← See Part One here
I returned this week from a fantastic week of camping in California. For two weekends and a week, I revelled in glorious outdoor splendour 2000 miles from home (so the plane’s map system told me), while watching the people around me sniffle and sneeze from outdoor allergies.
Before leaving, I was horribly nervous about flying on the plane. I worked hard to prepare, and tried to check in to a window seat so that fewer people would be walking by me, but the time stretched on in my preparations, I checked in a bit late, and BAM! Stuck with an aisle seat. With preparations of using my medications the night before, putting oil on my exposed skin before the flight, and being aware of scents around me, I got lucky. Even though people kept walking by me looking for the bathroom in the flight attendants’ food prep area, I came away relatively unscathed.
On the way to the camp site, we picked up several gallons of distilled water, and some epsom salts. With this, I washed and reapplied medications when I arrived at camp, as well as rinsing my sinuses with the neti pot. My subsequent fencing helped, I’m sure, as my vigorous movement helped to keep my lymphatic system moving things out of my body. My sleeping bag had been thoroughly washed (seven times!) in water and vinegar, my tent hadn’t been treated recently, and I put my own thin sleeping bag and liner inside the big one, for warmth and further allergy protection.
The first half of the week was fantastic. Until Wednesday, I avoided hugs and managed to stay symptom-free, washing off every two days with the distilled water outside my tent. I continued to fence daily, hosted some amazingly out-there tournaments (Clue game with real fighting, anyone?), and didn’t even need medication after the first day. All this despite the horribly perfumed port-a-potties. It changed suddenly when a helpful man wearing perfumed oils decided to start placing light sticks in the port-a-potties, and to hug me. The scent stayed in the johns all night and into morning, when the truck came by to “refresh” the potties and re-perfume them. I also walked into someone else’s pavilion tent for about 45 minutes, which may have contributed to the problems.
The next day my eyes didn’t open quite so smoothly, and I was slightly itchy for the next several days, making me resort to medications again, which upset my stomach. At least I think it did. I have gotten sick and flu-like from my face cream in the past – has anyone else reacted badly to Protopic? I have to dilute it with petroleum jelly and use it sparingly and infrequently to avoid negative effects. I also made the mistake of using a cast iron pan which had previously been used for pancakes for my pork chop. Scraping and wiping it didn’t seem to stop *that* particular reaction to eggs and dairy, as I was bloated and gassy for a day and a half afterward. Even still, my week was far better than it is at home. My scalp didn’t itch and my rash mostly stayed away with only minor treatment.
The flight home was not quite as good as the flight there. This time my husband checked me in early (there was no cell phone coverage at the campsite), and I got a window seat. Not only that, but the center seat was empty, giving me a large buffer to the side. So far so good. The air vent seemed to be sending perfumed air my direction, so I closed it. The flight seemed like it would turn out well until the last 1 1/2 hours of the 6-hour trip, when someone around me sprayed something, several times, into the air. I think it was hairspray. Unable to determine who had done it, I just had to plan ahead for how I would mitigate its effects.
There was nothing I could do for the 2 1/2 hour drive home and 45-minute meal stop. When I got home, the first thing I did was unpack my toiletries, shower, apply medicated creams, change my clothes, and rinse my sinuses. With all of these precautions, as well as some physical activity the next two days, I managed to escape with only minor facial rashes, scalp itchiness, swollen lymph nodes on the back of my head, and slight eye discomfort the first day afterward.
Overall, I am thoroughly pleased with my trip. I survived two plane trips, scented port-a-potties, and even a bearded and perfumed middle-eastern re-enactor with only minor consequences. I couldn’t have done it without my host, who carefully provided tent and bedding, and accommodated my “eccentricities.” I am convinced I need to live somewhere where I can spend more time outside, but for now it’s just a dream. I know that our longer, active camping trip this summer can be blissful relief from the allergies I face at home, and I’m excited for the chance to camp again!