The Hives are my favourite band, actual hives are not my favourite experience

by - April 26, 2023

Written February 12, 2023: Oh boy. Did I have an un-fun lesson to learn in February this year. I thought I was doing so well looking after my health proactively, and then one day of back-to-back Zoom meetings in peak Brisbane humidity and heatwave - BAM! That itch on my chest, which I thought was just my sweaty tee rubbing my skin the wrong way turned into what I assumed was a heat rash, which turned out to be the beginning of a massive hives breakout, which could have been a lot quicker to recover from if I'd just made the time to go to the doctors instead of putting it off for work meetings. Ah! Why do I never learn?!

The first doctor looked at me and immediately knew I was having an allergic reaction to something. Most likely food because it started along my chest and neck. He sent me home with an order to get Zyrtec and an eczema cream for eczema that had started forming in my sweaty inner elbows.

That night, as if to punish me for not seeing the doctor sooner, my hives spread to my arms and legs and belly. The only safe zone was my back - thank god, I had an angle to sleep on even though it meant that I snored. Sorry Boyfriend Pham! I took a day off work to sit on the couch and feel terribly itchy and uncomfortable in my own skin but it kept getting worse. I tried to see my doctor again but he was booked out and not available for another 5 days. No way was I waiting that long!

I went to another doctor and he also immediately knew I was having an allergic reaction to something. He speculated it could be something in my environment since it was my whole body and advised me to wash my bedsheets and cotton tees in plain hot water since it could be a change in the formula in my washing detergent that set me off. He then told me to ditch Zyrtec and go with Claratyne as that antihistamine is stronger (the first doctor said the same thing about Zyrtec... does anyone know? Or are they stronger for different things?). Anyhoo, the second doctor also sent me home with steroids (Prednisolone) to help reduce my inflammation and calm my immune system down.

I had almost instant relief with the steroids. A few hours after my first dose I stopped wanting to claw my way out of my own skin. The next day my raging red hives faded to pink and no longer burned hot to the touch. I am only on Day 3 now and am learning that I have to do everything I can to avoid feeling warm and getting sweaty because it triggers the dreaded itch and irritates the hives.

I have a week-long work trip to Sydney tomorrow. It's going to be an uncomfortable work trip and, while I wish I could postpone, literally everyone in my team is flying in for the event. I don't want to put work first all the time, but for the most part, I'll be sitting comfortably in air conditioning in a training room or an air-conditioned airport or plane or taxi. I will let you know how the rest of my recovery goes and whether I am forever like this once I'm off the course of steroids.

I strongly suspect my allergic reaction was to excessive sweating on that fateful Wednesday when I didn't turn on the fan let alone the air-con unit while I jumped from one Zoom meeting to the next without a break. My body has been running hotter and sweatier since I started taking thyroid meds and I think that contributed to this mess.

But boy, being allergic to sweat in humid Brisbane is not going to be a fun life if this is my new normal. Wish me luck!

April 22, 2023 update: So, when Doctor 2 asked me if I had any recent changes in medicine I didn't realise that 'recent' in health terms meant 3+ months ago. I'd started thyroid meds approx. 3 months before my hives appear and someone at work (in healthcare, he's not an unqualified mansplainer) said it takes about 3 months for meds to update blood levels. So, yup. I don't think I'm allergic to my environment. I'm allergic to whatever the thyroid meds triggered in my body. Fun! I am now off those meds.

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