Cats On A Plane

My flight this morning featured multiple dogs and cats, including this furry feline on the aisle seat in my row. The cat, which apparently as been dosed with “kitty relaxant” for the flight, did not misbehave or make much noise, either. but that wasn’t the issue.

I’m fine with animals on planes, within reason, but given how increasingly common they are I think airlines should change their procedures to account for the fact that some of us (like me) are allergic to cat fur. Why not add some questions to the ticketing process about (1) whether a traveler will be accompanied by a cat or dog and (2) whether a traveler is allergic to cats or dogs or would otherwise prefer not to sit next to one? And then, based on the answers, separate those people? Should there even be an “animal section,” like there were smoking sections on planes years ago, to accommodate people traveling with pets?

Airlines collect a lot of information about passengers already. It’s ridiculous that they don’t know in advance who is traveling with a pet, and who might be launched into a drippy, sneezy, coughing frenzy if they are seated next to one. It would be a lot more comfortable for everyone and seems like a common sense way to address the matter.

Dealing With The Wonders Of Phlegm

I’ve just recently come out of my bad autumn allergy period, which means my runny nose and intermittent coughing have finally stopped, my head isn’t congested any more, and I sound like a normal person again.

Oh, and I’ve stopped producing phlegm wads, thank you very much.

large_6667d0ec-6086-4e4b-80fe-2f6603e60c8fOf course, phlegm and mucus are crucial parts of the body’s defensive mechanisms.  Through millions of years of evolution and natural selection, they were developed to protect the mouth, throat, lungs, and the rest of the human respiratory system by attracting and trapping the materials to which you are allergic.  You then expel the bad stuff by coughing up the little globs.  In my case, they eventually worked, because the allergic reactions have ended.  Having to endure the crawly river of mucus down the back of your throat and the phlegm clods in your mouth when allergy season hits is just the price we pay for keeping a healthy body healthy.  Still, it’s disgusting and irritating, and when you’re in the midst of it you can’t brush your teeth enough to get rid of that peculiarly salty phlegm wad taste.

This year, I tried to be proactive about the phlegminization period, which meant turning to the internet to see what the various “health care websites” have to say about dealing with it.  Of course, they’ve all got tips about what to eat and what to do, from gargling salt water, to consuming foods with lemon, ginger, garlic, and ginseng, to guzzling guava tea and downing zinc.  As I read, I wondered whether all of these “health care websites” are regulated in any way and whether they actually have any scientific basis for their instructions and tips — as opposed to trying to convince you to try a product or advance some other agenda.  After all, when you do a normal open-ended internet search you’re just calling up random websites that do something to get listing priority so they end up on the first page of results.  So I decided that, rather than going to the store, buying raw ginger root and other ingredients, and trying to prepare the concoction that one website said would help moderate the phlegm flow, I would just endure.  Notwithstanding my allergy, I was clear-headed enough to reach that conclusion.

Ode To My Allergies

The spring allergies hit like a freight train over the weekend, leaving me a drippy, sodden mess.  Their arrival is inevitable, but always quixotically unpredictable.  This year, my allergies came earlier than ever.  I never know why they are timed as they are, or whether the unpredictability is just part of their devilish game to inflict maximum disruption and physical malaise.

When the allergies come, there’s nothing you can do but suffer through — that, and compose some really bad verse:

Ode To My Allergies

Oh, allergies!  My allergies!  Oh crap!  You’ve come again!

Now I’m sniffling and sneezing, with sinuses adrain!

Oh, allergies!  My allergies!  You leave my head befogged

And my ears and nasal passages feeling heavily clogged.

Oh, allergies!  My allergies!  My wallet you also vex,

’cause thanks to you I now must buy 10 boxes of Kleenex!

Oh, allergies!  My allergies!  You literally are a pill.

Each year when you arrive I gobble lots of Benadryl.

Oh, allergies!  My allergies!  You ruin a day or two,

but I’d rather deal with congestion than a bad case of the flu.

Bruised And Battered By Machine Gun Sneezes

Today I’m feeling bruised and battered, like I’ve gone 12 rounds with Joe Frazier and he’s been working on the body the whole time.  My allergies are to blame.

IMG_2221I never know what mold, fungus, dust, or mite has acted as the trigger, but the symptoms are unmistakable.  My respiratory system kicks into overdrive and suddenly begins producing mucus as it has never produced it before.  A disgusting flood of phlegm cascades sluggishly down the back of my throat like the River Styx.  I cough repeatedly in response to the irritation.  And, worst of all, my body is wracked by explosive, insuppressible sneezes that follow immediately, one after the other, like bullets from a machine gun clip.

These sneezes aren’t the gentle ejections of air you typically see in Kleenex commercials, either.  No, they are violent, full-bodied actions that involve every fiber of my being.  They radiate down to the core of the torso, cause the abdominal muscles to spasm and clench, rattle past the rib cage, and jostle the organs.  Cruel personal trainers would love to be able to replicate similar muscular activity.

I might experience as many as 10 of these eruptions in a row, and there is nothing to be done about it.  All you can aim for is riding it out and hoping that the next morning, when you awaken feeling sore and beat up, you’re done with the terrible sneezing.