Tag Archives: allergy

Allergy update

Allergy problems may well be solved. How you ask? Well, strangely enough… by doing what the doctor said.

If it was not for my stubborness, I would have all but given up hiking in Alabama now. 80% Deet all over me, the rest of the party bug free, and I am consistently the only person who gets bitten. 5 times out of 6 it swells out of control, and we head down the IV fluid, steroids and anti histamines route. I went to see my PCP and he asked why I was not using my Epipen. Well, mainly because I thought these were to be used in the ‘we have 5 seconds between life and death’ type situations, not my own body’s lackadaisical ‘well… I’ll swell up big really quick, and make you look all red and sunburned and itch like crazy, but then I’ll just hang around in this annoying state for some 24-48 hours, slowly the swelling… You can go take some anti histamine shots, but I won’t respond… I will, however, probably let it spread to other parts of your body… might not though…but eventually you’ll probably lose enough fluid to go into shock … depends on how much effort I make…”.

I am sure we all remember that my doctor warned me that if I wait until the 5-sec life or death moment, it may be a little late. Which was a wise point.

So, I got bitten on Saturday, but what ever was in David and Beth’s yard clearly didn’t trouble my old histamine receptors. Then I got bitten on Sunday on a hike (no, NO ONE else got bitten either time). I watched the area go bright red and start to quickly swell. I still hesitated, yes I did! I don’t know, fear of the unknown I guess. Using an epipen seemed so… dramatic somehow.

But… I am writing this in case anyone else is in the same situation. I jabbed it into my leg… none of the other hikers even noticed. I had a brief (and intense) sweat -lovely- and boom: zero reaction. All redness, all swelling, most itch just gone. Instantly.

Way less drama and fuss than the other option. So, people, anyone googling for allergy advice and unsure about using the epipen: use it. It is about as difficult as taking a Benadryl. I had almost no side effects. I understand that the more extreme your reaction, the less the side effects, but still – even if you were not having a reaction I am pretty sure you would have a fairly minor effect of racing heart and suchlike. I finished my hike and have been troubled no more.

Good times.


DAMY weeks 3&4, training week 4 and a new oatmeal. Oh my!

Clearly, it has been too long since I wrote, as there is much to update. As this is fairly self-serving, I am sweetening the deal with a new ‘Oatmeal of Awesomeness‘ at the end. I betcha can’t wait.

DAMY weeks 3&4

So.. DAMY weeks 3 and 4. These have been HARD! Week 3 I could not understand why I was feeling hungrier… why I really needed a late night snack… then along came TOTM. So, that would explain it, then. It made me flake out on one workout. Week 4 was hard for a different reason: I received some extremely sad news early on, which threw me a bit of a curve ball. Then, I got bitten by a fire ant and discovered I am extremely, anaphylatically allergic to such things. Even just one bite. 2 steroid shots (one not being enough, apparently), a Benadryl shot, several steroid tablets and an additional bottle of Benadryl later we can safely say: Ants: 1 Lekki:0. I HATE steroids. Yes, they let me live (which is indeed a benefit), but they also make me grumpy, paranoid and mess with my appetite and sleep (up the former, drop the latter. Boo). They also utterly inhibit my ability to repair from sports (just at a time when I need sports to chill me out).

Then work went crazy with my K99 score coming back ‘on the border of funding’ (the right side of the border for last year – but who knows what this year will be?). It was so anti-climactical, and disappointing, and frustrating and exhausting. So… it has been wonderful to be on DAMY (surprisingly). I have had 2 weeks of healthy, tasty meals planned and prepared that I have got to eat without thinking about them. No stress. I have also (due to a dip in sports – see below) been able to focus on the journey to a healthy body and mind, and look long-term, rather than focus on every day, and every minutiae. Huzzah!

So, those stats. Starting / after 2 weeks / after 4 weeks:
Weight: 143.5 lbs. / 138.5 / 135.5

Chest: 38 / 37 ” / 37 ”

Waist: 30″ / 29″ / 28″

Hips: 38″ / 37″ / 37″

So, I lost 3 lbs in the last two week, for a grant total of 8 lbs in 4 weeks and am very happy. I am much more toned and looking forward to starting on weeks 5-8 (phase 2).

Training for Tough Mudder – week 4.

Hmmmm…. in terms of achieving my goals, this was an utter disaster! With exhaustion, hospital visits, inhibited recovery and all the goal of: “To just do it and not stress about it” – i.e. follow the plan. Yeah. Well, plan and actuality went like this:

Thursday:  DAMY weights A, 45 min kickboxing – DONE!

Friday – DAMY HIIT on the track (yuck) – Changed. Dropped due to TOTM exhaustion

Saturday – Steady state (5K, running for Diabetes) and DAMY weights B – DONE

Sunday – REST (double yuck) – Changed due to dropping Friday. Did a trail run: 1.5 miles uphill, jog back down. Stretch. Repeat. Took me about an hour and half (!)

Monday: Steady state cardio (5K run if knees OK, dreaded elliptical if not) + weights (workout C) – Changed Dropped due to allergy! Too many shots, too much need to recover. Like Friday, I sat on my lazy butt! I actually did this Tuesday.

Tues: DAMY interval training with bodyweight exercises – Changed, as was doing Monday’s workout. I did this Wednesday.

Weds: REST – changed as I was doing Tuesday’s workout.

So, I did not stick to the plan at all! And it has knocked my week 5 training plan out, as I tried to workout on Thursday, but dearly needed a rest. Hmmm. Actually, an accumulation of all the above: I seriously need some rest for body and mind. Tough Mudder is 4 months away: I have some wriggle room. As long as I keep my long runs up, I should not lose too much fitness. That being said, here is my

Week 5 plan:

Thursday:  DAMY weights A, (DONE!)

Friday – REST (yuck) –

Saturday – Steady state 6 mile jog

Sunday – Steady state cross train (30 min trail run; 2 hour hike); weights DAMY B

Monday: 30 min interval run; Weights DAMY D (legs)

Tues: REST

Weds: Steady state (4 miles); DAMY C.

This is not ideal, as it misses out a lot of my HIIT. But, I think I have to sacrifice that for r ‘n’ r and hope it makes me come back stronger. Next week we have my first trail run 🙂

A new Oatmeal.

Mmmmm…. this is so good. Definitely worth listening to that one giant moan for 🙂

Apple crisp Oatmeal:

1/2 sharp green apple (like granny smith)
1/2 cup oats
1 1/2 cups Water
1/2 scoop Vanilla protein powder (I use ON casein creamy vanilla)
cinnamon to taste
1/2 tsp all spice
toasted pecans

Bring water to the boil. Stir in oats. Grate in apple and stir. Stir in cinnamon to taste and all spice. Let cook for 4 minutes, stirring all the while. When cooked, stir in protein powder and add water to desired consistency. Top with walnuts. Enjoy the deliciousness. It tastes really like the artificially flavoured versions, but is pretty ‘clean’. The apple adds a nice texture too.

My allergy story (thus far)

I was in two minds whether to write this, because I normally like non moany posts about frivolous topics like dieting and exercise and naughty pets and baking. Occasionally, I *might* touch on some Science. Occasionally. But having spent about 3 hours trawling the net readings people’s stories, and being enormously helped by them, I thought I ought to share mine.

I was a sort of allergic-response kid. Many things would bring me out in an itchy rash: pine needles, sun, sand, fake whipped cream, grass, blah blah blah. It required nothing more than an occasional piriton (chlorphenamine maleate) – rarely even that. It didn’t stop me doing anything, except occasionally, and rather conveniently high school sports lessons (me? Roll around in the grass to get out of it? Scratch my arms for no reason so they came up in a rash that would last exactly 2 sports periods? Why yes. Yes I would).

Then, one day in my early-20s I was up a mountain in Romania and got some sort of sting. It blew up, itched like mad, but I ignored it. I had kids to teach dammit! Over the next 12-24 hours, it all got worse and worse: the welt got bigger, spread to other welts and my breathing got harder and harder and I coughed more and more. Until I blacked out. I got to the Dr, she infused me with liquid anti-histamines and steroids (shots and IVs), replacement IV fluids and told me to take it easy. It was terrifying. We were a long way from a hospital and the facilities were limited. My tourniquet was a broken hair band… my IV stand a scared pupil. But, it was 100% clean, new needles and all, and I was better… for about 24 hours, when it came back, so she repeated the process. And repeated it again. Until she was worried my veins would collapse and sent out for medications that arrived up the mountain the next day.  Kudos for good care in a remote part of a challenged country: This did keep a lid on it. And eventually my fear about it dissipated, and by the time I got home to the UK all tanned and jolly and full of Romanian Pizza, I had all but forgotten about it. I never followed it up, and wasn’t bothered by it for about 5 years.

Then I was in my mid- 20s when I was in the shower one morning and noticed few red, itchy welts on my forearm. “Odd”, I thought. I meant to take an anti-histamine but forgot. However, it was gone by lunch (maybe sooner) and I forgot about it until the next day when it arrived a few mins earlier, covered a larger area and stayed about an hour later. But again, it disappeared completely. This happened repeatedly over 10 days, starting earlier and earlier and staying longer and longer, and getting bigger and bigger welts, until it was really quite debilitating, as I couldn’t sleep. I should have seen a Dr, true, but I have seen them for allergies before and not had much joy.

Lovely hue of red my whole skin turned from the inflammation. Like a giant tomato 🙂

Eventually, when it was full body, and the welts were getting bigger and bigger, I made a routine Drs appointment for 3 days time. 2 days later… things did not go so well.

I was at a friend’s house for dinner, and the rash was all over my face, neck, everything. Everything was swollen and I felt RUBBISH. His mother offered me a sleeping pill + anti histamine pill, but she couldn’t find them and I didn’t want to make her drive all the way to a 24h pharmacy. You will soon see why this was the Best. Move. Of. My. Life. When we got home, I looked like this:

Also a delicious look. Especially the splotches on my face 🙂

and can felt what I have only (very accurately) heard of as an ‘impending sense of doom’. I didn’t care that is was after midnight and we didn’t have a car. All I know was that night bus or not, we had to get to ER now. In fact, the night bus would be too slow. We had to get a taxi.

By the time I arrived at hospital I was fading fast. They took my blood pressure and my oedema had gotten so bad, I had lost enough fluid to be dropping my blood pressure and in a serious danger zone. Luckily, one IV steroid shot, 2 bags of IV fluid (phew, talk about wanting to HURL) and 1 piriton shot later I was OK. I was sent home with steroids (on a schedule), lots of piriton (to take ‘like tic-tacs’) and the knowledge that had a taken a sleeping pill, given my slow descent into unconsciousness I probably would not have woken up. Lovely.

And all was sort of OK. The allergy bubbled under all summer.. I was on and off steroids and in and out of ER. Eventually I tried a low histamine diet, emoving all the allergens from my house (dust, flees everything) and fexofendadine (recently re-released in the UK. Allegra to US peeps) and that combo + regualr low level steroids kept me out of hospital. No allergy panel could fix it… everyone was at a loss. Then one day (while on holiday in Greece actually) I realised that it has just cleared up. Gone. And I didn’t see it again.

Bad hair? Check. Bad sunglasses? Check. Rash? Nay! Just the remnants 🙂

Until my 30s (ouch). Actually, I realise now that is only a couple of years later. I moved to Alabama and was fine for over 2 years. I got one bite (one in a long line)… and it blew up. I got a Benadryl shot, felt like rubbish, but thought no more of it, until I realised that breathing was not quite the ‘given’ it had been that morning. Yup, off to hospital and back on the anti histamine / steroid rounds. Tough break. And that has been my summer of 2011… get bitten, watch it swell up to bigger than my hand span, watch the swelling spread to legs… back… face (ick!)… sometimes have trouble breathing, sometimes watch my blood pressure fall. Take lots of steroids, take lots of anti histamines… get better, for about 2-3 weeks.

So… I thought I would share my story. I don’t know why. Because, I guess, googling other people going through this helped me in a Benadryl induced haze. Because sometimes when modern medicine has no answer it is nice to know you are not alone, and not making it up (I still half think I am being a drama queen, and hence am not very good at acting upon the problem and getting to hospital).

And the good news? My awesome PCP Dr. Kynerd came up with a plan to get off this steroid cycle: as soon as I am bitten, I use my epipen. No question. I thought it was dramatic, but he pointed out that 5/6 bites have landed me in hospital and the other one still had to be remedied with steroids. He said the time had come to go preventative, not curative and epipen when I am bitten. I said that I thought epipens were just for anapylaxis, but he said that I was getting closer and closer to that, and soon it would be too late (!) It would stop any reaction in its tracks, even hives and odema so must be done. So – if it helps anyone out there take to your PCP / GP about trying it. It might work.

In other good news, it also doesn’t really affect my life. I still hike, bike, run, work, chill have fun, love life 🙂 I lose a day or two of work here and there (but I also getting more and more up to date with Gossip Girl) because I feel so lousy on the drugs, and man… am I swelling up on the steroids. But, if you are going through this, or your child is, and you are scared: don’t be 🙂 And don’t think you are making a fuss about nothing, just react and deal with it and you’ll be fine 🙂

Stay well 🙂

Ahhhh... Greece. A little sunburn to hide the rash on my face 🙂