I have hayfever. This is a new thing for me since moving to New Zealand, as I am sure I never had it in England. In fact, I remember faking hayfever at primary school, so I didn’t have to play on the school field at lunch time, and could hang out in the playground with the other cool kids.
I had an allergy test last year to determine the exact cause of my hayfever…actually, hayfever is a pretty rubbish word for something that makes your entire face feel like it is being gnawed by hungry termites. I think I should come up with a new name for it, based on the symptoms it produces – streaming nose, alternately watering then crusty eyes, bouts of sneezing, feeling like all your eyelashes have just decided to molt simultaneously and are scraping their way round your cornea like a sadistic synchronized swimming team.
It should be called Itchy Face Torture.
So, I have Itchy Face Torture, and my allergy tests confirmed that I have an allergy to rye grass. I thought rye was something in that very healthy brown bread people pretend to like, along with buckwheat and falafel, but oh no; it is what NZ dairy farmers grow to feed their cows. So we moved into the countryside and the Itchy Face Torture began. I am usually the sort of person happy to load up on appropriate medication and get on with things, so I am not used to having to suffer through discomfort (except with childbirth, but that’s a whole other blog post), but as I am breastfeeding, I cannot take anything that would get into my bloodstream, and therefore into the breast milk.
I have a nasal spray which works for about 20 minutes, and 3 types of eye drops; one from the pharmacy, one from the doctor and one from the surreal herbalist in the airport which Tareka refers to as hippy juju medicine. So I basically squirt my mucous membranes every 20 minutes and soldier on.
Along with Itchy Face Torture, I am learning just how much of a townie I really am. Now I’ve grown a few of my own veggies in a little patch of garden before, and bemoaned the usual garden pests – slugs, snails, goldfish-memory forgetting to water the plants – but being out in proper countryside has brought me into contact with a whole load of new animals trying to either eat me, my crop or take over my house. I am fortunate that pretty much all the bugs in NZ are non-toxic ones (unlike Australia where you are under threat of death from anything with more than 2 legs, or even less if you count the snakes), but that is cold comfort when they are sucking your life-blood from the back of your knee.
The trouble is that a lot of the bugs trying to systematically destroy my hard work in my little veg patch are comic-book cute. It’s the ultimate defense mechanism “I’m going to decimate your pumpkins but you can’t kill me cos I look like THIS!”