What a difference a day makes.

Yesterday, I had an extreme reaction to the tiny dose of doxylamine succinate (unisom) that I take to sleep. It is the only drug that has worked and I have been careful to use only 1/4pill at a time and only a few nights at a time. But not careful enough, I guess. My body totally melted down yesterday. There’s no other way to describe it. Pre-syncope doesn’t do it justice. It felt like an antihistamine overdose: very shaky, clammy, headachy, short of breath, heart rate all over the place, blood pressure bottoming out, collapsy, chilled to the bone (mini convulsions of chills), and then swollen and heat drenched…

I really thought I was going to have to go to the hospital and, once I knew I wouldn’t pass out and wouldn’t need paramedics, the fear and depression set in. I’m scared of everything. I’m scared of drugs, eating, not sleeping, talking, walking, not walking, dying alone. This is no way to live. When I asked my husband what he loved about me when he first met me, he said, “You were fearless.” This makes me lament my current brain even more. What I would give to be fearless again!

I have a tilt table test scheduled for Monday and, if the horror stories online weren’t enough to terrify me, having this meltdown happen to me yesterday has definitely doused all hopefulness that the test could go well. Today I feel awful – extremely, achy, stiff, sore, and depleted. My eyes are swollen and my head is pounding. I feel just like I did after each of my syncope and anaphylaxis episodes: like I lay all night in a room full of black smoke while MSG dripped into my veins and strong men beat me with baseball bats. So, I’m really going to go get syncope symptoms provoked in a lab on Monday? I can’t take any meds this weekend and no caffeine, food or water the day of the test. That alone could be really bad for me. I’m scared of dehydration and low blood sugar. They are also conducting a sweat test, which I’m told is painful, and they don’t offer IV fluids after the test.

There are other things adding to my current distress:
I missed my physical therapy appointment yesterday. This is the second appointment I’ve missed with a practitioner who is in such high demand it takes months to get in to see him. I’m mortified and guilty.
I wanted to call Z. and Skype with E. (my best friends), both of which must be put on hold for weeks.
I’ve told my sister no the last five times she has offered to come over for a visit.
I was hoping and praying I could go to the cemetery on my scooter with my dogs this weekend, but it’s not going to happen. It has been weeks since I’ve gone there and the weather is meant to be pretty good. This gives it a sense of urgency because it’ll be wet and cold for the next six months.
My brother the pilot has another layover in Seattle two days after the autonomic testing and I don’t think I’ll be up to seeing him.
My appointment with the neurologist to go over my test results is on Halloween at 8am. Most of you know the fear this strikes in me. Up at 6am (after trying to sleep with no drugs) without my three hours of “gather my strength” time in bed in the morning, no food (because I can’t eat that early), trying to talk to a doctor and comprehend that early in the morning…?!
My gallbladder (?) twinge is back with a vengeance and I’m scared all over again about having to get emergency surgery with this sensitive, intolerant, anaphylactic body.
This happened right after I had added back steak and bacon to my diet and right before I was going to challenge eggs, so now I’m left nervous to eat any of those things (I was so looking forward to a day with eggs!).
And, finally, I’m sure I have a mast cell disorder (which I’ll write about one day) and that makes me more scared than my normal ME scared. If I have such a vicious reaction to the drug that is meant to prevent allergic reactions, what hope is there for me? I looked into a low-histamine diet and Jesus! No dried fruit, no black tea, no apples, oranges, pineapple, spinach, chocolate, leftover or processed meat etc. etc. Just give me a pill and fix it, dammit!

Anyway, sorry, my fingers are swollen and I have to stop typing. This was going to be a very short post to let friends and family know that I am going to try my hardest to do NOTHING for the rest of the month. I’ll be out of touch, but will read anything you write and thank you for your support and understanding. Gratitude for the fact that I’m not alone. X
And for the Project Runway finale I get to watch right now! 😉

Yes, I’ve used steroids.

Every time I try a new drug, I first get ready for the hospital. I have lived under the specter of anaphylaxis for 13 years and, in the last 2 years, the knowledge that many drugs – even ones I have taken often – can crush my lungs and shut down my airways. There’s also the fact that my autoimmune urticaria and angioedema manifests itself as tongue swelling. My allergist said, “Some people get hives, some people get puffy faces, unfortunately for you, your tongue swells and that can be life threatening.”

So, today, before spraying a new powdered corticosteroid up my nose, I ate something, drank a lot of water, locked the back door, made sure the dogs were inside, took off my pjs and put on black yoga pants and a sweatshirt (this is “dressed” in my world). I also put my phone by my purse and made sure my husband was reachable.

But let me back up. I saw an ENT doctor on Tuesday. I made an appointment on Monday with the only doctor near my house that had an opening. I really liked his bio on the hospital website, too, and I wasn’t disappointed – he was very nice and thorough. I drove myself, which was fine, but his office was down a very long hall and I was once again confronted with how hard it is to navigate the world as a disabled person. I walked that hall, but what if I couldn’t? What if eventually I can’t? You need a strong, able-bodied caregiver, a wheelchair and much more time.

I haven’t been using my CPAP for about a month (which wreaks havoc on my sleep and health) because my sinuses have been too swollen. A few weeks ago, I decided to try irrigating them with a saline solution, since everyone swears by this (I used the squeeze bottle instead of the neti pot). I felt water in my ears and it came out my mouth and eye (seriously!), as well as the other nostril. It was thoroughly unpleasant, but I persevered twice more – until the water in my ears was bad enough to stop my insisting it was healthy. Over the next week it grew more and more uncomfortable and I was forced to make the appointment after pain radiated into my eye socket and cheek and jaw bones.

The ENT doctor looked in my ears (no infection) and rummaged in my mouth and pressed on my jaw (TMJ problems, which I knew) and asked if he could spray a decongestant plus lidocaine in my nose. I explained my sensitivity to drugs and asked him if the outcome would change his course of treatment and he said probably not, but he’d like to scope my sinuses. I told him, Bring it on! We don’t need no stinkin’ lidocaine! One side was easy, the other was much more swollen and his wee camera had a tough time getting around the corners. At one point, I thought he might puncture my eyeball. That wasn’t too fun.

He offered a five day course of prednisone, which I declined and he offered to inject my sinuses with steroid, which I declined. He said the swelling seems to be allergy-related and said I should try different steroid sprays until I find one that doesn’t give me migraines and, if none of them worked, we could consider other options. So, off I went with 4 samples to research and worry about. I eliminated the steroid + antihistamine because there seemed to be a tendency to lose one’s sense of taste, I eliminated the spray with the highest incidence of headaches in the clinical trials and my final pick was based on user reviews. Of course steroid warnings are scary for someone like me: you can catch things easier because your immune system is suppressed; don’t take if you have adrenal insufficiency; it can make viral/bacterial/parasitic/fungal infections worse; tell your doctor if you’ve never had chicken pox or measles (I’ve had neither)… And then, of course, it can cause nose bleeds, holes in the septum, headaches, allergic reactions and anaphylaxis. Joy.

A few minutes ago, I sprayed Zetonna up my nose. Because it is a metered spray, I can’t try a small dose like I normally would. I use what the rest of the population uses: one spray up each nostril, once a day. At least with my antihistamine nasal spray, I only took one spray once a day when the adult dose was two sprays twice a day. So, I wait and hope that I have no instant hives or swelling, no trouble breathing in an hour or two, no rash tomorrow, no migraine in a week, and no virus or bronchitis in the months to come. Oh, and that it actually works and the swelling goes down and I can sleep and breathe properly again. Wish me luck.

Gratitude for the day: I got to see my big brother yesterday, who was here on a layover (he’s a pilot). I was shaky, hoarse, headachy, exhausted and couldn’t do much but recline on the couch while we visited for a few hours, but that was enough to raise my spirits and calm down my crazy, agitated, insomniac nervous system. Love you, bro!!