Just once, I'd like to enjoy a normal weekend. I mean, really, is that too much to ask? Yeah, probably - not even sure what normal is anymore, and suspecting that "abnormal" has become, in fact, our "new normal."
Friday afternoon: had a nice lunch at Patrizio's with some folks from work, didn't eat anything weird (this will become relevant in a moment), returned to the office and, around 4 pm, started itching. A lot. Now, itching is part of my "abnormal normal" - although all of the McGlincheys suffer from allergies, only two of us (Dad and #1 Son) experience a normal histamine reaction (watery eyes, stuffed-up nose). The other two of us (yours truly and #2 Son) exhibit all of the signs of what is known as atopic syndrome (well, PJ doesn't have all of the signs yet, but, given that I didn't develop asthma until I was 30, it's probably just a matter of time until he does). In the simplest terms possible: our histamine reactions are freaky-deaky. The same pollen that makes other people sneeze gives us an upset stomach, eczema rashes and mouth sores and causes the little chicken skin bumps that are ever-present on our arms (proper name, keratosis pilaris - also an atopic condition) to become really BIG AND PRONOUNCED chicken skin bumps that itch and itch and ITCH.
The itching leads to scratching, and the scratching inflames my skin and makes it itch more, and the everything goes to Hades in a hand basket in a hurry. A dermatologist explained it to me this way: your skin is like a forest. If you drop a match in a forest that's gotten a lot of rain, the dampness will put the match out. If you drop a match in a forest that's tinder-dry, it catches on fire with a vengeance. So, when my skin is stressed (because of exposure to substances to which I truly am allergic), I start reacting to EVERYTHING - scents, even, and scents of things to which I am not truly allergic. The smell of a household cleaner, run of-the-mill food smells - it doesn't take much.
I suppose I should have seen the signs prior to Friday - upset stomach all this week, trouble breathing, etc. Nevertheless, the itching at 4 pm on Friday seemed to come out of nowhere: one minute everything was fine, and the next minute I was (quite literally) a red, hot mess. Didn't need to look at my back in a mirror to know what I would find - long, angry welts, like whip marks. That's a normal occurrence for me. The itchy neck and chest were normal, too.
What happened next went a little past normal - and kept going.
Like the idiot that I am, I (1) failed to take a Benadryl and (2) en route to friend Ruth's house for dinner decided to get my nails done. And, at said nail salon, my fingertips came into contact with acetone nail polish remover. JUST my fingertips. But that's all it took. At some point during my manicure, I noticed that other patrons of the salon were staring at me. I assumed that my odd behavior in the manicurist's chair was attracting their attention. (Manicurist would begin filing the nails on my left hand, I would withdraw my right hand from the table and SCRATCH MY BACK FURIOUSLY. Just like a dog with a bad batch of fleas. Then said manicurist would need my right hand back, so I would bring that hand up to the table, my left hand would snake around and I would SCRATCH MY BACK FURIOUSLY SOME MORE.) When I got up to wash my hands, though, I came face-to-face with myself in the mirror, and I saw what everyone else saw - half of my neck was magenta, and the other half had magenta polka dots. The solid magenta part was creeping up over my jaw line and threatening to take over my left cheek.
Paid for my manicure, drove to Ruth's and had been in her house for maybe five minutes when the hives started developing at the pulse points on my wrists. Ruth offered me a Benadryl. Nope, I'm fine. Hives started marching up the insides of my forearms. Seriously, you should take a Benadryl. Aw, this is nothing . . . scratch. Scratch. SCRATCH.
I took the Benadryl.
And made it home and into bed without incident. Then, around 2 am, I woke up very suddenly, and I think I actually uttered the following sentence out loud:
"Why I am wearing sandpaper pants?"
Seriously, the inside of the (cotton knit yoga) pants that I was wearing felt like sandpaper to me, and every subtle shift of my body made my legs burn. I shuffled into the bathroom and turned on the light, knowing what I was going to see but still afraid to see just how bad it was.
O . . . M . . . G. The sheer number of hives, and the angry purplish-ness of their color, did not surprise me, but the overall appearance of my skin did. You know when the sheets bunch up under you, and you wake up with sheet lines on your body? Yeah, the overall texture of my skin was like that - weird lines and ridges everywhere - because, apparently, MY SKIN HAD DECIDED THAT IT WAS ALLERGIC TO MY PANTS. Hives of various sizes were superimposed over the lovely background texture, and the tops of my thighs were basically one giant hive each. It really, truly looked like I'd been scalded.
And it hurt like no one's business.
I made it back to bed, and that's when the other symptoms hit me - headache, difficulty swallowing . . . yup, definitely heading into anaphylaxis territory here. I woke up my spouse, who normally takes my health crises with a grain of salt, but he took one look at me and, well, sort of panicked. Enough for the both of us. Like Ruth before him, he assumed the mantle of Benadryl pusher and made me swallow two pink caplets . . . and then a third one for good measure. Then he got ice packs out of the freezer for me to put on the really itchy parts, and he talked to me and distracted me from scratching as best he could. The pills finally kicked in, the itching subsided, and I drifted off to sleep. Parnell didn't - the next day, he confessed that he woke up at half hour intervals the rest of the night to check on me, because he was a little bit afraid that I might check out.
Woke up Saturday morning feeling sort of human and looking a whole lot less polka-dotted, took another Benadryl to satisfy my spouse, and sent him off to his early AM drop-in tennis clinic. And then, given my status as PIC - parent-in-charge - I did everything in my power to remain awake, just short of jumping jacks, because LORD ALMIGHTY - there is a reason that I resist taking Benadryl, and "serious medicine head" is that reason. It felt like I was swimming through pea soup just moving around the house. So when Parnell returned, I took advantage of the opportunity to return to bed and take a catnap. Some time during that catnap, my AM Benadryl dosage wore off. Also during said catnap, Connor put a cup of Easy Mac in the microwave, forgot to add water (yeah, the blonde apple didn't fall far from the blonde tree), and I was awakened by the acrid smell of burnt-black pasta noodles. And then . . . .
I GOT HIVES. HUGE ONES. IN REACTION TO A BURNT FOOD SMELL. I mean, seriously, what the WHAT? I had Parnell take a picture of one of my arms, because by this point I suspected that a trip to my physician and perhaps a steroid shot were in my future, and I wanted to come packing visual aids. I will upload the photo later, so that you, dear reader, can marvel at the havoc that "burnt Easy Mac aroma" apparently can wreak on the delicate skin of my inner wrist and forearm.
Ay, chihuahua. But we're not done yet. What's the worst possible thing that you can do when you have hives (other than letting your ditsy ten year-old near a microwave)? Get out in the heat, right? So it was agreed that I was on lock-down for the rest of the day. And then. THE. AIR. CONDITIONER. ICED. OVER. Of course it did - because the filter needed changing, and it was having to work overtime anyway due to 104-degree temperatures outdoors, and - oh, yeah, BECAUSE I HAD HIVES. Why WOULDN'T the A/C would choose this particular day to stop working?
So . . . it's almost 4 am Sunday morning, and I have the bed to myself (sweet husband took the portable fan into the den and is sleeping on the couch, as he has a tendency - particularly when he is hot - to encroach into my real estate, often flinging his limbs out to the sides and over me, pinning me to the mattress and making me altogether uncomfortable). It's not hot, actually, with the ceiling fans all turned to "amps on eleven," but I can't sleep, and it's a foregone conclusion that (1) we will be rescheduling with our maid (currently scheduled for Monday), because there's no way in the world that my hivey self is going to complete the usual "Sunday evening pre-maid debris pickup" in the stifling heat, and (2) we will be heading somewhere else during the heat of the day. We had tentatively planned on dinner at Rainforest Cafe and glow-in-the-dark (indoor) mini golf for Monday night, but I'm thinking that Sunday afternoon is as good a time for those activities as any.
Odds that the vocalization of an animatronic gorilla or the reflection of black light off of phosphorescent paint gives me hives?