Dust Bunnies

I’m hoarding dust bunnies. Who knew? I guess I should have, after all, I haven’t seen beneath my sofa or dressers in the almost four years I’ve lived here. But when my husband and I moved the bookshelves out of the study, there they were – tiny little bunnies all snuggled against the wall.

They weren’t very cute.

They make me sneeze, wheeze, and cough at night.

The perfect cure would be to rid our home of carpet. Bunnies love carpet, burrowing down, waiting to attack allergy-sufferers. Bunnies love to tuck deep inside the fibers, hidden amongst pet dander, mold, and even the little pollens that float in from outdoors.

Which makes carpet really, really gross. Here are a few (not-so-fun) facts about carpet:

-An infant can swallow 10 grams of dust a day (by crawling on the floor). Ten grams! Yuk. (home.howstuffworks.com – sourced from Green Guide)

-Dry vacuuming doesn’t pick up dust mites. (Webmd.com) In fact, when using a standard vacuum filter, allergens may escape back into the room. Nice.

According to carpet manufacturers, carpet is not a problem for allergy sufferers. They argue that carpet can be cleaned, and even site a study in which the incidence of allergies went up when carpet was replaced with hardwood floors.

I would love to know more about those claims. For instance, what is the carpet cleaned with? If it’s chemicals, is that better? Doesn’t that affect people with asthma the same, or more, than the mites themselves?

And what about that study? I have a hard time believing those were true hardwood floors. It’s hard to come by real wood anymore. Most of it is manufactured, and filled with all kinds of toxic glues. I wonder what that does to someone with allergy and asthma problems.

I wish I knew the answers to those questions, but I don’t. And honestly, even if I dug really deep, I’m not sure I’d ever get the real facts.

But I do know this, when I am around carpet, I have more problems. I sneeze and cough, get headaches, am stuffed up, and wheeze at night. No one can tell me that carpet isn’t a problem.

I’d love to get hardwood floors. But there are two problems. First, they are expensive. Second, like I said before, it’s hard to find real wood. It is engineered, veneer, plywood, and horrible glues that cause their own set of problems.

So for now, I am stuck with carpet fibers that clutch the dust bunnies. I will sneeze and wheeze until I can figure out how to rid my home of tiny critters.

And maybe I will have to move my furniture more often – before the dust bunnies have a chance to repopulate.

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Allergic to Life

Sometimes I feel like I am allergic to life. If you have allergies, you know what I mean. I’m pretty sure my first allergy arrived when I was a teenager. I sneezed constantly, was sick a lot, and suffered many headaches. But it wasn’t until my early twenties that a doctor would discover my allergy to dust.

Next was dairy, something that occurred after my second child was born. Cheese was hard to give up, but it was nothing compared to the allergies I would have to deal with later in my life.

 

*** Story:

It was spring. My husband and I wandered the aisles of a local garden store, enjoying the pink tulips and yellow daffodils that lined the tables. As my husband stopped to admire a few roses, I wandered to the clearance section at the back of the store.

On one of the shelves, I spotted a pretty metal can labeled “Soft Peach Room Spray.”

Sounds nice, I said to myself. I sprayed a light mist into the air and leaned forward to sniff the mellow scent. Then it hit. I dropped the can and ran to find my husband.

I grabbed his sleeve. “I can’t breathe,” I said.

“What?”

“I can’t get air.” By now, I was gasping. Everything in the room began to spin, my ears were ringing, my palms filled with sweat, and worst of all, my tongue was beginning to swell.

We ran to the car and my husband quickly drove me to the clinic. I was in a panic, and so was he. When we arrived, he found a nurse who immediately brought me to a room. I don’t remember much after that, except receiving a shot and an epi-pen before I was released. I do remember the first real breath that came back, and how I had never been so thankful for air.

***

It was a dramatic moment in my life, one I will never forget. It was also the first of many. It seems my brain injury triggered something in my body, which I guess can happen to brain injury victims. I developed many allergies after that, mostly foods, some of which I discovered on my own, some found during allergy testing.

Allergies are scary. Some are mere nuisances (like the sniffles and headaches I get from dust), or minor inconveniences (like tummy issues from dairy), but then there are those that are life-threatening (like the spray, and for me, cranberries).

It’s those life-threatening ones we worry about. But any type of allergy is a problem. Allergies wreak havoc on our systems. They make us tired and cranky. They cause joint pains, headaches, hives, breathing problems, sneezing, diarrhea, and a host of other problems. They wear on our immune systems and make us more susceptible to other illnesses.

If you have any type of allergy, you need to stay away from that allergen, because some, especially food and bee stings, can get worse over time.  Check out this article on WebMD.com

But some allergens, like dust and pollen, just can’t be avoided. If you suffer from these, stay tuned, I just may have a few things that will help you.

I swear my allergies to pollen and dust get worse every year, and this year, I was so listless and foggy brained some days, I felt pretty worthless, so I decided it was time to fight. I have tried everything you can imagine. And this is what I found.

*Himalayan Salt Lamp:  I have to be honest, this has something to do with negative ions, and for the life of me, I have no idea what that means. Many people swear that this lovely little lamp has improved their health. Honestly, I didn’t notice a difference. But I still keep one in our family room – it’s pretty, provides nice ambiance, and maybe somehow it is helping and I just haven’t noticed.

Moso Bags: Bamboo charcoal. It’s supposed to trap particles in the air. Again, not sure if they have helped, but I do like the looks of them. The only thing you need to know is that they need ‘recharging’ in the sun approximately once a month.

Air purifier: One of the best things I have done. We removed our purifier from our bedroom for a few months. I noticed a huge difference, especially when we brought it back. I know it is working because the filter gets filthy each month, and I breathe so much better with it. I would recommend this for anyone with allergies.

Humidifier: While I love the moisture in the air, the filters get disgusting, and molds gather inside quickly, which isn’t healthy for anyone.

Diffuser: Love, love, love this. This is what saves me at night. I gave up the humidifier for reasons stated above, and bought a diffuser on Amazon. Each night I fill it, add a few drops of Eucalyptus oil (peppermint also works well for allergies, but is a little strong for me), and turn that baby on. It’s amazing. I can breathe.

Vicks: Yup, the old-fashioned Vicks rub. I put it under my nose often. I am that geeky girl.

Vacuum: If you have dust or pollen allergies, you must vacuum often. Even better, go without carpet.

Shower: I am assuming you are already doing this. If not, well, we won’t get into that. In any case, I added an extra shower to my day. Every evening I take a shower and rinse off the pollen. Especially necessary after walking. I couldn’t believe the yellow pollen on my husband’s and my clothing one evening when we got back from our walk. As long as we are talking about showers, I need to mention my filtered shower-head (another item I don’t regret purchasing). It is amazing how much better my skin feels since I started using it. I know when it’s not working because I can smell the chlorine in the water, and my skin begins to itch. While we are talking about water…

Laundry: Wash your clothing when you’ve been outside. And wash your sheets weekly.

Scented candles, perfumes, etc.: Smell nice, but these things just make allergies worse.

Now to the good stuff – food. I truly believe food is medicine (unless you are allergic to it). I’ve seen the benefits of healthy food in many areas of my life. I still struggle with allergies, after all, I can’t cut down all the trees and plants in the area, and dust will always be floating in the air, but I have found a few food remedies to make my allergies a little more tolerable.

Ginger– Ginger is medicine. It fights tummy problems and infections. Its strong scent and taste clear the nasal passages. It’s great in tea or in an orange and carrot smoothie or juice.

Peppers- Admittedly, not my favorite. But if you can include some jalapenos or anaheims in your salsa, that capsicum just may fight off some sniffles.

Tea- I am addicted to tea. Great stress reliever, not only mentally, but physically as well. Tea has many benefits. I drink green or black in the morning, often with lavender or mint, and a concoction in the evening which includes nettle or Echinacea. Add honey or lemon.

Honey- Local honey if you can. Some claim local honey helps fight against local pollen. Honey is great in many things, but my favorite is in my homemade chocolate recipe, adapted from Sally Fallon’s book, Nourishing Traditions. (Recipe at end of article.)

Smoothies- I start each day with a mixture of banana, berries, coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk), hemp, flax, spinach, and make extra for a small one later.

Juice- I should say ‘juicing.’ Fresh juice is always the best. The versions at the store have been pasteurized, removing the enzymes. If you can make fresh juice, even occasionally, you will feel the benefits.

Water- Plenty of it. Filtered. Pure. Add lemon if you wish.

Food- Healthy foods, preferably organic. No junk food, because, as the old adage goes, “You are what you eat.”

The problem with allergies, especially dust and pollen, is that we can’t remove them from our lives. They are all around, every day. It is a daily fight to stay healthy. But isn’t life worth fighting for?

None of these remedies are perfect. Some will work wonders for you, some will not work at all. For me, I think it is a combination of everything that has prevented me from seeing a doctor this year. And that alone is worth the fight.

Happy allergy season! I hope this article helps you find a tiny bit of relief. If you have any other suggestions to share with fellow allergy sufferers, I would love to hear them.

And now for the promised chocolate recipe:

1 cup raw honey

1 cup raw organic cocoa

1 cup coconut oil, melted

Stir fast and really well (because the sooner you get done, the sooner you get to eat it). I love adding extras to this recipe, any combination of these things: Chocolate nibs, cinnamon, cayenne, sea salt, walnuts, macadamia nuts, and (my favorite) coconut.

Place in large baking pan (8×12, or whatever you have handy) lined with parchment paper.

Place in freezer. Note: This fudge needs to be kept frozen.

Enjoy! (Perfect served with a hot cup of tea.)

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