Clinical trials


The evil pollen arrived early this year.  Everything bloomed out of season: the forsythia, the cherries, the dogwood. And every year my allergies get worse.  I used to get a mild cold in the springtime, and thought nothing of it.  Then I realized it was allergies, because it was always at the same time every year. (I keep a diary, so it’s easy to check these things.) 



I normally soldier through with no pharmaceuticals, but this year I felt a little frail, so one day I took a Claritin (loratidine), on Partner’s advice.  No result.  (I know these things are supposed to take time to build up in your system, but I’m looking for immediate relief, you know?)



“Nah,” Paul the Brown shuttle driver said.  “Zyrtec.”



So that evening I went shopping for drugs.  I bought some CVS-generic Zyrtec (a dollar a pill!) and some CVS-generic Benadryl (much cheaper).



Next morning I took a generic Zyrtec, AKA cetirizine. Nothing. Again, Then I realized that I was getting lively and intense, and I though, Oh god, here it comes.  (Antihistamines make most people sleepy; some of us, the really lucky ones, react as if we’d had a shot of adrenaline  It’s artificial energy, and I end up exhausted at the end of the day, when the pill wears off.) 



The following morning: generic Benadryl (diphenhydramine).  Immediate effect: it dried me out right away.  I was still coughing, but my throat felt tight and nasty.  And there was that same rush of fake adrenaline energy.  (Luckily it went away in a few hours.)



“Why do you do this to yourself?” my friend Cathleen said to me the other day.



“Clinical trials,” I said. “I need to find out what works. I’m my own test subject.”



She groaned and shook her head.



Following day: no drugs.  I gave up.  And you know what?  I felt much better. It was cooler, that’s true, and there was probably much less pollen in the air.  



And so I tucked away all my pills in the medicine cabinet.



Until next year, when the pollen comes back, and the clinical trials resume.




About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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