“Bless you …”

Each patient carries his own doctor inside him.

Norman Cousins

For the last couple of days, my eyes have been itchy and watery, and I’ve been sneezing. Covid? Nope, hay fever. My perennial visitor around early March. Although this year, it seems to have brought its visit forward by a couple or three weeks.

My allergy is to certain tree pollens, so its effect comes early in the year, and that effect tends to have gone by the end of April. Which tree pollens? I’m not sure. I thought it might be Oak for several years, but I now think it’s more likely to be Ash or Birch.

It wasn’t until I reached the age of eleven that I discovered I had such an allergy. It came as something of a shock as one spring day, on a visit to some woods with my friends, I began sneezing continually with my eyes streaming. I thought I’d contracted some horrible infection. However, my parents soon determined the actual cause once they saw my symptoms.

I had a similar panicked reaction when I discovered I was short-sighted. I cannot use the excuse of being a child as I was around twenty-one years old at the time!

The Forensic Lab where I worked decided to improve their health and safety and mandated the wearing of safety glasses during experiments. As part of this process, everyone then had an eye test. During mine, I realised to my horror that I could not read some of the letters. Any average person would at once think of myopia. Not Harry. Harry’s first reaction was, “I’m going blind”. Fortunately, the optician conducting the examination soon put me right. In fact, he told me my myopia was slight and only in one eye.

I take an antihistamine to counteract the effect of my hay fever. In the past, I’ve relied on Cetirizine. It dampens the symptoms, but they don’t disappear entirely. So, this year I’m giving Loratadine a try as some other hay fever sufferers have recommended that.

I’ve also found as I age, I suffer a little less in any event. My myopia too has benefited from my growing old. Up until my mid-thirties, it worsened each year then stabilised. Over the last fifteen years, my ageing appears to have offered a slow correction to my sight. I still wear glasses to drive but not much else. Of course, that means I now have a regular hunt for where I might have left my specs. Fading memory is another joy of ageing.

Other than these ‘dramas’, I’m fortunate to have suffered little illness in my lifetime. A good thing given my overly dramatic reaction when I discover my physical wellbeing isn’t all it should be.

As a fifteen-year-old, I had a severe case of bronchitis that kept me bedridden for a fortnight, but that’s been about it. I’ve never broken a bone and had only one overnight hospital stay. I’ve been under the knife three times for minor surgery. Twice with anaesthetic and once without. I must say I’d have preferred to have been under on that occasion too.

I’ve suffered some heavy colds now and again, but nothing like real flu. When it comes to the latter, mine is the male variant.

That’s not to say I’ve not had some ‘scrapes’ over the years. My knees aren’t what they were after I damaged them in my late thirties through a combination of an incident while pushing a car (something for another time) and by playing football and cricket. I also don’t have a ‘Cupids Bow’. The slight disfigurement caused when tackled heavily playing street football brought my mouth into painful contact with a kerb that put my lower teeth through my upper lip.

So overall, I really can’t complain. The only depressing thing about hay fever is that doctors recommend that sufferers avoid certain foodstuffs and drinks. And of course, it had to be the exciting stuff like chocolate, beer, wine, and spirits. They all have histamine and therefore worsen your symptoms. I confess I suffer rather than abstain.

Now all I’m worried about is that in writing about my reasonable health, I hope I have not tempted providence!!

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In the Renaissance period of my post-career life …

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Harry Watson

Harry Watson

In the Renaissance period of my post-career life …

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