Can an allergic reaction last weeks?

For those of you who don’t know why I’ve been radio silent, a lot happened in about 6 weeks ago and I’m still unpacking it.

I was let go from my contract because I was no longer needed to complete the job… in spite of the fact that I had just received a secondary extension of my contract, new extension phone line, a new email address, and the admiration of my peers at work less than a work day before. I found this out after being transported via ambulance from work to the hospital due to a reaction to peanuts. And I found out I lost my job while I was still on the gurney in the ER.

I thought perhaps I had eaten something wrong, but couldn’t fathom what. The truth was I had been touching a shared keyboard and hovering over Asian food for an extended period of time trying to help the person that had just come back from leave how to do things she learned years before.

And I didn’t black out, didn’t go into anaphylaxis. I just felt these heavy rocks in my chest, and the damn wouldn’t break in either direction. I prevented near death, but everything got bad, and fast. Including the chronic pain I deal with.

Why am I writing this? Well, like most things I write, this isn’t for me. This is for you. And not you “THE INTERNET.” This is for you. This is for you, the version of me, who just experienced something traumatic and decided to frantically go online to try to find a way to make it better, to mend the unmendable, to get from point A to point B. This is for you, the person who almost made it, who almost got to the place you needed to get to, and was stopped by a very large metaphorical brick wall. This is for you, the person looking for answers, reading hundreds or thousands of medical journals and anecdotes trying to figure out if what you’re experiencing is normal.

I’m here to tell you the two norms. Number one, when there is a chance to be fired due to something discriminatory, chances are it will happen. And nothing and no one can do anything about it without great sacrifice to you, your time, your work life, and your whole being. Life is unfair.

And number two, after going to your primary, the allergist, the dermatologist, or any other doctor, know that when you look up this blog post that YES you can be dealing with your reaction weeks or even months later. I went to my primary physician and the allergist who both denied that the rash that has gotten consistently worse across my body couldn’t possibly be due to an allergic reaction six weeks before. It took six weeks, going out into the middle of nowhere and scheduling with a country doctor to find out that yes, my body can still be reacting, or rather overreacting and that’s lead to very very sensitive skin, and a rash that gets worse before it gets better.

The cure to the rash is to not scratch, to not overwash it, to take an anti-histamine like Claritin or Zyrtec every day and then extra Benadryl before bed. Prednisone can ultimately make it worse. Hot showers, hot sunny days, aerobic activity, and to reiterate scratching can make it worse. I’ve been also putting on Benadryl cream so I don’t wake myself up scratching at night. The rash is still there, but it hasn’t gotten worse yet, so obviously the doctor in the middle of nowhere knows more than doctors in the city. This is the second time in my life I’ve come to that conclusion.

Now that I’ve finally revealed what’s been going on, I don’t need pity or anything. There are many things about this situation I could change if I would. And this is by no means the entirety of the story. There are things I can’t or won’t share because having an allergic reaction can be a very personal thing. At least to me.

But I will say this. If my second grade teacher taught me anything, it’s “onward and upwards”. It’s important to always keep yourself safe if you have an allergy, of course; while I don’t blame myself in any way, shape, or form from what happened, hindsight is 20/20. It’s important to stand up for yourself if you can, and recognize your safety is top priority.

Most of all, listen to your heart. It may bend or break under pressure, and you may find out your heart is as much a curse as it is a gift. That your strength is admired but only from afar. What they don’t know is when it comes to life’s little tragedies, you don’t have a choice. You just wish someone had been there to hold your hand, even if it was just for a little while. Even if it takes time for them to get there to do so.

Now that I’m in the position I’m in, I’ve decided to go after a new career. As I’m recovering, albeit slowly, I’m working on that new career path (which is the scariest thing in the world to me), some nice respite, and the comfort of knowing that how I feel and how I’m looking isn’t permanent. And maybe some time soon, I’ll look back at this and realize that I got better, that I’m happier, and that I’m the best programmer or coder I can be.

Stay salty, my friends.

*~*

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