Yesterday, my husband and I went into our backyard to pick up a bunch of lemons that our tree dropped. It’s been raining quite a bit, and this particular lemon tree is unnaturally abundant.
Ideally, we should have been picking up the lemons more often. But, its been raining a lot, and we didn’t, so several of them got moldy. Even so, there were a surprising amount of good lemons out there. We kept some for ourselves, gave some to the neighbors, and put the rest on a “free table”.
I’m allergic to mold. I remember telling my acupuncturist that I wanted to rip all the green out of the yard before the spring pollen season started. She warned me not to do that, or, if I must, to do it with a mask on (like, a painter’s mask, or the masks the doctor’s office gives you if you come in with a sinus infection.)
But, I was feeling ok at the time my husband and I decided to pick up the lemons (and throw out the bad ones).
Every once in a while, I get delusions of adequacy. I temporarily forget that I’m highly allergic to everything and need to be super damn careful all the time.
All I wanted to do was help pick up the lemons, and save – or distribute – the good ones before the next bout of rain started.
The lemons that were bad had this weird blue colored mold on them. My husband and I threw them into a bucket that we could take to the green barrel that the mobile home park provides. Toss in a bad lemon – and a cloud of powdery blue mold floats into the air.
Right then, I knew I would end up sick from this fifteen to twenty minute “pick up the lemons” attempt. So, I helped finished the job, because stopping now wasn’t going to change anything.
When I got back inside, I washed my hands, changed my clothes, and took half of a Benadryl. My husband juiced the lemons so we could make lemonade.
I remember saying that maybe we should wash the lemons first. But, I didn’t know why I thought that because I was on half a Benadryl. My husband noted that the lemons were good ones, and the outside of the lemon wasn’t going into the juice anyway.
This made sense to me at the time, and we got a lot of lemon juice.
The spent lemons went into the trash, which my husband said he would take out later. I was already on half a Benadryl, hoping it would stifle a bad allergic reaction, and was in no shape to go outside. Also, he was planning to clean our cockatiel’s cage the next day, and the trash bag wasn’t full yet.
The half of a Benadryl knocked me out and I went to bed ridiculously early. When I woke up, it was 5 in the morning.
The reason I woke up was because my eyes were itching. This is not unusual for me, especially after allergen exposure. I got up, took a mild herbal medication that helps prevent itching eyes from becoming incredibly painful, and wrote something for pay. (I am a freelance writer.)
By 9 in the morning, it became clear that the mild herbal medication wasn’t working this time. This is unusual. My eyes were hurting, and watering, and I knew my plan of getting a lot of work done while I was awake wasn’t gonna happen.
So I played a video game, as a distraction, hoping the mild herbal medication would kick in.
When it didn’t, I went to stage 2 – another herbal medication that is stronger than the first one – and that I am supposed to take daily anyway. It always works.
Except, today, it didn’t.
It must have been 10 in the morning by then …. I’m guessing. I was in a hell of a lot of eye pain and both of my eyes were watering. One eye was way worse than the other …. who knows why… this is how things happen to me sometimes.
And I’m trying to figure out what I did to cause this. I took my medications. They didn’t work. I’m already on stage 2 and there’s a whole lot of day left.
Then I remembered that I went outside and got exposed to mold the day before, and whatever amount of mold I breathed in hadn’t quite gotten out of my system yet. So, my body was producing way more histamine than usual.
My husband suggested that maybe it was the trash setting me off. “What’s in the trash?” I asked, holding my hands to my eyes and crying. Lemons. Discarded lemon rinds were in the trash. Lemon rinds that we didn’t wash the potential unseen mold off of before juicing them.
It wasn’t long after that I went to stage 3 – half of a Benadryl. There’s really nothing left after that and I was hoping it would take away my pain, reduce my histamine load, and give me back my day.
I ended up in the bedroom with my air cleaner with the door shut and windows closed in the hopes of reducing further allergen exposure. My husband cleaned the bird cage, and took the trash out.
This did not stop the horrible eye pain/watering eyes/ red eye. One of my eyes was fine. The other was swollen and red and scary looking. It is not unusual for me to wake up with eye pain in either one eye, or the other, or both – those are the really “fun” days – but this was worse than I’ve ever experienced.
I spent most of the day lying in bed, in pain, hoping the damned half a Benadryl would hurry up and fix me already. Hours later, my red swollen eye started becoming slightly less swollen. It also started producing “gunk” that I could wipe away. Removing the “gunk” actually made my eye feel better.
It looked like I had pink eye, but it was just a horrifically bad allergic reaction. If I was a grade school kid, they would have sent me home. That’s how bad it got!
Things finally calmed down enough for me to come out of the bedroom and eat and watch TV around 4 in the afternoon. I wasn’t “cured” – the allergic reaction wasn’t over – I just wasn’t in AS BAD of pain anymore.
My plan for today was to be super productive and get a bunch of writing work done. That didn’t happen.
And this is just one example of why I can’t ever have a “real job”, with set schedules, and a boss that looks down upon you when you have to randomly call in because your body decide to torture you all day in retaliation for making it get exposed to mold because you thought you could be like normal healthy people and pick up lemons the day before.