Surviving Itchy & Scratchy Season

ALLER_sneeze2I have allergies all year long but it gets exponentially worse in the spring when all the flowers decide they want my face to explode and decide to bloom. I can look forward to several months of a runny, stuffy nose along with the occasional swollen eyes, hives and never ending sneezing fits.

But things got a little better a few years back when I found an allergist that did more than recommend years of allergy shots that cost thousands and may not even work. It’s hard to get an appointment with her but I’m going to share a few of her secrets.

She’s so good, I call her my allergy whisperer. Frankly, if you Googled something like “I want to rip off my nose and set my sinuses on fire” to get here, you should really talk to your doctor.

But not all doctors can be called the “allergy whisperer” and many overlook some pretty easy (non-prescription) solutions that changed my life especially during those awful spring months.

My main allergies are pollen, grass, dust mites and ragweed and here’s what works for me:

ALLER_hepa1. HEPA Air Filter
The whisperer tells me these things have to be loud to work. I got mine at Canadian Tire for $99 and it works magic for my whole room. You can also get it online from Home Depot. Just leave it on all day and night, change the pre-filter every three months and be amazed at the amount of dust it traps.

2. Dust mite proof pillow cases
Buy the ones that feel more like paper than plastic — they don’t get as hot. I get the AllerEase ones at Walmart. Wash in hot water once a week along with your sheets. They’re also easy to pack for trips.

ALLER_neti3. Neti Pot
I neti pot twice a day, every day. Lots of people tell me that neti pots are for crazy hippies and rinsing out my sinuses is disgusting. But it’s way grosser to be blowing your nose thirty times over a dinner date. Plus what I legally put up my nose is my prerogative.

4. Take Reactine at night
Apparently, allergies get worse at night. I take a Reactine before I go to bed and I’m usually good until the next night. There’s no point in waiting until you feel like death to pop a pill — you’ll be suffering until long after.

Oh and I have an arsenal of prescription meds I take when things get bad. But preventing it from getting that bad has helped a lot.

Good luck my little snifflers.

Artistic dandelion photos make me feel itchy.

Artistic dandelion photos make me feel itchy just looking at them.

Photo credit:

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Losing your language, learning another

newnamesThere were so many great quotes I wanted to pull from NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names.

Darling is a little girl growing up in Zimbabwe. She steals guavas with her friends. They play games like “Find bin Laden” and speak like unconventional poets. In one conversation, they contemplate looking for Jesus instead of bin Laden because it seems like a bigger prize.

But Darling has an aunt in America whom she hopes to join. This aunt lives in what she refers to as “Destroyedmichygen.” There are so many small moments of genius in this novel, it was hard to pick the ones I wanted to share. I would probably end up publishing the whole book on this blog.

time_magDarling makes her way to America eventually and what she finds there isn’t the paradise she expects. There’s so much food but she’s hungry to go home. We Need New Names attempts to answer that age-old question for immigrant communities — where exactly is home? Bulawayo reminds us that it’s not so easy when home doesn’t exist as you remember it.

“We ate like pigs, like wolves, like dignitaries; we ate like vultures, like stray dogs, like monsters; we ate like kings. We ate for all our past hunger, for our parents and brothers and sisters and relatives and friends who were still back there. We uttered their names between mouthfuls, conjured up their hungry faces, chapped lips — eating for those who could not be with us to eat for themselves. And when we were full we carried our dense bodies with the dignity of elephants — if only our country could see us in America, see us eat like kings in a land that was not ours.”



Troy, the younger years

song_of_achillesI’ve put off reading Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles for far too long. As punishment from the gods, I couldn’t put it down and when I finished it, I fell into a week long sorrow of fasting and sobbing. Well, maybe not fasting. It’s so much easier to eat your feelings then starve them, am I right?

The Song of Achilles is a retelling of The Illiad and all that comes with it. The Greek gods with all their fury, glory and honour. And man love. For those of you who are more familiar with the Brad Pitt version of Troy (cue drooling):

You’ll remember that Achilles (played by Pitt) has a cousin named Patroclus. In the original tale, the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus is central to the story. They are best of friends and very much in love. Miller’s beautiful retelling goes back to the days of their youth of frolicking in the ocean and cuddling in the centaur’s cave. She traces the story into the fights on the front lines.

The Song of Achilles speaks the language of lovers. Told from the perspective of Patroclus, there are long passages of his admiring of Achilles’ demi-god features. His beautiful bronze skin, his thunder thighs, his amazing pectorals. This is just my interpretation of Miller’s much used “this, this and this”. We get it, Patroclus, Achilles is beautiful.

But alas, Achilles and Patroclus must die. And it’s so much sadder when you’ve grown up with them.

A whole week off


I took the last week off work to regroup, reset and restart this blog! To my dismay, it hasn’t been a quiet week at all but I feel extremely productive. Here’s my week in review:

Saturday, Sunday, Monday – Studied for my Canadian Securities Course. Yoga X 2. Checked work email even though I promised myself I wouldn’t.

Tuesday – Passed the second exam for my Canadian Securities Course (YAY!). Finally tracked down Soup Nutsy in the downtown PATH system. Attended the cardio pump class at my yoga studio.


Wednesday – Doctor’s appointment. Volunteered at the Pan Am Volunteer Recruitment Centre. Ran into Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Michael Coteau, MPP Don Valley East, during a Pan Am medal unveiling ceremony. Counted sharks at Ripley’s Aquarium with bf. Ate pies at McDonald’s until 1 a.m. because I felt too tired to sleep and quads still hurt from damn cardio class.


Thursday – Brunch and shopping with my mom! Grabbed some much needed make-up refills.

Friday – Yoga with one of my fav instructors. He only teaches Friday mornings now so I can almost never take his class.

Saturday – More volunteering with Pan Am. Saw the contemporary opera Written on Skin performed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the magnificent Barbara Hannigan at Roy Thompson Hall. Discovered the best Italian cream puff things ever at Forno Cultura (I think they are called zeppole). Bought books at TYPE bookstore.

Sunday – Volunteer leadership training for Pan Am games. Met football coach Pinball Clemons! Seems like the nicest guy ever. Laundry X 2. Wrote this blog post.

More details later!