I have allergies to some plants and some foods. A lot of people do.
Difference is, down here, everyone does.
Austin is known to doctors as Allergy Central. Local magazines call Austin
"The Big Sneezy." The area, agriculturally, is a transitional zone between
the humid, rainy plains to the east and the almost-desert hill country to
the west. I think it's on the seam from zone 7 to zone 8, with zone 9 only
a few miles away. So we have everything here for folks to be allergic to,
something for everyone.
It takes a year to become allergic to the local plants. Allergists will not
treat you for the first year. They tell you, Wait until you have been here
for at least a year, to see what you become allergic to.
I had the local allergy called Cedar Fever in December, oddly. Never had it
before. This is the fifth winter here and the first time I've felt it at
all. Usually I've just watched others suffer through it. This year, I
can't breathe, my nose runs constantly, I have coughing fits that last for
minutes, you know, the usual stuff.
The last few days were very warm, over seventy degrees. Apparently what
this does is help the plants to make much more pollen than usual. Oh,
goodie. The newscasters take sadistic pleasure in announcing that the
pollen counts are at new record levels.
So I was in the drugstore shopping for some antihistamines. The man
standing next to me was looking for Claritin specifically, the most popular
and most expensive allergy med over the counter. And there isn't any! The
store -- the largest Walgreen's in the area, not some Mom & Pop outfit -- is
out of stock of the most popular allergy drug! Maybe this is an indication
of the severity of the problem. Everybody's on this drug, and no one has a
spare pill for a friend.