Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

May cause vomit-inducing migranes, loss of smell

I have allergies.  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have them, starting with a trip to the hospital when I was maybe four, when I had an allergic reaction to penicillin like most people have a reaction to agent orange.  It was a defining force of my childhood: weekly trips for allergy shots; the torture of testing, where they draw a giant battleship grid on your back and scratch you with a needle a thousand times; driving in circles in the family car with the AC running to filter out the first ragweed epidemic of the year, a washcloth over my eyes, which resembled Rocky’s after nine rounds of pummeling with an eight-foot tall Russian.  My parents thought I was allergic to chocolate, so I had all of my Easter candy confiscated and rifled over, leaving only the crappy jelly beans and no chocolate bunny.  Every day in Kindergarten, they would bring in a giant crate of half-pint cartons of chocolate milk, and I got to walk back to the cafeteria to exchange mine for plain old white milk.  And it turns out I wasn’t allergic to chocolate.  Just advil, aspirin, penecillin, ragweed, pollen, fresh-cut grass, tumbleweed, horsehair, and 96 other things bothered me.

And then, I hit my teens, and I exchanged most of my allergies for social awkwardness and crippling depression.  It wasn’t the best tradeoff, but I could mow lawns and leave the house in April.  I also erroneously thought I was allergic to Tylenol, but during the great dental rebuild of 1996, I risked it, and found I was AOK with the aceto-stuff, and started a long habit of Tylenol PM to knock me out at night.  I’m sure my liver will thank me later.

But here’s the deal: I think they’re back.  Maybe since New York, I’d have one or two bad allergy days in April, enough where I’d need a Claritin.  (I used to get them from Canada, but now they’re OTC.)  But here in the Bay area, the allergies have been pummeling me, giving me blurry eyes and headaches and that first-day-of-cold raspiness and itchiness in the back of the throat.  So I’ve been playing with the OTC drugs.  Zyrtec-D isn’t bad, although its blister pack is impossible to open without a team of engineers and a chainsaw.  Benadryl knocks me out; claritin doesn’t do much anymore.  I need something more, but I fear the chemical lobotomy the hard stuff brings.

I tried some flonase this week, and it gave me crippling headaches, to the verge of vomiting.  I don’t know if it affected my smell, since I can’t smell anyway because of allergies.  Anyway, I made an appointment with an allergist.  Maybe I will get a new script; maybe it involves a bunch of shots and whatnot.  Actually I am sure it will involve a ton of appointments and tests and copays and waiting rooms, and I will be handed from specialist to specialist who don’t want a liability issue and can’t fix anything.  You know, the usual.

I think I told the story before, but when I was in the hospital as a kid, I shared a room with an Amish kid who got his arm cut off in some kind of plow accident.  Maybe he was Mennonite; all I know is it was my first experience with strange dudes with beards and no mustaches and 19th century clothes, and my first experience with a kid with no arm.  He only stayed a day, but I remember it freaking the hell out of me.  I wonder what happened to that kid, if he’s knocking around Goshen in a buggy with twelve kids, or if he dropped out, joined the English, became a heroin junkie, and works at a Wal-Mart somewhere, or collects disability, lives in a trailer, shoots speed, and listens to Judas Priest, occasionally wondering what happened to that kid 35 years ago who was puffed up like a balloon, upset because he couldn’t watch the TV because his roommate’s parents thought TV was of the devil.

I’m last in my fantasy baseball league, BTW.  And 5 of my pitchers had wins this week.  It takes a special kind of bad to pull that one off.