Friday, 26 February 2010


It's really very frustrating when doctors don't believe you. You want to - or I do, anyway: maybe you're made of more resilient stuff than I am - you want to pick them up and shake them and generally sit on their heads until they gasp for mercy and promise eternally to take you seriously.

It's this sneezing, doctor. It'll carry me off one day. It happens after certain meals and certain other adult phenomena that I won't specify in a family blog like this. After a perfectly ordinary meal of roast chicken, say, followed by trifle or profiteroles or crêpes Suzette or even Tesco's Expat Extra Strength Tinned Treacle Sponge Pudding (with custard) or even strawberries and cream, I tend to be attacked by a series, usually about 20, of violent sneezes that bruise the diaphragm and bronchial tubes, scour the throat and sinuses, sometimes to the point of drawing blood, and which occasionally knock me down with their violence. It has already caused a hiatus hernia. I have to close my eyes, I become feverish and shivery and an embarrassment to everyone, especially if this takes place when we're eating out. I usually have to leave and shatter the night air in the restaurant car park with my explosions. Or in our host's garden, when dogs bark, flocks of roosting starlings take flight in alarm, shutters open and neighbours peer out anxiously to see who is so savagely roaring rapine or pillage.

Our GP lives well within sneezing distance of us. I've complained about it to her, but she says she's never heard of such a complaint and that I'd better see an allergy specialist, and next time it happens will I please face well away from her windows?

I know it's not an allergy, I tell her. There might be something in it if it only happened after meals, but there's the other trigger, which I outline to her discreetly. She's embarrassed, and I don't insist. French GPs are often only a clearing station for referral to specialists. She knows of no specialist for my case. I will just have to suffer. Or abstain. Two years ago, in desperation at my badgering, she prescribed codeine, which puts the central nervous system on skeleton service for a bit. It works very well, but I'm uneasy about taking codeine for the rest of my days.

So the other day I went to see J.'s acupuncturist, of whom she speaks quite highly. He's from South-east Asia and fully qualified within the French system. I start to explain. He's never heard of it either. Nevertheless he sticks pins in all over - head, neck, wrists, groin, knees, ankles and feet - and applies some heated resiny substance to points on my back. He then prescribes drops, to be taken under the tongue, of compounds of copper, gold and silver, the inevitable lithium and essence of aconite.

I'll await results. I wonder if anyone else among the multitude of sneezers who come here has similar problems?


Vicus Scurra said...

Bless you.
And thank you for your discretion.

Sarah said...

It's triggered by the guilt you feel when enjoying yourself.... LOL

Dave said...

You may be interested in this article:

Dave said...

Oh and nasal decongestants may help - according to the always-reliable Wikki:

Dave said...

Given the nature of the foodstuffs consumed, I believe you will find this condition is known in French medical dictionaries as 'le spotted dick anglaise'.

Rog said...

I think you should read this lot Christopher.

At least you won't feel so unique!

I, Like The View said...

X was a photic sneezer (as are about 25% of the population), which, amongst other sneezing topics, is covered here in New Scientist

and as the others have pointed out, you're not alone (sneezing due to eating and "adult" activities/thoughts)

fortunately, altho obviously uncomfortable and inconvenient, I don't think your condition is related to people who have uncontrollable hiccups (one of the possible signs of brain tumour). . .

. . .hope the accupuncture does the trick

Spadoman said...

This is a true story, and since you like my "Americanisms" so much, you might enjoy this bit of American ingenuity.

I was around 18 years old. I was out late at night, drinking and partying. I hardly had any sleep and as I was driving to work in the early morning, (I lived 25 miles from work and had to leave early), I fell asleep at the wheel.
When I did awake, I was closing in fast on the rear bumper of a car sitting still, waiting for the light to change. I slammed into the rear end and wrapped my larger front bumper around the rear end of the smaller car, (VW bug I think).
No one was hurt as the other driver saw me veering down on him and braced himself for the collision.
When the police showed up to take a report, I told the officer that I had started sneezing and had about 10-12 in a row and when I was done with the sneezing fit, I was upon the other car.
I received a ticket for inattentive driving, (which was later thrown out of court, but that's another story), which was far less criminal than falling asleep at the wheel.
(Note: I have since done step 9 in the 12 steps of recovery and apologized as best I could for my actions)
Anyway, the story is related to sneezing, the topic. I have no idea why you might sneeze after the activities you suggest, but I did read Rog's link and found it interesting. I also like the idea of accupuncture.

necnon vobis

Z said...

The only thing I know about sneezing after eating too much is that it's called snatiation. I'm sorry not to be more help.

Christopher said...

Thank you, Vicus. I always write with you in mind, you know.

Sarah: I'm staggered. I don't know what to say. I can only assume it's your well-known penchant for le spotted dick anglaise that's talking here.

Dave: Thanks. Several things here I didn't know. The Wikipedia entry doesn't really fit the case, but it was interesting reading.

Rog: Fascinating. All those sneezers! They should make it a Winter Olympic event.

I: I have photic sneezing too, but then the sun shines quite a lot here. I seem to be a bit of a disaster. Thank you for associating with me.

Spadoman: Great story. I've tucked it away for future use, if ever it becomes necessary. Is it copyright, though? The Spadoman Defence©?

Z: Thank you for leaving an on-topic comment, unlike some I could mention. Snatiation? I must try this on the acupuncturist. La snatiation, I imagine?