Sunday, June 26, 2016

Oh Body, Why Do You Hate Me So?

It amazes me how my body is constantly able to disappoint me in new ways. I keep trying to make peace, to be like, "Okay, 40-year-old PCOS-ridden body, I get that my body type will always lean towards soft in the middle, and that won't get better with age. I accept you. Sort of." I try to exercise, and then I injure my stupid knees or my left foot swells up or my ankle and I'm left feeling out of shape again. Not for lack of trying.

But this past week? A new development.

We went for a walk in the Thousand Acre Swamp, a Nature Conservancy reserve somewhat near our home. There's tons of frogs, and birds, and the trails often involve boardwalks over muck or through the swampy bog. It was beautiful, although completely covered in cottonwood (I HATE COTTONWOOD SO MUCH), and the bugs. THE BUGS.

I am a magnet for mosquitoes. I forgot to wear bug spray. It's hard, because I also have to wear sunscreen since I am the pastiest white person on earth, and those two typically don't react well together. Also, all the chemicals. There's natural types, but they are often very oily and I have a hard enough time with oil stains on my clothes without purposely coating my skin in oil. Anyway, I forgot bug spray and so there was a veritable buffet on my skin -- so many mosquitoes feasting on my blood for the duration of the 3-mile or so walk.

When I get bit by a mosquito, my skin immediately bubbles up into angry welts, and they stay FOREVER (I still have marks from last Sunday, a week ago). I have been told I have high histamine levels, because I break out into tiny hives and have that allergic reaction to about a zillion things.

However, Sunday's buggy walk apparently kicked my histamine levels into high gear because Monday afternoon (a lovely 92 degree day spent working in my classrooms, un-air-conditioned, sweating like a beast) I broke into big, angry hives all over my torso, but mostly where clothing had touched me very closely, like around my bra and my underwear band.  They got worse and worse and I took some Benadryl and went to bed.

I woke up hiveless.

But then, come about 3:00, it started again, on my boobs, my back, my waistband, and then they spread to my armpits, my entire torso, and were horribly itchy and swollen. I took pictures, and then worried because I had pictures of my boobs on my phone, albeit completely unattractive, poxy boobs.

I took more Benadryl, and when I woke up the next morning, they were gone.

Wednesday the same thing happened, only earlier in the day, and it itched and burned and they grew to quarter sized welts and some even merged to half-dollar size, so I took Benadryl twice because the first dose didn't help at all, and went to bed, knowing that Thursday perhaps I should call the dermatologist and figure out what the hell was going on.

They had a midday appointment on Friday for me, and Thursday was better than Wednesday, although still hivey in the afternoon/evening, and more Benadryl, and so my evenings were pretty blah in the last week of school.

Friday came, blessed last day of school with the celebration at the high school with the whole district and then final packing up and cleaning...and then I headed to my doctor's appointment with pictures from Thursday in hand since I'd deleted the ones from Monday in fear that they'd somehow end up on Facebook by accident.

I was worried, because I don't get the hives midday. But, she saw the pictures, and was like, "Oh yeah, that's classic hives" and told me a fancy name for pressure-induced hives that are the result of an out-of-whack histamine level in the body. I would need to be on heavy-duty antihistamines for a month, one supposedly non-drowsy one in the morning and then a super drowsy strong one at night, and that should stop the hives.

Fantastic! Sounds great! I went home with a migraine that had started in the morning, and took a nap while my prescriptions got filled. I went to pick them up, found that they were to be filled the next day, begged for same-day fills, and walked around the store waiting for my relief in the form of tiny white pills to be filed into those orange bottles. As I walked, I felt my lip start to swell, and my boobs start to itch.

I got the pills, went home, and took the non-drowsy right away. At this point my upper lip was turning into a duck beak. I had hives all up my neck, into my hairline...big hard angry ones. I whipped my clothes off and found ginormous half-dollar hives EVERYWHERE, and my lip continued to swell until it felt like it might burst.

I called the derm office in a panic, because the pill wasn't having an immediate effect and I was afraid this was my worst breakout yet, and thankfully the nurse called me back even though it was 4:05 and their voicemail said calls after 4 would be returned the next business day. (I begged, "please, please call me back today...I don't know what to do with this!" I guess desperation worked.)

They put in a prescription for Prednisone, and told me to do cold compresses because hives hate cold. I took a cold shower, shooting cold water right at the hives, had Bryce pick up the prescription on his way home, and laid on the bed naked with the fan on. It was SO MISERABLE. My face was all puffy and crazy looking, my body covered in welts, and I was just so uncomfortable.

Luckily, the antihistamines and the Prednisone have prevented any further hives, and my lip is still slowly returning to its normal size.

I am bummed though, because here I am, at the start of summer, and I couldn't even toast with a margarita. At least while on the Prednisone, there will be no booze of any barbeque GF beer, no wine, no margaritas. Some kickoff to summer. Although, it is totally worth it to not have those horrible welts everywhere.

I can't help but think, could I be so allergic, have such a high rejection rate to anything irritable, that I was allergic to embryos? I am allergic to Bryce's beard...when we snuggle and his beard touches my neck or my arm I break out in (tiny) hives everywhere it touches me. The fairly innocuous kind that disappear quickly, but still. Could my high histamine levels have contributed to my infertility? I don't think so, but wouldn't that be a kicker. It doesn't matter now, but my mind can always go to that place, that "what if," because we never really got a defined answer as to why I couldn't keep embryos in me.

Regardless, the hives are thankfully gone, I have the nasty Prednisone taste in my mouth but small price to pay, and I look forward to toasting summer sometime in the next week or so, hiveless but still a little sleepy from the antihistamines. Thanks, body. Never a dull moment.

A hugely unflattering photo that doesn't even truly do justice to the swelling on my lips and the hives on my neck and shoulders, but gives you some idea of the misery. 


  1. Reminds me of a eczema outbreak I had some years ago. Rather epic.

    I'm sorry you had to endure such a thing. Glad to hear it has gotten better.

    1. Ack, that sounds wicked uncomfortable! I have been blessed not to have eczema. I am super groggy due to the antihistamines, but it's worth it not to have the hives anymore! :)

  2. On the bright side, a lot of girls are paying a LOT of money to have their lips like that ;) On a serious note it sounds like you had a rough go and hopefully the medications help and you can enjoy a hiveless summer :)

    1. True, so true! I should share my secrets with the tabloids. :) I am not really enjoying feeling kind of groggy from the antihistamines, and am rather sick of Prednisone, but if they keep the hives away for good? WORTH IT. My lip is now totally normal, so I guess no magazine covers for me, ha.

  3. Ack! That sounds horrible and scary (cottonwood is pure EVIL, as are mosquitoes). Glad that you are getting back to normal and hive-less.

    1. Thank you! I am definitely hive-less. I don't remember the prevalence of cottonwood when I was growing up...unclear if it's grown more in certain areas or what, but it is the worst. I'm sure that didn't help matters!

  4. Yikes!! This sounds awful! I'm glad that the meds are working because this sounds like an awful result of a nice walk through a reserve.