My first ever sneeze-free summer

My first ever sneeze-free summer

Man, doesn’t it feel weird now that our never-ending summer is finally over? Don’t get me wrong, I love pumpkins (whether in their soup, latte or interior decoration form) as much as the next gal. But the summer we had this year will stay with me for a long time. Partly because it marked the end of having my little boys, Hunter and Fisher, at home with me full-time – they’re finally off to school now! But more selfishly I think a big part of why I enjoyed this summer so much is that it was the first summer in my entire life – or at least the first one I can remember – where my enjoyment was not tempered by sneezing, itching, and having constantly running eyes and nose. I cannot exaggerate what a difference that makes at a Fourth of July barbecue!

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I have suffered with allergies for as long as I can remember. If you could see my old family photos, you’d know what I mean. Here’s a cookout – and I’m snivelling like it’s the middle of winter. Here’s my high school graduation – and I’m crying like my dog just died. (And no, believe me, it was not just the emotion of finally leaving school.) Here we all are at the beach – the beach! What was I even allergic to at the beach? Seaweed? – and my eyes are redder than the Popsicle I’m holding.

Allergies might seem such a trivial thing, but they’ve genuinely affected the way I live my life. That beautiful fall wedding Brett and I loved so much? Sure, we chose it in part because Brett loves fall, and because we knew we’d get such cute photo opps up at his parents’ cabin – but a big part of that was knowing that if we’d chosen a day any earlier in the year, allergies would have totally ruined my big day.

And then…we moved to Miami. Every previous year I’d ever had trouble with allergies seemed like a walk in the hypoallergenic park compared to this part of the Sunshine State. We don’t really get seasons here – it’s just beautiful weather and blooming greenery all year round. If you’re allergic to both grass pollen and tree pollen – like I am – then it’s allergy season from April through to November. Oh, and if you’re also allergic to weeds – not so much a problem for me, but it is for a bunch of unfortunate, sneezy people – then you can rule out any fun from May through December and March through July, as well. Can y’all feel that? Yeah, thanks, Will Smith, I can. It’s a whole bunch of fun…not.

Miami is where I became a mom, and as the boys have gotten bigger I’ve become increasingly stressed about how my allergies are going to bring down their summers. I don’t want to have to skip Little League games because the field itself makes me sick! What’s a Miami mom to do?

And believe me, I’ve tried just about everything. Pills, eye drops, nose spray; over-the-counter allergy meds, prescription allergy meds, allergy shots, local honey, manuka honey, bee pollen, positive thinking, hypnosis, smearing Vaseline on the inside of my nostrils to trap the pollen…you name a remedy for allergies, generic or name-brand, and I’ve tried it. (I don’t know if ‘holding my face in a bowl of cool water for as long as I could to soothe the itching’ counts as a remedy as such, but I sure tried that a lot, too.) A lot of them made me drowsy; a couple of them reacted pretty badly with the extra coffee I was drinking to counteract the drowsiness; more than one set of pills made me paranoid that they were making my allergies worse, since I didn’t feel a single symptom until I took them. That probably wasn’t true but either way – none of them worked.

If you read my list above, you might be tempted to point out to me that one thing I hadn’t tried was acupuncture. And you’d be right: I didn’t try it, for years – partly because gah, needles (I’m not the kind of person who faints when I’m getting blood work done, but I also don’t exactly love needles); but mostly because, although I’d heard about acupuncture treatment for allergies, I was deeply sceptical that it would work. After all, just about nothing had worked for me so far, either in terms of ‘alternative’ or conventional medicine – why would sticking pins into my extremities be any better? I sniffed at the idea. But then I was doing a lot of sniffing anyway. Literally. Lots of it.

But then, one day earlier in the summer this year, my friend Shannon and I took our kids out on a double play-date to the park. I love Shannon because we have so much in common: we both love The BIg Lebowski; we both like to drink too many coffee-based cocktails then text each other at 1am when neither of us can sleep; and, most years, we both suffer from serious allergies. She’s like my snuffle buddy. So as you can imagine, I was kinda surprised by her choice of the park for the play-date.

 

While the kids were dangling from the jungle gym and we were setting out chips and cookies, I remarked to Shannon that she was looking unusually “uh…fresh-faced?” for the time of year…and that’s when she gave me the name that changed my life. That name was Michael Forman DOM, P.A; and Shannon explained that she’d become a regular patient at his clinic, Sound Acupuncture Miami, to get treatment in the form of acupuncture for allergies.

acupunctureMichael Forman’s practice is a complementary medicine clinic specializing in two areas: nutrition (they offer unique diet plans tailored to the individual, because ‘There is simply no such thing as a diet that works for everyone’) and acupuncture. Honoring the traditional Chinese practice of acupuncture, they offer treatment for a wide variety of complaints, literally from head to foot, covering both physical and mental health. (They also say that acupuncture can be used to induce overdue labor – don’t I wish I’d known that seven years ago when I went almost two weeks overdue with Jessica!) They don’t claim to be able to cure seasonal allergies with acupuncture – I really like that both on the website and when you speak to staff in person, they’re realistic about the impact and limitations of the treatment – but rather that a combination of acupuncture and antihistamines can work as a two-pronged attack to tackle allergy symptoms. And what’s more, they say that scientific research backs this up.

With both scientific evidence and Shannon on their side, I thought I had to at least given Sound Acupuncture a try. So, feeling a little nervous – worrying that I was going to have to sit through a ton of hippy mumbo-jumbo and/or that I would come out of there looking like Pinhead from Hellraiser – I booked an appointment one afternoon in late June. Having followed the clinic’s pre-appointment guidelines (there was the obvious stuff like ‘wear loose clothing’, but also ‘eat but not too much’, plus instructions to avoid coffee, sugar and alcohol, and the use of heavy perfume or oil) I dropped the kids off at another playdate and presented myself at the clinic.

An immediate plus point for me was that the staff at the clinic really listened to me. You know? So often with medical practitioners it’s all “yeah you need pills, here’s a prescription, have a nice day.” Sound Acupuncture wasn’t like that. The practitioner I saw asked a lot of questions, listened really well, made time to reassure me when I explained I was apprehensive about this kind of treatment, and finally recommended a course of acupuncture to alleviate my specific symptoms.

The initial treatment was…I’m not gonna lie, it was a brand new experience. I lay still while the acupuncturist sterilised the skin on my face; then gently inserted a number of fine needles. It didn’t hurt – it was more of a warm sensation. The strangest part wasn’t the feeling of the needles going in, but just lying there for fifteen minutes while they did their work – although even that awkwardness wore off surprisingly soon.

As advised before my appointment I brought my medication with me. My acupuncturist took a look at it and advised me to continue taking it alongside a course of acupuncture. I visited the clinic three more times over July and August and like I say above – it totally changed the feel of my summer.

It was like a weight was lifted from inside my head – sounds kinda gross, but if you suffer from allergies yourself you’ll know what I mean! And what’s more, you should definitely consider acupuncture yourself. It might be a little outside your comfort zone, but over the long term it’s infinitely more comfortable than sniffling, sneezing and rubbing your eyes all summer long. Give Sound Acupuncture Miami a call today!

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