Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A breath of fresh air

One of the big concerns about living in China is the pollution - both air and water! Air pollution numbers in most cities are routinely in the 'Unhealthy' range, and Beijing has been known to report 'Hazardous' at times! Even a place like Suzhou, with so much greenery, has really poor air quality - so much so that our schools here check the pollution numbers before letting the children out to play!

I didn't really take the numbers too seriously when we moved here. It's China - the blue skies and pristine air of the USA are miles away - but of course, the air quality is not as good here! Besides, how is knowing the daily pollution level going to make a difference? We still have to leave the house, go about our daily chores, we still have to breathe in the air - pollutants and all! And it's only for a couple of years, right? And if it hadn't been for my nose, I would have happily spent my days here in blissful ignorance!

Now you would think that with a honker like mine, I would have no problem sucking in my fair share of the atmosphere! Sadly, that's no longer true. My nose saga started on a day, long long ago - in the pristine air of our very own Peoria! A walk along the Rock Island trial ended in red itchy eyes and fits of sneezing - the culprit? Pollen! For the first couple of years, I was in stubborn denial - I grew up in India, I have a strong immune system, I am the last person in the world to have allergies - and I suffered through the spring blossoms and the fall harvests!

When I finally did go to the doctor, he offered to prescribe a nasal cortisone spray - I'm sorry, but isn't cortisone a steroid? Don't tell me how harmless it is - I'm not inhaling a steroid for anything in the world! The other option was to take OTC anti-histamines - Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra, tried them all before settling on Benadryl. For a while, things got better - the Benadryl worked like a charm - and then we moved to Grenoble, France. Located in a picturesque valley, with majestic mountains all around - a  world removed from Peoria - just a whole new set of allergens! Once again, I dragged my feet for a couple of years before seeing a doctor - the French doctor, to my relief, advised against taking cortisone, but he did bring up the possibility of surgery! Yikes!

Thankfully, Caterpillar came to the rescue - we moved to Chennai, and the wonderful humidity and the salt air were like a balm to my ravaged nose! Fast forward 3 years, we returned to Peoria - and all my troubles returned in full force! After a miserable autumn, I was ready for anything - yes, even the steroids, if I could only breathe freely again! I stayed true to character though - I procrastinated enough that by the time I was ready for the doctor, we were on a plane to China! I don't know why I was hoping that this move would be better for my allergies -  it most certainly wasn't!!

So much for blissful ignorance - there's only so many nights that you can wake up gasping for air, unable to take a single breath! To add to my woes, I discovered that I was growing increasingly more allergic to my beloved Sunny! Finally bit the bullet, saw a ENT specialist in Pune for the final diagnosis - deviated septum and nasal polyps - I'm completely choked up! The surgery will take care of the structural problems, but the question of allergies still remains! And when Ajey started sneezing almost all the time, we knew we had to do something!

New BlueAir 303 air purifier

Cue my new best friends - the BlueAir air purifiers that we recently ordered. After much vacillating, and even more price-checking we ordered the BlueAir 303 and 510D from The smaller unit will be in our bedroom, and the larger one will do double duty - Manasi's bedroom at bedtime, the living room during the day! Is the air noticeably better in the house? Well, it doesn't smell any different, for sure! What I will say is that since the purifier has been running, I have slept through the night without any sniffles or sneezes or itches - and that is all I ever really wanted!

This post has been a bit 'nosey' - but jokes apart, I would seriously recommend these air purifiers for anyone living in China. Some of our friends have one for very room in the house, and while I initially thought that was a bit much - I'm beginning to reconsider! After all, a breath of fresh air is absolutely priceless!!

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