While many of my family members cavorted in the pool at a rental house in Indio, I sat reading James Boswell’s Boswell in Holland, 1763-1764. I had had a vicious siege of blepharitis that lasted for the better part of a year, so I was not about to subject my eyes to pool chemicals.
As I was eating my sister-in-law’s excellent orzo salad with olives, orange bell peppers, and feta cheese, my niece Hilary’s son Oliver came and sat down next to me. He had matured considerably since the time when, while rough-housing, he kicked me in the head. (Fortunately he was barefoot at the time.) Since that time, I have resolved never to rough-house with children. I could get hurt. Or worse, I can turn into my father and deliver an angry swat.
When my brother proposed I look after three children while their parents went elsewhere, I answered “No effing way!” Some people are not meant to be parents: I am one of that number. But then he knew, and he was only jesting with me.
For a couple months now, I have had a savage attack of blepharitis. My eyelids continue to itch like crazy, inviting me to rub them, while discharging what looks like endless tears. Last night, all night long, I had to wipe the tears from my eyes, which woke me as they ran down my face.
Finally, today I contacted my ophthalmologist, who prescribed eyedrops and a salve that worked well a few weeks ago until they ran out. They should be ready for pickup on Friday or Saturday.
The worst thing about this condition is that I am tempted to drive with only one eye open, which is not great for depth perception. Also, reading becomes a much more tiresome activity. (For me, that’s serious.)
I have no doubt that this condition is somehow connected with climate change. The summers have been growing progressively hotter, and large-scale wildfires have packed the air with various toxins.
In the absence of prescribed medications, the only thing that helps for an hour or two are hot or warm compresses. Over-the-counter preparations like Pataday are not even that good.
I was first made conscious of it in high school. I sneezed a lot, and my scalp was full of flakes. My doctor concluded that I had allergies. Consequently, I was sent to an allergist around Cleveland’s University Circle. He produced a rectangular network of scratches on my arm, each one representing a known allergen. The upshot: I was allergic to cats (that one I already knew), tomatoes, and oats. I did not believe in those last two.
Nevertheless, I was in the doctor’s office every Saturday morning for the next year or so getting a shot to fight my allergies. The results were imperceptible: Every time we visited my uncle’s house, my eyes watered, I sneezed, and my face was essentially an ugly red splotch. My parents rightly decided that this therapy was taking me nowhere.
Then, when I came to Los Angeles, I discovered I had asthma. I suspect that was the result of sleeping on the floor with all the dust mites and other nasty biota. I had a bed, but I liked the idea of sleeping on a firm surface. I still do, but I sleep in bed on an extra-firm mattress instead.
This spring has been a bad time for my allergies. It started with two months of blepharitis, an annoying allergy to the dandruff in my eyelashes?! Then there was the inevitable nose-blowing and lava-flows of thin mucus. My super-power in this time of year? I become Mucus Man. I slime all evil-doers.
To top it all off, I occasionally get a light spell of asthmatic wheezing. Yuck!
No sooner did Martine return to Los Angeles than I broke out into an array of allergic responses. On one hand, I started going into sneezing fits and blowing my nose. More serious was a siege of blepharitis, a condition in which the eyelids feel like inflamed constantly itching parchment. The only thing that works against it is an expensive drug called Avenova, which, for some obscure reason, is not on Blue Cross’s approved drug formulary. I was able to pick up some today, so I am sure that the current infestation will not continue much longer.
Allergies have been one of the banes of my existence. In high school, I had a seborrheic dermatitis that made my scalp look full of snowflakes. Then there were the usual spring and fall respiratory allergies, which I still have to some degree. I am not able to eat shrimp or lobster unless it is caught in near-Arctic waters without getting a reaction that feels like a severe strep throat which lasts for two or three hours.
The worry and stress about Martine has certainly contributed to the intensity of my allergic responses. In time, it will gradually subside. I hope.