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Thursday, September 8, 2016

the definitive last word on living through a ragweed tsunami

So SW MO totally beat out Iowa in the ragweed competition yesterday.


And I know this because I looked ours up.


And then I went on to look through the entire count history and discovered this is the first time we've ever gotten an official above 300s number.

So I think we win the prize and everyone should be getting free zyrtec and "I survived Ragweednado 2016" shirts or something. But while I see tweets to news links about 'extreme bloom' in other parts of the country (bless their hearts, still in 300s), complete with pix, what do we get? A BLURB at the very bottom of a weather page. That's right, one sentence- "Allergy sufferers today is a horrible day as the ragweed count is over 500 and considered very high!"

That exclamation point says it all. See, in the Ozarks, nothing surprises us. A body was recovered from a conservation area recently, guy in his 80s, could've been someone that someone I know knows, and first thought among us is 'families with kids could have been camping around there over Labor Day weekend, imagine stumbling across the rotting body in this heat', well, wasn't exactly said like that but you guys know I'm a Syfy fan. Anyway, if this isn't proof that ragweed kills, I don't know what is.

So I've totally got this song in my head.


Wait, this just in. I found a local meteorologist's facebook page sharing 'very high' 'weed count' without sourcing, so you can see we really don't make a big deal about it in a national news kind of way.


I thought about searching 'highest ragweed count for september 2016', which is pretty specific, but it so quickly got bombed with everything pollen (did I even mention pollen, guys), spring moaning and groaning (that's why I spelled september, doi), and years past news flashes about most miserable (omg does typing 2016 even count), so I just shut the search page and dropped it. Apparently no one out there besides Springfield MO and an Iowa twitter account publish actual ragweed pollen counts, and my area was really easy to find. Those of you still thinking you lived through a "pollen tsunami" or something similar in the past, y'all wouldn't survive the Ozarks. Just saying.

Aspienado obsession achievement unlocked and it's just now 5 a.m. I should probably get some coffee.

And this is me with coffee. I did a 'ragweed count over 500' search. I'm getting more pertinent info now, like this allergen count level of symptoms chart guide from a TV station in Utah.


And this chart from Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, click for more details about the daily pollen count.


Notice that 'very high' for ragweed STOPS at 500 on this chart. People, southwest MO is officially past 'very high', and you don't hear us calling this a pollen tsunami. I wish, though, that they'd say we've gone to plaid. (Look that up.) (Yes, click it!) (That page alone will tell you so much about aspienado's mind palace in easy speak.)


I'm going to add some vital info to the 'pollen is the highest in the morning' thing. When you live in a high humidity area, like 80% (which sucks enough on its own), the pollen doesn't settle, it hangs in the air all day long, collecting on everything that goes through the air. You can't see it, but you come home so saturated with it that you drag it all over your house. If you wake up sneezing and think you're allergic to dust mites and it's raging ragweed outside, you're dumb. If you are absolutely miserable, here are a few things you can do to make your home a haven from the evil outdoors.

Get a HEPA. Get 2 or 3. I have two in my house, one in the livingroom, one in my bedroom.

Change your duct, AC, furnace and whatever filters to the most super fine you can find. Yes, they're expensive, but so is going to the doctor for the crud during allergy season.

TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF as soon as you get into the house. Your shoes track more pollen in than anything you can imagine. All shoes.

Strip at the door if you've been doing yard work (extra points if your washing machine is right by the door), or strip next to a clothing hamper if you've been out of the house around town for several hours. Do this stripping within the first minute of entering your house and do NOT sit on the couch first. You will be surprised how much this single act lowers your amount of misery in your home.

Everything else from there is common sense- don't hang your wash outside on humid high pollen days. If you don't have a dryer, use racks and hangers around the house. I did this for a few years, it really does help. Don't open windows during humid high pollen days. If you need to freshen the house, open a few windows to 1/2 inch slits through the afternoons and don't forget to close them before nightfall.

Ragweed season makes snoring and sleep apnea a million times worse, so it's vital to stay on regular antihistamines and keep hydrating. Sleep disturbances that interrupt breathing are dangerous and deteriorate health over time.

If you have pets that go outside regularly, you're screwed. Embrace your thug life and stop whining about it. That's all I have to say about pets. Ok, I'll say more about pets. I choose not to have pets for actual health reasons. I'm not against pets. I grew up with lots of pets. Keep in mind, though, that pets can have a very big impact on the control you have over your health, and that breathing is your body's number one priority. If you are having difficulty breathing, use inhalers, are on oxygen, etc, you need to go the extra steps keeping your pets brushed (even vacuumed) daily, or at least do a quick wipe down over their fur with a damp cloth when they come back in the house. You can't see it, but that wet cloth will pick up most of the pollen coming in, then just toss it into the washer for the next load. Believe me, that will help a LOT. By the way, don't save and reuse a damp cloth (or towel for big pets), it's kind of like spreading stuff from the cloth (which dries out and poofs dust) back onto the pet. It's not that big a deal to wash a bunch of cloths after one time use. You spend way more money on pet supplies than you do on laundry soap and water, and you're washing stuff anyway.

And if you're still really miserable, like I was one really super bad year to the point of salivary gland infections (those suck so bad) and one nasty ear infection after another, not to mention the sinus infections and bronchitis, you can make a plan to prioritize your spending and 1- shampoo your carpeting, and 2- buy a new couch that is NOT cloth covered. Seems expensive, but then so is moving to another state to breathe easier, which people have been known to do. I will totally vouch for throwing out an old couch working as well as anything I've ever done. Also doesn't hurt to change out your pillows and maybe even an old mattress.

If you are one of the unlucky miserable ragweed sufferers, now is the time to start planning for next year. Get your goals in order, make a plan, and execute step by step. This really works. I was on daily inhaled steroid through most of 2010. I barely touch an inhaler nowadays.

Good luck.

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