Friday, July 04, 2008

Totally Debilitated. And, Cocooning.

Well, it was great while it lasted. And it did, the positive effects of our little escape stayed with us for two or three days.

But after that? We both were knocked off our feet again, even worse than before. It's been the worst episode of debilitating allergies for either one of us in several years. Judging from past years we may perk up soon, the second week of July or thereabouts. We've been decidedly unperky for weeks now. *Very High* weed pollen counts here every day on The Weather Channel pollen forecast.

So we've been staying in bed.

Sometimes, though? You've got to go out. Doctors. Meds. Food.

On Wednesday, June 25, I did something outside of the house for several hours. I have no recollection of what. Such jaunts expose me to unfiltered air and higher concentrations of pollen in the western edge of our towns. The ventures into unsafe territories wear me out, and during bad pollen times I have to limit them, and not do two days in a row. If I can help it, that is.

This time? Nope. The next day, Thursday, I spent in essential shopping. Meds, some food. The last stop on my *route* was Walmart. I was out of guaifenesin (mucous thinner/fibromyalgia treatment). The microwave had died too, and it's so essential when we're sick and weak and diabetic, it absolutely had to be replaced. I had to take care of these things, or I would have come home. I was at the end of my rope, getting dizzy, fatigued.

Inside the store, I noticed something happening that was vaguely familiar, like a face you used to know well, but haven't seen for a while. In my mental state then - severe allergies give us some cognitive dysfunction - I couldn't place it.

Itching. Redness, warmth, bumps, all over my arms, my ears burning and itching and swelling. The palms of my hands. My scars. Face. The knuckles on my fingers. Itching, itching, burning.

Crap. A serious systemic allergic blowout.

And I had no idea what had set it off.

Inside the car, out in the parking lot, was a prescription I'd just filled at Sam's. I always always always carry multiple Epipens with me. Those are the emergency adrenalin shots that save people from dying from anaphylactic shock or asthma. They need to be replaced every year to keep them fresh, although they usually do stay good for much longer. I used to be bad about replacing them because they're expensive and I was so broke. Now my Medicare HMO pays for most of my meds with no copay.

For some reason, I'd remembered last week that the *current* Epipen was 18 months old, and called for a refill. I picked it up at Sam's that very morning. I hadn't yet taken it out of the bag and put it in my purse.

So I had four or five older pens in my purse, which were probably still good, and my fresh one in the car.

Okay. I was covered if I needed it.

It's best not to use them, though. They're dangerous, they can induce fatal heart attacks.

I sat on the Walmart store scooter and thought. Carefully. I had some business up at the Customer Service counter, so I also told the lady there what was happening, so she'd know.

Then I got a 20 mg Prednisone tablet out of my emergency pill container and chewed it up so it would act fast.

I shopped. I was determined to finish what I went there for. Absolutely determined.

A half hour later there'd been no noticeable change so I did it again.

And finally, finally, my palms and scars weren't itching as much. My red swollen heated bumpy forearms got better.

By then I was in the checkout line. I called Walter to tell him what was happening, and that I was starting to get better and would be home soon, that I was okay to drive.

So. I made it home. And I've been sleeping ever since.

I've had some exceptional sleep sessions before. The fatigue of serious allergies is totally debilitating. After a particularly bad episode like on Thursday, it's even worse. Not only do I sleep a long time and often, I've been told I look comatose. I don't move in my sleep, ever.

Once I slept 17 hours without waking even once. That was a record. Usually I'd sleep 8-12 hours, then get up for two or three, go back to bed for a few hours, carry on that way. Before I took high-dose steroids I often slept 18 hours a day, essentially bedridden, for 6 months a year. As the years went by, my *good* months became fewer and fewer.

Finally I was down to around 2 *good* months per year, and 10 in bed. I hadn't really glommed on to that. I was at the doctor's and Walter was with me, and when I explained how I was spending 6-8 months in bed sick now, Walter gently corrected me. --No. You're up to about 10 months. And the *good* months aren't very good any more.

That's why I finally agreed to take high doses of Prednisone. It got me out of bed, it gave me my life back. I knew I was shortening my life, and encouraging diabetes, osteoporosis, kidney and liver damage, a compromised immune system, bruising, weight gain, a bloated *moonface,* facial hair...and the only thing that mattered to me, the only thing I've ever regretted, was not doing it earlier. If I had, you see, I could have spent much more time with my grandmother Helen before she died.


I set another sleep record for myself this time. Between Friday and Saturday, after the onset of that probable early-anaphylactic reaction at Walmart, I slept almost continuously for 24 hours.

And a whole lot every day since then.

Walter hasn't been much better off. So the good thing I get out of this?

Yes, DC. I've been cocooning with my love, snuggling up and sleeping, napping like cats.

Every cloud that darkens my life has at least one silver lining.


Pretty Lady said...

Thanks for the update! Sweet dreams!

k said...

You're most welcome. And sweet dreams to you, too.

It's time for quiescence.

Nancy said...

sweet dreams and wake well.

Jan said...

k..I have no idea how you keep such a good outlook on things, but you do.

I think it is hard for anyone to imagine how difficult it is for you and Walter.

I was beginning to wonder what was going on with you, so I'm glad you updated.

SeaPhoenix said...

Good to hear from you...and our blogbaby is recovering, folding up the leaves at night and opening up in the sunlight. I'll keep you well.

Jean said...

I was starting to worry, too.
Glad you updated.
The spooning thing?...very nice.

Granny J said...

Thank you for the update, k. It's very easy to worry about you when you disappear for several days.

Joyce Ellen Davis said...

Good to hear from you at last! Be well.

John P. McCann said...

Glad you're back.

You may wake up one time and discover gas prices have fallen.

That's how long you'll have slept.

Pretty Lady said...

k, my epiphyllum is blooming! This minute! I am thinking of you, and sending you all the sweetness and perfection of that blossom.

k said...

Thank you, all. I'll try to keep updating as I can.

Jan, it's probably easier than it sounds. The beginning was worse, when I didn't know what was happening or what to do about it.

Now? No surprises. We just deal with what happens as it comes. Luckily, sleeping is not a hard thing to do!

SeaPhoenix, that way they open and close their leaves? It's so sweet, isn't it? They look so alive, so responsive to us, so full of their own personality.

So much more than one would expect from a simple little plant.

Jean - isn't it, though? ;-)

Granny J, I'm torn between being glad you're there to worry about us, and not wanting you to worry about us.

I'm always okay in the end. Always.

Joyce, thank you. And your transition, by the way, is wonderful. I love to see you just being You, now.

John, you were RIGHT. 8-0 !!!

Pretty Lady, I saw it. How very beautiful. And thank you, so much. So healing.