Alison Berkley: Allergies, experts: What’s worse? |

Alison Berkley: Allergies, experts: What’s worse?

I slept all weekend.

I slept for so long that when I woke up I expected to see snow falling or to look in the mirror and be like 90 years old or something. With eyes glued shut, ears plugged up, and head as stuffed as a teddy bear’s, it’s impossible to do much else.

Apparently it’s “allergy season.” People explain this to me like I’m some sort of idiot, like I should have expected this as readily as ski season. Silly me, I should have marked it on my calendar! From July 5 to god-only-knows-when, I’m going to feel like shit.

As if the symptoms aren’t enough, you have to put up with all these experienced allergy sufferers and their various theories about what plant affects you from when to when and why. These are the same people who think they’re being reassuring by telling you how much worse it’s going to get.

“Oh yeah, that’s ragweed,” they’ll say. “Just wait until cotton-

wood season starts, you’ll really be hating life then!”

Or the know-it-alls who think they’re coming up with some sort of brilliant revelation by stating the obvious:

“It’s because we haven’t had any rain. Everything is airborne.”

No shit? Is that why it’s snowing pollen in my room? Is that why I can lie in bed and watch dust particles floating above my head like a cloud of noxious gas? Get me one of those plaid decorated surgical face masks those chicks are wearing over in China, I don’t want to inhale. And to think they’re complaining about SARS. Suck-it-up! I mean, I haven’t worked out since last Saturday. Do you have any idea what that means?

I actually dragged my sorry ass to the doctor to make sure I wasn’t dying of some rare disease. It’s always embarrassing to go to the doctor just to have them tell you that there’s really nothing wrong with you. It was my first time at a doctor’s office in Aspen, and I have to say the hardwood floors and oriental rugs are a nice touch. They really take the whole just-like-home thing and run with it. My nurse wore those new hip army-fatigue Capri pants and black tank top and hair in a shaggy layered bob like Meg Ryan. No white uniforms with little paper hats here. She looked more like someone who should be working at a coffee shop than a doctor’s office.

I secretly hoped I had some contagious virus so I could stay home from work, but nooooo. All the medical equipment is all tricked out these days so you get your test results right away. I couldn’t even squeeze an afternoon out of it: No fever, no strep, just plain old allergies. (She did say something about an upper-respiratory infection, which sounded pretty good, so I told my boss I had that.)

Technically, I’m not really sick. But that didn’t stop GI Jane from writing me a long list of drugs to take: Claritin, Chloraseptic, nasal spray, throat lozenges, and Ibuprofen – swallow this, suck on that, put this up your nose, shove this down your throat – it sounds like one of those sex parties I went to back in California. Too much going on at once if you ask me.

I’m one of these people who is a total hypochondriac (read: Jewish) and refuses to take any medication because I’m too neurotic. That way I can complain all the time but never do anything about it. I’d rather suffer the symptoms than risk some unpleasant side effect, thank-you-very-much. Like, what if I take this 12-hour release pill and start freaking out? How am I supposed to deal with all the pressures and responsibilities of my entry-level desk job if I’m dizzy or nervous or drowsy?

“It’s not LSD, just take it,” my friend Micah said.

I’ll take the runny nose, sore throat, itchy, red eyes and headache rather than risk having a major flashback in front of my boss. I mean, how in the world would I explain that? (Hey, maybe everyone I know isn’t stoned all the time. Maybe it’s just allergies!) Either way, my body can take care of itself. I’ll just sleep it off. I just hope I wake up sometime before next winter.

The weirdest part is I was just in the process of getting to know these mountains a little better, of pushing myself harder, trying to get a closer look. I’ve started wanting a little more, to go a little higher, a little farther. I got sucked in by the bigger-is-better philosophy, (everyone knows Jewish girls are practically born with that idea) and started chasing after it. I bought the Colorado’s Fourteeners guide book by Gerry Roach and studied the maps and read the descriptions and spent my weekends seeing what it looked like in real life. I felt like a guy – I wanted to bag peaks, baby. All this beauty all around me – I just wanted to touch it.

So this must be how guys feel when they wake up from a wet dream about a Maxim model and realize they can’t have her. True beauty will always be just out of reach – that is precisely what makes it beautiful. Like them, I’ll go after it anyway. Even the fatigue and discomfort won’t discourage me from wanting to claim it, to know it, to make it to the top.

[The Princess is a little delirious from sleeping too much and might have gone off on a little tangent there. Send your theories about allergies to her at]

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