It all started while relaxing after dinner one evening. Basically an inability to take a deep breath. A bit like someone had stuffed my chest full of cotton balls. I’ve had a couple of bouts of this ever since I quit smoking four years ago. As my lungs have repaired themselves I have become very sensitive to spray cleaners. One good whiff and breathing is suddenly a chore. This, however, was different – it was spontaneous. An hour later it was gone and I put it out of my mind.
A week later, while relaxing after dinner, it happened again. Laboured breathing. Can’t fully inflate lungs. WTF? What was causing this. First thoughts were that I may have developed a full blown food allergy. I’m allergic to a whole host of things but the only thing I really need to avoid is grass (hence the complete lack of a lawn at our house). Maybe one of these minor allergies had lobbied for a promotion to the majors.
Since I had cooked both meals I went over the list of ingredients used to find any commonalities. One items stood out – a new bottle of Grapeseed Oil from Trader Joe’s. A little checking online led me to see a lot of conflicting information. Some swore by it to help cure allergies while others added it to the list of things to avoid if you have a nut allergy. Having a nut allergy would suck. I enjoy snacking on them and use peanut oil on a regular basis. Decided to not use the grapeseed oil anymore and take a wait and see attitude. Didn’t have to wait long.
Wednesday, relaxing after dinner, it happened again. This time we got to add a whole new symptom – flushing. Have you ever had a niacin pill? It dilates all your blood vessels causing you to flush bright red and tingling all over. So, here I am, unable to breath, all my nerve endings firing and looking a bit like I’m about to be served at The Hard Shell with a side of drawn butter. Since dinner didn’t involve any grapeseed oil or other nut products I went back online to see if I could nail this down.
Can I just say here that the Internet isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes you get just enough information to scare the shit out of yourself and, frankly, who ya’ going to call at 11 at night?
Possible diagnosis were pretty ugly. Reading about pulmonary embolisms, diabetic ketoacidosis or the possibility of cyanide poisoning sent me downstairs for a glass of wine. Who was going to run my store if I had to spend a little time at St Mary’s? Time progresses. My breathing got a little easier and off to bed to try to get some sleep.
The next morning renewed my worries. Deep breaths were difficult and I was still flushed. A call to my doc got an 11:30 appointment although subsequent calls to find someone to keep my store open were not quite as successful – this is what happens when you employ VCU students who are taking some of the same classes… what do you mean you both have to take the test today?… Guess VCU professors aren’t that flexible…
So, I closed my store for a bit and trucked over to my docs. They were concerned. A whole lot of questions and a lot of poking an prodding. As time went on the questions were less about my body and more about life. New baby coming. Economy sucks. The election is just dragging on and on. House projects. Blah, blah, blah.
The verdict – stress and anxiety.
Pardon? I nearly suffocate myself due to stress? Turns out, yes.
Seems stress hits you where your weakest. For some people that means stress brings on cardiac events. Others it hits their digestive systems. For me – I become hyper-sensitive to my environment. The concern now is to control the reactions so I don’t progress to point where it becomes so extreme my airways are completely closed off. Lovely.
So I get to spend this week in a drug induced fog. The antihistamine, Xyzal, is really an old school anti-histamine- makes me loopy. The albuterol helps but I’m not sure how I feel about walking around with an inhaler – didn’t the kids who had them in school always get picked on? The hope is to normalize my histamine levels so the stress won’t cause me to drop dead while having nut-bread at Can-Can.
If, after the week is over, I’m still having the attacks then I’ll get to start going through the fun process of narrowing down what allergens are the one’s giving me all the grief. I’m betting that if exposed to Sarah Palin during the scratch tests I’ll have an undesirable reaction.