Back at the beginning of January I noticed that I would go for a walk and then spend two days fighting to breath even with the allergy treatments I habitually take during heightened allergy periods. I could handle the difficulty breathing, I’ve dealt with allergies all my life and with the limited lung capacity that borderline asthma gifted me with at birth.
Then the two-day migraines started, and that was a deal breaker as far as outside exercise goes. I’ve been walking outside so often over the last few years that I have gotten out of the habit of using the treadmill; aside from which the dog sits on the floor next to the treadmill and glares at me while I walk on it, incensed that I would have the gall to exercise without him. So I’ve been cooling my heels indoors for a bit, avoiding the wrath of the dog. His plaintive looks when we don’t go outside and exercise are hard enough to bear.
I’ve been suspecting that I was becoming allergic to Juniper pollen for several years now. It never has come up as red flag allergy in previous skin tests that I’ve submitted to, but the lungs don’t lie. Juniper/Cedar pollen has been phenomenally high this year (Jan 10, Cedar 2,937 gr/m3) starting right about the time that I started having difficulty breathing and suffering from prolonged migraine headaches.
Austinites know what Cedar Fever is:
McGreevy said early Texas pioneers first called ashe juniper trees “cedar” because of its similarities to Eastern red cedar, but neither tree is truly a cedar tree. “When the Europeans first came here (to the New World) and they encountered our Eastern red cedar, they called it cedar because of its aroma.”kxan.com
So I ordered some N95 masks that I really couldn’t afford to wear regularly and started wearing a mask while walking again just to see if that helped. The migraines did go away eventually, but the breathing hasn’t gotten much better. I need to talk to an allergist again just to see if there is anything else I can do aside from not go outside, but I have little doubt in my mind that it is the Ashe Juniper that is causing my symptoms. Why? Because I did a little impromptu experimentation yesterday.
I had to drive the Wife to get scoped at the hospital. Yes, the dreaded cameras plugged into every orifice routine that we older people seem to have to endure with ever-increasing frequency was her Monday appointment. With Austin still being on high COVID alert, the hospitals swamped, it was an all-day affair for me waiting on her to be done and driven back home. At least I didn’t have to endure the prep and the procedure. Small mercies.
There is an excellent exercise trail that runs next to the hospital so I put on my walking shoes and set out for a 2 mile aimless ramble just to kill some time and get out of the car. As I was admiring the landscape and inspecting the visible architecture I noticed a smell. What was that smell? Like a cleaning solution. Pinesol? I looked up and there was an Ashe Juniper right over my head, dusting the trail with its spores, and I didn’t have my mask on.
I hurriedly slipped on the mask cursing myself for not having thought to put it on previously, but I knew that I would have a result to the question of Cedar Fever or not very soon. Today, with my lungs filled with sandpaper once again I can say emphatically, it’s definitely Cedar Fever.
My chest was congested through the beginning of May. As I found out later in the year, I’m not allergic to any of the pollens that are related to seasonal allergies, not even the dreaded cedar/juniper. Which is a surprise, considering how seasonal all my breathing and vertigo issues are. I’ve had the allergies tested many times by many doctors and it simply isn’t the case that I am allergic to any of the pollens that are known to be produced on a seasonal basis.
My latest allergist has a theory, and I think he may be onto something. He suggests that the elevation of particulate matter that I am breathing simply makes my lungs have to work that much harder, which is why I am hit with allergy-like symptoms on a seasonal basis. The other year-round allergens that I am affected by start the process, and the added particulate makes it more pronounced.
If you are already nauseous before getting on the roller coaster, the chances of you making everyone around you wear what you had for lunch is that much more more likely. Best to not get on the roller coaster in the first place. In my case, it’s best to act proactively and do things like mask up before exposing myself to high particulate air. Which I’ve started doing with limited success.
I started the year 2023 with a bad Winter cold. It wasn’t COVID because we checked. I was sick through all of the Christmas holiday and into the first week of the new year. The cough from the cold simply wouldn’t let up and would lead to headaches by the end of the day for weeks at a time. In desperation I started wearing a mask indoors as well as outdoors in an attempt to keep my lungs from being irritated.
That worked within minutes and I’ve started putting a mask on when the compulsive urge to cough comes on me. It took almost a week for me to realize that we’d started this year’s Cedar Fever season. This chart explains everything:
Cedar is on the rise again after three days of respite. Damn. Time to put the mask back on.