Fall should be my favorite season. But there are some inescapable facts about fall that make it, for all allergy and asthma sufferers, the ultimate mixed-bag.
1. You can finally wear cute clothes...
Let's make this absolutely clear: Hot, humid weather sucks. I'm sick of my thighs sticking to chairs, and of patchy shoulder sunburns. I'm ready for jeans, leggings, and sweaters, sweaters, sweaters. Fall clothing means you can look good and feel comfortable.
For people with seasonal allergies or allergic asthma, ragweed is the devil. Near the end of summer, it's everywhere, and it stays everywhere for weeks, even months, often until the snow flies. Imagine being intensely uncomfortable in the outdoors every time you take a breath. Ragweed is inescapable.
I live in Michigan, and impossible to enjoy fall without an apple-picking trip to your local orchard. The cool air, the crisp sweetness of the apples, the cider and donuts--who could want anything else?
Unfortunately, going apple-picking carries so much extra baggage. First, you are spending hours around trees, which are usually covered in dust, dirt, and other residue. You know how you polish an apple before you bite into it? All that dust sitting on the apple had to come from somewhere, and that somewhere was the air. The dry, dusty throat you get from breathing dirt would be bad enough, but of course asthma just has to go the extra mile and choke you.
5. Pumpkin carving
Visiting a pumpkin patch and carving or decorating the pumpkin you pick out is one of the quintessential fall activities. Not to mention that it gets you in the spirit of Halloween.
6. The pumpkin patch
Although just carving a pumpkin is usually fine for allergy/asthma sufferers, the pumpkin patch? It's a minefield. It's full of dry plants that are constantly stepped on, and therefore ground and stirred into the air. My breath feels tighter just thinking of it.
7. Seasonal flavors
We all love the fall flavors that come back into fashion each year. Yes, there's the PSL, but let's not forget about caramel, cinnamon, apple, and more. I mean, cider? A drink that's perfect hot or cold? With cinnamon-sugar donuts? Fall flavors are magical.
8. You can't enjoy those flavors as much
Researchers say that smell accounts for as much as 80% of the flavors we taste. But when fall rolls around, people with allergies and/or asthma are often suffering from snotty, runny, stuffed-up noses. Guess I'll enjoy 20% of the PSL's flavors.
9. Fall means Halloween
This is Halloween, this is Halloween/HALLOWEEN! HALLOWEEN! HALLOWEEN! HALLOWEEN! HALLOWEEN! HALLOWEEN!
10. And Halloween means...indoor parties
Basically, any event that typically takes place out of doors is nightmarish--and not in the fun Halloween way--when you can't breath outdoor air. Frankly, this one isn't really a downer. An indoor costume or piñata party with friends is more fun than risking frostbite just so you can ask strangers for candy.
11. The changes of fall
When leaves change color in the fall, it can liven up even the most boring morning commute. And not only that, but fall brings with it millennia of history, of the symbolism of change. It's a quiet, contemplative time of year, and it can give a sense of peace before the harshness of winter sets in.
12. All the other changes of fall
If you have intrinsic asthma, like me, fall's beauty brings a special kind of hell. Intrinsic asthma can be triggered by stress (welcome, the start of the school year!), temperature changes, literally just the temperature "cold," and sickness. Meaning, if I catch a cold, my body has an allergic reaction to it and holds onto the sickness for a long time. A day or two of a sore throat turns into a months-long cough.
I wish I could enjoy fall to its fullness. But I think I'll need a new set of lungs first.