My allergic responses have actually managed to get more problematic
It’s been an interesting week. I was focused on the OCD, examining all the things I do, and trying to see what was working and why — like putting my thoughts through the language section of my brain to not reread the last post I did a million times seemed to have worked. It’s not just becoming aware of it; I need to either verbalize or write it down to really cement it in my head. Good.
I was also working with art — I’m arting! <3 The goal being to find a way to compromise with my neurotic, perfectionist default to create something. And yes, I did, I made a pretty I just adore. Used lots of paint splatters, acrylic ink, and acrylic paint pens, all on watercolor paper so I could really play around without destroying anything. It was a good time making something that I had no idea what it was going to be. It’s like a micro-scape of random, and I love it.
But I made this in response to the piece I couldn’t touch. I had sketched out a very fine detailed, lovely little bit of texture I want to bring to life, but I saw the trap once I was looking at my watercolors. Everything I own is too… refined. Too neat. They were like markers instead of watercolors, and I knew that once my brain saw the path to photorealism, that’s where it was going to force me to go. And I didn’t want that level of neurosis. I don’t want to be trapped, hating what I’m making because it’s not fitting some ideal my distressful brain has defined out of nowhere. Instead of just, I dunno, discovering something new and different and freeing on the page.
I still don’t know how to compromise with it. It’s avoidance. I see the trap is there, and I don’t know how to walk a safe path with it yet. But I’m going to have to try, all while acknowledging all the dangers. And eventually, it’s going to happen. It’s going to become normal.
Right before I finished this little painting, I ended up in the ER. It’s a testament to me being completely unaware of my body when I’m hyperfocused on something, and also just how I’ve normalized my allergic reactions. I’m used to my pulse racing — it’s been happening constantly for over a week now. I ate something I shouldn’t have, wasn’t sure and blamed it on environmental stuff, and the day before last, I had a big helping of the thing.
When I took liquid benadryl that night and my face immediately broke out into scaly patches, I thought I was reacting to the dye free, everything free medicine, not the thing I had eaten that day. And the next day, when my hands were shaking at my allergists, and my brain was so damn slow, and I was so tired I wasn’t sure if I was going to make the drive home, I blamed it on the lack of sleep for nights on end because my cat’s blood glucose had been dropping into dangerous lows. Blamed it on the Benadryl — maybe I’m just one of those people who get bad reactions to everything.
Blamed it on forgetting my ADHD meds that usually wake me up shortly after — and they did, they woke me up when I got home and went back to painting. But my hands were still shaking, and my pulse was hovering in the mid 120’s and, although annoying, the tremor was a cool effect with the paint pens, so whatever. I’ve had a racing pulse before. At least I’m not in screaming pain.
When everything becomes compared to the intensity of that face nerve pain, do I even know what a reasonable perspective to pain is anymore? My tongue has been burning after eating for years now, and as long as it’s not screaming face pain, it doesn’t need my attention.
It wasn’t until my partner got home and pulled me away from arting, that I caught my reflection and paused. Something was off. I checked my tongue and it was the biggest it had ever been — and granted, it’s already too big. A year ago it swelled up and never went back down, and I assumed, I dunno, the pituitary cysts had fucked with the growth hormone or something for a second, then never reverted.
Last night it wasn’t just swollen, but oddly smooth. And I started to notice that my throat felt tight. And not much later, my chest started heaving at random intervals like I had forgotten to breathe — but I was breathing. It was like I needed a deep breath because my normal breaths weren’t doing anything.
My EpiPen was expired. I got a set in 2018, and had felt ridiculous at the time. A bee had stung me and it had welted up, and the welt remained for months until finally fading. But it wasn’t life or death — I’ve had allergies for decades now; it has never been life or death. Why would it change now?
Still, I made myself go to the ER, having to convince my partner that no, it’s actually a good reason, stop asking google over me (my fuck, I wish I was joking). By the time we got there, my chest felt tight, not wanting to open to let air in. But not deathly tight, not panic inducing tight. Just a promise in there that shit was going to go sideways pretty soon.
It was interesting, partially cuz through the whole thing I was still wondering if I was actually having an allergic reaction. Wasn’t this supposed to be the worst thing ever? This was slow, confusing, and certainly no pain. More numb than pain. Maybe I was just overreacting. Nope, I was under reacting. I have normalized too much with these allergies to know what’s going to kill me.
First time getting a shot of epinephrine — that felt like something. Thought I was going to shake away from shivers, teeth rattling — I have no clue why everything got so cold from it, but then suddenly heat roared in and I could feel my arms again, which had gone numb when they were looking for veins. And then it was fine. Like it didn’t happen. My pulse was flying, but not as bad as when I didn’t have the epinephrine, and I was toasty warm, alert, and ready to leave. After being politely reprimanded for not renewing my EpiPen prescription and using it.
5 years I didn’t need the damn thing. I honestly never thought it would be needed.
A Rambling Theory
So… why now? Why big? I’ve been taking more anti-histamines, not less. I’ve been having less allergic reactions as I solved the biggest environmental problem: ammonia from the litter box. Why would I have such a big reaction now?
At first, I would have said my immune system must be feeling stronger from having a rest, and therefore reacting with more power. After today, I have another theory to go with that — and it’s just a theory. I’m not in medicine, not a scientist. Just like to ponder.
So I have adrenal insufficiency, which means when my body goes through stress, it can’t produce cortisol to protect me as part of a healthy stress response. But if cortisol gets too low, you can die, so the body has another stress chemical to help keep the heart pumping when cortisol is low: adrenaline.
Now cortisol is eaten up by stress — stress ranging from chronic low grade stuff, colds, physical injury, emotional reactions, and yes, allergic reactions. So if you’re someone like me, whose cortisol isn’t going to increase no matter how much adrenaline is rushing through the veins — I need to take meds to get cortisol — that adrenaline is going to keep flowing, making the heart pound, desperately trying to get the body to stay alive. But I’m on a schedule of cortisol, and there isn’t much room in that schedule for chronic allergic reactions, so I tend to ignore it and take my meds when I’m supposed to. Because my doctor gets pissed if I take too much. It can lower immunity (there’s some sort of irony in here…)
Anyways, the big point to all this is, another name for adrenaline is EPINEPHRINE.
Yup, every time my heart was pounding over the mere scent of ammonia, my body was being flooded with the anti-anaphylactic chemical they inject straight out of an EpiPen. It was daily, over years. I can’t remember a time not having cats where their litterbox didn’t make me ill. And now, suddenly the last couple weeks, it stops because we finally found a system that works to keep the scent contained. I was no longer being flooded with adrenaline on a daily basis.
When this latest allergic response hit, yeah, my pulse was speeding, my adrenaline was flowing, but it wasn’t enough. It was a week of eating something my body was reacting to that had cleared my system, and I just reintroduced it with nothing to contain it. My pulse got better about an hour after eating — it wasn’t doing a constant reaction even though ingested. No, my pulse only does that for environmental stuff.
The pulse only started up again with the Benadryl, a sometimes side effect of Benadryl being rapid pulse. It was like the Benadryl had woken up the reaction (or I really am allergic to it. I’m not touching it until I know for sure. I’ve cut off any possible suspect for now.) My immune system had had time to heal, and I had eaten something very stupid, and no longer had the daily flood of adrenaline to help combat it the way it did before.
At least, that’s my theory. It sounds like a good story, but who really knows. Maybe the adrenaline the body produces really can’t compete with the injectable stuff, and it’s all flawed from the start.
They put me on Singular for now to try to stabalize the mast cell response, and it seems to be going well. My pulse finally calmed (until I forgot my hydrocortisone and started thinking about the adrenaline connection.) But taking the HC calmed it down again… then the fever showed up. My biggest concern is that, as good as Singular can be for this problem, the most dangerous side effect is psychosis. So, you know, I might have somebody check anything before I post for a while, just in case I’m losing my shit.
Adrenal insufficiency has dangers of psychosis, but the little I felt of that is, I’m fairly certain, nothing comparable to a drug induced psychosis. So here’s hoping I’m not the always gets the worst side effects person I usually am on this particular one.
As frustrating as needing to go to the ER was (I suppose, the frustration of my allergies hitting a going to kill me level), it was also, weirdly, validating. Because I’ve been to how many doctors? How many ERs? Mostly for my pulse flying while exposed to an allergen, and then being perfectly normal once in the wonderfully sterile, perfectly filtered air of the hospital. Same with my brain just checking out with inflammation, body slowing down to a crawl, losing so much of my life, and then hey, better environment, no more inflammation, you’re fine and full of shit. Where the face pain was written off as tooth pain, and me treated like someone looking for pain meds instead of looking for the screaming pain to stop. Medical gaslighting sucks, but hey, all that cured by me being so oblivious, I missed I was having a serious allergic reaction to the most delicious, keto friendly chocolate hazelnut butter spread ever.
I’m pissed that most healthy things are high histamine. Like, weight management is tough enough when you have immune issues, without adding on that the healthy stuff is going to kill me a little faster, somehow. I have to be so damn perfect with what goes into or around my body as a result of these allergies, and it only gets more limiting. It’s given me multiple eating disorders.
Fasting is so easy — and feels so safe — compared to having overwhelming decision fatigue, guilt and possibly horrible consequences by eating. And when everything you eat slows you down anyways, makes you dumb, digestion refuses to work, it just reinforces it. I can call it intermittent fasting to sound trendy and smart, but it’s just keeping the difficulty of digestion to a short amount of hours, and totally not getting enough calories (cuz people bullshit about eating enough while intermittent fasting. It takes time to eat that many calories, especially with “healthy” food.)
Anyways, I’m actually quite happy about things. It’s nice to art, nice to see a way through with this illness. Cuz hey, the ER doctor understood immediately; my mast cells are unstable and over reacting. I didn’t once bring it up. So if a visibly anaphylactic attack was what it was going to take to be noticed as actually having allergies when I don’t get a drippy nose or hives, but instead get zombie skin, racing pulse, low fever (writing this with a low fever right now) neurological issues, gut issues, and low blood pressure, then glad it finally happened so I can get the understanding and tools to prevent it happening again.
I really hope it doesn’t happen again. I had a bunch of different anti-histamine meds in me yesterday, yet still blew up. Maybe histamines really aren’t the issue for me (the rare hives thing.) Maybe allergies act in different ways and I’ve been unknowingly focused on the wrong way for me. No clue.
I’m tired of having to know so many things and rarely having it be useful to my situation. But maybe it’ll help someone else, so there’s that.
If you have allergies that don’t act like normal allergies, it could be MCAS, which is a blood disorder (so I’m told), and therefore will have the look of allergies as your immune system is the thing disordered, but won’t behave or be solved the same way. It’s not curable, but it is treatable, and that treatment can be everything.
I have hope because I was able to put my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis into remission, and the meds work to supplement the damage done. Allergy shots worked and I’m no longer allergic to cats, even though dust mites and mold are currently still a nightmare. The immune system can be retrained, redirected, repaired. It’s just identifying where the problems really are happening to give yourself the best chance.
When you’re someone who would start a long ass game over if they realized they missed something they could only get earlier on, it can be hard to accept so many imperfections in living a life. I want things to follow logic, but that’s not the way life works. Life is chaos, and we have these stupid logic brains in our head insisting we can organize it, that it has to fit, has to make sense. But that’s just the unique madness of being human, and even in that, people really struggle to see the disconnect.
We build imperfect solutions to an imperfect existence, because it’s the best we got as self-aware beings that are destined to die. It’s not all curable. The right thing isn’t always the right answer. Repeating something over and over again does not, actually, make it true, no matter how persistent and willful. It just means some people need the lie to keep going, for whatever reason, because hey, imperfect AF and completely unaware of it.
I’m alive because I take my cortisol every day. I’m aging and wearing down because that’s what happens when you’re not dead yet; you age — not necessarily mature, but aging definitely happens. And there’s only so much one can do about it. I do my best to be healthy to contain my allergies, and that food is destructive to my immune system. So I guess it’s time to enjoy some junk food without the guilt?
Guilt, the true spice of life…
This fever is not budging, and this is going full ramble. I swear, if I’ve become allergic to the fever reducers at this point… >_>
It’s probably going to at least be a week to get through the full effects of this attack. It was ingested, and my body is not interested in eating to help expel it, and I’m sure it’s causing havoc on my gut. And there’s only so many meds I can take… cuz I don’t know if those meds that I were on the same time as I ate the thing, might actually be the culprit or contributing to the problem. There’s a worry that my system will over target, as it does, and knock out all my immune helpers. Dunno. Can’t predict, only overthink…