Another day, another over-share from me to you (you're welcome). To be honest, I wasn't going to write this but I had two other girlfriends with similar unsolved issues and what if this is the answer? So, here we go, y'all, the health issues:
Every Spring for years and years (like probably before I was even in my 20s... and I'm older than you think), I get hives for about a week or two. They're itchy, they're annoying, and I have not been able to figure out what the heck was causing it.
Over the years for this annoying short stint I have tried everything: I dumbed down my diet to basics (like chicken, rice and veggies basics), I eliminated any fragrance near me from shampoo and conditioner to soap and laundry detergent, I kept a journal of what I was doing, eating, or near that could possibly cause me to break out but ultimately chalked it up to an environmental seasonal allergy - no big deal, take a pill and move on.
This year, the hives wanted vengeance. I would wake up bleeding from having scratched and clawed at my skin, half asleep. They started on a trip to Ontario, which I thought was unusual since the environment was so different and they just never stopped. They came every day and did not disappear after their usual short stint. My skin was welted, my face swollen, and my entire body crawling.
I don't have a family doctor here (the Okanagan has a shortage) so was going to the walk-in clinic for answers. Previously, when I had been home to see my family doctor, the hives were usually gone before my appointment, so this time I kept a serious photo journal hoping that would lead someone to some answers.
The first doc I saw said "You have hives," and I said "Yes, I'm aware," and he said, "It could be caused by something weird, like your body just doesn't like when you mix orange juice and blackberries. Take 1 extra strength Reactine when you wake up in the morning." His diagnosis was urticaria or 'chronic hives'.
A holistic nutritionist I know asked about stress to which I replied "I'm always stressed..." but she worried about molds or emotional stress causing physical reaction.
We have a lot of family friends who are doctors at home on Vancouver Island, so my dad started a group chat. Every day I sent pictures, and every day they gave me more ideas, tests to ask for, and when it swelled my face up, they told me exactly what to ask for.
The second doctor gave me exactly that, and I started a regime of Reactine and Prednisone, a steroid used to suppress the immune system.
When that didn't seem to be working, my mother-in-law told me to set my alarm for every 4-5 hours and take a Reactine before my body had a chance to even react to whatever was causing a break out. At one point, I was taking 3-4 extra strength Reactine a day (you're only supposed to take 1) on top of the Prednisone.
Have a look through these pictures for a taste and be thankful I didn't include a picture of my butt because those are the worst ones...
I waited almost a month and finally got in with a naturopathic doctor. We did a series of tests, including allergy scratch test (on which a hive appeared on every scratch including the saline solution, telling her my body was in total overdrive), electrodermal testing, and we sent away for blood and stool samples. Then we waited.
We had narrowed it down to an autoimmune disease or a parasite.
Weeks passed, my skin calmed down, I cut back all the drugs, and then got a call with test results.
PARASITES!!! Not one, but two of them. Nasty little buggers. But guys, not autoimmune, so I will take them any damn day.
Endolimax Nana and Blastocystis, if you've gotten this far and want to know. They, I'm told, often live together because they travel in contaminated food or water in tropical places. Uh huh, I may have been carrying these gross-o's around for like 10 years... ew. Not contagious, don't worry.
I am in the middle of a treatment plan, trying the natural route first as the antibiotics for these are really rough on your system. Keep you posted, I have follow up next week.
But, in the meantime, I wanted to encourage anyone with a health-thing to keep pushing until you find answers! You might not like the answers, but you can't keep battling your body the way I certainly was.
Take care of yourself. Rest. Eat well. Go outside. Seek professionals.
Signing off with this hilarious photo of myself, you're welcome. Started doing my makeup before realizing how terribly swollen my face was.
Love you, bye.