Every so often a patient comes into my office with symptoms of an allergic reaction (hives, facial swelling, itchiness) to which neither patient nor myself can find a cause.
Today, I am that patient.
When husband woke up at 2am to feed the baby, I started scratching my fingers and had trouble falling back asleep. Eventually, I did and woke up at 8am to the sound of the kids playing in their room and the baby babbling away. I became aware of my fingers, hands and arms being itchy as well as my feet. I got up to put my contacts in and got the shock of my life when I looked in the mirror.
Both of my upper and lower eyelids were swollen. I had trouble getting my eyes open enough to put the contacts in, but I managed after a bit of effort. I woke up husband and he thought I’d been crying. And then the itching started again – my hands, arms, and fingers. I was scratching so hard I thought I might break the skin. I immediately took two doses of Reactine and got into the shower. Whatever antigen I was reacting to, I wanted it off my skin immediately.
I hadn’t used any new skin care products, creams, soaps or detergents recently. These are the first questions I usually ask any patient who comes to my office looking the way I did. Thankfully, I had no respiratory symptoms which would have indicated some kind of anaphylactic reaction. All I could think of was what we ate for dinner last night.
Husband purchased two fresh red snapper at the local grocery store last night. We ate the fish with broccoli, cauliflower and rice and shared a bottle of white wine. The last time I ate snapper was back in 2008 on my honeymoon in Jamaica.
Could it have been the fish? Or the sulphites in the wine? I’ve never had a reaction like this in the past. I’ve never had any kind of allergic reaction. It’s so strange.
Now I know how my patients feel when they come in to see me, seeking answers, and all I can do is shrug.
So, so strange.