Thursday, May 30, 2013

Allergies - 1/Heather - 0

Today started out as such a productive day. I was up by 7:15 in time to have coffee before my 8:00 live webinar CEU class; I was at the allergy clinic by 10:00, I was going to wash window screens before going to the gym at 11:30. Man, was I off to a good start!

Nothing like a trip to the ER for it all to go to hell.

I had an allergic reaction to my allergy shot. I've been getting allergy shots since December, in hopes of quelling my seasonal allergies (turns out I'm allergic to everything in Alaska except horses, guinea pigs and rabbits). Today I was able to increase my dose and start my maintenance phase. Very exciting. Typically once I've had my shot I wait at the doctor's office 15 minutes before leaving to ensure I don't have a bad reaction. I waited my time and went home. All was well.

Shortly after getting home though, my eyes became outrageously itchy. I didn't think much of it until I looked in the mirror and saw this:

I debated about taking Benadryl. It makes me so sleepy and I wanted to go to the noon crossfit class. But then I thought, if my eyes were swollen shut I wouldn't be able to do anything anyways. I took two Benadryl.

I was itching all over: my neck, behind my ears, my back, my collarbone, site of the injections. And my eyes! They just wouldn't stop itching!  Rubbing sandpaper on my eyelids seemed like a viable option for stopping the itch.

Then I started coughing. It felt as if I was trying to scratch the the inside of my lungs by coughing. The inside of my throat was itchy. I didn't feel as though my throat was closing, or my tongue was swelling but I was starting to wheeze. I decided I'd better Google "allergic reaction to allergy shots". Wheezing was a sign of severe reaction. Right along with "death". That's a sign? Isn't death the result of ignoring signs?

Anyway, my eyes were still itchy and now they looked like this. Gorgeous.

I decided I'd best drive myself to the ER. I headed downstairs to the garage when I became light-headed. Yet another sign (before death) of a severe reaction. I wasn't sure I could safely get myself to the ER even though I live only 4 blocks away. I didn't want to call 911 mostly because my insurance doesn't cover 100% of the cost for ambulance rides (or ER visits for that matter). Thought I'd save some money by driving myself. But then I was worried that while driving there, my throat would swell to the point where I couldn't talk and then I wouldn't be able to call 911 at all.

All the while I'm also thinking about how fast allergic reactions can go down hill. When my sister once had an allergic reaction her tongue was swollen within minutes, almost to the point of closing off her airway. (So much thinking for a simple decision. Trouble breathing? Go to the ER!) 

I called 911. (Realize too, that I've never been to the ER. I've never broken a bone. I don't even have a cavity. I don't get sick; I don't do ER.) 

As I waited for the ambulance it struck me how messy my house was. The dispatcher said the paramedics would be there in 6 minutes. Wheezing and coughing, with eyes almost swollen shut I picked up a bit. Shoes were tossed in the closet, dishes went in the dishwasher and the coffee table was dusted. My chateau was presentable for guests. At least my house was. I certainly wasn't.

This may, in fact, be the scariest picture
of me, ever. Yet I share it with you,
dear readers. 
While in the ambulance the paramedic suggested that starting an IV would be a good idea. I convinced him otherwise.

My veins are hard to get at and I've had bad experiences of missed pokes. So now I tell whomever is wielding the needle exactly how to do it: use a butterfly needle and tighten that tourniquet! I was informed that butterfly needles are not carried on the ambulance. I told that paramedic he had two tries to nail that vein and then he'd be SOL. I'm sure he would have done a stellar job in a moving vehicle; but by the time I had laid out the conditions by which he could give me an IV, we were at the hospital.

In an ultimate Sister Mary moment I almost fell into a wall stepping out of the ambulance. That was almost as good as the other day when I almost rammed my head into a beam at Crossfit while doing "inch worms" across the floor. Big, empty room they got there at Crossfit. Hard to miss a structural support beam in the middle of a warehouse.

Back at the ER, next thing I know I was in a gown and strapped to an IV with a cup of ice chips by my side.

An epi shot, steroid shot, 2 IV bags of pepcid, and an allbuteral nebulizer treatment later I was good to go.

And can I just say, "Wow" to epinephrine! I realize it's a shot of adrenalin and its job is to incite "flight or "fright" but holy cow! I felt like I had had 10 triple espressos. I would've smoked that Crossfit workout today! 10 squats at 220lbs? That's what I'm talkin' about! 125 double-unders? You bet! I can't even do double-unders consecutively. But I would've after that epi!

(Apparently epinephrine also leaves you with illusions of grandeur.)