Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The day I almost died

I am having the hardest time getting this post to start. I either try and do this universal introduction of the topic at hand like I do with my research papers like "In this world, there is oxygen. And oxygen is used to breathe. And that is why stupid people live." You know, you start out really broad to get the ball rolling, and then get really specific and then make an awkward jump from one thing to the other because you realize that your topic is really specific and getting to the specifics in your round-about way would take the entire length of the paper. And you know you need to revise it but you don't because you use the excuse of being edgy in the world of writing.

I tried doing that. And then I tried just typing the topic and getting into it. But then it felt like a monologue. But that's just stupid because that's all a blog is: a written monologue. So I guess I could do that now. But I feel like explaining my difficulty in introducing a topic. It's always existed. But this discussion in its full length is for another day.


There. I did it. That's what I'm gonna talk about. So, to the rest of the family that is last in knowing what the heck happened to me Tuesday (which is probably Julina, though I think she knows. Sorry if you don't, Juli! You know now!) and whatever smattering of readers I get like those Asian people who leave Asian characters as a comment and I'm forced to delete them, I had an allergic reaction Tuesday. Tuesday night, actually. At approximately 8:43 pm. I can't be sure since the clock in my car is 15 minutes fast and I have to subtract and wasn't concerned with specifics amongst all the internal commotion.

Of the many reactions I've had (4), this was the worst. I was headed from Institute to Cracker Barrel to visit Elise and buy a dessert, possibly. As I was on Broadway (not the one in New York, the street in Columbia), I noticed that my eyes and throat were particularly itchy. As always, I satisfied my throat itch by doing that weird thing at the back of your throat and it sounds like you're imitating a lion or something that roars. I get great satisfaction from doing that, but this time I didn't. After doing said technique, I started coughing. And my skin got all crawly. I checked for hives immediately and saw that there was one. Swelling right before my eyes. I redirected my path and started to head home, knowing that this was an allergic reaction. But not without enduring the worst traffic ever! Slow people were in front of me and I was screaming (which probably didn't help the reaction) at the top of my lungs "I'M DYING, STUPID PEOPLE! DO YOU WANT THE DEATH OF A 19 YEAR OLD ON YOUR CONSCIENCE?!?!?!!11!!!@@21!" (To those curious, yes, I did scream two @ signs.)

Well, that didn't do jack squat. I still dealt with traffic and finally made it home, but not without speeding about 20 over the limit the last mile or so. I park my car, get my stuff, and run inside. I immediately yell for my mom, who's at the computer watching "The Young Victoria", and tell her I'm having an allergic reaction. I grab for a towel. Get it wet. Go to the sink where my Benadryl is sitting. Take two of them. Go to the sofa. Lay the towel over my eyes. And hope to goodness that my eyes don't swell to the size of Montana. 

My mom comes to my side, not sure what to do. I told her that we could just wait it out because it'll go away after a while. Mom thinks differently. She goes down to wake up the doctor in our basement, Allen (true story. We have a doctor in our basement. Well, a resident. But who cares that much anyways?). He calmly tells me to take more drugs, ingest Flonase, and call an ambulance. Because I felt the ambulance was a bit dramatic, we decided to drive to the emergency room.

At this point, my eyes have almost completely swollen shut, my nose is leaking fluids I didn't know I had in me but is completely stuffed otherwise, my throat is so swollen no one can understand what I'm saying, and the hives are EVERYWHERE. And now I'm tired of giving a play by play of everything that happened so yada yada yada, I'm in the emergency room with monitors all over my chest, an IV in my arm (EEEEEK!), and a sore stomach from the epinephrine shot (the mark is still there).

In true Lambson fashion, my mom snaps a picture of my face after all is said and done to document how puffy it got. She shows it to friends, colleagues, and probably random people in the street (I'm only kidding, mom. I know you only talk to people in grocery stores, not the street.) So I'm put on a drip of Benadryl followed by a whole bunch of other drugs that make me have to go pee really bad. And I'm stuck in the ER for 4 hours! Bleh. And the swelling won't go away for days, which will have me be a hermit for the course of those days.

By 2 am, I'm allowed to go home and try and sleep. Because I have so much Benadryl in my system, I conk out.

Long story short ("Too late!") I almost died. I was prescribed some steroids to take to prevent a rebound reaction and was told to take Benadryl, Allegra, Zyrtec, Zantac, and Claritin for the next few days as well. So from Wednesday to about Sunday, I was in a drug-induced buzz, but not a good kind. It was very bleh. And the fact that my face was fat and puffy didn't help my overall mood.

I also have to carry around an Epi-pen, just in case I decide to puff up again.
I feel like I'm carrying a weapon of some sort, except instead of using it on others it will have to be used on me. That's actually not what MY epi-pen looks like but I'm too lazy to take a picture, get my SD card out of my camera, put it in my laptop and then download the photo and upload it onto this post. Mine has a tough plastic casing and has a set of animated instructions on how to properly jam that bad boy into your thigh. *Shudder* I'm done talking about this. Needles give me the jibblies.

Now you are all thinking: what is the cause of such a severe reaction? Well, here is my answer: I DON'T KNOW! AH! How scary is that? I have an inkling but its only that. We got a blood test after the first reaction two years ago but the results weren't very helpful. I have a mild allergy to corn as it turns out, and so that's what we've honed in on as far as the real cause. It's the only common factor since High-Fructose Corn Syrup or HFCS is in everything.
Because of such deductions, I am now on a HFCS diet. And it really is in EVERYTHING. Except fruit. And other raw/natural things. I'm slowly becoming a raw-foodist. But, as it turns out, there is no corn in Cheez-its. So my favorite food is still safe. Yay!

I'll be going to an allergist in a few weeks and they'll hopefully determine the real culprit. I'm hoping it's not HFCS or corn in general because I love corn and corn on the cob and all the unhealthy processed foods that has high levels of HFCS. I'm hoping its something like mayonnaise or needles because I hate both of those and that is easily avoidable. Or hopefully the Twilight Series because I hate that too. Can you be allergic to literature? I think I'll be allergic to it just so I have an excuse to sneeze disgustingly on any copy of the books or films. It's decided! I'm now allergic to the works of Stephenie Meyer and any by-product!


Julina said...

I *did* know about the reaction - mom emailed and then, instead of telling me about it when I was calling on an unrelated topic, she just told me to read the email. Which lacked some of the graphic details (though it did include the spike in your heart rate when the IV went in).

I'm glad you survived and I REALLY hope they figure out what's going on. And I think you're on a HFCS-*free* diet, cause the way you have it sounds like it's all you're eating.

I had a coworker once with a 4 year old son (he'd be closer to 10 now, probably) with severe milk allergy, so he had to learn about using an epi-pen before he was even in kindergarten!

And I had no idea you could take all of the different allergy meds out there at once. Maybe just when death is the alternative.

Hope you get some answers soon.

Jeanne, the mom and grandmom said...

I actually did show your photo to a person on the street........Well, OK, not really.