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  • Vicki Viall

The Yellow Scourge


I would venture to guess that you have already figured out what the yellow scourge is, right?


Do you happen to know the definition of the word scourge?

I admit it; I used it in the title before I verified the definition. Just so happens, I was correct.


Per dictionary.com, it means a cause of affliction or calamity.


And, that's pretty much what pollen is to me.


Again, leaning on dictionary.com, the definition of pollen is: "the fertilizing element of flowering plants, consisting of fine, powdery, yellowish grains or spores, sometimes in masses."


Boy, they sure have the appropriate word in there: masses. If you have ever been in the south during pollen season, it arrives, stays and departs in masses.


Just for the fun of it, I visited Merriam-Webster.com, too. They are a bit kinder to pollen: "a mass of microspores in a seed plant appearing usually as a fine dust."


Let's be clear, there is nothing fine about pollen. At least to those of us with breathing issues and allergies.


Nothing.


Not one thing.

Well, pollen is necessary for honey. It also is a byproduct of beautiful flowers, grass, and trees.


Okay, I choose to concede just a smidge. But, no more!


I ask myself several times a day during pollen season, "Why me!?!?!?"


Seriously, what I really ask is, why am I so sensitive to pollen. My eyes itch and burn, my nose is like a broken faucet that won't turn off, and I sneeze. A lot!


Mostly, I have trouble breathing.


Turns out that COPD and pollen don't make nice with each other.


So again, why am I so sensitive to pollen?

I went digging and came up with this: "Allergies can often be blamed on mom and dad. The tendency to become allergic is inherited, and the chances that you also will be allergic increase from about 50 percent when one parent is allergic to 75 to 80 percent when both parents have allergies." (Note 1)


Yep, that explains a lot. Do you fit in that same category?


By the way, allergens can be broken down into four categories, one of which is (of course!) pollen. The four are: grass, pollen, dust mites, and mold. (Note 1)


Suffering from one category doesn't necessarily mean you will suffer from all four. I, however, can confirm that I will react to all four.


Further, I can confirm I will not be happy about it. Achoo!


"If there's nothing particularly heinous about pollen besides its prevalence, why do we develop allergies in the first place? The way it works is this: Allergies set in when your immune system misjudges a harmless protein, interpreting it as a threat. Once your system has gotten the wrong impression about a cat hair or pollen grain, there's no changing its "mind" — you're stuck with the allergy, often for the rest of your life." (Note 2)


Wow, ain't that great news? Achoo, achoo! Bring on the Benadryl.


Let me throw something out here. Everything I have read, so far, is spot on about the affect of the allergens and what happens when combined with COPD.


Now, let me throw a wrench in their for the scientific community feedback:


"It's entirely plausible that when the body is mounting a big immune response to a virus, that you're going to trigger an allergic response to something you're exposed to at the same time," Waserman said. "But we don't know definitely." (Note 2 again).


No one has asked yet just how many variations of pollen there. Well, maybe you have and I just didn't get the memo.


Anyway, just so you know, the official answer is, there are hundreds of them. Hundreds! (Note 3)


What are some of the ways to fight pollen and or lessen its ability to make you miserable?


- staying indoors on dry, windy days

- having others take care of any gardening or yard work during peak seasons

- wearing a dust mask when pollen counts are high (check the internet or the - weather section of the local newspaper)

- closing doors and windows when pollen counts are high


Uh, about the dust mask? Thanks, but no thanks. Had more than enough of wearing masks for the rest of this life, thank you.


There are shots available, medications, home remedies and more on the markets.


In my humble opinion, the only way to know if they work is to give them a shot.


Absolutely, no pun intended there.


However, if they aren't working or causing other reactions, put them down and walk away and for goodness sake, try something else!


People who have never been blessed enough to live in the south have no idea what a true gift pollen is.


We are blessed to live in an area with a longer than normal pollen season for other parts of the country.


Don't you feel special now?


We don't mind, right?


We southerners are a special breed capable of handling the challenge. Achoo!


But, we are also willing to share the wealth. Check out this Top 10 List of the most challenging places for allergy sufferers to live:


  1. McAllen, Texas

  2. Louisville, Kentucky

  3. Jackson, Mississippi

  4. Memphis, Tennessee

  5. San Antonio, Texas

  6. Providence, Rhode Island

  7. Dayton, Ohio

  8. Syracuse, New York

  9. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

  10. Knoxville, Tennessee (Note 4)

There are so many other benefits that come with pollen season.

Let's see, for two to three months, you will be driving a yellow vehicle.


Somehow, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, all of your food will have a slight yellow tint.


When you wash your clothes, the wash water will appear to be yellow.


After a rain, there will be yellow circles in spot in the yard and on the concrete driveway.


Your hands will have an almost non-stop gritty feel.


When you sneeze, the Kleenex will have a yellow blob in it. (You don't have to thank me for that mental visual. It is merely a bonus for reading this.)


What are lessons I have learned about surviving pollen season that offers far more in the way of surviving the challenges than covid-19 does?


Listen to your body. If you need to just stop and breathe, do that.


If you need to sleep sitting up, do that.


If you need to sleep with your head on a higher pillow than usual, do that.


If you need to bang on your chest to break up mucus, do that.


If you need to cough crap out of your lungs and chest, don't try to stop it. Go with it. That's how your body is doing its best to keep you alive.


If you have to stop three times to catch your breath on the way to the bathroom, get an early start so you can stop when necessary.


Stay indoors. Unless you are in a "pandemic" and in danger of committing murder. Then get out. Get in the car, windows up and a/c on and just relax, drive, and breathe.


If there are foods you like that can influence mucus production, like say, hot chocolate, avoid them.


If there are anxiety issues or panic attacks, do everything in your power to learn to control them. Learn to control triggers for COPD, allergies, and panic attacks.


That is the absolute best thing you can do for yourself and your continued survival.


That and to pray for rain. Lots of rain.


Well, hope that helps someone out there. It is an ongoing and never ending learning cycle.


It's all about survival.


So, what's your favorite color?

PLEASE tell me it is not yellow!!












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