Monday, January 11, 2010

Allergy

I was sitting on a bench at Dee's Dock in Wildwood NJ, in 1983, watching the water skiers cut across the calm surface of the bay when I first felt the burning and itching sensation around my midsection. I thought that maybe I had been bitten by some green-head flies. I threw the empty BBQ Chips bag and empty Birch Beer can in the trash thinking that maybe they were attracting the flies. A few minutes later I could not stop scratching my lower back and waist. A few minutes after that I ran the one block back to my uncle's shore house to investigate the burning in my pants.

Once in the bathroom I lowered my swimsuit and was horrified at the sight. Red welts the size of baseballs, raised a quarter inch from the surface of my skin, covered my stomach, waist, thighs and, yes, all parts in between. I cried out for my mom. When my mom looked she winced. She then, of course, calls my Aunt Kathleen, her sister, into the bathroom to investigate. Aunt Kathleen was a nurse, she would know what to do. There I was, 13 years old, standing naked in front of my mom and aunt as they poked and prodded and discussed the rash and welts that were covering my privates. Parts of me were so, inflated, so enlarged, so puffy, I thought that they were going to think...well, like I said, I was thirteen. I didn't know what to think. It was so, very embarrassing, my face was as red as the welts. They decided I had a bad case of hives. Hives usually appear at the warmest part of the body which is why they were all over my midsection and groin. That was when I learned I was allergic to certain red food coloring.

When I was 20 I had the same reaction to some type of "pizza" flavored snack. I took some Benadryl to ease the itching of the hives. Thirty minutes after taking the Benadryl I was taken to the ER because my throat started to close up. This is when I found out I was allergic to Benadryl which is the most common drug used to help with allergic reactions.

Over the years I have had episodes of hives and various allergic reactions to various foods, including an allergic reaction to a tattoo (a story for another time). But all of the reactions were most likely caused by the food coloring or dye.

Last Wednesday morning someone at work brought in some chocolate covered pretzels that were leftover from the holidays. I helped myself to a few as a mid-morning treat. A while after eating them I could feel my lower lip start to swell up. I thought that maybe I was getting a pimple or maybe I got bit by a bug or something. Although the lip stayed swollen the irritation went away. Around 11:30 I had two Hershey Kisses as a pre-lunch snack.

When I got home at noon for lunch Lauren looked at me and said "Good god! What happened to your face?"

I told her I was having a reaction of some sort to a bug bite or something and that nothing I did or ate that morning was out of the ordinary for me. Which it wasn't. When I returned to the office my brother, LW, who I work with, started calling me the Elephant Man. The entire left side of my face was swollen. It was at this point that the hives started kicking in. But they didn't start at the usual "warm parts of the body" spots. They went up and down my arms and face. Now I knew I was having an allergic reaction I just did not know what from.

Later that night, after breaking out again after eating some chocolate chip cookies, Lauren convinced me to take some Benadryl. We had the "dye free" kind and she thought it would be okay. It was almost 20 years ago that I had a reaction. She convinced me that my allergies may have changed over that time (you know the whole "you body re-generates new cells every seven years" thing). I was no longer allergic to certain red food coloring. Something else was causing my reaction now. So maybe she was right, maybe I was no longer allergic to Benadryl.

I took half a dose. My hands swelled up like balloons. I made a doctor appointment for the next day.

This is my lip 3x its normal size.


My arm covered in hives.



My hand at normal size for comparison.

My hand before the Benadryl.

My hand after Benadryl.

The doctor gave me some steroids and cleared it all up. Apparently my body has changed over these years. I am no longer allergic to red food coloring. I am still allergic to Benadryl. I am now allergic to chocolate.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

As Roseanna Roseanna Danna would say, "It's Always Something"... life on a daily basis is so full of little queries, quirks, mysteries, and challenges. Some experience more than others. Or some just talk about it more than others. What gross pictures you share! I can't help myself, you make me laugh. Glad you didn't have to go to the hospital.

SciFi Dad said...

Jesus Christ man, just get yourself a bubble!

Anonymous said...

The last picture looks like a foot

Stephanie said...

No - not chocolate!!! The last picture of your hand looks like an oompa loompa!

eclectic said...

Ugh. The hives, the airway constriction... I know it all too well. But allergic to Benadryl? That's new. And allergic to chocolate?? That's simply cruel.

Julie said...

OMG...your poor hand looks like the humans in Wall-E!!!

dw said...

OMG!!!!!! So sorry to hear about the chocolate.... Are you sure it is the chocolate & not something *in* the chocolate items you ate?

jacs said...

OMGosh!! Not chocolate! Maybe it will be just something 'in' the chocolate like another person mentioned. It might be wishful thinking, but I'd have a hard time with that one for sure.

I hope you are feeling 100% better. What a crummy thing to have happen.

Anonymous said...

At least the glove will not fit, and you be acquitted.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't you just use those razor sharp white whiskers and pop your hand with them?

Anonymous said...

How did you get your apron over your head with such a fat lip?

Anonymous said...

Please do not do "Dic ball beats em all" with that hand in that condition.

sari said...

I cannot believe you just sat home and didn't go to the doctor until the next day. OH MY GOD I would be freaking out. Freaking. Out.

But then again, I'm a baby. Sheesh, that's nightmarish.

Alisha said...

FOOT!

kittenpie said...

I dunno, but at some point, life's just not worth living any more. I mean, CHOCOLATE?! Sh'mon.

Anonymous said...

Not the first time a burning sensation in the mid section was felt in Wildwood NJ, by the way.

handstowar said...

Holy crap dude! That's freakin' nuts...

Ali said...

So is it true what they say about the size of a man's hands??

Melissa said...

chocolate? chocolate?

oh my goodness...CHOCOLATE???

Meegs said...

Ow, ow, ow.

April said...

OMG Bill! I am allergice to Benadryl too!!

And docotr's and nurses always look at me like I am crazy when they say "What medications are you allergic to?" and I say "Benedryl" and they say "that's impossible." and I say "nuh-uh, it is totally possible because I am" and they say "I have never heard of anyone being allergic to Benedryl" and I say "well now you have" and now I can also say "So is my friend Bill!" See how exciting that is?!?!?

We are like twins separated at birth. Except I don't have a beard (thanks to Sally Hansen cream hair remover) and you are like a million years older. Ha! (That was a joke. I mean about your age, not the Sally Hansen thing because oh my god that woman is a freaking genius. Changing the world, one patch of whiskers at a time. I swear.)

kcinnova said...

Karma has it out for you, man!
Nothing scarier than a breakout of hives on the face and neck. My 4-month-old had this happen (he's now 17yo). You must have a constitution of steel, because that last episode would have sent me to the ER!

Daddy Geek Boy said...

I can't help but think about the infamous restaurant scene in Monty Python's Meaning of Life...

Melinda said...

Anon. is cruel but very funny.

I hope you didn't scare the children.
Batman magically turning into Fatman.

I am so sorry you think you are allergic to chocolate! A Heinous allergy to have. I would surely be a dead woman if it were me. Commiserations, Bud.
Are you allergic to all antihistamines or just Benadryl?

MrsDoF said...

Maybe it was just "that" chocolate. I watch for brand names, and have no reaction to dark Ghiradelli.
What happens when I ingest blue dye will never ever be allowed to photograph. You are quite brave, showing your hands to the Internet world.

My mother and my middle son are both allergic to Benadryl. I'm just waiting for my own episode, tho.

Amelia said...

Oh. My. Goodness.

The Absence of Alternatives said...

I am so sorry for laughing at your pain and misfortune. But your hand... your hand... Reminds me of little baby's hand... SORRY I SAID!

And Angelina Jolie has NOTHING on you when it comes to sensuous lips.

I am sorry you are now allergic to chocolate. I wish I were though: that'd help a lot in my idea of weight loss. btw, I get allergic reactions to things randomly. When the doctor told me they are HIVES, she also said, basically we call hives the things we have no idea of... WTF? Here is an idea: Have you tried to see a Chinese medicine/herbal doctor?

Bogart in P Towne said...

I keep thinking about the virus episode from My Name Is Earl.

teri said...

Holy crap, Bill. For a man who loves food, these allergies should be illegal.

PS. I'm allergic to Clorox 2. Hives all over the place when I was a kid. Do you think I can try the Clorox 2 (dye free), now? Or would I end up looking like those pictures?

Anonymous said...

It's normal to see how many people is allergic to many things even to dirty places. As a fact my oldest brother who likes to visit Viagra Online is allergic to most of the things.