So, I went to the doctor for my asthma.
“How long have you had asthma?”
“A while. I guess. I went to the ER and they said I have asthma. Life. But only this time of year.”
“Yes.” He said this and put his hand to his mouth and looked at me. Like he was judging me. He was, I think, trying to decide if I was telling the truth.
“I have trouble sleeping,” I said. “I have an inhaler that I have to hit twice a day.”
“That could kill you,” he said.
“I don’t mean to frighten you,” he said. “But it could.”
Then he walked out. A few seconds later, he walked back in, holding a box.
“This,” he said. “Is a powder based inhalant. It won’t give you the high that the other thing gives you. I’ll give you a prescription for the emergency inhaler, but that’s only for emergencies.”
“You take this,” he held up the box, “Every day. Maybe twice a day. You have 120 doses here. That’ll do you for two months. It’ll get you through the season. You take this,” he held up nothing, but I think he meant the emergency inhaler. “When you need to. Confused?”
“I’m not confused.”
“Good. Take Claritin. Whatever else eases the symptoms. Tree pollen is almost over. Hopefully by the end of the month.”
Three more weeks.
“Ok,” he said. “We’re done. Unless you want to talk about your personal life.”
I swear he said that.
What you have to understand is that I feel almost every breath that I take. You breathe, and you know you breathe, but you don’t think about it. But me, especially during this pollen season, I feel my breathing. I feel it because, at times, it is difficult to do. Or unpleasant. Having a conversation with a woman today about a student, I tried to make good points, tried to express my intelligence. I tried this while I was blowing my nose, tears going down my face.
“Allergies,” she said, nodding.
This morning, I took a Claritin because it doesn’t make me drowsy. I took an Advil cold and sinus medication because it relieves the pressure. I took a hit of the new, powder based inhalant.
It makes you twist it. When you do, you hear a “click.” You exhale, then put it in your mouth and inhale. It doesn’t taste like anything.
In my thoughts, when I’m bored for a few moments, I think the doctor, when he was putting his hand to his mouth, I think of him and how he judged me as faking. Some quack with more time on his hands than things to do, and he gave me a placebo and sent me on my way, my fifteen dollar co-pay safe in his electronic vault.
When I go to doctors, I’m positive they give me placebos.
I don’t trust doctors because I don’t trust anyone. Except a few people. But they’ve earned my trust. Deep down, I don’t want doctors to take my blood because it will give them an excuse to say I have cancer. Then, after they take out half my organs, they say, oops. You didn’t have cancer. So sorry.
Last night, I sneezed and sneezed and sneezed, my body trying to kill itself. Each sneeze like a horde of bees coming out of my lungs. I sneezed so hard that my back ached. When my alarm went off at 6, I felt like I never slept. How easy would it be just to call in to work. I never do that. Who would blame me?
“You look terrible,” one of my students said. “Allergies?”
I open the windows in my room, because I like it. The student knows that and attempted to do what she always does.
“No!” It came out too fast, and she looked scared.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry. My allergies. Just…just keep it closed.”
“My mom takes Allegra,” she said.
“Try eating local honey combs,” a co-worker said. “From the area. Local honey from the area. It works. My friend swears by it.”
“Shots,” a woman on the bus said. “Allergy shots. They work.”
“Zyrtec.” A guy on Twitter told me. “Double up. It won’t kill you.”
I was coming home and there’s Farragut Park. Just staring at me. Such a nice day. I bought some food. Sat down. Breathed in deep. Exhaled. Ate. Watched the people walking by. I got up to leave and I started sneezing. The tissue in my back pocket was damaged, but I made it work. It was worth it, I thought. Five minutes of a nice day. It was worth it.
“Allergies?” The bus driver said when he opened the door.
“Allergies,” I said back.