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I am scared to go outside...everytime i do i get sick...what do i do?

By April 30, 2010 - 2:26pm
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It started about a month ago when the weather turned nice...we are under renovation and i went to see how the boys were doing and got sidetracked cleaning out some dead stuff from the garden. got covered in what i thought were bites and even found some bugs in my clothes...bites up my legs and around my waist. they looked like mosquito bites but irregular. freaked out...hate bugs. things subsided and i washed my work clothes. next day...same thing. caught some of the bugs had them identified as common fleas. the bites were not flea bites though..i have had those and they are different. everytime i went outside to work or paint or garden i would have these bites and then a thought occurred that they might be hives...doctor agreed and gave me ranitidine and assured me that if i were allergic to something hives would be it and it would not get worse and it defenitely could not be sun sensitivity. well now when i go outside i do not get hives but i do swell up in my neck and face and throat...i have trouble breathing and feel tight and swollen everywhere above my chest including my throat lips ears eyes and nose. i woke at 5 the other morning and could not breathe so my husband took me to emergency and as i got there my throat closed completely and at that point i panicked which made it worse...they treated me with morphine for the throat pain and prednisone for the swelling and after a few hours released me. since then i have been taking my ranitidine and prednisone, which my doctor would not prescribe and i had to get from an after hours clinic..because i have not actually seen my doctor...his nurse wont get me in til next monday...i am also taking cetirizine which my pharmacist recomended...but i feel bloody awful...tight and swollen and hoarse and wheezy and tired and sad and terrified that i might stop breathing and die. now i know my mental problems..i am bipolar..can make me exaggerate the feelings of anxiety...but with the way i feel pyhsically..i am truly worried about what is happening to me...and i do have to go outside sometimes. other symptoms are red runny eyes.. runny nose.. conjunctivitis.. swollen hands..kind of a weird tingly feeling in my head..a cough..and a feeling of doom...no joke. do i need to see an allergist? why wont my doctor see me? oh and in here as well was possibly the flu with fever..coughing..nausea..diarrhea..headaches etc... do you have any thoughts about what might be going on and what i should be doing??? my family are worried too..that it might be some sort of mild anaphalaxis.

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Pat..I agree with you about the "anxiety" issue, and have run across it many times...my first psychiatrist (a guy) told me to go get a job..as if that would fix me....my second psychiatrist hated me, would not listen, misdiagnosed me, treated me with drugs that did not work and i was in and out of hospital many times...and it took 6 years til i finally met a female resident who sat and listened and realized there were issues no one had paid any attention to and recommended another doctor and that is when someone finally realized that all the other(wild) behaviours meant bi-polar disorder and not just depression...I have to say, that Dr. Ellis seems to me to be exactly why women make good doctors, brilliance, intelligence, committment, empathy, practicality, the ability to listen, not just hear, and a wider , more encompassing view of the world and medicine. Thanks for your coments and help and empathy..it has helped very much to be able to talk about things and get different perspectives. i am glad i ended up here at empowher. i will get back to you soon.

May 22, 2010 - 8:37am
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Oh Nancy I'm so glad you're on the path to getting some answers to this disturbing puzzle. I'm wondering if Dr. Ellis is not only the first doctor to take your symptoms seriously but also the first female one you've encountered? Just curious as it seems like far too often, across a wide variety of symptoms and conditions, women are told they have "anxiety" instead of being taken seriously. Pat

May 19, 2010 - 6:26pm

hey...a bit of an update for you..no diagnosis..but some info and some hope. I ended up being taken to hospital by ambulance on May 6th...so dizzy i could not stand or keep my eyes open and my throat closed up again and i could not breathe...my nose and lips were numb and a strange discomforting tingling in my neck, back and legs. very scary...called my doctor who was supposed to call back but didn't and then the office closed for lunch and we could not get hold of him so david called the paramedics..they came and took me in..saw the same er doctor...gave me gravol for the dizziness and again could find no swelling in my throat...my doctor came and they talked and again i think they thought panic attack but they also decided it might be a fungal infection and prescribed diflucan and also said it might be a pocket of infection under my larynx and prescribed antibiotics..they sent me home after 7 hours and i feel worse than before...the drugs did no good..i am so dizzy i cannot function for more than a few minutes at a time...i itch everywhere..still getting hives..my throat and neck are sore and still threaten to close up ...i have a headache all the time...my voice has gotten deeper and hoarser and disappears completely at times and i feel like hell. i still have issues with doctors not listening to me and being more concerned with my mental health then my physical symptoms...like the numb nose and lips...and the not being able to breathe...they believe it is hyperventilation due to panic...but i don't panic until i can't breathe... and the numbness is constant...so i have been doing some of the research you folks suggested and some on my own and i literally stumbled across a condition that matches my throat symptoms so completely it is eerie...it is called VCD..Vocal Chord Dysfunction...it causes all the things that have been happening to my throat and breathing and it itself can be caused or triggered by allergies, toxins as in renovating, and also by some of the meds i am on. if it is the problem, it explains why no swelling was found, because it is the vocal chords which close and constrict breathing and unless they look at the chords...they can't see the problem...you should check out the info on the web...wikipedia..jewish national hospital and a site by a nurse, carol sidofsky, at www.cantbreathesuspectvcd.com. one of the signs/symptoms is panic due to not being able to breathe and it is often mis-diagnosed as hysteria or asthma or many other things. I have given the info to my doctor who is finally sending me to an ENT ..not for vcd, but because they do not know what is wrong..but they did find growths on my thyroid during an ultrasound. also, i finally got to see the allergist, a Dr. Anne Ellis, great reputation as allergist and immunologist..she and her resident saw me yesterday and we talked about everything that has been happening and i really liked her as she listened carefully and asked questions no one else has and after a couple of hours she thinks she has figured out part of the problem...Chronic Ideopathic Urticaria...or hives with no known cause..a diagnosis without a diagnosis..possibly triggered by allergens or the reno...but she believes with the treatment she has given me that i will feel better soon..she totally agrees VCD could be the problem with my throat as it is often triggered by this condition...and she is glad i am seeing an ENT to check out my chords etcetera. she also said that ciu is often caused by auto-immune issues and she has done bloodwork for that and again is glad i am getting my thyroid checked out. she is the first doctor recently to treat me with respect for my feelings and ideas and theories and made me feel that instead of being hysterical, that my symptoms were real and deserved attention even if the answers she has are not full diagnoses yet and i am so grateful to her for that. she was professional, intelligent, thoughtful, warm, funny, and inspires confidence. there was nothing i told her or asked her that she pooh poohed or belittled. she will see me again in four weeks at which point i am to tell her if her treatment and ideas are wrong or right..i can call her if there are problems and she is confident that until we go further in terms of the issues, that we can at least relieve the symptoms that are ruining my life. i like that attitude. so basically, i will be taking type 1 and type 2 histamine blockers, ranitidine and cetirizine, high doses ( higher than my pharmacist is used to) and hopefully they will resolve the hives, itching, dizziness etcetera and possibly stop the breathing problems by stopping the trigger mechanism. we will be continuing with investigating the unknown issues of possible thyroid, auto-immune and vcd problems. that is all i know at the moment. allergies are still a possibility, but as we have been discussing here, there are so many possibilities..it is difficult to test for all..meds...environmental etc...i will keep you posted...and i do thank you for your input..it has been extremely valuable..and the allergist was interested too in the possibilities..i guess it will be an ongoing process of elimination and investigation..i just hope i don't end up back in emeergency anytime soon....talk to you soon...here's hoping some of the symptoms go away....nancy...and i wanted to mention that i have been fascinated by the info i have found out about some of the material used in the construction and reno and am more aware now of being careful and choosing what goes into my house

May 19, 2010 - 4:05am
EmpowHER Guest

Hi NClark,

Thanks for your response and wow, are you the jack of all trades. The reason I asked is because I work in a field designed to find exposures to toxic substances and potential health effects from the exposure. Since you have so many different projects going on unfortunately, there are so many different things that I don't think I can give you a plausible answer.

There is an industrial website call HazMap which can help you find any possible health effects due to certain toxic substances. You can click here for more information http://hazmap.nlm.nih.gov/.

I am just curious if there is a possible connection since this wasn't an issue you had until the reno followed by the summer months. There are so many different things that you are being exposed to that may cause hives (for example) or photo sensitivity due to exposure. Just for a few examples: asbestosis, glass wool or cement dust (Durarock). There are so many more that there is not enough time to speak of them all.

Anyhow, I am still at the edge of my seat to find out what could be the cause of your many issues. I wish you luck tomorrow and look forward to an update.

May 2, 2010 - 10:11am

Hi..thanks for your comment and questions...we renovating our house in several different ways..at the moment i am patching and fixing the old lath and plaster walls and the wainscotting we found under the hideous panelling from the 60's. the drywall compound i am using is CGC Drywall Compound Ready to Use...made by CGC Inc in Mississauga. I do try to remember to wear my mask...a N95 Particulate mask. I would assume that some of the old plaster has horsehair in it..that the old paint is probably lead based and the many layers of wallpaper are made of who knows what. I have also been using latex caulking and low expansion foam..latex paint...oil based conversion primer..mdf mouldings and pine mouldings. most of the reno has been ongoing since october..the outside of the house is being reconstructed too..with soil being dug up..new concrete poured and porches built..new steel roofs and more. I was fine all winter uhtil that day going outside and getting covered in hives...my pharmacist wonders about sun sensitivity..idiopathic or medication based..but he doesn't see my meds having tha as a side effect. the only one he thought might be an issue is the ramipril..even though i was on the smallest dose he dispenses..i have stopped that one now. This is a mystery to me..hopefully my doctor will listen and do something on Monday..and i will for sure let you know what he says...i know what i am going to say and that is that i am not happy that after being in emergency he did not feel it urgent or necessary to see me or renew the prednisone which is what was keeping my throat open..i am quite upset and he is going to know it..politely of course...the more i read about it on the interweb the more i am convinced that this is relatively serious for my overall health and i would change doctores except i live in a place where there are not many and few are accepting patients....talk to you soon...and thank you for your concern..

May 1, 2010 - 12:43pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hi NClark,

I have to agree with Pat that this is a really uncommon story with so many different things going on that it is really hard to pinpoint how this all occurred. One thing that I certainly wanted to mention was maybe you should really find a new physician that would be more attentive to your needs.

Another thought I had is not only a possible allergen but you may be experiencing reactions from the medications that you are on and the environment or the renovation. What are you plastering? There are several types of plaster, would you mind telling me what exactly you are using? I would be curious to check the possible side effects of what you are being exposed to.

I would really be interested in what your doctor says also. Keep us posted.

May 1, 2010 - 10:14am

thanks pat..of course i will let you know. I have tried to think of any changes in the environment but cannot come up with anthing different except being outside in the nice weather. No changes in soaps or foods. We are renovating so there is plaster dust around..i do wear a mask when working. All winter we lived with the reno with mostly closed windows..now we have more open letting in more fresh air. I have done some research on the web and on this site...and i believe it might be angioedema..with the swelling etc...caused by unknown allergen???? I do have a plan of sorts for the weekend...and i talked again to my pharmacist looking for any of my drugs that might cause the symptoms or a photosensitivity and the only thing we came up with was stopping my ramipril (preventive only) as it can rarely cause angioedema which has symptoms similar to mine. I do hope that whatever i find out..this will help someone else from going through the same thing. Just sharing my story with someone helps...particularly as i have not been able to tell it to my primary healthcare provider...my doctor. I would have thought after being in the ER and so sick..he would have been more willing to fit me in and to renew the prednisone...which is not a narcotic or addictive etc.

May 1, 2010 - 1:36am
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Anon - It sounds like you've been though an awful lot and really don't have any clear answers on what is causing these experiences and conditions. It might be helpful to try to take a step back from the situation and review the other experiences you've had at the times when you had the reactions. Have you changed your diet and added new foods? Have you done anything in the home that brought in some new chemicals such as painting or spraying for bugs? Have you added any new medications or supplements? In other words, have there been any environmental changes that could have brought in a substance that is creating an allergic reaction?

It's good that you get to see your doctor on Monday. In the meantime do you have a plan in case you have breathing trouble and need immediate medical attention? Often just knowing there's a plan in place can help relieve anxiety.

It's hard to tell what you're dealing with from the description provided, your doctor needs to see you to provide a diagnosis. I know it may be rough over the weekend but it sounds like you have a supportive family and that they'll be there for you. Will you let us know what you learn after you see your doctor? It could help others.

Take care, Pat

April 30, 2010 - 5:36pm
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