For as long as she can remember, Shepparton resident Hayley Bennett has suffered from extreme chronic hay fever.
‘‘As a toddler I got bad hay fever and was put on a desensitisation program,’’ she said.
Weekly injections with pollens that Hayley’s body was allergic to was the norm, leaving her arms red and swollen.
‘‘I did it for 11 years but that didn’t work,’’ she said. ‘‘Now I don’t bother going to a doctor or GP because I’ve done everything I possibly can.’’
In spring, hay fever is all Hayley thinks about — but puffy eyes, a runny nose and sneezing is just the beginning.
‘‘The membranes of my eyes swell up so much that it hurts to blink,’’ she said.
On Monday night, two people died from respiratory issues during Melbourne’s ‘‘thunderstorm asthma’’ event, caused when dust and pollen is blown in during or ahead of a thunderstorm.
Ms Bennett, who is currently living in Glen Iris and going to university, had difficulty breathing at work during the thunderstorm.
‘‘I never get asthma so didn’t pick up on what it was but I found some Ventolin and that gave me some relief,’’ she said.
‘‘Waking up on Tuesday morning it was actually nice to know the source behind it.’’
Daily tasks are extremely difficult and Ms Bennett says it is hard for her friends to comprehend her situation.
‘‘I’ll be at work and have to leave because I cannot function,’’ she said.
‘‘Outdoor social events are near impossible because my hay fever is so debilitating.
‘‘I won’t leave my house without (a packet of) Telfast, nasal spray, eye-drops and strong antihistamines.’’
Ms Bennett says that once her symptoms get to a certain point there is nothing her medication can do to help.
‘‘You just have to stop your life and put it on hold until the hay fever goes away,’’ she said.
‘‘I’ll sit in the shower for an hour and sit inside for the rest of the day with a face washer on my face.
‘‘It’s beyond frustrating.’’