Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Fall...an Allergy Tale

Ahhh  Autumn...the most beautiful season of the year....the crisp weather, the lovely colors, soups and stews, Halloween, extra blankets on the beds, weather that alternates between glorious sunshine and quiet rain, back to school, apple season, big mugs of hot tea, watching my husband and kids go a bit nuts, Thanksgiving, layers, that fine place between air conditioning and the heater....so many things to love!

I would go so far as to say that fall is THE perfect season!


Autumn doesn't love me.

Sigh.  That's not a fair way to put it.

The fact of the matter is that for this complicated, allergy-prone body, fall is THE peak allergy season, and so everything is just tougher for me from mid-August until the we've had a couple of hard frosts.  My heart, mind and soul love this season...but there is a major disconnect with my body.

Why is autumn so tough?  Well...although it is true that spring is a big, bad for allergy sufferers (pollen, pollen everywhere!!!), there are a couple of factors that make the fall more difficult for some of us.  Those include some nasty plants (hello ragweed!!!) that wreak havoc at this time of year, lots of mold created by fall rains, the dust thrown into the air by the harvest, and the decay of leaves on the ground.

Allergies are a load issue.  The more you are dealing with, the worse it is.  You can improve things by taking steps to lower the amount of allergens you are exposed to.  Primarily, this is accomplished by:
- eliminating offensive foods from your diet
- using immunotherapy drops
- keeping your environment clean
- keeping the windows shut during peak seasons
- avoiding, when at possible, your allergens
- make sure to understand what foods are cross-reactive, so that you can avoid them during peak allergy times
- using a saline wash to clean out your nose

The problem is that in the case of inhalant allergies, there's no way to completely protect yourself, and when Mother Nature is providing a veritable smorgasbord of allergens which assault you on a near daily basis...well, that's when life gets tough.

Which would explain why:
- it's more difficult for me to resist toxic foods at certain times of the year
- I have trouble in the fall with some emotional stuff
- my introverted nature really asserts itself in the fall
- I tend to be cranky a lot at this time of year
- even on my drops I still need to use some OTC meds to control symptoms
- I'm blasted tired all of the time

So, things tend to go sideways for me in the fall, which totally stinks because I would really love to be able to enjoy it to the fullest.  

The good news is that despite my fall challenges I'm in a much better place this year than I've been in the past, thanks in large part to the work I've put into improving my health over the last four-five months.  Yes, it's been frustrating because just about the time I would have expected to start seeing major results from all of my efforts I instead find myself struggling to get through each day.  Forward movement has ground to a halt, and things that I thought I had moved past - such as food cravings - have come roaring back with a force.

Yep, frustrating is a good word to describe where I've been for the past couple of months.

And yet...I would be remiss if I didn't point out the good.  Fatigue and a low emotional state are tough, but they are miles better than the month plus of severe bronchitis I used to fight (pre allergy drops) at this point every year.  I may not have been able to maintain a perfect diet through this (and my allergist assures me this isn't all my fault) but my cheats have been mostly contained to just a few things which are lower on the impact scale for me.  None of them have lead to the sort of massive nosedive off of the cliff they once would have led to, and as a result my weight has remained stable.  I've kept on running, and I am able to enjoy tap class.  I've mostly been able to protect the quality of my sleep.  I've been faithful to the few supplements that I KNOW help me out.

Mostly, I'm being kind to myself.  I don't expect perfection because I know it's just not possible right now, and I don't beat myself up for doing what I have to do to get through the day...even if what I have to do is to eat some chocolate.  

I did have an appointment with my allergist a few weeks ago, and she was VERY pleased with how well I've been doing lately.  In fact, despite my current challenges it was the best allergy appointment that I've had in years.  Things are starting to come together, and that needs to be celebrated.

At the same time, I do need to learn to honor and accept the cycles that my body will follow each and every year for the rest of my life. Fall will always be both the best of the year and the worst of the year.  I'm working to accept that..and maybe, just maybe, this year that's getting a little bit easier.

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