Hay Fever Haiku

Cartoon by John Branch

Cartoon by John Branch

Since I’m branding myself as the “Allergic Author” it is about time I blogged about allergies. And April is the perfect time to start as it ushers in Spring and National Poetry Month.

Spring brings renewal, April showers, bunnies, and the darling buds of May. It signifies the beginning of baseball and the ending of hockey, basketball, and soccer. Winter’s gloom is chased away with warmer days, fragrant blossoms, flowering foliage, and the proliferation of pollen.

Ah, pollen…this seemingly innocuous yellow dust strikes fear in the hearts of 8% of the population who have seasonal allergies. Our auto-immune systems go haywire. Allergy medication ads are in constant rotation. The other day I saw a pharmaceutical commercial for Allegra® medication for children with the tag line “So kids can stop suffering and start living.”

Hay fever “suffering” can be its own level of Hell, especially in the Southeastern United States. Three months of watery eyes, leaky nose, congested head, and continuous sneezing. A thin layer of yellow pollen coats every outdoor surface: cars, roofs, front porches, back patios, outdoor furniture, and even tennis courts. Little pollen “drifts” collect along roadside curbs, turning streets into yellow brick roads.

Where I live in Atlanta, Georgia, the daily pollen count is the lead story on the local news during Spring, and it’s as eagerly anticipated as the announcement of PowerBall lottery numbers. Outdoor festivals and activities are Kryptonite for seasonal allergy sufferers, and we’ll do anything to avert an allergy attack. I recently heard of an injectable allergy “cocktail” that consists of a combination of a steroid, an antihistamine, and an antibiotic. This shot is supposed to be the silver bullet against allergens and the hottest injection since Botox.

But for the hay fever afflicted who don’t like needles, the course of action is usually a daily dose of allergy meds and total avoidance of Mother Nature. I think this haiku tidily sums it up:

Pollen has power-
Aggravating allergies-
Spring enjoyed indoors-

If you are in the 92% who don’t have seasonal allergies, take heart next time you see a sneezing, sniffling person with a runny nose and red, watery eyes. Offer a tissue and some sympathy. Consider yourself lucky and enjoy your pollen-resistant auto-immune system. With the advances in modern drug therapy, maybe one day we can join you for an outside picnic and stop to smell the roses. Until then, however, you can find us in our sterilized plastic bubbles.

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