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Rants of a Karachiite with Asthma, Allergies & a Runny Nose


My bedside table is bursting at its seams with piles of miscellaneous colourful medicines – tablets, sachets, strepsils and other cough drops, nasal sprays, throat sprays, liquid medicines for nebulization, and a huge box of tissues. Myteka or Singulair don’t work no more, yet they are like my security blanket which I cannot do without, so I take one everyday, as does my daughter. Me and she bond over the daily ritual of eating “Myteka” together and blowing our nose in unison and giving each other a “I-know-how-you-feel” smile. I have every asthma and cough and cold OTC (over the counter) medicine available in that market, because you never know when my nose decides to start flowing relentlessly, or when I will start sounding like a choked horn of a mini bus, or when I will start to breathe heavily like a 1970s’ Pakistani film heroine (sans any romantic reasons).

An inhaler is always to be found in my hand bag…….I am like Govinda in the Bollywood flick “Partner” who needs an inhaler to emote…..to be happy or sad or nervous or stressed out.

The kitchen counter has the lame (& almost useless) “better-safe-than-sorry” and “prevention-is-better-than-cure” and “pump-up-your-defence-mechanism” type of stuff which includes Vitamin C and Cod Liver Oil and Ultra-Mega Potency Multi-Vitamins in horrible colours which my two sympathetic siblings who live abroad get for me in the hope that next time they come, I will be looking more like Farahnaz and less like Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer!

My calendar has names of different anti-biotics and anti-histamines written in green coloured ink, and the other medicines in red, and specially the winter months’ pages of the calendar look battle scarred, because I mark the dates I took those meds and on the side scribble in doodle-like handwriting which doctors prescribed what.

I have tried homeopathic meds with great zelousness…..specially the tasty tiny white sugary balls with some haunting eerie-smelling liquid used to soak them (rumoured to be alcohol). I have tried Hakeemi meds as well……Sharbat e Toot, Khameera Gaozaban Ambri Jawahardaar, Joshandas in all it’s disgusting flavours, and those horrid cough drops called Sualeen which taste like a mix of Iodex and Gurh (jaggery). And I am currently in the process of considering Hijama (Cupping Therapy), but the only problem with that is that I am hemophobic, and faint at the sight of flowing blood (which is why every time I went to a blood bank in an altruistic mood to donate blood, they sent me back home with a box of Fruito juice and some sympathy).

My fridge has lists of the names and contacts of all ENT and chest specialists in my area, held up by fridge magnets.

My daily diet includes adrak aur daar cheeni ki chaai (ginger-cinnamon tea) with honey, soups and yakhnis.

There are days I get up with eyes so swollen that it looks as if I cried all night long. It is a nightmare if that’s a day I have to meet someone, or go to an interview. My nose can often be found red and peeled, specially between November and February.

My allergies (which includes allergic asthma, allergic rhinitis and allergic bronchitis) have gotten worse since I started living close to the Creek, and Karachi’s climate does not suit me. Period.

Yet, I do what every doctor advises me to do, and what my own inner voice of wisdom tells me to do. I survive!

I take my meds regularly, slow down a few times a month, but refuse to stop leading a normal life. I take my walks in the park and drive around the city even after having used the inhaler and taking steam inhalation that very morning.

I live up life. Meanwhile, I continue to wait for that magic drug which will cure my allergies.

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About FarahnazZahidi

Journalist, writer, blogger & activist. Currently working for The Express Tribune. Focus on human rights, health, gender, peace & Islam. Idealist. Wannabe photographer. Chaai, traveling, reading, friends and motherhood.

7 responses »

  1. Pobrecita!
    Well-written 🙂 Yes, I know what you are going through. Mine is not that bad, and so much better when I am not in Karachi.

    Reply
  2. So true! Whenever I visit KHI, I’m always having a stuffy nose, and forget about wearing my contacts! Love your writing 🙂

    Reply
  3. The first time i went to an allergy clinic was when i was 14 and it was at the houston medical center. They gave me a printout of about 4000 things i had to avoid. I had acute asthema and allergies. My mum went all weepy as to how they would manage to help me avoid so many things. A day later that list vanished, years later dad told me he chucked it and mad my life easier.

    That what you need to do..once in a while to continue living like you should 🙂 Grt blog

    Reply
  4. Atleast i am not the only one suffering !!

    Reply

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