Friday, December 16, 2005

the comedy is lost

Thank you for your advice and good wishes on my last couple of posts. I was in better spirits yesterday, having won the "I Love to Kvetch" award over at Phantom Scribbler's for Whining Wednesday.

I hope this will be my one and only win for "Whine of Substance", at least for the foreseeable future.

Since I know not all of you partake in the wonder that is Whining Wednesdays, I shall share my tale of woe with you here.

After I woke up on Wednesday morning with more hives despite the wall to wall Benadryl I had been taking, I was given an emergency appointment that morning with my regular doctor. When I arrived at the doctor's office, I had hives on my arms and some around my calves, but nothing extreme. As the nurse called my name, I stood up to walk down the hall and felt something in my left shoe. I stopped walking, looked at the bottom of my sole, thinking I'd gotten something wedged in there... Nothing. I continued down the hall and the feeling remained of something stuck in there, so the moment we stopped in an exam room I pulled off my boot and found a golf ball sized lump on the side of my foot. I peeled my sock off to find welts appearing all over my foot, while the lump on the side and bottom of my foot grew. The nurse took one look at my foot and squeaked out "I'll, umm, go get the doctor." The doc rushed in and started examining the hives. She asked me to show her my other foot. I peeled off my sock and she compared the two, and before our very eyes, another lump began growing on the other foot. Additionally, smaller bumps were showing up all over the rest of my feet and calves. Within a few minutes, my forearms were covered in hives, as well.

I was freaked, to say the least. It was one thing to have innocuous looking bumps on my body, but these lumps were big and uncomfortable, and it felt as if I were walking with a golf ball tucked into my foot. Ick.

The doctor prescribed some Allegra, more Benadryl, and an emergency dose of steroid should I have any breathing complications, but surprisingly, no tests or additional ideas. At the time, I was pretty overwhelmed with the hives and the speed at which they were changing, so I didn't question her diagnosis. She suspects an allergy to Advil. Odd, because I take Advil as my basic pain reliever, for headaches and body aches and random ailments, but she thought that maybe the migraine had lowered my body's resistance, and the Advil allergy was able to take its full form.

Anyway, I started the treatment on Wednesday. At this point, I remained chipper and endured the hives with little complaint. Enough whining to win my award (YAY!) but I was going to work and being the good employee that I am.

Thursday morning, however, I woke up with lips swollen a la Angelina Jolie. And folks, it wasn't a good look for me. I will not be seeking collagen injections at any point in the future. I was mildly alarmed by the burning, stinging and swelling, but I did my regular morning routine and headed off to work. During the day, I started to feel significantly better. The lip swelling went down, the hives seemed to be decreasing, and even my cold seemed a little better.

Thursday night, at around 10:30pm, I packed up my stuff and drove my friend home from work to take a peek at her Christmas decorations. While in her apartment, I began to have this strange feeling. It was hard to describe, but it didn't feel right. I felt lots of pressure in my chest, some shortness of breath, and a strong need to throw up. Because I'm an idiot, I insisted on driving myself home, and then promptly freaked out while driving. The tightness was getting worse, and I wondered if I shouldn't head straight for the emergency room of the closest hospital. In the end, I got on the phone with Josh, and since I was only 10 minutes from home, I drove straight home and took a full dose of Benadryl and lay down on the couch to see if I improved.

I know, I know. You're wondering why I didn't go straight to the emergency room. And frankly, today I'm wondering that too. But at midnight, exhausted and frustrated and not really knowing what was happening, it didn't register with either one of us that I was having another manifestation of the extreme allergic reaction. At one point, Josh noted that I also had hives all over my face, where there'd been none just before. I started to cry, and told Josh that I wished someone would tell me what to do. I kept saying that I didn't "feel right" but I couldn't pinpoint what it was. We finally decided I'd lie down and try to sleep and see if I felt any better.

I slept late this morning, and woke up groggy and exhausted but better. My cheeks were a bit swollen, but no hives were visible at first glance. This was a brief respite, though, and by the time I arrived at the office I was in full-blown hive mode. This time they were all over my hands, arms, feet, and both legs. The ones on my legs were intensely itchy, very swollen and were driving me a bit nuts.

I spoke to my friend, Dr. B, who chastised me for not going to the emergency room the night before. He said that my doctor needed to hear what was happening, and that we had moved from the normal hives "nothing to do" mode, into a dangerous place where I needed some answers. A call into my doctor confirmed his advice, and she prescribed steroids and a referral to an allergy and immunology specialist.

My orders are clear, and if I experience any lip swelling, throat itching, chest pressure or shortness of breath, I am to go directly to the hospital. Do not pass Go. In the meantime, Josh and my plans to attend a cousin's bar mitzvah in Long Island with his family are out of the question, and Josh can't even go without me since my symptoms seem to get worse at night and I need someone around to drive me in case of an emergency.

All in all, these aren't serious problems, but this week has felt incredibly long. I am still working like a crazy person at the office while scratching my legs uncontrollable. I am less productive, which makes my hours even longer, and this weekend I'm going to have to work to make up for what I didn't get done during the week.

So if you have some happy anti-hivey messages you can send my way, I'd really appreciate it. While I'm typing, the hives are appearing on my fingers and arms. Sigh. Let's hope the steroids boot this allergy right out.


Anonymous said...

Hi Halloweenlover--
I'm so sorry you are dealing with this! It sounds really scary--I hope it resolves soon! Have you thought about getting an epi-pen in case of further attacks? It sounds similar to the kind of anaphylactic attacks that a friend's daughter gets from eating peanuts. Also, I would suggest that rather than having someone drive you to the hospital if it happens again, please call 911!
Not to freak you out or anything, but these kind of reactions can be very serious and fast. (At least for my friend's child), and the 911 folks have all the stuff to deal with it. (also you'll get seen in the er faster, and hopefully they'll figure out what is going on!)
On a lighter note, knock on wood, I think the weird thing that had been giving my kids (mild) hives for a couple weeks is fading now. Maybe yours will fade much faster!
I'll think you lots of non-hivey thoughts!
:) Neighbor Lady
p;.s. sorry about all the unsolicited advice, i'm just worried...

blackbird said...


the very minute anything swells, hives appear or something is red and itching?
I know you are okay, but something freaky is happening and as a mom I am telling you that you should have a doctor, an ER doctor, look at it.

my two cents.
but you should listen to me.
(though I am not sure why, except I like you)

lostinthemiddle said...

Yikes HL.

This sounds awful. I'm so sorry. I hope it all goes as away as quickly and mysteriously as it began.

Gawdessness said...

I am so glad that you are around to write this post and I hope that you do everything possible to keep being around!
Hope the answers come soon and the lumps and everything go far away!

Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

Please please please go to the hospital if anything like that happens again! Hope the new specialist brings some answers.

Beanie Baby said...

Good god.


Umm. That's it.

No, wait--SICK DAYS! Do you not get sick days? WTH? I can tell you I would not have been at work, would NOT have been doing overtime and WOULD NOT have been making it up during the weekend. Jeesh. Is it a law firm thing?

nancy said...

Wishing you a hive-free weekend. And rest of your life too, take care.

liz said...


Get thee to a hospital as soon as any of your symptoms appear, it sounds like your allergies are getting worse, not better, even if they seem to go away for a few hours.

And I know it's hard to take sick days when you're a lawyer, but sometimes you've got to.

Frankie said...

PLEASE call 911 if that happens again. They will have epi pens with them...I am surprised you weren't prescribed one!

Suzanne said...

Oh my God. I hope these resolve soon -- how scary. I can understand how helpless you must have felt. I hope that you have no need to go the hospital, but if things get worse, please go!

Maribeth said...

Okay, I'm hoping that you are de-swelling and de-hiving as I write. You poor thing! (does this help?)
Seriously, I want you to take care, get into a hospital if those reactions happen again and for goodness sake schedule an appointment with an allergist ASAP!

Phantom Scribbler said...

WHY did my feed reader not tell me you had updated until now? Grrrr....

I'm glad you're on the steroids. I second the general wisdom that you go to the ER at the first sign of any problems. Seriously. And yes, you should have been given an epi pen. Let us know how it's going today if you can...

Chatty Cricket said...

I wonder if you might be allergic to something at the office?! When I was working at the place where I used to work before I quit (you know where I'm talking about), we all started having intense headaches over in my corner of the office and this lasted for weeks. Turns out we had mice in the building and the Stellar Maintenance Committee had elected to spray some form of rat poison into the ceiling, which then got picked up in the duct work and pumped into our work space. Brilliant, no?

But seriously, have they done any work recently or any cleaning in your office that could be causing your reaction???

Ninotchka said...

Chica, cuidate! You had better to go straight to the Dr/Hospital if you get to feeling that bad again. Now I'm going to worry about you all weekend. Hmmph.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering, along the lines of the commenter who asked about new construction or anything at work, whether you had recently brought anything new into your house, maybe as decorations for the holidays?? My father has a bad reaction to pine, and maybe it is something like that with you? Just a thought...Hope you are feeling better!
Neighbor Lady

jo(e) said...

Oh, how terrible. I have taken medicine only a couple times in my life -- and both times broke out in hives. One of the times, I was in the middle of class (and had been taking an antibiotic) and suddenly started feeling incredibly itchy, and huge hives began appearing all over my body. Luckily, one of my students who is an EMT knew what was happening, gave me some anti-histamine, and told me to get someone to drive me home right away. Discontinuing the antiobiotics I was on was enough to make them go away.

I know how horrible it is to suddenly feel your body turn into this alien, itchy thing .... ugh.

JenfromBoston said...

My God! I hope you are feeling better - you sounds so uncomfortable...that is some bad reaction.
Hope the steroids are working. When's your appt???

KathyR said...

Yeah, what everybody else said with the good wishes and the scolding and the 911. Criminy. If there's a hotel closer to the hospital, go stay there and eat room service until you feel better.

Peggy said...

I have 25 years as EMT and Lab Tech and cannot believe after guessing the first time what you were allergic to that they didn't do some bloodwork or at least send you on right then to the specialist. The shortness of breath and golfball size hives are not something to take lightly. Bet that doctor wouldn't be guessing and sitting at home waiting if it was her.

peripateticpolarbear said...

I hope you're feeling better soon. I've had the same reaction you're describing and understand totally why going to the ER didn't seem like the right thing to do....I remember the go or not go debate very well.

I hope you're feeling better and I hope they figure out what you're so allergic to. And for pete's sake, why didn't your firm send you home?

KLee said...

Teesh! Sorry to hear that you are having such trouble! I hope that you are able to get an answer (or at least some relief) soon.

Try your hardest not to scratch. I am not trying to worry you, but I once had hives get infected from all the scratching, and I DO NOT wish that to happen to you. (I even had one infected hive turn into a basal-cell carcinoma, so PLEASE try your best not to scratch!)

I go into anaphylactic shock from eating seafood. I used to have to carry an epi-pen. While it's no fun at all to have this to deal with, you are still in the diagnose stage, and hopefully, things won't get this bad for you.

Piece of Work said...

Wow, HL, what a nightmare. I totally understand why you didn't go to the ER, though of course as everyone says, you should have. It's hard to believe that it's something so serious, esp. when your doctor didn't send you to an allergist right away. And the last thing you want to do at midnight is go to the ER. However, now we have both learned what not to do.

I hope you are feeling much better today and get the whole hive thing worked out.

Running2Ks said...

Allergies are a scary thing--especially when they progress to the point of chest pain and breathing problems. My husband carries an epi-pen for episodes--I hope you can get this taken care of, pinpoint the trouble, and keep yourself safe. HUGS!

Mr. Blue said...

Sorry you had to go through all this. But I do have to say that the I Love to Kvetch Award looks great on your blog home page. And I'll talk to Phantom and see if she can't award you an Epi Pen. I'm trying to convince her to get one too since she's on immunotherapy for her allergies. I'm glad you're finally on steroids - probably should have been started right away but it's easy to be an armchair doctor. Hope you're having a relaxing and non-erythematous weekend!

Songbird said...

Halloweenlover, the hives are so scary. We went through allergic reactions with #1 Son this summer--including the incident where the Epipen ended up lodged in his thumb, ugh--and all I can say is it's better to ask for help sooner rather than later. I hope you're feeling better by this point, which is Monday morning, but if not, that you'll be seeing a doctor again soon.

Chris said...

Oh how scary. Definitely get an epi-pen. I have to carry one for severe shellfish allergy.

Hope you are feeling better and get some answers soon.

Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

OK, just had to tell you that one of my best friends here has the SAME THING! She's allergic to amoxicillin, and she took some on Saturday... hives on her legs, her feet, her arms, her butt (she didn't show us, she just told us it was hivey and itchy). She even said she felt her throat close up! But the prednizone they gave her at urgent care is making her feel so much better. (Just slightly itchy.) Hope you're feeling better, HL!

Sol said...

Oh, dear! I am SO sorry to hear that you are going through this...

I know you are probably tired of hearing this but head to the ER as soon the moment you don't feel okay .... And cut yourself some slack at work! Sounds like you need your rest, honey.

Hope you are feeling better by now and thanks for your sweet comment on my blog.

Gee, it seems it has not been a good week for us Argentinean ladies but, hopefully, we are both on the mend soon.

Running2Ks said...

Let me wish you a Happy Holidays, too!!!

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