The sky is blue, and so am I.
Pollen kicks off my allergies, which means that when Seattle’s skies aren’t dripping, my nose is.
Certainly I enjoy looking out at a sunny day, or even strolling in its warmth for a little while, but I always greet “good” weather with mixed feelings, especially in the spring when plants are renewing themselves.
Cherry blossoms are beautiful. Red, itchy eyes are not.
I have to worry that people I meet will take a look at my eyes and think that I am abusing drugs or alcohol. But, the only drug I’m interested in is Beconase, the stuff I squirt up my nose to get my symptoms under control.
Early this month, I got my first symptoms when I tried to get a jump on yard work and spent a day trimming bushes that were consuming our house. I fished around the bathroom drug drawer and found last year’s Beconase bottle, but it was nearly empty.
I had to pay $30 for a refill, and that stuff goes quickly. I have health insurance, so the $30 was just a co-pay, a fraction of the cost of the medicine. If I didn’t have health insurance, I might have had to pass on the medicine and suffer even more. There are a lot of people with that problem.
About 26 million Americans have serious seasonal allergies, and millions more have mild allergies. That’s a lot of drug money - and a lot of misery.
People who don’t have allergies probably think it is only a nuisance, but it’s more than that.
My mouth itches; my eyes water and itch. I’m seized by sneezing fits. My head hurts, and I’m very tired. It’s like having a cold that lasts for months, with a lot of itching on top of everything else, and did I mention wheezing?
I don’t get any relief until late summer when most plants put their pants back on and stop trying to reproduce.
Come on, people, I need some sympathy.
My wife says, poor baby, but then she drags me outdoors. She loves the sun. Whenever it’s shining, she has to be outside.
So last weekend I was trudging up the bluff over the beach at Dash Point State Park one day and strolling through the marsh at the Mercer Slough Nature Park the next.
Just before we went to Dash Point to soak up sun and nasal drips, my older brother called. He lives in Southern California, and he was looking out at rain.
Everything is backward.
It’s like earlier this week, when our president said he wanted to talk with Russia’s president about preserving the integrity of their fledgling democracy. Putin’s aides said he thought democracy was a good topic, and he wanted to talk about the 2000 election. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be.
How’s a person supposed to have a sense of place when everything is turned around?
This week, school is out in the Seattle district, and my son was supposed to be off at a skiing and snowboarding camp, but there’s no snow to slide on.
On Fridays in January and February, he usually takes a bus up to the slopes with a bunch of other kids, but they’ve only gone once this year and then they were skidding across plants and rocks.
This is not the Northwest. I want to complain about the rain and gray.
One day last month I was driving to work, taking a circuitous route crafted to avoid the traffic that is now part of Seattle living. I drove along Lake Washington, then up through Madrona. Low fog clung to the ground. It was gray and dreary, and it felt like the Northwest felt when I first moved here - very different from my previous homes in New Mexico, Texas and California.
I drove across Capitol Hill and on Denny, just as it heads down toward Fairview, the sun broke through. The Space Needle was in front of me and behind it the Sound and beyond that the Olympics, frosted with snow. It looked so Alaska. That’s the Seattle I like.
I asked myself, how in the world did I wind up here at the edge of everything in this strange and wonderful place?
The city hadn’t felt that much like Seattle in a long time. I had forgotten where I was.
But I suppose my allergies do keep me connected to one part of Seattle’s heritage. I’m close to the wood-products industry - or my nose is - each time I reach for a tissue.
Revision date: June 21, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.