Oh, Crape!


How can anything so beautiful be so evil?

crape myrtle

I never had pollen allergies until we moved to Oregon. I’d followed my job to Salem, the state capital, in the lush and scenic Willamette Valley. (That’s pronounced Willamet, as you will be informed the moment you arrive there and open your mouth. Then they will tell you it’s Ory-gun, not Or-a-gone. So much for phonetics, but I digress.) Willamette, they tell me, means “The Valley of Sickness” in one of the local Native American tongues. It’s lush, the same latitude and distance from the ocean as the fabled wine-growing regions of France, with topsoil depth exceeded only by the Nile Valley. Plants love it, and as we all know, when plants make love, they make pollen.

So when I followed my job, and Ralph escaped from the clutches of Kaiser Permanente to get treatment for his year-old car accident injury, I thought, “Hey! Back to the East Coast, where the pollen is all familiar to my immune system!” The fact that we moved in the Fall let me hang with that delusion until late June.

The lovely crape myrtle is ubiquitous in the South. Not in the mid-Atlantic, where my immune system grew up. Apparently my T-cells regard Crape Myrtle pollen the way Atlanteans regard Sherman. Or maybe vice versa, I don’t know. Between the Allegra, the Benadryl, the Quercetin, and nettle tea, I’m not sure my brain is able to function at all. In fact, all of the above only seem to work if I take the additional step of rinsing my sinuses with saline solution every time I’m exposed to the great outdoors. And using eye drops.

Pollen allergies are interesting, particularly if they present a moving target, as mine seem to. You prepare for the expected, carrying a bottle of your chosen med in your purse as the season advances and the offending plant begins to bud. You see the first bloom! You take a pill! Problem solved via forethought and planning, right?

Apparently not. What worked last year required an upgrade from the prior year’s meds, which required an upgrade from the stuff that kept me functioning in Ory-gun. This year has taken a couple of giant steps upward in the medapalooza. Pollen allergies can be sneaky. I spent precious hours asking myself, “Didn’t I get enough sleep?” “Is it that glass of red wine I had with dinner?” when the simple answer was, “It’s the pollen, Stupid.”