Ever since I moved to middle Tennessee 16 years ago, I’ve had allergies year-round. Itchy, runny nose, sneezing, coughing. It’s worse in the fall and spring, but even at its worst I have always been able to control it by taking Zyrtec on a daily basis.
But since I’ve moved to Chattanooga, every time I’ve been back in the middle Tennessee area I’ve had ridiculous allergy attacks. I come back once a month to spend a couple of days working in my office, and after just a few hours I find myself sneezing, sniffling and my eyes start itching up a storm (which is strange, because itchy eyes have never, ever been a symptom of my allergies until now).
At first, I thought it might be something in the bedroom of my friend’s house where I stay when I’m in town. So one night, I slept on her couch instead of in the guest bedroom. No change. Then last month she was going to be out of town while I was in Nashville, and my in-laws had invited me to stay at their house in Mt. Juliet. It was a great chance to visit with family while conducting an informal experiment on my allergies, too. But after one night at their house, my eyes were killing me and I was sneezing up a storm. So I am obviously not just allergic to my gracious friend’s house, which was a relief.
I’m at a loss, though. The only thing that makes my trips somewhat bearable is taking Benadryl around the clock and using Opcon-A eye drops every couple hours—all on top of my normal Zyrtec every day routine. But even then I’m still sneezing and sniffling and have itchy, red eyes.
I lived in this area for 16 years and have never had allergies this bad. And I’ve spent plenty of time at both my friend’s and my in-laws’ houses. I’ve only lived in Chattanooga for three months, so why am I all of a sudden having these allergy attacks? It’s happened four times now, so it can’t just be a coincidence. This time my nose and eyes started itching as soon as I hit Rutherford County; I noticed it after I stopped at a bakery in Murfreesboro to pick up some cookies on my way to Nashville.
And I guarantee, as soon as I get home to Chattanooga I’ll be back to normal within a few hours.
Can you become allergic to an entire region? It’s not like I’m completely allergy-free in Chattanooga; I still have to take my Zyrtec every day. But I sure as shit don’t spend my days there sneezing and rubbing my eyes. I guess it’s time to hit up an allergist in Chattanooga and figure out what I can do. I come back to Nashville at least once a month, and with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up I’ll be back in town more often. I’m lucky that Benadryl doesn’t put me immediately to sleep anymore, but this situation just isn’t tenable. I can’t take it when I have to drive, and it doesn’t help nearly as well as I would like it to.
I need help.