Raise your hand if you have seasonal allergies. Keep those hands raised if this year's spawn-of-hell seasonal allergies are beating you senseless. Do you have your hands up? (Why do you have your hands up? I can't see you.)
Anyways, I typically have one to two weeks of allergies in the spring. They peak on those days that you go outside and everything is covered in a thick layer of green and you're wishing you had one of those face masks they wear around China all of the time. But this year, they didn't subside, quite the opposite, they kept getting worse. Claritin usually does the trick, but this year's super pollen has rendered it useless. So much so, that one Friday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, my face because to itch. I attributed it to the fake earrings I was wearing, which always give me a minor nickel reaction, but they're cute, so I suffer through in the name of fashion.
By the time I got home, my entire face was red and itchy. This was weird. I washed my face, went to yoga, baffled, but hoping I would sweat it out. I cancelled my plans for the evening, and my face and I sat home and fought with each other. By Saturday morning, my right eyelid had begun to swell. I was starting to look like a leper and was growing concerned. Of course, on a Saturday, the chances of getting a doctor's appointment are probably less than those of being struck by lightning. So I called my doctor friend. She recommended hydrocortisone cream on the face and Benadryl. So, I did as she said and by the next day it had started to clear up. Hooray!
That was, until the following Tuesday. Tuesday night, I went out, and again put on some cheap earrings, and by ten p.m. or so, my entire neck was itching. Eff—it was back. Wednesday morning, I woke up to a red and swollen face, which seems to itch even more than the last time. I called a handful of doctors. One doctor's nurse actually said to me, "I'm sorry, the Doctor doesn't feel like seeing any patients today."
Oh, okay. Well, how nice for him! With little options left, I went to the clinic at CVS. They were unable to help me because they had no idea what it was I was dealing with. She did tell me that I had fluid in my ears and my sinuses were extremely inflamed. So, for that, she prescribed me an allergy sinus spray. She noted I may need blood work, something seemed very wrong.
I went home, doubled up on the Benadryl and took a nap. I woke up hours later and felt worse. My ears were hot and itchy now too. So when my doctor friend called to check in on me, I cried. I can be a huge baby when I am sick (either that or I take the illness on head first and, for example, go run for an hour), so hearing the concern in my voice, she suggested I take another Claritin and use the steroid cream I had been prescribed when the bugs attacked. I did these things.
Thursday morning, the rash had spread to my neck and arms, so at 6:30 a.m. I called my dermatologist and they got me in. She wasn't sure what was causing the rash—it was either allergies or a "virus that causes a non-specific rash." She didn't seem to agree with my "nickel allergy gone bad" assessment. But, a steroid shot to the rump cleared up the itching within a few hours. She also gave me a steroid cream to use on my face for a few days, that she warned would cause me to break out. She also suggested I continue taking two Claritin a day, as well as Benadryl.
Great. All is better. Except, no, no it wasn't. Yesterday, which was the following Wednesday, I was sitting at my desk when I began to feel like my face and chest were on fire. I looked down to see that my skin was bright red. I ran to the ladies' room to check out my face, and yes, the rash was back, and my face was beginning to get puffy. I had plans to go see Spiderman, the play, that night, and it was now 3 p.m. So now the antihistamines weren't working, my face was broken out, and I would be leaving for Paris in two days. I went into a panic. After an hour, I finally found a doctor that would see me, but it was becoming clear I wouldn't be seeing the play.
This doctor also didn't know what was wrong.
"Are your glands swollen?" she asked.
After feeling my miscellaneous neck/shoulder area glands for all of three seconds, she added, "They're actually quite sizable at the moment."
She tested me for strep, which I hadn't had (luckily) since my junior year of college. As I waited for the results, I googled, "strep, rash." And what do we get? Scarlet Fever! I wasn't really concerned about this because my throat didn't hurt, I didn't have a fever, and, oh yea, I'm not three. As I expected, it was negative. She noted she couldn't do blood work because she would have no idea what to test me for, and added that since it itches and responds to steroids, it is likely allergies.
So as of last night, I was to take Xyzal and Singulair. My friend put my air conditioner in the window, so I could close my windows and keep any additional hell spawn out of my apartment. I woke up this morning feeling like I had been in a coma, but the rash had cleared up and the itching had stopped. I have my fingers crossed the latest drug cocktail will do the trick, and later on, I will be doing a rain dance, praying that the skies will open out and wash away these tiny green "evil-doers."
Allergies. All this from the pretty trees outside that I like to look at. Well you know what trees? Fuck you too.