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Gill has been complaining for over a week about the dreadful cold she has. I tried to be sympathetic, but really, when you live in a damp, cool climate where anything that stands still for more than half an hour (including your feet) grows mold, that’s what you get.

But it seems she may have misdiagnosed herself. Just because she is entitled to call herself ‘Dr.’ Best doesn’t mean should take the title too literally. And yet, she did. No surprise there. It appears she actually has not a cold but seasonal allergies. She has lived in the UK long enough to become sensitive to the local vegetation. Regular readers will recall that most of the family has allergies — to food, certain meds, pollen, stupid people, ridiculous rules made by stupid people, pet dander, grass, politicians. You name it, it makes us sneeze, drip, or break out in rashes. (Interesting scientific observation:  rashes help effectively deter the advances of politicians nervous about contracting some harmful condition –perhaps honesty??– from their public.)

Gill received shots for the worst seasonal offenders (excluding politicians) when she was young. So it’s not exactly breaking news here that allergies have recently brought her to her knees.

What IS new and different is that The Pig now has allergies. That’s correct — we have spread our sensibilities to our pets. It could be an extra ploy for sympathy, but it is convincing. She has been sneezing and scratching herself by rolling on the carpets. Her snoring and assorted phlegmy ruminations have become more pronounced than usual. We discovered, during her recent visit to the vet, that her paws are red and inflamed. No wonder since she loves to run through fields of weeds and wildflowers, arriving at the end of her run with golden-coloured legs from dandelion and buttercup pollen. So now, she joins the family lineup at breakfast for her two Benadryl tablets. Since she sleeps with L’il Sis, she has the relief of the vaporizer at night and, with air con season upon us, cool air free of wafting pollen. Which brings me to the thought that, for the moment, The Pig is receiving better care than Gill. You see, Gill? You move, you lose. The Pig has now taken over your room and the title of ‘Most Delicate Flower’ in the family.

Most of us go out of our way to avoid allergens. Not, as previously mentioned, The Pig or, it seems, Crazy D. He just returned from a weekend camping/biking adventure that saw him in mosquito and wasp-filled forests, fields and bogs, and his most recent nemesis, sandy beaches. His skin is still itchy and rashy from the sand that managed to get into every body crevice and every piece of clothing he had.

Having said that, however, I am having a flashback to our days in California when the kids were small. Gill was always the beach bum, eager to visit the beach and frolic in sand and surf whenever possible. Crazy D, however, was That Kid on the beach — the one dressed in a wool coat, matching wool hat with ear flaps  (a hand-me-down from his cousin in England) and cowboy boots to keep his feet away from the water. Despite all of his good outfit planning, he still ended up soaked and covered in sand since the Pacific waves managed to crash onshore and fill up his boots. The expression of horror and disbelief as the boots filled to capacity was classic. This assault by nature is a battle with which he struggles to this day during his bike rides. More often than not, he comes home soaked to the skin, covered in bog mud, with swollen red bite marks all over — no matter what careful preparation he has taken. Clearly he and The Pig are woven of the same cloth.

And, as much as Gill tries to avoid certain trees laden with irritating pollen, she is doomed since she insists on walking to work on a route bordered by them. She is, however, somewhere between a rock and a hard place. Unlike The Pig and Crazy D, she has little choice in avoiding the nature that is trying to kill her. She has to walk to limber up her arthritic joints so she can make it through the day. So she sneezes and snorts through work. A choice between being able to move or breathe freely. Crippled or gasping for breath. Not a decision best left to the weak and infirm suffering through an allergic fog.

 

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