Sunday, May 6, 2012

Battle Iowa.

Iowa has been good to me. My first winter was mild, the spring thunderstorms have brought no tornadoes, and it's given me a place to live that's really spectacular and filled with amazing people.

However, there have been a few things Iowa has attempted to rouse against me - mainly, allergens and deer.
Since you can't take a picture of asthma, here's Pancake!
I haven't really had allergies, although I am allergic to things (and yes, I see these as different things). Cats, dust, and smoke make my asthma act up (which is different than allergens that cause runny noses and watery eyes). And my asthma is mostly under control because I can easily avoid the things that bother it, and use an inhaler with the things I can't (such as cold air and exercise). And so naturally, I assumed things would continue as normal in Iowa. Winter came and went without incident, and spring started without much to worry about either. There was a day here and there where the dusty wind seemed to tickle my lungs in such a special way, but nothing to use an inhaler over. We've got this, right?

Then straw happens. I've been working a lot in the Diversity Garden - the raised beds by the Visitor Center at Seed Savers Exchange that I plan, plant and maintain. A few coworkers and myself raked up all the old straw and needed to place new straw down for the upcoming season. I've worked with straw before, but nothing beyond a tickle. I've got this, right? An hour into placing straw, I realize that the tickle is rather irritating, and maybe I should actually use my inhaler. So I hitch a ride to the office, use it, bring it down and continue working with the straw (remember, I got this). Well, another hour goes by and this time it's more than a tickle. Luckily it's break time, so I think (of course) a walk will help. But the walk does not help, and I cannot breathe very well at all, and have very noticeably been unable to keep up with my coworkers on this walk. Tor seems quite concerned because my person shows I can't breathe (always a good sign), and so I find other things to do and let them finish the straw. Thursday and Friday go by with a low-grade inability to breathe well (nothing alarming, just annoying). And Saturday, things have not gotten better. In fact, my inhaler seems to have stopped working, and gentle pressure is placed on me to go to Urgent Care. And so I do.

At Urgent Care they give me Prednisone, a steroid that helps with lung inflammation. With that and Claritin, I'm left with 'asthma exacerbation' and told to come back within the week. I spend the rest of the weekend doing absolutely nothing that may tempt my asthma - no walking my dog, no morning movie at a friends' house who happens to have a cat, etc. And by the time I see the doctor on Wednesday, things have not gotten better. I am incredibly short of breath all the time, my chest is tight and it all feels like the throat isn't working right. This makes me exhausted and frustrated because I just feel shitty and nothing helps make it feel better (not soup, tea, sleep, showers, etc). The doctor says it's allergens, in a cheery 'Welcome to Iowa!' sort of way. But what was first 'simple' in her mind turned out to not be, as a nebulizer treatment did nothing and oxygen levels in my blood all point to me getting quite perfect levels of oxygen in my lungs. Chest x-ray shows nothing special, and a blood test shows I'm not anemic .... so what's going on? Unofficially, I think it's this: whatever is in Iowa's air does not agree with my lungs. I had an attack of sorts on Thursday, which made the whole breathing-thing sore and disagreeable. Like a sports injury, it all needs to heal so in the mean time, I'm uber sensitive to any asthma allergens. Maybe once it heals up then I won't have such difficulties on a day-to-day thing with Iowa air. Or maybe, I'm allergic to Iowa and will need some daily maintenance medication. I look forward to the day these decisions can be properly made and I can breathe normally. Who knew?

On a lighter note, the battle versus the deer is a lot less life threatening. For us, at least.

Carefully crafted paths protected by deer netting.
Tor, Steffen and I put in and got three plots in the Community Gardens right next to each other. Down by the river, we had heard these gardens get ransacked by deer every year. So we planned accordingly and built a deer fence with some t-posts, deer netting, and crafty usage of sticks to create height. Our paths look pretty fantastic, and some spinach was placed in on a whim. One evening, we notice the gate had been left open and a deer had just sort of wandered around - sort of checked it out, see what there was to see. So we fix our gates and think that this deer is just a silly little beast. On Saturday we go to plant some lettuce and see the deer have been back. However, they didn't just waltz in an open gate this time. No, they broke open a gate to get into our garden that had nothing but sad looking tomatoes and a few spinach plants in it. They nibbled some tomato plants, tramped all around the beds, and left. This does not bode well for our gardening season, and we all heard at least three maniacal laughs as we relayed this story to friends. So, we didn't plant the lettuce and got ourselves some plantskyyd - dried bovine blood that you reconstitute with water and spray on the plants to deter the deer. Delish, right? NO. That stuff smells like shit. Bah, freaking deer. Becoming decidedly less adorable. I will keep you updated as Battle: Deer continues this season (should be a lot more exciting than Battle: Colorado Potato Beetle, because we can just smash those guys). 


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