Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Oh, How I Love Living In the (ACHOO!) Ohio Valley

I am miserable.

My eyes are red, swollen, and intensely itchy. I woke myself up last night rubbing them, tried to tell my half-asleep hands to stop it before they made everything worse, and fell back to sleep feeling like I had sandpaper for eyelids. I reaped the reward of excessing eye-rubbing this morning when I woke up with a full-blown case of allergic conjunctivitis (pink eye, my friends.) Blurg.

If you know me, you know that summer before last I had such a bad case of allergy eyes that I had pink eye all summer long. I would get treated for it, have about a week of normalcy, and then wake up one morning with my left eye glued shut. It peaked one morning when I woke up in a panic, unable to see out of my left eye; for 30 minutes, looking through that eye, the world had no more detail than if I were looking at it through a dirty shower curtain. For four months after that, I had to see an opthamologist regularly and be on a scary steroid drop that made my intra-eye pressure go up and caused me to need terrifying monthly glaucoma screenings (anybody else have an irrational fear that a rogue needle is coming at your eyeball during the puff-of-air test?) And I couldn't wear contacts for months. It was a joyous time to be me.

And now I am afraid it's back.

Knowing what it is early on and having some pretty awesome allergy eye drops at my disposal, I might not suffer the entire summer. And if all I have to do to keep it from escalating is stay away from my contacts for a month, I can deal. But it sucks while it lasts, and I blame it all on living in the heart of allergy country: the Ohio Valley.

My assistant just gave a double-sneeze to confirm.

Being in this over-pollenated, highly ozoned, and humid part of the world makes me bitter every spring. I'd love to be able to open windows on a day like today (cloudless sky, high in the lower 70s, calm breezes), or go for a walk, or open my sun roof, without looking like an extra from The Stand (remember that miniseries, kids? M-O-O-N! That spells "television event of the mid-90s!") With our unusually late spring, everything that would have started budding in February and March is starting now, and everything that's supposed to start now didn't get that memo and is joining in right on time, and many of our immune systems are overwhelmed.

It's just one of the many joys of living here.

You ever heard the saying, "Don't like the weather in Kentucky? Stick around a minute; it will change"? That's barely an exaggeration. Where else can you see random 70-degree temperatures in December and January and the occasional killing frost in mid-April? Where else can you have a day where you can walk around outside without a coat followed by a day with a possibility for snow? The only thing that's certain, at least in the winter and spring, is uncertainty.

And extremely high pollen and smog counts.

I tell Jason frequently that when we retire, we're moving out west. Somewhere dry. Somewhere where not much grows. Somewhere like...Las Vegas! Yes, I know it's hot out there. I went there in late July, and the high one day reached 117. But give me dry heat any day over the water-logged, pollen-filled soup I usually breathe here in the Cincy metro area from April through August.

For now, I'll just keep sneezing, just keep sneezing...

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