Mast Cell Activation Syndrome

Well, yesterday went from bad to worse. I was feeling the exertion of fending off crankiness all morning but focusing on the good things in my life and holding on to hope for the appointment with the arthritis specialist in the afternoon. Unfortunately, everything got derailed in the late morning when I had an anaphylactic reaction. The exact cause isn’t known for sure, but regardless, my mouth, throat, and tongue swelled up alarmingly fast and breathing became impeded. I immediately popped four Benadryl and paced around my driveway holding an Epipen because I was home alone and wanted to be out where neighbors could happen upon my limp body should things escalate. I didn’t have to use the Epipen because my airway started opening back up and I was able to keep breathing slowly in the meantime. I ended up needing two more Benadryl later in the hour, but things settled down after that. That’s not to say I felt well though. My mouth was so sore because the rapid swelling ruptured some skin cells on the sensitive cheek lining and under my tongue. I also felt woozy and exhausted from all the Benadryl. Moreover, I was unable to make the trip to the specialist because my stomach was too upset to permit and car trip. If that type of scary reaction when alone isn’t enough to cause an anxious and upset mood, missing the appointment I’ve been waiting for four months was certainly a depressive monster trying to swallow me whole. The appointment has been rescheduled but now not for another two months!

After the serious reaction and the stressful worry that I wasn’t going to be okay, I squandered the afternoon with my eyes shut on the couch, irritated by every little noise as if every sensitive cell on my body was on high alert. My skin felt angry like I was dragged naked over a rug and abraded the top layer off, though, of course, this didn’t happen.

Ben came home early from work because he had been planning to bring me to my appointment. Instead, he watched me struggle to stay awake with all that medicine and then later to fall asleep. I tried my best to be a good sport and laugh along with the TV show we were watching even though I had a blanket over my eyes preventing my view and was in major physiologic distress. I was glad to have his company though because one of my primary anxiety triggers is feeling scarily ill or physically unwell alone (because of the circumstances surrounding the attack). Even though I had to navigate the urgent anaphylactic situation on my own while he was still at work, knowing he was around in the afternoon when I still felt completely “off” was comforting.

Because I’m not entirely sure what triggered the allergic response, I don’t have expectations about how the longer-term effects of this reaction will play out in the same way I do for food contamination (like the recent corn incidents). I actually think this had something to do with my dog (to whom I seem to be increasingly allergic too). Her long winter fur is probably not helping, but it’s too cold to shave her yet. I hope that perhaps if nothing was ingested, I will be spared from all of the digestive aftermath, but that seems already to be an impossible hope because I had issues yesterday afternoon and all night. Instead, I think what likely happened is that I didn’t wash my hands after petting her or giving her a treat before having a snack of my own. In doing so, something my immune system perceives as a major threat got into my mouth. Because I have mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), my histamine production is massively disproportionate to the need, which is why I experience anaphylaxis.

I’m feeling hungover this morning. I don’t drink alcohol, but I have the overwhelming grogginess and lack of mental clarity that comes with excessive Benadryl, poor sleep, and a body reeling from the aftermath of a major incident. My mouth is sore and I have a headache. However, ironically, I feel more positive in terms of affect this morning than I did 24 hours ago, before this whole drama occurred. I’m hoping to huddle around this feeling as if sheltering its flickering candle flame from the windy world. I will protect this upbeat mood like the precious resource it is, and I will do my best to give my body what it needs today to return to a safe and healthy equilibrium.

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