Allergic to Running
I’m allergic to peanuts. I’ve been saying it for years. Back in high school, starting in my freshman year, during cross country I started having allergic reactions after some of my runs. The first one happened after a Sunday long run with my friend Heather. I remember it started with itchy palms and then just exploded into the need to get into a cold shower immediately, compulsive (and somewhat convulsive) itching all over my body, my eyes, lips, cheeks and feet swelling up substantially, and a lot of discomfort. I remember itching my skin off as my mom drove me to the ER. By the time they got me in and gave me 4 nice shots in my backside the reaction was calming down.
I had about 6 of these that I can remember in High School. My parents and I tried desperately to catalog what I had eaten. We really searched long and hard and our only conclusion was nuts: peanuts and pistachios. The day I had my first reaction I had downed an entire bag of pistachios (I was a teenager), and several of the other times I had a PB&J for lunch.
But really, the one commonality between all the reactions is that I had just finished running.
My last reaction was when I was 17. For years I carried an EPI Pen and Benadryl wherever I went. Doctors had cautioned me that the anaphylactic reaction I experience could cause my tongue and throat to swell, and that I could loose the ability to breathe if the reaction was bad enough. I had never experienced tongue or throat swelling so I assumed this was a long shot. About 5 years ago I quit carrying the EPI pen as I hadn’t had a reaction in 6 years. I try to keep Benadryl in all my emergency kits and at home just in case.
Last night Troy wanted to get in a 40 minute run on the treadmill in our apartment complex gym. I said I would join him for 20 minutes so that I could warm up my legs in hopes that he would stretch me afterwards. Troy has been great through this knee discomfort and has been helping me stretch after my workouts this week. It’s provided a lot of relief so I was hoping he would indulge me.
I ran my 20 and was giddy giddy giddy. I got off the treadmill and my palms started itching. Then my feet. Troy asked what was wrong and I said “I think I’m having an allergic reaction”. He asked if he should stop running and I said YES. I ran back to our apartment and started stripping cloths along the way to get into the shower. And…what hasn’t happened in 12 years happened. Full Blown. Allegric Reaction. The itching, the pain. Compulsive. Comes in Waves. Miserable.
Troy is on the phone with my parents. Everyone is trying to remember what we did 12 years ago when these were more regular. Right away I took three Benadryl. My dad called our family friend doctor and he said 2 Benadryl and watch the tongue and throat.
And this time, for the first time, my tongue started to swell. And my throat started to swell. I felt like I had cotton in my mouth and it was uncomfortable to swallow. I kept opening my mouth to Troy, asking him if the hole was getting smaller. He shook his head with his normal calm demeanor and told me “I am watching it and we will do the right thing when the time is right”. I talked to him about where the urgent care was and where the ER was. We discussed directions, and we waited. I laid there in the tub and complained about our crappy insurance and that I didn’t want to go to the doctor unless it was 100% necessary b/c I didn’t want to pay our $4000 deductible. If you drive by an ER they send you a bill for $500.
We waited. We watched. I itched. And in time (about 90 minutes) the drama started to wear off. We were able to get me out of the tub and into clothing and into bed. At this point it was really hard to keep my eyes open (I had taken 3 Benadryl). Troy loaded up my iPod with some Podcasts to keep me awake and told me he didn’t want me to sleep b/c he couldn’t keep tabs on my throat. I listened, and had a slice of pizza. I was stoked I could get the pizza down with my swollen throat. Little bites. After another 45 minutes Troy came in and said I was looking better, the throat was not getting worse and I could sleep. I was out before you could say Mississippi.
This morning I look horrible but feel great. My eyes are extremely swollen and I have a lot of scratches, but I can breathe well, I don’t itch, and I am basically back to normal. The strange part…I didn’t have any peanuts or pistachios yesterday. I had very basic foods yesterday, so I am pretty much back to square on with what causes all of this. I do know that I now need to get another prescription for an EPI pen, and I need to resume tucking a few Benadrly into handy places.