My allergies started around 4th grade, and was given the patronizingly diminutive diagnosis of "hayfever" for many years. As I went through puberty, the spring season got worse and worse, and yet my symptoms were always treated with a smarmy knowing grin by some adults as "dramatic" or "just the sniffles." I'd go through a pocket pack of Kleenex in a day, and soon had to resort to paper towels and napkins because a handkerchief would literally be soaked and dripping by mid-morning. When I found antihistamines, they helped a little, but by high school, I'd be taking 3-4 at a time, and all they did was make me sleepy as my nose, annoyingly installed right above my mouth, drained an unending trickle of clear fluid down my upper lip. I was accused of taking cocaine by some kids, because back in those days, you snorted coke with a teeny spoon instead of smoking it in crack form. I certainly looked the part: runny nose, bloodshot eyes, and I hung around with some pretty strange people. I hated spring.
Believe you me, I tried so hard to "think it away," because everyone told me I was imagining it. I tried mind-over-matter, self-hypnosis, and a dozen new-age tricks to tell my body not to react, but it never worked. Most of my "allergy attacks" start with a pin-point stab on the inside of my nose, like a nerve misfires or something. It literally feels like someone jabbed a very fine sewing needle inside my nose. This causes a reaction that spreads to me eyes, and then a cycle starts. Sometimes there's 4-5 sneezes in a row, followed by itchy eyes, and then the nose runs as a strange "sharp numbness" spreads back into my sinuses. Before I took proper meds, I would sneeze over and over again, sometimes 10-12 times in a row,, until I was physically weak and wheezing. Oh, but that was apparently "all part of the act" according to my parents, and my dad used to laugh and make deriding and sarcastic comments about "my performance." [Sigh]... yes, I am still bitter. I should let it go, but that memory is so deep in my muscle tissue, I still think of it when I sneeze. I pretty much blame all my asthma on my dad. He never allowed me to see an allergist, put me on a boat with mildew everywhere, never got my room properly repaired, so I lived with mold and mildew all the time in my damp, dungeon-like bedroom, and then there was that one time he got so angry at me, he beat and kicked me in the chest until I was coughing up blood for a while. I keep thinking if he'd been in charge of my son, my son would have been dead before he reached five.
By the time I was an adult, the unchecked allergies had damaged my lungs to the point where I had asthma. Finally I saw a doctor who gave me Seldane, and for the first time since I was a child, I could smell flowers. I always thought flowers smelled like cut grass until I got proper medication. But Seldane was eventually pulled off the market and renamed, re-branded, and since then I have been under a plethora of allergy drugs with varying success. Currently it's Zyrtec, which just became over-the-counter. It's okay, but during the heaviest parts of the season, it only covers 80% of what I need. Luckily, the "drowsy side effects" don't seem to apply to me, like Claritin or Allegra did, so it's a truce with my health currently. If I could drive, I could go and get those 3-year long sets of shots I keep hearing about.