Fun with Ragweed (Dear God. MY EYES.)
Ragweed is a pretty interesting little bit of vegetation.
1. Each plant can produce one billion grains of pollen.
2. That’s one BILLION.
3. Per plant.
4. Cool mornings and rain wash some of that heavy pollen load out of the air.
5. Guess what it barely does this time of year in the Denver area?
7. And guess what area saw an unusual dearth of cool mornings this summer?
9. Ragweed’s generic name = Ambrosia (food of the gods)
10. How’s that for irony?
11. It loves hot, dry fields (like in Colorado) and wind (also Colorado).
12. People in the Midwest live with more ragweed than any other place in the world.
13. Humidity over 70% clumps the pollen up so the wind can’t send it traveling.
I know these facts because ragweed and I, we’ve been on pretty intimate terms lately. Real close, like right in my eyes all the time close, so that tears leak out each morning and the irritation at one point reached an apex of serious sunlight aversion and a striking resemblance to a particularly disgusting case of pink-eye.
Closer than I’d like, basically.
My asthma kid’s been crying these involuntary tears of allergy right along with me, too, though not as severely. It’s a first for both of us. I started reacting to the ragweed in Colorado last fall but not like this, and AG has never had an allergy in her life except for dust mites. She’s less than ecstatic with this development, as you might imagine.
Now for the good news and with my immense gratitude: so far, ragweed hurts her eyes but not her airways.
So we can live with this. It’s miserable, but a smallish deal as these things go. And she and I have learned a few things to help for next year.
When August and September roll around again, we need to limit the number of days we wear our contact lenses. While they do shield our eyeballs somewhat during the day, when the ragweed load on the lens reaches critical mass and explodes over the entire eye, that’s bad news. Or maybe the high, dry air out here just makes the pollen feel worse. At any rate, sticking with glasses seems to help.
No eye makeup for me or, when she gets older, AG, until the pollen count sinks. When they are already super-sensitive, my eyelids react badly to even the hypoallergenic stuff I buy.
Finally, I gave in and started turning on the AC when the ragweed’s just too high. It kills me to shut the windows on beautiful days, but our eyes thanked me.
We’ll see what happens next summer. The kid and I may just be in shock, or at least our eyes are. This summer’s unusual lingering heat produced a much worse fall pollen season than the first one we experienced after moving here from high-humidity, low-ragweed Florida.
But maybe not. Lots of my friends and neighbors have been walking around with red eyes, too, so this time next year, you’ll find me hoping for cooler temps and more rain.