I Can’t Walk A Straight Line, But I’m Not Drunk; Just Zapped With Pollen

Dear Followers,

Have you seen the commercial where people are trying to get change from their pockets and all they pull out are tissues? That’s me. You know it’s been several days since I posted anything. That’s because my brain is stuck in my head and my head feels like there is a Dune sand worm trying to get out. There is no room for actual coherent thoughts in there. They evacuated.

But all levity aside, I want to speak out for those of us who do not have a choice in this matter of what goes on in our heads when they are held captive in a torture chamber. Why? Because we get a bad rap from people who don’t understand. Even doctors. We are looked at like we’re stupid. Let me tell you what happens to those of us with allergies. It can bring on vertigo. So . . . not everyone who can’t walk a straight line is drunk or on drugs.

I often stutter when my sinuses are acting up. It’s totally embarrassing since, normally, I’ve never had a problem with public speaking, or speaking with confidence. One of the reasons I stutter is because my thoughts will not come together. They fly off in different directions, leaving me befuddled. I’m often taken for being scatter-brained, and that’s probably true, since my head won’t cooperate while being attacked by pollen.

I often have to clear my throat, which is annoying not only to myself, but to everyone around me. I’ve learned that Musinex will stop the throat-clearing so I keep a bottle in my purse. At the worst times the pressure behind my eyes feels like there is a thumb behind them pushing out, and sometimes the sinus pain makes my teeth hurt. My throat gets tight and my voice gets deep and raspy.

As a child, I had to sleep propped up on pillows because the drainage choked me. Of course, I didn’t really know what it was then and I don’t think mom or dad did, either. Neither one of them had sinus problems. I didn’t get diagnosed till I was in my late twenties. My husband and I met in Alabama, where he was working at the time. But his hometown was in Georgia. So we married in Georgia and lived there for many years. My throat stayed sore and raspy for so long after I moved there, I was afraid I had throat cancer or something.

I went to several doctors, who found nothing wrong and summarily dismissed me. One, however, sent me to an ENT, a Scotsman in a nearby town. He was probably in his sixties at the time and from what I learned later, had the patience of a chihuahua, and the bedside manner of Robert De Niro in his mad mode. On my second visit, he told me there was nothing wrong with me, to “talk right”, and not to bother him again. He told the nurse to charge me half price. I was so mad and humiliated it made me cry. My mad cry is when I reach a boiling point without a release valve, like knocking him on his rear. The tears are actually steam.

It was a little old lady at church who diagnosed me. In my frustration, I bent her ear one morning after church. When I told her the doctors thought I was either malingering or a hypochondriac, she looked at me with big eyes and said, “Honey, they’re crazy. You have allergies.” Then she told me about a specialist in Thomasville, GA, who had helped her, and then gave me his phone number. I made an appointment. In the meantime, I had an earlier appointment with a local doctor and told him about what the woman had said. I also told him I thought the drainage was making me sick to my stomach. He made a sound of disgust and told me shortly that sinus drainage doesn’t go to your stomach.

When I saw the specialist, I told him that the local doctor had said drainage didn’t go to the stomach. He paused momentarily in his examination and said, “Where the hell does he think it goes?” Yo. Man, I LOVED this doctor. He did numerous scratch tests (which are supposed to be out of favor now) and pronounced I was allergic to several things, but the main one was pecan trees. And wouldn’t you know it. I had moved to the pecan capital of the world. Georgia. For a long time I had weekly shots, administered locally, which left huge bruises on my arms, but my throat got clear and I could breathe, not to mention the vertigo and headaches went away. I took the shots for about a year and I did well for a long time after. Then we moved to South Carolina and it started all over again.

My sister Katie also has terrible allergy problems. She saw an ENT who didn’t believe in the scratch tests. Said it could be diagnosed with blood work. He pronounced her “borderline?” Katie has so many allergy symptoms she’s a walking encyclopedia. So the ENT, to relieve these “borderline” problems, did that nose surgery where they pack the cavities and leaves you in a lot of pain until the body heals. Didn’t do a bit of good.

I was sent to an ENT. He didn’t believe in the scratch tests. I was also having lots of ear infections. Sometimes when I moved my head it felt like water sloshing around. Loud noises, loud music, or laughing loudly caused a rattling, tinny sound inside my ear. I went several times only to hear the ENT say he didn’t know what was wrong and acted like he’d never heard of those sensations before.

I have just learned of a doctor who still believes in allergy testing the old-fashioned way. I will be making an appointment.