Monday, March 17, 2014

Allergies are KILLER

Death Wash
"If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats."
-Lemony Snicket

I finally made an appointment to see an allergist next week after almost dying last night. Good god, allergic reactions are no joke. And it's ridiculous what triggered it.

I had scuffed up my knees/elbows Saturday night in Heather/Andrew's pool and wanted to make sure they were nicely washed out yesterday, so I used this antiseptic wash Tom's mom (a retired nurse) had given us. With a known antibiotic allergy (rocephin), I read the back of the bottle to make sure that it's not in there and sure enough, it wasn't so YOLO I decided, very dumb in retrospect. I washed my knees and my hands with the solution, rinsed off, dried & bandaged my knees. I put on pajamas and sit in bed next to Tom where he was playing games on my nook. My stomach itched... I scratched, then I noticed my palms & feet were throbbing itchy, then when I sat up to scratch my feet, a hot flash swept through my body and I stood up saying, "Tom, something is wrong with me. Something is wrong with my body." I couldn't think, everything itched so badly, I was short of breath & all I wanted was to rinse the itch off, so I hopped back in the shower, incoherent. I'm susceptible to anxiety attacks, so I try to mentally calm myself down to assess: is this all in my head or am I physically reacting to something. I realize there's a rock sitting on my chest & I need to go to the hospital. Tom helps me get dressed & we're out the door. I start seeing black spots walking to the car and I'm super flushed, super itchy all over. Tom speeds to the 24 hour Emergency Clinic right by our house (kind of like an urgent care, but billed as an ER) where I tell the woman I believe I'm having a severe allergic reaction. At this point, it's getting difficult to breathe and I'm beet red, covered in hives, so duh, severe allergic reaction. The woman then proceeds to hand me a stack of paperwork to fill out. I mumble, "can't" and push it towards Tom so I can flop down on the couch before I pass out. I'm sitting there, struggling to breathe, dying from itch, in pain, hot, trying hard not to lose consciousness, when she tells me my insurance isn't valid. I said, "You're wrong, I work there still & I pay for it, it's valid." So she takes her sweet time calling the insurance company, going through their automated system and she tells me, "Your birthday is wrong." It's my fucking birthday. I know it's when it is. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. I said, "please, I just need someone to help me," starting to cry because looking up, it hits me that I could actually die. It's so hard to stay awake. My heart is pounding out of my chest, my vision shaking with each thunderous beat. Tom is getting pissed at the woman and finally snaps, "We're going to the hospital if you cannot help her." The woman tries to slow us down by asking us if we wanted her to shred the fucking paper. Bitch, I AM DYING I DO NOT GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THE FUCKING USELESS PAPERWORK.

At this point, tears running down my face, I stumble back out to the car and Tom flies to the real hospital. I walk in, a cop takes one look at me and puts me in a wheelchair. They don't even ask about insurance, they wheel me back and start getting my vitals & info about what the hell is going on. My systolic blood pressure is 85 (which I learned from Roya is very, very bad). We have the bottle of wash with us to show them what I'm reacting to. They start pumping me with steroids & benadryl and can't stop commenting on how red I am. I can't stop shaking, I'm so cold. My muscles hurt from the constant convulsing. I can only imagine how revolting I looked, red of a thousand sunburns, hives, sausage fingers and toes. With the medicine, my blood pressure and pulse returned to normal, and I became my normal pale skinned-self. My doctor & nurse were shocked by my reaction & especially shocked by what caused it: chlorhexidine wash. It's commonly used in hospitals as pre-surgical scrub for both the doctor's hands and the person undergoing surgery. Even the soap dispenser in my room was equipped with the stuff (aka death all around me).

Roya pointed out as terrible as last night was, thank god it happened then & now I can tell them if I ever have to have surgery not to use it on me because I could die. The only other time I had such a severe reaction was to a different antibiotic & I was so sick already, I didn't really notice/remember. This was terrifying, I'm still pretty shaken from it. I'm on steroids, pepcid & benadryl for this week because they don't know how much of the wash my body absorbed.

Anyhow, thanks to my doctor & nurses at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center! Jerry was the best nurse I've ever had and made me feel safe when I was out of my mind. Dr. Chiang was so sweet, charismatic & I deeply appreciate the time she took to sit with me to answer all my concerns. Seriously, best bedside manner of all time.

Thanks to my sweet, sweet boyfriend. Tom kept his head about him the whole time & couldn't have been more perfect in the situation. His calming presence did a world of wonders for me, I just feel bad that I scared him so much!

I won't be YOLOing with antibiotics/antiseptics anymore.

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