My Body Really Hates Me, Doesn’t It?

I’ve never had a serious allergic reaction before. There are a few foods I’m allergic to – mostly raw fruits and vegetables – that have caused me to break out in hives along my jawline, or maybe get an itchy throat or ears. Always little inconveniences that go away on their own after an hour or so, even left untreated. The worst ever was the first time I drank soy milk – a bowl of cereal topped with it gave me a huge blister on my lip and scratchy throat, but I didn’t even take a Benadryl and everything was gone after just an hour and a steaming mug of green tea. For a long time after that, I’d made sure to only eat soy in small traces and tried to build up an immunity. I thought it worked, because recently I’ve been able to have tofu meals and soy-protein bars without any irritation whatsoever.

Until yesterday.

After taking my morning post-op meds, I headed to the kitchen craving something protein-y for breakfast, and I saw that I had a Genisoy bar in my snack stash. Seemed easy enough, and I’d had Genisoy bars before and loved them (though this was a new flavor for me – peanut butter crunch.) A little bit later, I was still kind of hungry, so I had a few spoonfuls of almond butter and toast. Mom, Caitlin and I had plans to go to the Reading Terminal Market for the day (with Delightful Delaney, of course,) so I headed back upstairs to get changed.

This was about an hour and a half after I ate the bar. As I was brushing my hair, I felt my lips get puffy. Ugh. Annoying, but not a huge deal. They’ll go down. A few minutes later, I felt my face get warm and a little itchy. I’ll ask Mom for a Benadryl and make myself some tea. Then, the itching suddenly spread down to my neck. It was getting really uncontrollable. I looked at myself in the mirror, and my face was beet-red. Uh-oh.

I went downstairs, trying to convince myself it wasn’t a huge deal, and told Mom I was having an allergic reaction to something. She took one look at me and said to hop in the car right now – we’re going to the hospital. She even called Aunt Sue and asked her to come with us. I still didn’t think it was a huge deal, but I was really uncomfortable. I was just hoping we’d be in and out soon enough to still get to the Market.

But all throughout the car ride, I definitely felt myself get worse. Soon my wrists were itching, and that’s when I noticed the hives all over my arms. The insides of my nostrils swelled so bad I couldn’t breathe through my nose anymore, and my lips were huge enough that talking became a chore. By the time we made it to the ER, my hips were itching as well and I felt stabbing indigestion pains in my back.

I was rushed through triage and right into a private room. After changing into a gown and going through the usual questions (most of which Mom or Sue answered because I could barely talk or hear clearly,) I had to give a sample and was asked if I needed help to the lavatory. No way – my itching may have spread down my back and to my legs, but I wasn’t going into paralysis.

Sure enough I made it to the bathroom just fine. I checked myself out in the mirror, and I really was a mess. My face was puffed up almost past recognition. Reptilian bumps covered my whole body. Instead of red and hot, my skin was ghastly white (even for me – you couldn’t even see my freckles anymore.)

That looks about right.

As I filled the sample cup and straightened myself out, I suddenly felt faint. But it wasn’t a huge deal, right? I probably stood up too fast and just got a little head-rush. The room was only a few doors down, so I could definitely make it back to my bed without calling for help.

Well, I was wrong about that, too. I definitely felt myself get progressively dizzier with each step. Of course, like the proud moron I am, I refused to call out for help. No, I’m the genius who decides to just walk faster (I swear, I really can’t believe how I haven’t accidentally killed myself due to idiocy yet.) All of my muscles just gave up on me, and luckily I was close enough to a wall to just slump down that. I could just barely register the sound of people rushing to me and the feel of someone’s hands grabbing me.

Well, this is it. Death by health food. It’s been a good life, I suppose. I graduated college. I traveled to Europe. I witnessed the full Harry Potter phenomenon. And I’ll get to be buried in a size-6 dress. Black out.

By the time I was conscious enough to form memories, I was back in my room, heaving myself up on the bed from a wheelchair with help from a nurse. My heart-rate and blood pressure were dangerously low – I’d almost went into full-on shock. Luckily, as soon as I was off my feet and settled back in bed, my body calmed down. My vitals went back up to healthy numbers, and though I was extremely shaken up (and still unreasonably itchy and puffy,) I was at least feeling like I was going to survive the ordeal.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity of random procedures and blood tests and IVs and x-rays, the ER physician was done analyzing my paperwork and various test results. He said that my reaction was from soy and that my surgery probably had nothing to do with it other than coincidentally taking place only 2 days prior. He even wrote out a script for a heavier dosage of Prednisone (which I was already taking for TS.) I was free to leave as soon as I was feeling better.

I tried to keep in high spirits for the rest of the day, but it was a challenge. I was too physically exhausted to do anything active, but to mentally amped to settle down. I felt so crappy, like I was wandering through Limbo or something. I wanted to be happy just to be alive and somewhat healthy again and spending time with a family that loves me, but I just couldn’t.

As the day went on, I felt progressively worse. All throughout dinner, I felt like I was on the verge of tears, and I don’t even know why. I had absolutely no appetite until I ate a single brownie, and suddenly I needed chocolate like it was oxygen. In my last post, I wrote that I’d eaten two brownies, some chocolate chips, three Reese’s cups, a pack of Reese’s Pieces and a 3 Musketeers bar. After I published that, I ate 3 more Reese’s, a Snickers bar, another brownie, a Mounds bar, and two slices of pizza. My hunger was insatiable, and even though in the back of my mind I knew I should have tried to control it or at least pick something healthy like grapes or carrots or something, all I wanted was refined sugar and saturated fat. That same hunger carried over into this morning, when I ate more sugary sweets in a single sitting than anyone sane person should have over the course of a week.

I’m not even mad at myself for it. The way I see it, some girls will go through a really horrible break-up with some dude who probably wasn’t even that great anyway (unless he was Hugh Jackman) and for about a week straight they’ll coop themselves up in their bedroom and consume nothing but Whitman’s Samplers all day. I’ve never been romantically successful enough to go through that particular ritual, but I somehow doubt it could be that much more Earth-shattering than honestly feeling like you’re about to die. So it’s my turn. And I’ve officially cleaned out my entire post-Halloween stash, so I can’t do anymore damage. (Except for tonight when I buy myself a milkshake. I promised all my family members I’d treat them to shakes, and I can’t just back out now. That’s rude.)

I still feel like I’m drifting through Limbo right now. I’m depressed, exhausted, entirely unmotivated. I’m trying my best to cope, find humor in bad situations, and remind myself I’m still alive. All my family and friends have really been great trying to lift me up. They’re all so wonderfully supportive and caring, and I am so grateful to have them.

But I still feel stuck. The best I can do right now is be honest about my feelings and hope that it at least lifts the weight a little bit. Though I have a sinking suspicion more chocolate (and maybe some tequila) would help.


About Courtney O.

I do not like to write these bios.

Posted on 11/13/2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. u can thank the prednisione for ur cravings, its a steroid and severely increases ur appetite, ive been on it for my asthma more times than i can count. However, dont forget that the surgeon told u on thursday that you can afford to gain a pound or 2. so lets stick with that milkshake idea for tonight 😉

  2. This to shall pass. Give yoursrlf time to heal and regroup.

  3. I hope you continue to feel better and gain your strength everyday, it will take some time. You’ve had a REALLY rough week and are coming thru it like a trooper. There is one bright side to the story….You got the rare opportunity to temporarily “try on” HUGE LIPS…….at least you know you won’t be spending any of your hard earned cash on lip injections! The look just wasn’t for you…. Hang in there 🙂

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