Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My body has been trying to tell me something

My body has been screaming at me for several weeks that something is wrong. I would not listen, so it did something to make me pay attention. In hindsight, this is kind of funny.

A little over three weeks ago my body attacked itself. At the time, I thought it was some strange allergic reaction. I had no idea what made this happen and had never had anything like this happen before.

I was sitting at my desk at work, 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon about three and a half weeks ago. I hadn't eaten anything since noon, and only had water to drink . Suddenly I had a tingling in my upper lip, on the inside, right in the middle of the lip. It was a sensation I'd never experienced before. My lip started to swell up, very quickly, but only on the upper left side. Then the hives started on my upper chest. Terrible welts appeared and they itched like crazy. I looked like a freak.

I went home and took Benadryl. I just thought it was an allergic reaction. I must have touched something at work, then touched my lip. I'm allergic to peanuts, but this was different. Peanuts make my throat close up and I can't breathe. That didn't happen.

The Benadryl I took had absolutely no affect on me. The swelling of my upper lip continued and so did the hives. By Saturday, the hives calmed down, but my lip remained swollen until Sunday. I refused to leave the house because I looked so hideous. 

By Monday I looked normal and put the whole thing out of my mind. Too much other stuff to worry about, can't think about it now.

Two weeks later, same thing, same time of day, at my desk, but it was my lower right lip that started swelling and my entire body itched, with hives.. Again, I thought it was some weird allergic reaction to something at work.

Today, five days after the last episode, it happened again! This time I was at home, 5 a.m. I hadn't eaten or drank anything yet. I had just got out of bed to go to the gym. I promised myself that I would get back on track with the exercise. As I was dressing for the gym, I started thinking about the project I'm on at work, about a particular problem and how I'm going to fix it, realizing I don't know how. Boom! The tingling in my upper lip, left side, started again, and it started to swell up! Right on queue, I break out in terrible hives on my entire upper body. This time the hives are worse than the last two times.

Okay, I've had enough. I make an appointment for the doctor, and took the day off from work. I took pictures of my lip and my hives with my cell phone to show the doctor. By the time I got there at 3pm, I looked normal again. I showed the doctor the pictures and he was impressed--he said "this is serious". Then he asked me the question I expected, has anything changed in my diet or my personal care products. No to both. Then he asked about my life. I told him a little about my crazy, stressed-filled life. And what does he say? He tells me he is 100% certain that my problem is stress induced. The swelling up of my lips, the hives, all from stress! The prescription, first Zyrtec twice a day to stop the hives and itching, second, I need to relax.

Wow! If that's not a wake up call, I don't know what is. It's like my body said, "hey stupid, you need to slow down and take it easy. You're killing me.". I ignored my body. Again, "hey, YOU...listen to me!". Finally today, with the worst hives so far, "HEY, I'M TALKING TO YOU!". Okay, you got my attention. I hear you!

I tried to think about what is so different in this last month from the previous five months. I handled much worse stress in those five months. I didn't get hives or a swollen lip. True, I almost had a complete mental breakdown several times, but I held it together. Then it hit me. The two things that have really changed in the last four weeks:  my diet and exercise. In spite of all the insanity during those first five months, I managed to stay pretty much on track with my eating and exercise. If I didn't go to the gym, I walked at lunch. I ate healthy foods, although sometimes too much. I got down to 173.

Then I honestly don't know what happened, other than I felt like the worst of it was over and I had been to hell and back. Then I started eating junk, I barely exercised, maybe one or two times a week at the most. I even went a whole week a couple of times without going to the gym at all.

My body has let me know that this is not a good thing. Eating poorly, not exercising, and my body revolted against me. It sure got my attention. My focus now, eight hours of sleep, good food, and daily exercise. These things are a must. They aren't optional.

I can't help but wonder if this was what the outside of my body was doing, what is going on inside my body.

I think it's kind of a miracle that our bodies are smart enough to do something like this to get our attention. I knew things were bad for me, that I wasn't handling the stress well, my eating was out of control, and my exercise was almost non-existent. I just didn't realize things were really that bad. I think I got the message loud and clear.

Postscript: I thought I'd look up the medicine they gave me for the hives before I took it. I thought the doctor said Zyrtec, which you can buy over the counter. I wasn't sure why I needed a prescription. They gave me a prescription for Ranitidine! Which is "Zantac"! Which is for heartburn, not hives. I don't have heartburn, I have hives. They gave me the wrong medicine! The script was sent in by the doctor on the computer (not my regular doctor). It wasn't a hand-written script. I just called the pharmacy and the doctor entered it in wrong. I guess hives...heartburn, Zyrtec...Zantac. Thank goodness this wasn't a serious condition or a dangerous medicine. Just makes you realize that you should always double check your prescriptions before you pop them in your mouth.

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