Medical Tests of the Itchy Sort

In May 2018 I was short of breath. I thought I might have pneumonia.  Turned out they  found a pulmonary embolism and I spent 4 days in ICU. I was finally discharged to go home and rest. This also came shortly after a kidney stone and high blood pressure diagnosis, and I was really, really, tired.

But my lung capacity, while better than with the PE, still sucks. “It takes time to recover from a PE”.  Uh-huh. Also I was busy trying to hit deadlines at work, despite being tired all the time, and I only had so much time and energy to deal with crap. So I didn’t push to hard on why my lung capacity is still smaller than normal.

It’s over a year later. I still get short of breath trying to walk any distance. Slowing down helps but is frustratingly slow. So this week I’m going to the Pulmonary Clinic for lung capacity testing!  Good!  And to find out my unmedicated state, I’m not taking asthma meds and anthistamines for a day beforehand!


“You can use a rescue inhaler like albuterol if needed up to 4 hours before the appointment.”

Uh, right.

What really worries me is that I’ll end up itching. I did confirm I can use topical meds, like hydrocortisone cream or antihistamine eyedrops.  I may be focusing on itching to avoid thinking about shortness of breath.  But still. No Zyrtec. Eek. 

N Things Make a Post

Thanks to This Is Thin Privilege for the shout-out.

Image from the Rudd Center Image Gallery

Image from the Rudd Center Image Gallery.
Not the blogger.

Jeanette took on the “Obese women get only an hour of exercise a year” thing.

…as did This is Thin Privilege.

…as did Marilyn Wann and many commenters on Facebook (signin needed).

On a personal note, my allergies are bothering me much less since Sunday.  Why? I spent over 3 hours Saturday doing “soak, rinse, repeat until the water is clear” on the electrostatic air filters for our furnace. Then waited about 4 hours for them to dry. Fortunately we replaced the windows in a few years back to the inside temp only went down about 10 degrees (and I set the heat UP about 5 degrees before I turned off the furnace to take out the filters).

Also on a personal note, I’m back into the swing of getting allergy shots once a week after an attack of life around November.

Itch, Itch, Itch

Ever use a long-handled bath brush to scrub your back?

Swap the brush for a dense sponge, and that’s basically the long-handled lotion applicator I got from Amazon. This morning I used it to put Aveeno anti-itch lotion on the itchy spot on the middle of my back. At bedtime I decided to try Benadryl cream – it’s definitely helping.

Part of me feels weird to use a lotion applicator (I can’t just reach?)  Yet bath brushes – which reach the same areas – are a bath staple. Strange what seems normal sometimes.

In the meantime, the itch is subsiding and I think I can sleep. 

Histamines in Food

A bit of background:

An allergen is something that triggers an allergy. When a person with allergic rhinitis breathes in an allergen such as pollen or dust, the body releases chemicals, including histamine. 

Histamine […] causes dilatation of the blood vessels (flushing, rash, itching) and increased mucus production (runny nose, productive cough), and bronchoconstriction (wheezing, cough). Because histamine is contained in almost all body tissues, […] it is able to cause a wide variety of symptoms.

So, allergies release histamines, and histamines causes the actual symptoms.

Well, I knew that it’s possible to be allergic to food.  I even knew that if you’re allergic to sulfites you should avoid wine.  But somehow I’d missed that some foods naturally contain … histamine.

There are many foods that contain histamine or cause the body to release histamine when ingested. These types of reactions are food intolerances, and are different from food allergy in that the immune system is not involved in the reaction. The symptoms, however, can be the same as a food allergy.

This also includes beer, wine and liquor.

The basic takeaway seems to be:  IF you have allergies, and your allergies are getting on your case? You might want to avoid food and drink with natural histamines.  There’s a long list here.  A couple studies linking wine (in particular) with more symptoms in allergy sufferers were discussed here.

(Those who do not have allergies are welcome to pour a glass of wine and rejoice in the comments.  Those with allergies, feel free to share other coping methods.)

I’m a grownup, right?

Forty-seven years old.

Working in software (not rocket science, but involves brains) over 20 years.

Employed and promoted by a company that prides itself on “hiring and promoting the best.”

Have been taking various meds for allergies for over 30 years.

….so why did I forget the Flonase again???

(I’m sure it has nothing to do with flonase being a nose spray, which I inhale better after my shower, vs the other morning meds which I have trained myself to take right after getting up. Nope. :P )

N things make a post

17) It’s the 17th week of 2013. I think.

12) I’ve been married 12 years.

11) My car (which currently isn’t starting) is 11 years old.  Probably needs a new battery.

8) I’ve interviewed eight potential coworkers recently.

5) Five loads of laundry today. This is not counting the mattress cover and comforter, which went in the dryer on high to kill dust mites.

3) I worked late 3 nights last week. (Planning not to do that this week.)

2) Two electrostatic air filters washed.

1) Sounders won their game 1-0.

What’s notable with you today?

Allergist update

Image from the Rudd Center Image Gallery

Image from the Rudd Center Image Gallery

Had a follow-up appointment with the allergist last week.

It was nice to confirm that the new meds and cleaning regimen not only feels good for me, I did better on the lung capacity test this time than on my first visit.

It was nice to confirm that needing to use albuterol prior to aerobic exercise is expected (exercise is an asthma trigger, especially if combined with cold air).  Albuterol is also my “rescue” med, which I use when my asthma symptoms worsen.  I haven’t been needing to use it as a rescue med for weeks, which is great.

I also agreed to start immunotherapy shots for my allergic triggers (dust mites, grass, pet dander).  It’ll take a few years, but hopefully it will reduce my allergic triggers in the long term.

Operation (de-)Dust Mite a Success

The quest to cut down dust mites in our bedroom was a success.  I woke up Monday morning without a headache and without needing to blow my nose.  I hadn’t noticed these symptoms much until they were gone, but they were.  Even better, I seemed better able to handle other asthma triggers the rest of the day.  It was even better than the additional meds (Flonase and Spiriva) had been alone.

Today I again washed the bedclothes in hot water.  I didn’t wash the comforter, but it did get a spin in the max-heat dryer, which kills dust mites as well.  Yesterday I did more thorough cleaning in the living room than I had in months.

Amazing how breathing better makes all the difference.

Operation de-Dust Mite

In October I noticed I was having more anxiety about the whole “going to the doctor” thing.  I ended up calling the asthma specialist I’d been referred to at least six months previously and going in on Monday.

This was stressful in many ways. I’m freak-folks-the-hell-out fat.  I’ve got the whole mental “You mean it’s asthma, not just that I’m fat and out of shape?” thing going. There’s getting through my first Thanksgiving without my father.  There’s that fall is the most stressful time of year at work.

But I went.  Some of it was new to me, such as being handed a tissue with a length of plastic wrap on top and being asked to blow my nose.  (Ruled out infections.)  Also a lung function test, where I breathed out, in, and out through a measuring device.  As weight can factor into dosing of asthma meds, I did get on the nifty digital scale .. which displayed the ever-useful “ERR”.  Oy.  I did tell the nurse my weight, and she made no comment.  Blood pressure was fine, both in terms of my specific measurement, and that the room I was in had the proper-sized cuff and the tech taking my blood pressure used the large cuff without me needing to request it.  I met with the doc to discuss my history and current symptoms.  We agreed to doing some skin tests to confirm and/or rule out current allergies.  My biggest responses were to dust mites, grasses, and dog dander.  Hence Operation de-Dust Mite, which included encasing our king-sized mattress in a “protector” to keep the dust mites inside it.

Side note: wrestling a king-sized mattress into a giant zippered pillowcase?   Hilarious.  Ended up putting the mattress on its side, propped against the headboard, to get the thing on.

What struck me the most, though, was that the doctor did not blame anything on my weight.  No question that exercise is an asthma trigger for me.  Not “Are you sure you’re just not used to exercise?”  Doc accepted that it’s a trigger, saying something like, “Smoke, exercise, going out in the cold, those are very common.”    I half expected to hear “Exercise will help improve your lung capacity” but there was no mention of exercise or weight loss.  Treatment plan added a few new meds to better control my asthma and reducing overall exposure to allergens, especially in our bedroom.

I’m glad it was a good experience.  I am less thrilled that it was a surprise and not business as usual for me.