Amblin' Alameda: Attack of the Allergens

Amblin' Alameda: Attack of the Allergens

Morton Chalfy

This summer arrived in the midst of the worst drought in quite a while. It provided perfect conditions for the grasses to scatter their pollen far and wide in such abundance that those of us with allergic reactions to such things were placed under siege. This is my fifth summer in Alameda but the first in which I've been aware of any allergens at all. The grasses must have sensed that somehow and resolved among themselves to give me an extra large dose to deal with.

I am - and if the rumors and gossip I hear are correct, many, many others are - affected. The symptoms appear mild enough to others: wheeziness, coughing, perhaps teary eyes, nothing that looks very major. They can be major, however, and can put a true crimp in one's daily life with the insistence that only a hurting body can command.

Apparently the allergens are worst at the hours around dusk. For the past several days I have viewed the oncoming night with something akin to dread - say dread's little brother, dreadful. My throat becomes scratchy and constricted, my nasal tubes seem to fill up with material that won't be dislodged, and swallowing only serves to remind me of how tight my throat feels.

I cannot lie down to sleep. I can lie down, alright, but within a minute I can no longer breathe. The only relief comes from leaving the bed to sit upright in an easy chair so I can breathe normally, even if it means I'll only sleep fitfully.

Of course, I resorted to antihistamines and nasal sprays and hot tea laced with honey and brandy. The first (and worst) night of this Attack of the Allergens was spent rising from bed to seek relief, getting back into bed to try again, rising again and settling on the chair so as not to inflict my suffering on my sweetie.

The second night was a more drug-filled repeat of the first. It wasn't until the third night, when I added two Benadryl to the mix and upped the amount of brandy in the tea, that I was able to stretch out flat and fall asleep. I'm sure it also coincided with a reduction in the amount of allergens in the air.

I know I'm not alone in this sort of suffering. The drought has made it all worse and we, the hidden army of allergics, can only hope for better and wetter times to come. We are a secret army who walk among you and look like you but are experiencing a different world than yours. If you pay attention, you'll notice more covered coughs, more sneezes, more runny eyes and noses. We are not sick, we're not contagious, we're the silent sufferers of allergies.

The drought makes it worse, and if the scientists are even approximately correct, we're in for more and more of it. More drought, drier years and more allergic reactions. It's not a pretty picture, and it won't get prettier until the marine layer rolls back in.

Have pity on us sufferers, Alameda. Do not shun us and look away from our distress. Allergies are no respecter of persons and it may be your turn next.

To which I say, Gesundheit!