Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas in the emergency room :-(

I went all by my lonesome to work at the barn -- well, me and Cassandra, the DelVal College student. I gave her Bob's Santa hat and we our hats  part of the morning.

Bob is having a pretty dramatic allergic reaction -- a full body rash that started about ten days ago, peaked within three days of onset, and has not gotten better since. Barn work was out of the question, of course.  I called him from the barn, hoping he would be feeling a little better, and he said "well, I can't tell, if it's better it's no more than 5% better."

That was it for me. "I'm going to finish bringing in the horses, and then I'll meet you at the emergency room." He didn't argue. Within an hour we were entering the local hospital ER, which thankfully on this Christmas day was completely empty except for us. We were not even seated, they just walked us to the patient room.

The resident on call examined Bob and brought in the attending physician. To their credit they took an extremely thorough patient history, asked many, many questions, and ordered a ton of bloodwork.  Then they scratched their heads. One thing they said was that people with a skin reaction this severe are usually very, very sick. Bob is basically okay, but feels like he has a bad sunburn. The blood results came back normal.  They do feel it is an allergic reaction (not a disease); it is not contact-based because it's nearly everywhere as it if it systemically ingested--but it doesn't follow the pattern of inhaled/ingested allergic reactions because it's not on his palms, feet, or in the mucous membranes. It's a kind of dermatitis which is a pretty broad category. Benedryl doesn't help though, and the predisone they prescribed has not done anything so far. The thing that scares me is when I see how inflamed his skin is, all over, I think it can't continue, but it does.

Bob works in the chemical industry and his workplace has some hazardous stuff, but it's a research facility and they know what they are doing. Bob follows established handling procedures for those substances he does handle.

We're thinking hard about what he's been exposed to that's new, but he could also be reacting to something not-new. Like cats, like horses, like Feliway cat diffuser, like, well, we're still making lists.

Oy Vey.  Dios Mio. Quel domage. Doggone it.


  1. That`s too bad. I hope you have some luck figuring out what`s oging on.

  2. Oh my gosh! That sounds very scary. I think the unknown part has got to be the most troubling. I hope Bob will find some comfort soon. Not a great way to spend Christmas at all. (understatement)

  3. I'm not sure this is at all helpful, but the only thing I have seen like this is when my husband gets a systemic reaction to poison oak. I don't believe you have poison oak where you are, but perhaps there is something similar? What happens is that my husband is exposed to poison oak, say on his hands or leg, and within a very short time (a day) the rash is everywhere on his body (it goes systemic). He swells up and is red and inflamed all over. Like Bob, he doesn't feel particularly sick. He itches and feels hot and icky, but he can work...etc. It looks awful and takes a while (like a week/ten days) to subside. The bright side is that it has never done any real harm, though it has happened several times. I hope Bob feels better soon.

  4. Yikes: you guys have our sympathies. There was a faculty member who manifested something similar a few years ago that turned out to be a laundry detergent additive (fragrance? I'm not sure).

    I hope that you can get this figured out ASAP.

  5. So frustrating. Wish I had some good ideas. Trouble is, if it was something he ingested, it could have been totally random. And it might have been a single incident.

    Got a call this morning from one of my best friends who ended up in the emergency room as well. She will be OK, but what the heck is going on this Christmas?

  6. I've learned that allergies can be cumulative reactions to things you never reacted to before. The all-over itchy hives and red rash that had me trying to sleep with ice packs between my legs and all around the bed, were once from an antibiotic and once from poison oak. My face and hands were never affected. You did the right thing in going to the E.R. I hope this resolves quickly, although, from experience I'd expect several days of slow improvements.

  7. Sheesh! I hope you figure it out soon and it clears up. That's weird that the antihistamines and steroids aren't helping. :( Unfortunately like you said it doesn't have to be something new to be an allergic reaction. I hope he gets better soon. It's no fun having to deal with stuff like that, not knowing what it is. Sorry you had to spend your Christmas at the ER.

  8. I get the same sort of hives reaction to sulfites, which are in everything from bread to wine and are often added as a preservative to foods that would otherwise be okay (as metabisulfite, or anything ending in sulfite, but not to be confused with sulfate-check the suffix). Benadryl does work to relieve the symptoms, even though it is not a true allergy. Just thought I would share in case it could help, since sulfite reactions occur after a certain threshold of ingestion has occurred. Best wishes for a diagnosis and some help. Poor Bob.

  9. My mom had something like that a few years back. They never did know what it was, but she was uncomfortable and obviously didn't want to go out in public looking like that. Best wishes for Bob.

  10. Allergic is very weirdulguo. I had an allergic attack a few months ago from stress and it never went away.

    I hope they figure out what cause his allergy and hope he gets well soon.

  11. You forgot "ratz" and "shoot." And lots of Pig Latin four-letter words.

    English Rider is correct--we can develop allergies or sensitivities to things that up to now have not bothered us. Humans should also eat a varied diet instead of the same thing over and over (like cats, dogs and their kibble). We can develop problems with foods that have never been an issue.

    I've had contact dermatitis and Calamine lotion has never worked. Done the Benadryl (pink box) for intense itching due to insect bites (midges or mites are a big problem where I live). It "sort of" helps, but I'm still miserable.

    Glad you got right to the patient room and the medicos were "right on it." Fingers crossed for a resolution.

  12. Jingles to Bob. I've had incidents of dermatitis before and it's just awful how there are infinitely more questions than answers. I've had some relief through fasting or juice fasting (when desperate).


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