Tuesday, January 31, 2012


It all started in October. I had a bit of a stuffy nose; a bit of a stuffy nose that didn’t go away. Then I got a couple migraines. Annoying, but I’d had a stuffy nose before and I’d had migraines before, so I marched on. Everything was hunky dory, until my right elbow started killing me. Killing me! I had to go to the doctor to have it looked at. While there I asked her opinion about my stuffy nose. Was I using my Flonase? Yes. Taking my Zytec? Yes. Weird. She had a look see and diagnosed me with a sinus infection and Tennis Elbow. I would survive. Rah!

Finished up antibiotic, continued taking allergy stuff as always . . . no improvement, with the nose or the elbow. But seriously I couldn’t rest the elbow. This was leading up to Christmas my biggest sales of the year; I had to sew on. The nose, however, that should have been cured. So I get a second course of antibiotics, plus a steroid. Two months had passed. The stuffiness was still there and I decided this is obviously just the way my nose it going to be for awhile. Meanwhile, I’m terrified I’m allergic to our hypoallergenic dog. In fact, I had started wheezing.

Complete weirdness strikes on the 14th of December. I start getting this intense rhythmic pain behind my breastbone, that’s radiating across my chest. Of course I’m thinking heart attack, but really? Everything else was fine. I called the insurance companies nurse line and explain my symptoms and the nurse says, “You need to proceed to the nearest ER or call an ambulance.” We did neither, but went to the local urgent care clinic. They did a chest x-ray, ran an EKG, and I was given a breathing treatment. Everything came back clear and after the breathing treatment the wheezing stopped and eventually the chest pain. The doctor was convinced the pain I was experiencing was from airway constriction that was causing the wheezing. I was put on another around of antibiotics, breathing treatments (Albuterol) and oral steroids. She was sure I had a sinus infection and asthma. The tightness in my chest came back again and I wheezed, even on all the medications, pretty much daily.

Then something really exciting happened. I got undressed to take a shower one morning and I had a couple hive-y scratches on my torso. Weird. I took my shower and when I got out I was covered in hive-y scratches. It looked like I had been attacked by a leopard or tiger, with sort of dull claws. I assumed I had scratched myself with my soap puff thing. I avoided it the next day, and had scratches again. I showed them to Joe. He was worried I have an alien inside desperately trying to get out. I hoped not. Then I realized I could write on myself and whatever I wrote would develop into hives. They weren’t itchy for the first couple of days, but that changed also. They mainly happened on my core being, extending a bit up my arms and down my legs. Without scratching I would be covered in what appeared to be scratches all over my body.

We were headed out of town for Christmas weekend and I just had to ignore everything going on and make the best of it. The wheezing was pretty hard to ignore and I had to repeatedly do Albuterol treatments, which just about sent me off the deep end. My body felt completely out of control, shaky, miserable, hated it. But I could breathe after the treatment, so could I really complain? After Christmas I would go in and see my doctor again.

The hives were however, freaking me out. I’m thinking Lupus or some other horrible autoimmune problem. Finally after exhaustive internet searches I came across dermagraphia. Dermagraphia can be a reaction to antibiotics. I returned to my doctor right after Christmas and she sent to the allergist, a gastroenterologist, and off for a barium swallow, after she had a bit of fun writing on me.

I was sent to the allergist, because he’s a great diagnostician and hopeful he’d see a link she wasn’t. Unfortunately, he just thought I was a super interesting case, but hasn’t a clue what going on. He did do skin scratch tests for allergies. A skin scratch test is when the nurse or doctor scratches your skin with a little plastic device containing a specific allergen. The presence of a hive would indicate you have an allergy and the size can determine that severity of the allergy. I was worried everything was going to come back positive, because I got a hive if you touched me, let alone scratch me. Never the worry. The allergy scratches caused huge hives and the non-allergy scratches caused little hives. It was easy to distinguish the difference. The test showed that I was allergic to basically everything I already knew: every tree known to man, tomatoes, bananas, carrots, some grasses and some mold, but thank God above not dogs or roaches. Just the idea of the roaches grossed me out so much. Nothing new there. Nothing to explain the wheezing, stuffy nose or hives. Crap.

And I was also sent for a barium swallow, which everything was fine and to the gastroenterologist and maybe figure out what the chest pain was about. I met with him and his was positive it was classic heartburn and we scheduled a scope. He found I had a Schatzki Ring, a constriction in the esophagus, which he expanded and lo and behold I have scalloping in my duodenum. Which by the way, basically mean Celiac’s Disease. CELIAC’S DISEASE! Crappity, crap, crap!!! We waited a week for the results, but we knew what it would be . . . wait for it . . . um yeah. . . Celiac’s Disease. Crappity, crap, crap!!! It does explain a lot of other problems I’ve been having, but not everything.

Did I mention my boys had blood tests in the fall that indicated they may also have Celiac’s Disease? They will be scoped in the next few weeks. Should be a blast.

The last week has been working on our gluten-free diet (GFD). Thank the powers that be for the internet, because it’s been and excellent source of information. It can take several months to totally rid your body of gluten, so I’m hoping to see improvement in the next few months. Is the wheezing, stuffy nose and hives related to the Celiac’s? Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, I have to admit I’m pretty sad. I’m hoping I’ll feel so much better that never having a warm slice of French bread again and the like, won’t bother me. I see commercials for certain foods and get a little bummed out and sigh. Joe says, “Oh Honey.” It helps a bit.

The whole time I've been feeling awful. I truly just wanted to sleep. The pain in my chest was pretty debilitating. The hives have been controlled pretty well with Zyrtec, but I have breakthrough and I'm itching all over and hot. I get hot flashes when I "flare" up with hives. And my ears get hot and feel thick inside, which drives me insane. Then there's the wheezing and shortness of breath. It's all sort of miserable. I seem to have good and bad days. Today was bad. About an hour after eating some yogurt for breakfast, I feel like a golf ball is headed down my esophagus. The pain was so bad it sort of knocked me out. I had to go lie down. I woke up an hour later and the pain was gone, but I was still exhausted. It's all just so strange.