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The Phantom Menace

May 6, 2011

I turned 25 last week.

The universe, never one for bad manners, has apparently gotten me a gift. It’s this new thing called rip roaring allergies.

You may be a seasoned warrior, but I for one have never had allergies before. This year, though, I have found something new to add to my “Nothing Is Ever Wrong With Me/Oh My God I Am Dying” repertoire.

It started with some sneezing, a runny nose and a cough. I thought all of these things were due to the pre-birthday-week cold I get without fail each year. Nothing a little Advil cold and sinus, some Puffs with lotion and some secret nighttime Vicks vapor rub can’t solve. But the next plague was harder to stop.

I knew about pollen, of course. It’s a plant thing…and everyone but me is allergic to it. Right? Wrong. Pollen is awful, elusive, evil in every way, and it’s complicating my life and stalking my every move. It’s a phantom that invites itself into your life and turns your senses against you. I couldn’t smell anything. I couldn’t taste anything. I needed 3 pillows just to breathe at night. And then it moved onto my eyes.

My eyes started tearing the minute I left my apartment yesterday morning. And, by the time I got to work, I couldn’t open them for more than a few seconds. This scared me, because I had just watched this creepy ass episode of Doctor Who, and I was worried some crazy statue might try to kill me. Also, I looked like I had spent the morning crying, and I guess that’s more or less what I was doing. I jokingly told people I was allergic to work. No one really laughed. In a fun twist, I work in one of the dustiest rooms on earth and everything was much worse when I was near my desk. So, yes, in a way, I am allergic to work.

I took an Allegra, purchased from the Duane Reade near my office. Then I took out my contacts, thinking it would help. It didn’t really, but at least I was free to rub my eyes without worrying about scratching my cornea or something. On the downside, I didn’t have my glasses with me, and this left me both teary and blind.

I have terrible eyesight. Not quite the worst, but it’s pretty bad. I’ve worn glasses since I was about six and it’s just gone downhill from there. I once said “excuse me,” after walking into a chair. Sometimes, after I’ve already taken out my contacts, I misplace my glasses and then wander around squinting and patting every single surface until they reappear. I’ve broken at least two pairs of glasses by stepping on them during this process. In other words: I am hopeless.

After I disposed of the offending contact lenses, the rest of the day went like this:

Stare at the computer screen; realize I can’t see anything I’m typing; move closer until I’m an inch away from the screen; close my eyes because the brightness makes them tear.

Stand in the elevator pretending everything is fine even though guy on my left obviously thinks I’m crying; get off at the wrong floor because I can’t see; get back on the elevator and pretend I can see; repeat.

Walk around the office praying I don’t trip; trip; recover and pretend everything is fine.

There was a lot of pretending going on, but that’s what I do when something bad happens. My ailments are generally weird and hard to explain, so I like to keep them to myself while they’re happening. I don’t get sick in normal ways. I sort of will myself to not get sick, and then my body winds up rebelling and staging various physical revolutions to mess with my mind at inconvenient times. I could never be counted upon to get the chicken pox or the flu or a fever like a normal person. But I occasionally will develop something weird and mutanty – like the Mysterious Stye that Wasn’t a few months ago – and this is my body’s bat signal to let me know that I need sleep. And/or orange juice.

Anyway, no one really said anything to me, except one co-worker who sort of scolded me for not seeing a doctor. He then asked me if I even had a doctor.

“I took Allegra,” I mumbled feebly. “It…didn’t really work.”

When the day finally ended, I realized I was going to have to find my way home in this blurry state of existence of mine. So I put on my sunglasses, decided to ignore the subway, figuring that it would only confuse me, and sneezed my way out onto the sidewalk.

As I waked, blindly making my way along the thankfully familiar route, I started to feel pretty good about my situation. I pretty much knew where I was going, and because I couldn’t see them, I didn’t care if people were giving me the stinkeye for almost walking into them. Most importantly – I live in a place where one is not expected to drive a car. For the first time in a long time, I found myself thinking, wow, I’m so glad I’m in New York.

It only took an allergy attack to make me appreciate this big dumb city.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Chrissy permalink
    August 8, 2011 3:26 pm

    Wait until we watch the first part of that “creepyass episode” 😉

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