Then something or someone threw a switch.
My dad always had a few animals on our small acreage and he also grew, cut, and baled alfalfa from his field. I always hated to help with gathering the bales and stacking them into the barn, because it was hot, dirty work and –in the interest of full disclosure—I was lazy and those bales were damned heavy.
I was 18-years-old the morning my allergy switch was thrown. I grudgingly walked out to help haul the hay bales in and when I grabbed the first one, I sneezed. Then I sneezed again. And again and again and again … ad nauseam. My entire face itched. I rubbed my nose and my eyes. I scratched my arms, my chest and, if I could have figured out a way, I would have scratched the inside of my throat with a toilet brush had I thought of it. At one particular point of epitomic empathy I looked with misery at all the wads of Kleenex surrounding me.
It was sudden and it was horrible. My allergies kicked into gear every year thereafter and I spent the latter part of spring and summer in an allergy medicine stupor. The only bright side to the whole mess was that I was excluded from having to haul hay after that –a small consolation to be sure. I would have hauled hay for weeks to avoid the yearly four month torture.
A few years after my allergies started Paul Simon came out with a song called “Allergies” from his album “Hearts and Bones” and the song’s lyrics nailed the experience:
“Allergies, allergies. Something’s living on my skin…”
If you haven’t heard the song before, you should YouTube it. It’s not a bad song.
Once they determine everything you might be allergic to, they begin giving you a mixture of shots of those very same things and as we all know, receiving shots is always a joy (more sarcasm). The idea is to slowly build up your immunity to whatever you’re allergic to. The whole process took a year or so. The shots became less frequent and eventually I no longer suffered my usual allergic symptoms. They finally took me off shots and I’ve been fine ever since.
Until last night.
My wife and I traveled from our home in western Oregon to visit her parents in eastern Oregon. While having dinner, I suddenly sneezed. The sneeze came on so fast I barely had time to turn my head. Had I been a half-second slower I would have sprayed potato salad across the table. Later, when we began playing our usual rounds of pinochle, the allergies set in with a vengeance. Soon I was sneezing, my nose itched and dripped, my eyes watered and burned. I had no allergy medication and it was the fourth of July, so there were no stores open. I made a valiant attempt to drown my symptoms with beer, but surprisingly, that didn’t work as well as I’d hoped.
Wife: “Hey, I just remembered. I have some Benedryl in my overnight bag. Would you like some?”
Me (speaking with a Kleenex stuffed up each nostril and looking at a blurred version of her through my red, itchy eyes): “Hell no. I’m enjoying this way too much to even consider taking something that might even slightly alleviate any of it. What are you thinking?”
Wife: “Smartass. I’ll go get you a couple. You look like a walrus with those things hanging out of your nose”
The Benedryl didn’t kick in very fast, so I tried a few more beers. I still had no luck with that helping relieve the symptoms, so I switched over to whiskey on ice. Hard to believe, I know, but the whiskey proved to be just as ineffective as the beer.
The Benedryl finally kicked in about the same time as the alcohol. That’s not to say that my allergy symptoms improved, just that between the two I no longer gave a damn.
I finally crawled into bed, high (or is it low?) on Benedryl, whiskey, and beer, and with Kleenex shoved up both nose holes.
I didn’t sleep very well, but I did sleep a bit. And I will admit that as I climbed into bed, I felt pretty much like a nerd.
Why is it that so often my past immaturity comes back to slap me silly with irony? That being said, I’d like to apologize and say I now sympathize with my fellow allergy suffering nerds.
P.S. This blog posting is not meant to promote, nor condone, combining alcohol and allergy meds. That is, unless you really don’t want to give a damn about anything for a while.