Attack of the Allergies

If I were on camera today, you would see me going from a chipper, smiling man who is joking around with the allergist at 2:15 to a broken, swollen shell of a man at 3:15. Looking back to what happened today, I am astounded by the contrast.

I’ve had a very mild cold for about 6 months. My ENT suggested I get a full allergy test to see if there’s something bothering me that could be eliminated from my life. So I signed up for this allergy test.

Yet another photo of me, I know. This is a photo from years ago on a night when I had a really bad headache, so I thought it would be appropriate. It's better than a current photo of my pincushion arm.

The first part was easy. The allergist–a delightful, cheery woman named Mary–gently pricked my arm without breaking the skin. A few spots swelled up, an indication that she would tone done the injections for the next part of the test. Apparently I’m really, really allergic to oak, because the swelling there was huge. There goes my winter diet of roasted oak bark on rye.

Then came the slightly more painful part. Mary eased about 20 needles just under the skin on my arm, all in a row, again to see which ones formed a rash.

This is where the trouble began.

It started with my palms itching. They had turned bright red, and it felt like my skin was bubbling. Then the back of my neck got really dry. Then I got a headache–one second, no headache; the other, headache. Just like that.

I dismissed these symptoms as psychological, so I didn’t say anything until the allergist noticed that I kept looking at my hands. She asked if I felt weird, and she said if my throat started to feel funny, I should say something.

Of course, that’s when my throat started to feel funny. I still thought it was psychological, so I got a drink of water and tried to calm down. At this point, the area on my arm that the allergist had used to test me was a singular swollen mass.

This is when I started to feel really, really bad. My face got really warm and felt puffy, and my throat and tongue started to swell. And my stomach…I just felt really queasy, like that feeling when you’ve had too much to drink and the room is spinning and you probably should throw up but you really don’t want to. That feeling. I was dizzy and nauseas, and apparently my face looked like that of the undead. I later saw my face in the mirror, and I’ve never seen my eyes that bloodshot.

At this point, the doctor intervened and gave me two shots: Benadryl in the right butt cheek (yeah, that one still hurts. The needle was longer than my middle finger) and a steroid in the upper arm. They guided me to an empty room and let me lay down on a reclining chair. I had enough energy to text work that I was still at the doctor’s, but I literally couldn’t do anything else. I’ve felt sick and weak before, but never anything like this.

I laid there for about an hour. The allergist and the doctor kept checking on me to make sure that (a) I wasn’t dead and (b) that I wasn’t undead (I presume). Finally the Benadryl kicked in and the queasiness went away, but I wasn’t allowed to drive home because of the effects of the Benadryl. Mary was kind enough to take me home–I think she was particularly concerned because she said that the reaction I had has happened to only 5 out of the thousands of patients she’s has over the years. I guess I feel special? I then proceeded to pass out and sleep for 2 hours.

So anyway, here’s something you can learn from all this: People love to talk about illnesses, allergic reactions, and injuries. So the next time you’re in a conversation that’s stalled, ask the person if they’ve ever been in the hospital or broken a bone. Guaranteed conversation helper.

11 thoughts on “Attack of the Allergies”

  1. I’m so evil, I was laughing through most of this. My arm is starting to get itchy though, maybe I’m becoming allergic to your blog. Maybe you’re allergic to Biddy :-O

    • I don’t know if they could pinpoint it, because my arm swelled up from almost all of the shots (fortunately, cats weren’t one of them). I was the most allergic to oak and dust mites, but it was probably the combination of 20 different allergens in my bloodstream that did me in.

      • So are they going to try it again using just a few allergens at at time to see which ones are the worst, or what is the result of all this?

        • I think what they’d do–if I choose to get allergy shots–is mix them all together and inject the potpourri into my body one week at a time in increasingly larger doses until my body develops an immunity to all of them.


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