Thursday, June 29, 2006


I have rather violent allergies to, as my dear allergist once put it, "pretty much everything." They are especially bad here in the Willamette Valley, whose climate is much more hospitable to various flora and fauna than my native high desert, and it was these allergies which led me to finally seek out a doctor in my new home town. I thought I was having trouble with my lungs, since I'd been waking up early each morning coughing and wheezing, but the doctor informed me that she thought my symptoms were being caused by post-nasal drip. The constant stream of mucus down the back of my throat, in other words, was irritating my throat and making me cough, which in turn aggravated my asthma and triggered an attack. She prescribed a new inhaler (yay!) and Zyrtec-D, which I at first thought was some kind of miracle drug.

Zyrtec-D immediately took care of my hayfever-like symptoms and all but eliminated the terrible sinus headaches I'd gotten used to living with. It wasn't so great with the nasal drip-- I still woke up coughing every morning-- but curing the headaches was enough to keep me taking it, and I thought it was great.

I noticed, however, that any time I forgot to take it for more than 12 hours, or if I didn't refill my prescription on time, I would start to itch. I considered that this might be an allergy that Zyrtec was suppressing, but I never had any itching symptoms before I started taking it. It disturbed me enough to decide I didn't want to take the drug anymore and ask my doctor to prescribe some other decongestant. I haven't actually gotten around to making that appointment with my doctor, and my prescription has run out. Sunday, I took my last pill.

I am losing my mind.

My hands itch the worst. My fingers themselves, and the webbing between them, almost hurt with the intense itching, and the tops of my feet and my scalp are nearly as urgent. I itch anyplace my clothes touch persistently-- like waistbands or tight cuffs-- and pressure on any non-itchy area of my body makes that area start to itch. We've been making jokes about how I am a crackhead withdrawing from my drug of choice, but it's not really funny right now: I actually got out of bed to write this because the itching was keeping me awake. The only time I feel relatively itch-free is when I'm standing naked in the shower, and I can't very well spend the next week in the shower while my body stops craving the goddamn Zyrtec.

I finally had the sense to google "Zyrtec itching withdrawal" this morning and discovered one of those medical message boards where people discuss all of their health problems with other sufferers, and apparently I am far from the only one who experiences unbearable itching in response to stopping Zyrtec. The funny thing is, I can't find any kind of official information about it-- nothing from the pharmaceutical company, nothing from any doctors, nada. Just a bunch of hypochondriacs bitching about their imaginary side effects and myriad health complaints. Except this one has to be real, because it's happening to me too.

I guess I'm one of them now.


Post a Comment

<< Home