The allergist was a little stymied, because usually, when people react to food, it's immediate. I was an unusual case. I told him I'd also poked myself on a cactus as I waited in line for my turn at the trough (who has LIVE cacti in a boardroom, I ask you?) and that I was not convinced that this event wasn't a contributing factor, considering I had to pull the thorns out of my arm (I had a sweater on and didn't realize they were there until they started making me itch) as I sat there having lunch. I'd cut some thorns off the thing to bring to my appointment and he said he'd make a concoction with them, and to come back for skin testing the following week. "No antihistimines in the meantime," he added.
Skin testing involves you taking off your shirt and allowing the nurse to poke you with little itty bitty needles that are dipped in various allergy-causing substances all over your back. And in my case, forearm and upper arm, too. I got tested for all the shellfish, fish, my cactus, nuts, and various "environmentals".
I knew I was not in for a good time when I felt spots on my back erupt and itch within two minutes of the nurse leaving. I'd giggled as she poked me as I am super ticklish, and now, in my agony, I felt I'd probably kick her the next time she came into the room. I concentrated on my iPod and just when I thought I'd not be able to handle it anymore, she came walking back in.
It's never good to hear a medical professional gasp as they enter a room and look at you. "I'm getting someone else to help me read this," she said, "so we can get it done as quickly as possible." I appreciated that effort, because had I not been sitting on my hands at that point, I'd most certainly have jumped off the table and started rubbing my back up against the door jamb like a bear. Maybe just a little rub here, I bargained with myself, gingerly easing my finger over a spot close to my shoulder just before she came back.
I heard series of numbers, like 8,20 and 11,45 and later I found out that the first number is the mm of width your hive is and the second number is for the redness/reaction flaring out from this. Once she was done, she wiped my back and arm off and then smeared anti-itch cream all over them. "He'll be in soon," she said, "go ahead and get dressed."
She didn't have to tell me twice. I got my shirt back on in record time and allowed myself to scratch a little. She came back in a few minutes later with a little cup of medicine and a pill. "For the itching," she said. While I reacted to the shellfish (the lobster hive was huge), my back reaction to me was by far worse.
My doctor came in and proclaimed, "You're allergic to the world."
I wasn't surprised. I knew this, but I didn't know to what degree. After we talked, we decided that I don't have a definitive answer for my reaction that landed me in the ER, but that due to my overall allergicness, maybe there were other environmental factors that, coupled with the shrimp, pushed me over the edge. Based on what has happened to me in the past, I was okay with this. I am not doing shots, and I will carry the epipen and liquid Benadryl with me at all times, and just be cautious, like I was before.
But I'll be a cheap date from here on out--no shellfish or lobster for me.
He did suggest I bring the food that I had that day to his office and eat it there, just to see what happens. I'm thinking I will pass on that--I'm just not up to it right now; maybe in a few weeks or maybe never...we'll see.
I called Mr. W as soon as I was out. "Guess what the doctor says I'm allergic to?" I asked with glee.
"Dust?" he replied hopefully.
"Nice try," I said. "Apparently, I'm allergic to everything in the world....except you."
I decided I'd wait to tell him I'd be needing a bigger purse. That Epipen takes up a lot of space.....