Allergic To My Own Face

Some of you may be aware that I am directing a show this June. It is Noel Coward’s Hay Fever. Well, this post is nothing to do with that.

No, tiny darlings, I merely bring this up because (ahem, chuckle) it’s rather apt that all my attention is focused on Hay Fever because actual hay fever (ho ho!) is literally killing me it’s killing me I’m going to die from it in the next eight minutes this is not a joke or a witty little anecdote or pun SEND HELP.

A new strain of super pollen has taken over the clouds and rains bloody murder upon me every day.

I am a sea of nasal fluid, sneezing every eight minutes. Mascara stains my cheeks as my eyes weep. I cough, I itch, and I can’t move for the massive piles of used tissues and empty pill boxes surrounding me – I look like I’m committing horny suicide.

Some of you may scoff while sniffing a massive bouquet of red roses, and mutter that hay fever is hardly a serious problem. I agree with you, I do; it is something for me to quietly deal with, dignified and discreet.

The trouble is that the rest of you won’t let me.
Those of you who work in an office will know that certain people have a morbid fear of other people sneezing more than once, and by God are they going to let you know about it.

Whether you trumpet like a bull elephant, or swallow tiny fairy-like emissions, sneeze twice in a row and someone is going to hit the frigging roof.  It usually goes thusly:
Sneeze 1: “Bless you!”

Sneeze 2: “Wooooooohohohohohohohoho! Woah! Wow, goodness me, sneezing a lot aren’t we! Do you have a cold? My my!”

Sneeze 3: (Person screams for ten minutes straight, and everyone else starts crying)

The bitter truth is that I know hay fever cannot be entirely to blame. Sneezing is a year round experience for me, and pollen season just makes it more virile. I have tried desperately to isolate the cause of it, cutting out certain food and drink over the years. But remove one aggravator and another pops up in its place. My nose should be used to measure dust levels in episodes of How Clean Is Your House.

Here is the list of things that apparently set me off:
  • Cats/animals (I own two cats but have built up immunity to mine)
  • Dust
  • Flowers
  • The poor
  • Pollen (FYI farmers, YOU’RE KILLING ME)
  • White wine (sometimes)
  • The early hours of the morning
  • Consciousness

And the drugs don’t work. On the shelf remedies may as well be packaged air, and the only thing that touches the sides is Actifed. Not quite prescription but powerful enough to be hidden behind the chemist counter, it leaves me wonderfully sneeze-free. This does little good, however, when I’m passed out on my desk or driving round and round a roundabout in an anti-histamine induced stupor.

This is where I grew up – I never had a chance

I tried going to a doctor about it once but I may as well have begged a seagull for help. “People have allergies,” he barked. “You can’t treat EVERY possible allergy, you could be allergic to anything, what do you want me to do about it? Do you have pets? Get rid of your pets!!! Put them down!

And then there are the chemists. Ohhhhhhhhhhh the chemists.

Well, not the actual chemists, who have qualifications and training. I mean the assistants who guard the till, pretending to be proper doctors when they merely lies in white coats. They act like extras from the Wizard of Oz, crying out “no one gets to see the chemist!”, but hitch their skirts and run wailing in horror to back of the shop should you ask them anything vaguely drug related. The sort of people who are mute when you ask about cough syrup but have no problem speaking at the top of their voice when pointing out where the cystitis treatments are. 

No matter what you ask of them, you never end up with what you really want. So desperate am I for a cure that I recently spend a full £20 on new products from my nearest chemist – a nasal spray and a sea-water solution. Fellow allergy sufferers have recommended nasal sprays to me, but did I buy those ones? Noooooooooooooo. No, I was conned into buying the shop’s NEW nasal spray.

A spray that’s a powder.


Imagine chucking eucalyptus scented talcum powder up your nose and you’ll have an idea of how that afternoon went for me. Two applications and I resembled Uma Thurman overdosing in Pulp Fiction.*

The seawater spray was recommended by my aunt who is probably reading this and with whom I will have words. The salty goodness is supposed to clear nasal passages, relieving the symptoms associated with hay fever and allergies.

I open the bottle, and fired a jet of salt water into one nostril. It was less than pleasant. What’s more, you aren’t supposed snort and swallow the water so with no reasonable way of keep it in your head…you sort of stand there, craning and jiggling your head into strange positions in an effort to rinse out your nose.

That’s what I did for five minutes. I stood in my living room, voluntarily pumping salty, seaweedy, fish-bath water into my knackered nostrils. Why didn’t I just hurtle down to Whitstable and plunge face first into the sea, and rub oysters in my ears? Why didn’t I do that?

Treatment completed, I found it to be oddly reminiscent of my childhood trips to the seaside – I got all excited, snorted a load of seawater and spent the rest of the day crying.

Tiny darlings – please. PLEASE help me. I cannot live like this any more.

What do you swear by to ward of the sneezes? Natural remedies? Hard drugs? Diet changes? Pagan dancing?

Tell me and I will give you gold.

*I swear on my many Gods, I just tried the ‘spray’ again while I typing this very blog to make sure I wasn’t being overly harsh. I am sneezing twice as much as before in an effort to get the devilry out of my nose.
Despite what I said earlier, this does seem as good a time as any to tease my directorial debut.
Fear not, I shall tell all in more detail soon. 
But why not book tickets in the meantime? 

Follow me on Twitter for updates and utter despair as to why I’m doing this

One thought on “Allergic To My Own Face

  1. Haha, I recognise the above so well. In fact I did a post a few weeks ago with my tips for surviving. Short of living in a bubble, I found that fexafenadine worked better than cetirizine or loratadine for me and Prevalin (a nasal spray that has a weirdly minty taste) seemed to help, along with eye drops, beconase and regular depollinating showers of course.


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