Sunday, April 13, 2008

Anaphylaxis

J has food allergies. We ran out of places in Oklahoma City to help us. So we found a place in Dallas that we decided to try.

I have hay fever. It isn't new. But I seem to be getting more sensitive and I think the episodes are worse. During the caregiving period I became allergic to latex and once even had an anaphylactic episode.

Since we were both going to be at the clinic then I figured I would also have testing and look into both homeopathic treatment and immunotherapy.

They called it provocative testing. The tester takes a tiny amount of various allergens highly diluted in water and injects them just beneath the skin. A few minutes later he checks to see if a wheal has formed and what size it is.

The idea is to find the range of potency of the allergen that causes a reaction. Once that is known then a special compound of the antigens is formulated for periodic self-injection. Over time the potency is increased and the body learns to tolerate the allergen. In this way the actual cause of the allergic reaction is addressed and sometimes patients are able to completely avoid any medication.

It actually works pretty well for hay fever and many other kinds of allergies. But it is quite controversial for food allergies. On the other hand no one seems to have any better ideas other than avoiding all the food. That works pretty well uness you have nothing to eat as a result.

The first part of the test was for tree pollen. My first reaction was to Hackberry pollen. It was pretty mild but noticeable. I thought it was interesting because I have this old Hackberry tree on the farm. It is one of the few things there that is older than I am. I have always kind of liked that old tree.

Next he (his name is James) gave me the Juniper pollen. Whoa! I had a big reaction. I suspected I would because of a trip I made to Santa Fe in March of 2007. I had a terrible time on that trip and my cousin told me it was these Mountain Junipers. Juniper includes all these cedar trees we have everywhere around where I live. So it wasn't all that surprising.

Then we started on grasses.

I sat back down on my chair. I thought to myself this is feeling weird. The lady next to me was staring at my face. She told the tester "he's having an intense reaction." My left eye was swollen shut by then but I didn't exactly know it. My right eye was also swollen but I could still see. My mouth was hot like I had eaten a hot pepper maybe. And my tongue was swelling. It felt like my tongue was turning upside down in my mouth. Like curled up from side to side except upside down is how it felt. I wondered if I would swallow it except I don't know why I wondered that.

I started having a really hard time breathing. The others in the room said I was very red. My palms of my hands were bright red. I kept staring at them. Then my fingers turned blue. I had never seen that before. My nose was running. I was coughing. I needed water. I walked out to the water cooler and got one of those little cone things full of water. Someone got me a red plastic cup later.

I was not thinking very clearly although I did not know that at the time.

The tester gave me two injections of histamine that helped a lot. After a few minutes I thought I should tell Judy in case I died so I went to find her. I told her "I had a reaction" but it was pretty evident. I meant to tell her that I loved her and if I died I just wanted her to know that. But that was way too many words and I just could not get them all together and out of my mouth for some reason.

I went back and resumed my seat in the testing area.

The doctor kept trying to talk to me. He was standing and I was sitting. I think I finally told him that I couldn't turn my head up anymore and I'd have to talk straight ahead. But I really wanted to lie down and sleep and I wanted everyone to quit talking to me.

They took me back to this room and had me lie down. I was really cold by then and I was shivering. I tried to not shiver but I couldn't really stop it. My fingers were white. The doc said that was because the blood vessels were constricted. They checked my blood pressure and my oxygen. The nurse gave me a shot of Benadryl in my right arm into he muscle. It kind of hurt but not like a sharp pain. Then another nurse gave me another injection of some kind of steroid. I remember the doctor saying something about it but beats me what it was.

He gave Judy a prescription for EpiPens and told her to get some Benadryl and to give me more when we got to the hotel. I said I was fine and finally they let us leave. We walked out to the parking lot and I got in to drive. Judy was nice but said she thought I'd better let her drive so I got out and moved around to the passenger side.

I pretty much would do whatever anyone would tell me. I remember thinking that was funny that I was so compliant.

She found a Walgreen's and I waited on her in the car while she got the prescription. It took a long time. I slept but not very well.

Then she found the hotel. The map thing on the car is rather useful at times. I was able to check us in by that time and I carried in the suitcases and stuff. I had no energy and it was hard carrying stuff. I was definitely breathing hard but I offset it by going slowly. Judy gave me some more Benadryl and I went to sleep. I was still cold so I pulled all of the covers over me.

Sometime I became hot and then I got up for a while. I drank some juice and ate some dried blueberries I think. Then I went back to sleep and I don't remember anything else until morning.

We had to go back to the clinic. I drove. The doc asked me how I was doing and I told him "I am not excatly the sharpest knife in the drawer." My true wit!!

Then we went to Whole Foods and bought a few things and headed back home.

We're returning in a few weeks to have more tests. Hopefully there will not be any more reactions like this one.

But just in case I never get to post anything again I just want you all to know I love you.

8 comments:

Annie said...

I'm sorry you had to go through that! Which grass was it that caused the reaction? Scary!

Hope you are back to yourself soon!

Lori1955 said...

Oh my gosh Terry, how terrible!! Judy must have been scared out of her mind. I hope this doesn't happen again. Are you sure you want to keep getting tested? By the way, Love you too.

nancy said...

oh terry, i DO know what you were describing. that same thing happened to bob quite a few years ago, except we weren't at a doctor's office or clinic. we were at home. matt was only maybe 6. i left home to run to walgreen's for some benadryl and told matt to call 911 if "daddy stopped breathing" fortunately he didn't. bob later had that same testing but didn't get the same reaction so it went undiagnosed. he was told it was angioedema. they would probably never know what triggered it but fortunately those that get it from unknown sources rarely die from it. none the less, still very scary!!! i definately emphathise with judy.

by the way, i love you too!

~Betsy said...

Yikes! How scary for both of you! I'm glad things are back to normal.

Something struck me while reading your post - it was so nice to see that you had someone to take care of you, instead of you being the sole care taker.

I love you too, Terry.

¸.•*´)ღ¸.•*´Chris said...

I love you too Terry.
My husband is allergic to iodine and shellfish. He goes into anaphalaxysis and it scares the hell out of us. Even if his food is prepared in the same fryer as shrimp or other shellfish, he has a reaction. His airway gets tight and his lips get huge. He has an epi-pen at work, in his car, in my purse and at home. We also carry benadryl between us, just in case.

My brother is allergic to some preservatives so between my DH and my brother, I am pretty well versed in anaphalaxysis. Please take care of yourself. I'm so sorry you had to experience such a traumatic thing.:(

Cinnamin said...

Scary stuff! AND you're going back??!! Brave man!! I think I would just wait and see if any of this stuff ever bothered me "out in the wild" instead of having them inject it into me - Especially after THAT kind of reaction!!

We live in an agricultural valley. Sneezing is a way of life around here. Never know for sure WHAT they have sprayed on the crops or is in the air. Not-so-good!

And - I love you right back!

Joanne said...

Oh my goodness you've really had a time of it, Terry! That experience sounded so scary. I'm glad everything turned out okay in the end, but I'm not sure I'd be as brave as you to go back for seconds.

Be careful. Love you too, Terry!!!

SKYGIRL said...

And...I rest my case. This is why I have never had those kinds of tests? I didn't want to subject my body to so many things, it might not like! Truthfully though, I have never heard of anyone having such a dramatic reation! The Doctors & Nurses must have freaked!

I would be very relunctant to go back. That is why I had all four of my wisdom teeth, removed on the same day! I wouldn't recommend that either! LOL!

I love you too Terry!!!!