Sometime in early December, I got a small spot on my left hand that seemed like eczema. Just a tiny patch near my wedding ring finger. I didn't think much of it at first but gradually over the coming weeks, it began to spread on my hand. I still just thought that my hand was dry from the winter and it was eczema.
Then, sometime after the New Year, it had spread to my other hand - eventually it began to itch and I had a hives like rash on both hands, hives and round patches the size of quarters going up my forearms, and hives-like dots across my stomach. Soon it spread to my entire neck, chest, around my nose, ears and somewhat on my scalp. It got to the point where I couldn't hold or nurse Aria comfortably or have my shirt sleeves cover it because it was so itchy and uncomfortable. And I didn't leave the house very much. (Probably contributing to the winter blues I mentioned in a previous post, that so many people deal with this time of year.) I didn't make it to church since Christmas time until this past Sunday! It was a beautiful sunny morning, too. (: (Our church in my Michigan hometown and our Michigan U.P. congregation both have call-in numbers. So I was able to call in to my hometown to listen to services, which was nice.)
About a month ago, I had to stop wearing my wedding ring. And it became pretty much unbearable. I have never.in.my.life been that itchy. I was severely allergic to poison ivy as a child and this was much like that - only it seemed worse. There was no relief for it. It would itch and then burn.
The odd part about it is that it would come and go. When I say 'go', I just mean it would somewhat get better, never really going away completely. It would just be bearable and only a little itchy at times. So, good days and bad days...
About the time I took off my wedding ring, I decided to go to the walk-in clinic (the nearest one to us is about 40 miles away). My Chiro. recommended it when I was so-out-of-control itchy upon my visit that day, and he was just as baffled as I was about it all. I literally couldn't sit still the entire visit! My hands were horrendously itchy. I'm still convinced that I'll have scars on them for the rest of my life. But I'm sure as with anything, they'll fade with time.
At that appointment, I was given a prescription for an antibiotic and given a hydrocortizone cream and told to come back if it didn't help. The doctor was baffled, too, and said she would send me to Dermatology if the antibiotic didn't work. The hydrocortizone has done nothing for it. The antibiotic seemed to help clear it up at first, but halfway through the ten day dose, it suddenly flared up again.
It was bizarre.
So I made another appointment. This time at my regular medical clinic, about 23 miles away, hoping to see our family practitioner. She wasn't available on short notice so I saw another doctor. He prescribed Prednisone to make me comfortable (because I was nearing that unbearable point again) and gave me a referral to a Dermatologist (about 50 miles away - see a pattern here? We live *way* out in the country). I made an appointment but am not able to get in for about a month.
A few days ago, I started thinking it might be an egg allergy. I started eating them again in December after not eating them for many months - and I have been eating them nearly every day or every other day because I suddenly loved eggs after not liking them all my life. So, thinking it may be eggs, I stopped eating them on Sunday, after flaring up in spite of being on the Prednisone and taking an antihistamine that day. Monday, I felt great! Barely any itchiness and I felt so good, I even went out for a power walk just as I had on Saturday since I had been feeling good then, too. It felt awesome to get outside and enjoy the winter sun and fresh air!
Then Tuesday, Mark and the kids cooked eggs and bacon for supper and I helped feed it to Aria and washed her up (getting egg all over my hands while doing so). And I nursed her not long afterward. That evening, I started getting itchy again. And I woke up during the night from the itchiness and again early this morning and couldn't go back to sleep so I finally took some more antihistamine, in spite of going two days without it.
I'm not saying it's from the eggs - I have no idea at this point... I do know, however, from all of the reading and research I've done on Carter's peanut allergy that if you're highly allergic to any food/substance, you can react simply from touching it - as is the case with his allergy. But, ultimately, I'm not ruling anything out at this point and I can't confirm anything either. I'm just trying to find answers.
That brings us to today. I'm about halfway through the Prednisone. It got really bad this morning, in spite of the meds., and I was grateful that I just so happened to make another appointment the other day at my clinic to get blood work done today (because I was suspecting the egg at the time). I would have been calling to beg for an appointment if I hadn't had one already.
When I went in, I was told that you have to be off the antihistamine and Prednisone for about two weeks prior to getting blood work done to test for an allergy. I broke down in tears right then and then. (Didn't see that coming - talk about embarrassing.) I had been emotional all morning, prior to my appointment because of the itching. So the PA for my doctor (since my doctor wasn't available this time either) decided to give me a stronger dose of steroid pills and a powerful steroid cream - stating to take this stronger steroid for about a week and then to use the cream after that and if I could go at least 4 to 5 days without the pills or antihistamine they could do the tests. (But I could still use the cream.)
I left feeling a little better but still anxious. I didn't want to take stronger drugs because I'm nursing. And Mark wasn't thrilled about it either. And, at ten months old, I'm not ready to quit nursing. I love nursing. I've already been having a hard time taking all of the stuff I'm taking right now because of nursing but I'm feeling a little like a desperate woman at this point. I just want relief. (As an aside, many people comfortably take these meds. while nursing. I'm just really cautious.)
About twenty minutes after I left the doctor's office, I got a call from the PA. She asked me when I'd last taken an antihistamine and if I could come in now for blood work. (I had taken some 5 hours prior to our conversation.) She said they like to have someone off of them for 24 hours but to come in and do the blood work anyway since I was still in town and most of it would have worn off by then. I'm hoping the fact that I didn't take any the past two days will help give more accurate results, as well.
My gut is telling me it's a food allergy, but, really, I have no idea... (They can happen to anyone at any time in your life.) Absolutely no clue. They're going to test for a multitude of allergens. I'll have the results within a few days. At this point, I'm hoping and praying for answers! We can't begin to properly fix or treat this without answers. And I'm also feeling anxious that I won't get them because then we're back at square one and we'll have to start looking at other things. (And, there is always the possibility that we won't find any answers no matter what we do...)
I never thought I'd be excited about a food allergy but the idea of being allergic to a food, and knowing what that food is, is making me have high hopes. I would be absolutely thrilled (until it all sank in, I'm sure). Carter has so badly wanted someone in our family to be allergic to peanuts. And if his own mom could relate to his food allergy in the way that he has it, I would look at the bright side and consider it a gift in its own way. You can get used to not eating certain foods and watching what you're eating. That would be the least of my worries. And I know it would help him feel less alone in it all.
I have racked my brain over and over and over, in the past two months, trying to come up with anything new that I might have done or used in the month of December. All to no avail.
I can't think of a single thing.
All of our cleaning and laundry products, toiletries, foods, etc. are the things we've been using for a long time. I'm sure the dry winter air is probably exacerbating the issue but it's not the cause of it so hopefully we'll find something soon. My fingers are way crossed and my hopes are high.