Sunday, February 21, 2010

Purple is my color

I've had allergies my whole life, most usually the seasonal kind and occasionally the hive-y kind. I never know when they are going to hit. While I am universally careful about things I put on my skin, and plants I am around, I've never had to worry about what I eat.

Not until about a month ago.

I was at work and we were having a lab notebook signing party. I know. "Lab notebook" and "party" are not two words that are usually strung together to good effect, but for me and my geek colleagues, it means someone else picks up the tab for lunch and we get to nitpick over each other's lab notebooks, ultimately signing off (on each and every page) that the documentation of everyone's experiments is done appropriately. This time, we had Chinese food, from a place I've eaten from before and really liked. I branched out this time, though, and in addition to the garlic chicken, I decided to try the shrimp with pine nuts. I love shrimp. I've eaten it before, but.... came to pass that about an hour and a half afterwards, I was working in the lab, and my palm started to itch like mad. I figured I'd gotten some water under my glove, and that was causing the irritation...and then the back of my neck started itching. "Are you okay?" one of my friends asked, as she noticed me scratching. "Yeah," I said, "I'm just itchy, it's nothing, it's just hot in this coat." I blew it off for a few seconds, but then my, um, groin started itching, and there was no way to gracefully scratch that in public. I told my friend to take over for a few minutes so I could check out what was going on, because by that point, I'd ripped off my gloves to scratch at my neck. Once I got into the bathroom, my forearm was itching and parts of me felt like they were on fire. I pulled up my sleeve, and watched hives start popping out.

It was very "An American Werewolf in London."

I knew I was in trouble. I called down to my other coworkers for help and started heading towards the basement (where we usually work) to look for my boss. As I left the bathroom, my lip started itching. My boss and I missed each other because she took the stairs and I took the elevator. She ran back down to me and started popping Benadryl pills out to me (I took a couple) as I tried to not scratch and she started making calls, for help and maybe an epipen. I felt something in my mouth and suddenly, the itching didn't seem so important. "My tongue is swelling," I said to her as she said "I'm calling 911." I headed upstairs (finding us in that building is impossible if you don't know where to look) so that I could wait outside for the paramedics. I'm sitting on the bench, scratching, holding my cell phone, and doing the Mom checklist in my head of where all the kids were at and did they have rides home and where is my husband? I'm frustrated, because even though as I'm trying to make calls, I'm realizing no one will understand me because at this point, I wath tawthing like thwis. Finally the paramedics arrive, just as I'm starting to really panic, because my breathing feels shallow, and they want to chat. Really? I'm thinking, fixthisgivemesomethingnownownow and I'm miming for my boss to speak for me and the paramedics start looking like they are standing behind a tv screen gone to snow.

After we've provided them all the names of everyone I've ever met, they give me some more Benadryl through the IV they've started and within a few minutes, the tv screen of snow is gone. As they load me into the ambulance, my itching has miraculously stopped (oh, thank you) and I can breathe better (blessed oxygen), and I am feeling much more kindly towards the paramedics...but it was still the longest 15-minute ride of my life on the way to the ER.

Gawd. More questions.

I'm wishing for more medicine, because I'm so afraid the itching will return and don't want any part of that again. And I look up, just in time to see my husband in the doorway. The doc is standing behind him, cracking wise, and finally, finally, someone puts something in my IV that is sure to make the itching stay away for a while. After about twenty minutes, I hear myself talking but it's from that lovely Benadryl twilight-chill and I know I'm babbling and dozing at almost the same time but I really can't help it.

Great. My husband gets a preview of our golden years, minus the drool and pureed veggies.

I got discharged a couple of hours later, and my friend (who is my boss) that accompanied me got to ride back to her car in the back of a police car.

"It's not every day you get to ride in an ambulance and a police car," she joked as she climbed in the backseat.

"You just remember that when it's time for my review," I replied.

Later, I asked my husband why he was so non-plussed, so calm, adding for dramatic flair emphasis on the part where I pointed out "You do realize these kinds of reactions can be life-threatening." He gave me the look that says 'you're pushing it' and said that by the time he got to the ER, I was over the worst of it, and since he didn't witness the whole thing, it was easy for him to not overreact. I rolled my eyes and let the Benadryl take over. It wasn't until I overheard him telling one of his coworkers a few days later, "She was still all puffy when I got there, like that girl from Willy Wonka," that I even detected that he'd been a little rattled in the tone of his voice.

And it also explained to me why, as I dozed off that night in my Benadryl haze, I heard him say: "Good night, Violet."


Bridgett said...

Okay, that's just scary. :(

I'm so glad the story has a happy ending.

Remo said...

He's still got it, eh?

Mrs. L said...

So you're allergic to pine nuts?