If you were friends with me, you’d probably say I’m allergic to the world. In fact, almost a year ago when I was going to Paris for three days, I needed to have something that listed everything I was allergic to (peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, etc.) and when I asked my friend to translate it for me she just said “Je suis allergique à tout le monde” (I am allergic to the world). Of course, I do not actually live in a bubble and I’ve made it through life for over 21 years now so I am certainly not allergic to the world. However, I think I’m seriously allergic to fall. When I say “allergic,” I don’t mean fall itself, but many aspects of fall that people have grown to know and love. However, this is also a slightly loose use of the word “allergic,” as I do not always mean “allergy,” but I will explain this as I go on.
First of all, I do have seasonal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis, as a result of pollen (from flowers, grass, and all the trees), mold, dust, and animals. So come autumn, all of the fallen leaves make everything worse for me as that results in the mold spores. I’ve certainly had this all of my life, even though as a child I would play in piles of leaves and my eyes and nose would get itchy and my parents didn’t really think about why.
The next thing I found myself “allergic” to in my life is apples. I put this in quotes because I am not actually allergic, but my body just thinks I am— an anomaly I learned of more recently, called Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). My body only believes I am allergic because the proteins in the apples as they are similar to the tree pollens I am allergic to, so I get itchy wherever the apples touch my skin (or more often, my lips and throat). Luckily, this only applies to uncooked apples (and other fruits and vegetables) so I can still eat them as long as they are cooked (homemade applesauce—yum!).
The newest problem I’m having with fall is eating pumpkins. I have always had a problem with touching the insides of pumpkins—my hands would get all itchy—but eating baked pumpkin seeds was no problem. Whenever I had homemade pumpkin pie, I was actually eating squash pie made by my Nana, so it’s possible I never really ate pumpkin until recently. But then two weekends ago I had a pumpkin pie bagel at Panera and I vaguely remember having a bit of a stomach ache later and not having much of an appetite. At the time, I just thought I wasn’t very hungry. But then this past weekend I had a lot more pumpkin things—pumpkin cheesecake from Olive Garden and pumpkin cake topped with pumpkin mash mixed with Cool Whip—and I had a lingering stomach ache for the entire weekend. Since I was used to my own, fairly simple cooking, I just assumed that this was because I wasn’t used to the multitudes of rich food. But then two days ago I ate my leftover pumpkin cheesecake and after two bites my stomach was churning again. I thought back and pieced all of this together, did some online research, and determined that I may possibly be allergic to pumpkin (luckily not to the point of anaphylactic shock—not yet, anyway). Of course, I’m not a doctor so next time I go to the allergist I will talk with him about this and see what he says. Until then, I may have to avoid the pumpkin cranberry scone mix I bought at Trader Joe’s.
Lastly, the temperature is beginning to get cold. This bothers me not because of allergies, but because of asthma. Because asthma and allergies go hand in hand, they tend to make each other worse. As the cold weather worsens, just walking to class sometimes is a bit of a chore. I handle it, but I know it will only get worse. Luckily, scarves are my friend in times of cold and wind.
Since I’ve been dealing with these problems for all of my life, I am accustomed to handling my asthma and allergies and generally knowing when too much is enough. The key is preventative action, because otherwise, if you take medicine after the symptoms are there you will be chasing them down forever and you’ll never catch up. Oh, and nasal spray is your friend.