3 years ago this fall my health changed dramatically. I was sitting on the floor of my apartment working on a scrapbook and eating peanuts when I started to feel dizzy. I lay down on my bed and waited for Jay to arrive home. Within an hour my throat felt like it was closing up and we were walking to the hospital (which was a few blocks away). That evening I didn’t actually enter the hospital, but it marked the beginning of a 2 1/2 year battle with my body.
All sorts of thoughts were running through my head, but ALLERGY was lit up in bright lights and blinking on my forehead. I’m allergic to many things, but as far as I know I’ve only ever been allergic to one food: chocolate. My dad has some mild food allergies (including peanuts) but they started much later in life. Could I possibly be allergic to peanuts? My father also suffers from urticaria where his lips and face swell. Perhaps I had that? The thoughts alone began to drive me crazy.
Then it started happening more frequently, with all sorts of foods. I went to see my many doctors and I had all the tests done. My eye, nose and throat doctor checked my throat, my allergist did allergy tests, I had a thyroid ultrasound done, blood was taken and pills were prescribed. Of course, everything came back normal. I started eliminating every food that caused my throat to swell. I thought perhaps it was being caused by thrush from my Advair discus so I adopted a candida diet. I ended up in the hospital a number of times and one time they actually gave me an Epi Pen (they hurt. a lot).
I felt like a prisoner. I stopped seeing friends, My job suffered, and I spent hours lying in bed with a cold pack on my throat trying desperately to distract myself with TV. My relationship suffered the most. I was so sick (and as a result so anxious) that I almost lost Jay. I thought I was losing my mind.
My family doctor was convinced it was anxiety; the combination of no other explanation and my medical history painted a compelling argument. What I couldn’t figure out though was why it started in the first place. I wasn’t worried or anxious at all when it first happened. I went on anti anxiety pills which helped, but did not cure. Over time I gradually added foods back and began to resume my life. 8 months after it began I had thyroid surgery. I started some vitamins and stopped others. I now keep a stash of Nystatin on hand for my thrush. About 2 times a month it comes back for a visit, but it doesn’t stay long.
To this day I can’t be sure what happened or what fixed it, but whatever I’m doing now is working. Last month I ate peanut butter for the first time in 3 years without the accompanying panic. It surprises me that with all the science we have available doctors still can’t figure it out sometimes, but I’m grateful that they never gave up on me.
Can you imagine being sick 100 or 200 years ago when most diseases (or treatments) hadn’t been discovered yet? Scary.