a kid (I am of the generation that did one big exam per subject, always in the summer), but I still did alright. If I had been un-afflicted would I have done better? I have always hated sports, partly due to horrible bullying in school PE lessons but also any kind of physical exertion when I'm a snot-filled sneeze machine that can't breathe properly is really hard. I mean, it was hard brushing my teeth this morning because I couldn't breath through my nose imagine cross country running?!?
Summer is just generally awful. I am not a hot weather person, partly because I don't like being hot and sweaty but when that's combined with a face full of itchy torment it's just SO much worse. I've been pleasantly surprised when we've been abroad on holiday, I always expected to have a terrible time but so far it's been fine, I guess whatever I'm allergic to is not there so I even have a nice time in the warm weather.
Because it doesn't really go past sneezing, no medical person has taken it too seriously, til I managed to get in with the one decent GP at our surgery a couple of years ago. I'd stopped really asking for antihistamines at the doctor long ago because over the counter pills were a lot cheaper and just as ineffective as the prescribed ones, but I'd read about the Kenalog steroid injection and wanted to give that a go. Oh it was a miracle. Suddenly I was a normal person, not afraid to go outside, not killing my liver with triple doses of ceterizine a day.. It was lovely. But then the NHS took it away from me, the bastards. I know you can get it privately from all over the place but there's no way I'm letting some hairdresser at me with a needle (round here the only places that do it are beauty salons, why is that allowed??!) I only want real medically trained professionals injecting me with stuff, I think that's reasonable...
Last time I went, probably about April/May last year, after I got my magic drugs I also got them to refer me to the Allergy Clinic. It's taken a while but I do have my appointment. Coincidentally I was booking a private injection on the very day that the letter from the NHS turned up, good timing - you can't really do an allergy test if you've taken magic drugs to prevent allergic reactions. So I've had a bad allergy summer but fingers crossed these people will take me seriously, do some tests and get me some immunotherapy or something so next year I can be a real human.