Most of the time as a child my allergies manifested as upper respiratory — sneezing and runny nose.

As I grew older, I realized the recurring intestinal discomfort was also an allergic reaction.

More recently, I began to get hives on my face and upper body (mostly, though I also get them sometimes on my legs).

Yesterday, I woke to terrible hives on my face, neck and random short occurrences on my back, arms and legs. With cool compresses, hydrocortisone cream, and LOTS of antihistamines, they began to subside.

This morning — the hives were still present but much less uncomfortable or noticeable. Instead, I have significant angioedema all over my face and down onto my neck. And, as I discovered about thirty minutes ago, mild edema everywhere else (my wedding band was a little tight).

So… Likely not continuing to react to something I ate on a trip this past week, nor a contact allergy on that trip. Instead, I think I am reacting to my own bedroom!

Angioedema noticeable below eyes and on neck.  Blotchy skin is the remnants of hives.  I hate when things like this happen!

Angioedema noticeable below eyes and on neck. Blotchy skin is the remnants of hives. I hate when things like this happen!

What do I do when things like this happen? If it were one of my children, or my darling Tom, I would be at the hospital already. They don’t generally have any sort of allergic reaction. But this is me — and I know that the hospital/urgent care doc would give me a large dose of diphenhydramine and watch me for several hours. I don’t think it’s worth a 40-minute drive to do something I can do at home. I also know that the most alarming symptoms of low blood pressure and wheezing are not present, so my airway is clear, and I can take some time. If I were wheezing, or the edema was getting worse, I would be on my way already. And, if I am not significantly improved in another hour I will at least call the consulting nurse to have this particular event recorded on my health record.

It’s not a lot of fun…

But I do know that I will recover, and once I have identified this new allergen I think this particular chapter will close. Possible candidates: a shampoo I used the night before our trip (I always wash my hair in the evening and let it air-dry overnight), the particular type of Oxyclean we picked up when our normal, unscented type ran out and Costco was closed – it wasn’t bothering me before the trip but it definitely isn’t my favorite scent which is often a clue, a food or combination of foods (not as likely), or possibly contamination of the bedroom space by an animal of some kind (bird or cat?).

If YOU have allergies, a type of hidden disability, remember that it is okay to ask for what you need, and to be clear about and reject things that you need to avoid. Remember, also, that when you are feeling poorly, it will get better. Even if, for the moment, you just want to crawl under a rock and disappear.