Living Life “Highly Reactive”

I am currently recovering from an ‘allergic’ reaction and all that entails… This reaction was the first really bad reaction I have had since 2003 – so it had been a while. It is also the first reaction where I’ve shared info with a larger group of friends due to the advent of Facebook. Being reflective on all of this, I’ve decided to write down my experiences in the hopes it might help others: either someone with severe allergies themselves or perhaps those around them, to understand what it means to be “Highly Reactive” to allergens. I will post all posts under “Living Life ‘Highly Reactive’.”

Many people are very familiar with the environment side of allergies which come seasonally with pollens or the molds and dust in our homes… while these environmental allergies can be very serious, unless you yourself or someone you have been around has a SERIOUS allergy it can be hard to understand and many do not take people who do have serious life threatening allergies seriously.

I find it very frustrating to hear someone who ‘doesn’t like a certain food’ profess to others that they are allergic to it when they have no idea what it really means to be allergic to a food. What it feels like to inadvertently eat or drink something and have their complete body go into anaphylactic shock.. what it feels like to literally try to fight to maintain consciousness, to breath, to live… and know you are losing that fight quickly… luckily my recent reaction did not involve anaphylaxis… it is a horrible experience… the recent look on the ER doctor’s face as I kept explaining the ‘adverse’ (I was VERY specific) drug reaction and how “I KNEW it was was not anaphylaxis” was a bit entertaining and frustrating at the same time… unfortunately, as I will explain in later posts, while ER doctors are great with anaphylactic shock, their is little they can do but monitor during a non-anaphylactic systemic reaction… they can’t tell you what is going on… they honestly DO NOT KNOW… Allergist are internal medicine specialists – they spend YEARS studing internal medicine and allergy. ER doctors have little allergy education.

Lets start a bit with “Highly Reactive….” that was my primary care doctors explanation when I went to see her with a bizarre new rash…

The day I saw her was her last day of seeing patients. She recently married and is moving to the southwest. She didn’t quite know what was happening with me when I first came in but she told me she was 99% certain that it was a new allergy. She has been my primary care doctor for the past 5 years, and knows me quite well, she looked at me directly with the same frustration and humor towards all of this which I have shown her over the years and said “your so highly reactive, I really think this is a new allergic reaction.” She continued to tell me how much she knew I really didn’t like it, told me she was really sorry, took the time to informally set me up with a new primary doctor at the clinic, gave me a hug and ominously reminded me… “It’s going to get much worse before it gets better.” I am very thankful for my relationship with her. As I wrote those words, I realized this ‘project’ was going to become bigger that I initially thought… I’m still recovering and am going to need to take these in smaller steps/posts instead of writing it all in one…

I will leave with explaining “Highly Reactive.” With that term, my doctor was referring to the fact that I am an individual with multiple environmental, food, and drug allergies. In my case, several of my allergies are considered “LIFE THREATENING,” which means exposure, even in some cases insanely tiny amounts can cause rapid health deterioration and death. Due to this, I wear a medical bracelet and carry epipens with me at all times.. the bracelet isn’t exactly fashionable… the epipens can be an annoyance, but in my life, it is a requirement. If your or a loved one has a “LIFE THREATENING” condition it is important that they and you take it seriously even though it is annoying.

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