Hives, but no Bees

Ok, I’m ready to talk about the health crap I’ve been going through for the last few months. It’s not pretty, but also not lethal. Except to my mental health.

It really started at the end of March, when I came down with bronchitis. I thought it might be covid, because many of the symptoms match, so I got tested. Obviously, it came back negative, so I got on antibiotics & recovered from that.

At this point, I started working from home, since we were planning that anyway at my office, & I wasn’t the only one from my department that was going to be doing work from home. We hadn’t planned on me starting so soon, but it worked out.

Then, I got the flu about a week later. Good thing I was working from home, as I was able to log in & work when I could, without having to travel to the office, feeling like crap, & possibly infecting coworkers.

Then, a couple of days later… I started to notice hives.

Just a few spots to start, they quickly seemed to spread, until they covered most of my body in extremely itchy, raised red welts.

And I do mean covered.

As in, at least 85℅ of my body was itching, welted, or felt like it was extremely sunburned.

These are pictures I took to show my doctor. They are just of my arms, and aren’t of the worst days.

I went through 2&1/2 bottles of calamine, and was double dosing myself with antihistamines. (I can’t take anything with diphenhydramine in it, like benadryl, as it makes my heart race, so I had to take what I can)

I also ended up with chemical burns from all the calamine. It dries your skin extremely well, so well, in fact, that if you use it for 2 months, you get dry-skin burns. And believe me, they hurt. It took copious amounts of lotion to relieve and reverse this. Don’t overdo calamine, folks. Trust me.

Think of it like pouring hydrogen peroxide into an open wound. After the bubbling stops, it turns white, right? Because it’s dessicated the tissue. Dried it to oblivion.

I also found a lotion that has menthol & camphor in it, which helps to kill the itch, & makes your skin feel extremely cold in the process, which helps with the burning feeling the inflammation causes. (It’s called Sarna)

My doc put me on prednisone, to help with that, as well as another issue, & it seemed to help.

During all of this, I tried to figure out if the hives were a reaction to a medication I’d started taking for my depression, or if it was a new allergy. Joy.

I stopped taking the antidepressant, on recommendation of my doc, and my emotions went haywire again.

I stopped eating the one food I thought might have caused the allergy. (I’m extremely picky in my eating, there aren’t a lot of things it could be, anymore)

And… The hives started to go away. It took a while, but it seemed to be working.

Then, last weekend, when I had my Schnicklefritz for the weekend, I ate something I hadn’t had for a while, & the hives flared again that night.

I thought this was my answer!

I’d found the culprit, and eliminating this would stop the hives, right?

I made an appointment with an allergist, anyway, just to make sure, but I was fairly positive I had my answer.

After seeing my doc this last week, I told her my theory, & she agreed with me, that it was probably a food allergy, had nothing to do with my med, & I could start taking it again, so I did.

That was 2 days ago.

Yesterday night, I noticed a couple of hives – on my face – and some itchy, raised patches on my thighs. I treated my legs with calamine, & my face with hydrocortisone cream.

This morning…

My legs.

I can’t show you pictures of the other places I found hives, because it was the back of my scalp, & along the back of my neck. Kind of difficult to get pictures of that, but believe me, I felt every welt.

And I’m not allowed to take any antihistamines. None.

Not until after my allergist appointment – next Wednesday.

So, I have literally zero idea what’s causing the hives.

No product changes, everything I use from soap to shampoo to laundry detergent, is stuff I’ve been using for years.

There are about 4 or 5 foods that I eat right now, and none of them have caused this since I cut the last one out. (It was barbeque, both chips & sauce, which is probably going to make me very sad, because I love barbeque. It’s one of my favorite condiments)

Most of the hives have settled down again tonight. Probably from the facts that, A) I applied calamine to every affected patch of skin I could reach, except my scalp; B) I used lidocaine spray on ALL of the welts. If it’s numb, I can’t feel the itch, so I won’t scratch, which just makes spread; & C) I haven’t eaten anything all day, but one of the few meals I know for a fact has nothing in it that will affect me.


I’m frustrated.

And tired.

And depressed.

I’ve had so many problems with allergies over the years.

And now, to add hives into this?

What if the allergist can’t figure out what’s causing them?

I have enough trouble with getting people to believe me about my allergies.

I need a large change in my life.

I want to move.

And I want to get a job where I can work from my home.

I’m tired of other people pissing on my feelings, & endangering my life, because they want to eat something I’m sensitive to, something that could possibly kill me.

I’m tired of having to excuse their lapses in memory.

I’m tired of turning the other cheek when their actions impact my health.

I have an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, which impacts so much more than just stiffness & pain in my joints. And I’m tired of people not believing me when I tell them that, too.

I need an out.

And I need it soon.

Or my mental health is going to continue to nosedive, antidepressants or not.

Anaphylaxis ~ or ~ How I Learned to Cherish Oxygen

I have allergies.

Some of them are fairly mild, like my hay-fever.  No big deal, I’ve learned over the years to just – deal- with these through mild antihistamines. 

Some of them, however, are serious.  As in life/death – serious.

And they weren’t always there.  I’ve had to learn how to deal with these just over the last few years.  And that makes it hard to get people to understand the nature and seriousness of my allergies.  Because they knew me before these ever hit, and can’t understand how they could get so bad, so fast.

A couple of years ago, I spent wayy too much money on an allergist, trying to find out the cause of all the problems I was having, and to see if there was a “cure” or, at least, a treatment that would knock my symptoms out… rather like treating a cold.

What I discovered… explained a lot of things in my life – which was good… but it was also completely depressing.

The allergist traced everything back to an anomaly of genetics.

Yeah, I knew I was an anomaly…

When I was born, it was unknown.  But… I have a little something extra on one of my kidneys.  An extra blood vessel that feeds the kidney, and caused at least 5 years of pain and testing on me as an adult to find it and correct it. 

I also had to have a minor surgery when I was a little girl for issues concerning my bladder.  Also treated and corrected, but stemming from the same genetic problem.

The allergist told me that many people that suffer from bladder and kidney issues, stemming from genetic, physical issues, end up allergic to latex, just as I did.  And, once the allergy kicks in… there’s no going back.  Every time you are exposed to the allergen, the reactions get a little worse, until you end up in the hospital, or possibly dead.

Latex allergy can be a skin-contact allergy only, but it can also be an “inhaled allergen” allergy, such as I have. 

Which, unfortunately, puts me into a really fun category.

Kidney and bladder issues lead to latex allergies…

Latex allergies lead to food allergies…

Things like onions, cucumbers, melons, kiwi, avocado, pineapple, bananas…

All of which I’m now allergic to.

And I don’t even have to eat the damn things to be affected.

It’s the smell of them that blocks off my throat, inhibiting my breathing to the point where I have to use a rescue inhaler just to keep my airway open.  Extreme exhaustion and severe itching on my arms, head and face, with my skin often feeling like it’s been sunburnt and slapped.

Cucumbers are probably the worst for me, as a 2-second exposure today to something in the office… closed off my airway and turned my arms a nice, blotchy red.  My voice dropped an octave and sounds like a strangled frog.  I’m completely wiped, energy-wise, and have a knock-out headache.  I don’t want to sound like I’m whining.  Really, it’s more of a wheezing… 

And it might not have been actual cucumbers.  It might just have been something cucumber-scented, as in lotion or body spray.  Doesn’t matter to my lungs.  They don’t care if it’s real or just an extract.  They snap shut the same no matter what form it takes.

There is no treatment, no cure for my most severe allergies.

The only thing I can do is try to avoid the allergens, and treat the reactions with a rescue inhaler, plus keeping epi-pens in my desk and purse for emergencies.

I’m not writing this for sympathy.

I’m not writing this to elicit pity or angry, rantish comments.

Yeah, I”m angry that some of my co-workers don’t take my allergies seriously.  They seem to think that “it’s just a little bit” makes it all better. 

Tell that to someone with a peanut allergy. 

That’s what really ticks me off. 

If this was a peanut allergy… there would be no problem with my co-workers keeping anything like that out of the office.  They would understand that, since it’s all over the news all the time about kids that suffer from them, going into anaphylactic reactions from the merest hint  of peanuts.

But, since this is something different, an anomaly, they don’t get it.  And sometimes, it seems as though they – just. don’t. care.

I want people to understand. 

Anaphylaxis is real – it’s not just for peanuts – and it’s life and death serious.

 Rant over… now back to your regularly scheduled programming…