Friday, June 14, 2013

lately I've been... in the ER

Where do I start this story?

I guess I start from yesterday morning.

After scarfing down a quick gluten-free millet-flax bagel with butter, I raced around my house to get into my running gear and head outside.  My husband had graciously decided to give me an extra hour in the morning to run, and I had to take advantage of the opportunity before my playdate guests would arrive at 10 AM.

It was supposed to be a routine thing.  I run or exercise 4-5 times a week -- and quite intensely, at that.  I was supposed to be out for a quick little sprint around the neighborhood and be back in time to shower and set up some toys for Gwendolyn's buddies.

It was around minute ten that I realized something was up.  I started to feel a familiar itch.  I looked down at my arms and saw them: hives.

At first, I just decided to ignore them.  A couple weeks prior, they had made a brief appearance at boot camp but had gone away quickly.  Five minutes later -- covered head-to-toe in itchy blotches -- I realized these were not the hives to ignore.

I stopped running, hoping that by stopping strenuous activity, I could stop the allergic reaction.  It was the longest walk home, as I felt my body burning up and getting worse and worse.  Finally, I said "to heck with it" and just sprinted home -- the desire for Benadryl far outweighing whatever I thought I was doing by walking home.

Running inside to the bathroom, I quickly took two Benadryls and was readying the shower when I just had to sit down.  I felt dizzy and lightheaded and fuzzy.  My thoughts weren't coherent.  I called for my husband who took one look at me and said, "We're calling an ambulance."

"What?"  I was surprised.  An ambulance??  This is a man who is very level-headed.  Why would we need an ambulance?  "No... I just took medicine..."

"Well, we're going to the hospital.  Get in the car."

I stumbled around, gathering diapers and things for Amelie -- who had to come with us, I told Elliott, because she doesn't take a bottle and would inevitably get hungry.  Thankfully, my sister-in-law was with us so Gwen stayed home to play with her Tia.

In the car, I felt my lips and tongue growing tingly, but tried to remain calm, per the advice of my husband.  My skin looked ... just unearthly.  Like some sort of lizard creature from a sci-fi novel.  I felt gross.  My skin was so itchy, it was burning.

This hadn't happened in six years

Six Years Ago
To make a long story short, since high school I had been having problems with hives.  They would happen suddenly -- usually when overheated or while exercising -- but not always.  As time went on, each reaction would get worse and worse.  Finally -- six years ago -- I ended up in the ER twice in one week.  The first time, I was home alone and passing out -- barely making it to the phone to call 9-1-1.  The second time, I took one ibuprofen (something I had taken my whole life), and my throat started itching almost immediately and my body inflamed into one big hive.  I took an Epipen and ... I think we drove to the hospital that time, as my parents were home (but I can't really remember...).

After multitudes of tests, my allergist told me that I have allergies to wheat/gluten, corn, shellfish, and (surprise!) ibuprofen.  Although I could eat bits of these things here and there (except for shellfish and ibuprofen -- I will most likely just stop breathing if I consume those things), the reality is that if I have it in my body, then I could very well have a severe allergic episode.  There's also this thing called exercised-induced anaphylaxis (I'm SO GLAD this is an ACTUAL thing now -- as I don't think anyone knew anything about it when I was going through this in high school/college and now I don't feel so crazy).  Basically, some people randomly go into anaphylactic shock when exercising -- not all the time, but some of the time.  For others, if they consume certain foods  (ie. GLUTEN) and then exercise, they will go into anaphylaxis.  I believe I am the latter (although I need to get my runner's feet to an allergist asap).

So even though I ate what I believed to be a gluten-FREE bagel the other morning, the bag says, "Contains Traces of Wheat/Gluten."  I guess I'm a little bit more allergic than I realized.  Oh bother.

Back to the Present
Thankfully, it was a short visit to the ER, only lasting a couple of hours (and a BIG shoutout to DCMH -- Ame's birthplace and the calmest hospital I've ever been to -- I LOVE that place!). I went home, complete with some Epipens and steroids and what-have-you.  Then I slept and slept and slept all day, woke up to eat, and then slept and slept and slept all night.

I am certainly better physically.  The hives and bruises from the hives have all disappeared.  But emotionally, I guess I'm a little more shaken up than I realized.  The scariest thing to me is that I have children now.  I'm no longer a single gal who can simply call an ambulance and head out.  I have dear little ones who depend on me -- and a little baby who probably doesn't know how to take a bottle and needs to nurse.  And even though there are many people in my area who would come to help at the drop of a hat, there's no guarantee that they would be reachable at the right moment.  So you know what?  I'm a little freaked out and fragile right now.

My plan moving forward is to be ever-so-vigilant about not eating things, even with traces of wheat, gluten, and corn.  This is going to take some concerted effort on my part.  I also should be very good about eating certain foods that have NEVER caused an allergic reaction from me -- like bananas and eggs.  Oh, and find a way to get to an allergist in the next couple weeks.

But hey, the good news is I'm fine, right?
And the even better news is that we're celebrating Gwen's TWO YEAR OLD birthday TOMORROW!
And I'm here to celebrate it.  Good stuff.

Happy weekend, everyone!

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