For many, the annual lockdown season is just beginning

Ah, November. The end of lockdown. Longer days, warmer sunshine, the promise of summer. Time to ditch the beanie and dig out the sandals. Picnics and barbies. The smell of freshly mown grass. The great outdoors. And pollen. Wafting around in the atmosphere, the unseen enemy carried on the balmy spring breeze.

Yes, it’s the hay fever season yet again.

One happy day, it’ll be December.

We’re a sad lot, us hay fever sufferers. Stuck indoors when everyone else is outside, or pretending we’re feeling fine as we sneeze and wheeze our way through unavoidable al fresco events. When all we want to do is lie down indoors with a cold, wet facecloth over our eyes and feel sorry for ourselves. With all the windows shut even though the heat is stifling, to try and keep that sneaky pollen out. And praying for rain to dampen it down.

It’s even worse this year when the slightest sniffle has everyone on COVID-19 high alert, never mind when you are a serial sneezer at no risk to anyone except yourself.

Every year I think maybe I’ve finally grown out of it. As the end of October approaches, I’m super sensitive to the slightest itch in the throat, or watery eye, never far from a tissue, but ever optimistic.

Grass pollen is believed to be the main cause of hay fever.Credit:Fairfax Media

But no. Like an old, unwanted friend, it keeps popping up again, and out come the tablets, and the sprays, and the drops, and the trying-to-keep-cheerful. And awake and alert, despite the hot sleepless nights and the medication.

Pollen allergies are generally not life-threatening, and thunderstorm asthma events are rare. Hay fever is actually pretty boring, but it makes us boring too because we don’t want to do anything outdoors. I was horrified when I learned that my new partner’s family had an annual camping trip at Wilsons Prom every November. My worst nightmare! The one saving grace was that we had a cabin, not a tent. But I dutifully went along and sneezed my way through it. I’m glad that next year it’s going to be in April due to school exams. You see, it makes us such killjoys.

We know it will pass. One day in December, I’ll wake up after a good night’s sleep and my head will be clear and a whole 24 hours will go by without one sneeze. The medication will go back in the cupboard and I’ll joyfully spend whole days out in the bush without a care in the world, just like a normal person. Doors and windows will be thrown open. Roll on December – it can’t come too soon for me.

Sheila Quairney is a freelance writer.

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