August 4, 2012

Ouch, I'm Allergic!

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From the words of Will Ferrell as Robert Goulet (When the bee stings...OUCH I'm ALLERGIC! Except I wasn't stung...) This week has been one of my worse I can remember.  I have joined the millions that have had a random allergic reaction.  I've done a LOT of reading this week about it, and I have read in my research that the probability of these types of attacks are about 15% in a person, as long as their parent does not have the allergy, so I don't want to freak anyone out!

The day after I got home from Europe, I went straight to Express Care to get help for a UTI I'd been living with for about 5 days while we were away.  It was bad infection by the time we returned, and Express Care Rx me an antibiotic called Bactrim which is a Sulfa based drug, and also some other med that turned my pee orange (sorry TMI) this helped the pain of the UTI.  Well, I took this medicine as prescribed from Saturday all the way through the next Saturday and then again on Sunday morning.  About an hour after taking my dose on Sunday, I felt an itch under my wedding rings.  I took them off and put some anti-itch cream on, and thought nothing of it.  Sometimes allergens get stuck there and the skin gets inflamed.  Then, a few hours later, I was getting ready to go out to the store with Ashley when I noticed 3 or 4 more bumps on my left wrist.  I thought I was getting attacked by a mosquito in the house!  Soon after that, I found 10-15 more bumps on the back of my neck.  My hands started to itch like crazy and swell 3 times their size.  Finally I woke Dave up (napped from working) and told him what was going on.  He told me to take benadryl and sleep.

I took his advice, and a few hours later I woke up with a huge top lip.  Seriously, it was bad.  I'm going to bite my pride in the butt and show you, just don't tell me how much you laughed at me because I'm sorta sensitive about it;)  Seriously, I've been crying for days, lol.

I know know, its huge!  My eyes and cheeks too.  Maybe if you don't know me well you can't tell?  I usually don't have much of an upper lip at all...and my face was so super puffy, it's disgusting!

Ok let me help my ego a bit, see?  Here's a nice pic of me in Italy, all happy and non allergic and looking cute, see how small my top lip normally is?  YIKES!

Anyways, we were still thinking it was a weird reaction to mosquitoes at this point, they really love me so it wasn't too weird to think one got in the house somehow during my busy day and attacked me.  We debated going to Express Care, I called my mom to ask her...since we just weren't sure and she said to get the heck up and go!

See?  They look like bug bites?!  This is nothing compared to what was coming, sorry, I have no pics of that part!


Good thing I did go!  I went in there, and of course was an emotional, hysterical mess (because I hate doctors and being sick and being poked and prodded and I had already been there a week ago for the UTI) Dave had to drop Ash off at his moms so he could take care of me and I thought I could handle going in alone at EC people, I cried all over them!  The doctor there said this was no mosquito attack, I was having an allergic reaction to something.  We went over everything but she said she was 99% sure it was the Bactrim they Rxed me for the UTI.  Allergy to Sulfa drugs is apparently really common.  She told me to keep taking the benadryl, max dose, until the swelling and bumps went away and she gave me a steroid that usually helps with attacks like this.  She checked my heart and breathing and everything, and all was ok, so she sent me home with instructions to rest, take the meds, and get to the ER with any changes.

I can't even imagine what would've happen if we DID NOT go to EC and I would've taken my dose of Bactrim that night.  It was already all up in my system for about 9 days, who knows?!  I drugged myself that night and Dave kept a close watch on me, and everything seem to be fine.

Monday I woke up, drowsy, and still puffy in my hands, it hurt to hold anything...

My hands are not that chubs!  I couldn't (still cant) wear my wedding rings.  I sorta trudged through Monday, Dave ended up calling out of work because I hadn't deflated yet.  We just sat around being lazy, and then after dinner, my body exploded.  Seriously.  I had a few hives on my knees and elbows, and decided to try an oatmeal bath to help the itch.  By the time I got out of the bath, I think I had over 300 hives just all over, it was terrible.  I kept my cool, and just lightly called Dave upstairs to look at me.  We just didn't know what to do?!  Even him being a nurse, was this an emergency?  I could breathe, I could talk, I wasn't hysterical, but I was worried.

We decided to be safe and go.  We couldn't predict if it would get worse later, and it's best not to play around with stuff like that!  We got to the ER and they said it was a good thing I came in.  We waited, and waited, and waited, even though they said that I'd be a fast track back to a room...I was annoyed with every old person with chest pain that came in after me because of course, they took them back right away.  I know, I know...I'm younger and healthier and they could be going into cardiac arrest, but at that point I was so itchy and miserable I couldn't even think straight.

Finally one of Dave's co-workers showed us back to a room and the DR got to me right away.  He said I was having a reaction, he agreed that it was the Bactrim and that I could experience symptoms for days.  He was worried about the hives and asked me if I wanted the fast treatment or the slow.  It was already 1am at this point, and I had had the hives since before 7pm, so of course I picked the quick fix.  Which was the Epipen.  Ouch.  They hooked me up to IV's of stuff, antihistamines and fluids and then jabbed me with the pen.  It didn't really hurt, but it was shocking.  They had to keep me until about 2am to watch my heart, because the adrenaline can do really crazy things to your heart rate, and then they sent me home.  With instructions to keep taking the benadryl and prednisone (steroid) as directed by Express Care and to come back if things didn't get better soon.

 All hooked up!

Home, resting from ER trip #1...I was a hard stick for an IV.  IVs hurt, FYI.  They hurt!  Yes, that big splotch is a huge hive.

Tuesday was better, during the day at least.  I didn't sleep much because of the Epipen.  The site where they stuck me was unbelievably sore, plus adrenaline doesn't let you sleep. But,  I thought things were better!  We even tried to go out that night, to see Batman which we've been dying to see, ready to enjoy a semi-normal night together.  Well, right before we left, I started itching again.  The hives came not too much later, we got as far as the parking lot of Regal and had to come home.  I was too nervous to go out like that.  As the night wore on, I got worse.  More hives, and much more hysterical at that point.  I had only slept maybe 5 hours in the last 36, so you can imagine my state of mind.  I had to keep taking cold showers and bath to help, it was something all the Docs told me to try if it got too bad.  Well, if you didn't know, taking cold showers is hell.  Pure hell.  I ended up freezing on the floor, face down in our room, in front of the fan, sobbing.  Dave told me to take my meds, take the benadryl and try to sleep.  He debated taking me back to the hospital, but I couldn't even talk to him to tell him what I wanted or needed.  He sat with me for a while, rubbing my head like a child and checking on me.  I think I dozed on and off all night, never really achieving anything close to sleep.  He said he heard me scratch all night:/

Next morning, I was still covered in hives that were turning into huge red spots.  This had been the longest bout yet, without any relief from any meds.  I ended back up on the floor face down, sobbing again.  Dave knew it was time.  He tried calling my mom, to say HELP ME WITH THIS GIRL!  LOL.  He really was a trooper.  The itching was so bad, I think I almost overdosed on Benadryl.  I was willing to do anything to get it to stop, and that is bad.  My feet were covered with tons of tiny hives that morphed into one huge one.  Are you itching yet?  LOL.  Dave drove me back to the ER, just as tired as I was, and got my parents on the phone.  Mom showed up ready to fight for me to stay at the hospital.  I was a mess, she was a mess, Dave was exhausted.  The doctor this time around was just as nice, suggested we try all new meds and no Epipen, no quick fixes here.  They hooked me up to all sorts of stuff and really watched me.  They told me they couldn't keep me, usually allergic reactions aren't "admit-able material" or something, unless you can't breathe or something.  But they did keep me for a few hours just to watch.  The new meds helped, almost immediately, and the DR promised she would send me home with all the same stuff, so I would know for sure it would work.  She also Rxed me Ambien for sleep, because as this point I had only 6-7 hours of sleep between Monday am and Wednesday pm. 

Mom drove me home so Dave could go to Target and get my meds and the millions of things we've needed all week but couldn't get out to buy.  I took everything and the hives stayed away, praise the Lord!!  I had my first experience with Ambien, which was definitely interesting!  I react fairly funny to sleeping pills!  It was the best relief I had in days, and I think I was giddy and drugged on NOT itching!!  No scratching!!  Thursday was great, nothing came back, although I had phantom itches all day, there were no red marks, not a one!  Mom and Dad came over to check up on me, Dave got to sleep, his work (the hospital, lol) was so understanding and let him stay home with me all week because he didn't want to leave me unattended after all this, just in case.  Thursday passed, Friday came and besides the effects of the meds, I've been fine.

I'm happy to say I've been hive free since Wednesday night, Dear Jesus I am knocking on wood and saying a millions prayers to keep that the case!  However, the regimen of medications they have me on is terrible.  I'm on a different steroid that has tons of side effects that I have to take a lot, an antihistamine that keeps me awake, anti-nausea meds that keep the pills down, and some sort of Pepcid that is another type of antihistamine, and then the Ambien for sleep.  Until today, I've been terrified to go out in the heat, or take hot baths, or even see people really.  I'm so over emotional, it's not funny.  It's the meds of course, and the trauma that I've been through.  Two ER visits for me is enough for a life time, I really hate hospitals!  But, this week, I honestly didn't want to leave because they helped me feel better, you know that is when I'm really not feeling well!!  Yikes!  All seems to be quiet right now though, and I am enjoying that.  

Anyways, that was my experience with an allergic reaction.  I'm telling you now, if someone wants to put you on Bactrim for antibiotic treatment for infection, ask for something else.  I've heard so many stories about it, it's best to stay away from it.  I'm still scared that it's swimming around in my system after taking it for so long, but as of tomorrow morning it'll have been a week since I've taken it, so hopefully it's gone.  I have a follow up appointment with a PCP on Tuesday, and they will probably refer me to an allergist, so I can be tested for sure for the allergy.

Thanks for everyone who has been commenting, texting, and praying for me.  It wasn't life threatening or even that big of a deal, but to me it was pure misery for a bit!  I can't even explain the feeling of the itching and delirium that it brought about, it was one of the worse things I've ever experienced.  I'm usually not a constant bummer or downer, but this week was so rough!

Things are looking better now and I am looking forward to enjoying my few last weeks of summer, and even looking forward to a new school year.  I'm thankful to be healthy again!  I am also thankful and blessed to have such a wonderful husband who has taken care of me all week and even dealt with my emotions and drama these past few days.  It's been tough but we've gotten through it!!

Cheers to being better, hopefully, and putting this whole nightmare behind me!!  Behind us!