Ode To My Allergies

The spring allergies hit like a freight train over the weekend, leaving me a drippy, sodden mess.  Their arrival is inevitable, but always quixotically unpredictable.  This year, my allergies came earlier than ever.  I never know why they are timed as they are, or whether the unpredictability is just part of their devilish game to inflict maximum disruption and physical malaise.

When the allergies come, there’s nothing you can do but suffer through — that, and compose some really bad verse:

Ode To My Allergies

Oh, allergies!  My allergies!  Oh crap!  You’ve come again!

Now I’m sniffling and sneezing, with sinuses adrain!

Oh, allergies!  My allergies!  You leave my head befogged

And my ears and nasal passages feeling heavily clogged.

Oh, allergies!  My allergies!  My wallet you also vex,

’cause thanks to you I now must buy 10 boxes of Kleenex!

Oh, allergies!  My allergies!  You literally are a pill.

Each year when you arrive I gobble lots of Benadryl.

Oh, allergies!  My allergies!  You ruin a day or two,

but I’d rather deal with congestion than a bad case of the flu.

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Tat Trouble

In case you’re looking for another reason to not get a tattoo, let me be of assistance — medical researchers are finding that a measurable portion of people who get inked report skin reactions which can last for months, or longer.

A recent study published in the thrillingly named journal Contact Dermatitis interviewed 300 New Yorkers with tats in the area around Central Park in June 2013.  (Wouldn’t you love to know, by the way, whether it took more than 15 minutes to find 300 inked people around Central Park, and how many of the people approached told the researchers to stick it?)  Ten percent of respondents reported having problems with their body art, ranging from rashes to itching, swelling, infections, delaying healing, and skin bumps, with six percent saying the problems continued for more than four months.  Some of the reactions appear to be responses caused by the body’s immune system.

The study also indicates that conditions seem to be related to the color of the ink used, with skin problems reported for red ink at levels disproportionate to the commonness of red ink tattoos. Researchers don’t yet know whether the reactions are due to the ink itself, or to brighteners or preservatives used with the ink — but then, tattoo-related conditions haven’t exactly been a hot topic in the medical research field.  That’s unfortunate because, as Dr. Marie Leger, spokesperson for the study, said, “The skin is a highly immune-sensitive organ, and the long-term consequences of repeatedly testing the body’s immune system with injected dyes and colored inks are poorly understood.”  No kidding!

If you’ve ever had poison ivy or a bad rash, you know that there are few things more maddening than persistently itchy skin.  I can’t imagine dealing with it for months, or even years.  With tattoos becoming increasingly common — Dr. Leger estimates one in five adult Americans has at least one tattoo — maybe it’s time to take a careful and systematic look at just what risks are involved in getting permanently inked up.