I’ve actually never been a patient in an ambulance. Thankfully, despite last night that record still stands. It was however touch and go for a few.

I have allergies. Up until about 3 years ago they were mystery allergies. In college and after I would have random allergic swelling attacks. My hands, my lips, sometimes around my eyes, my thighs, or the arches of my feet. For years I tried allergist after allergist and had more scratch tests done on my back than I’d want to shake a stick at.

About 3 years ago the culprit finally was discovered. Ibuprofen.

When you’re allergic to a medication, you may not have a contact allergy from the raw drug. Drugs sometimes work by transforming into a different chemical as it is metabolised. So, Ibuprofen would get into my system and then over 4-6 hours begin to do its dirty work.

The discovery came about when treating my infant for teething with liquid Motrin. I filled the little plastic eye dropper and got some on my hands. Within minutes the liquid form was causing the same reaction I’d had in college. As it turns out, you really can’t test for ibuprofen allergies.

My other outstanding allergy that wreaks havoc upon my life is dairy. I love(d) cheeses. Now, I can’t even go into the cheese area of a market, too close to an Aunt “whatever’s” pretzels, or an ice cream shop without passing out. Eating rich dairy will have the same effect.

Which brings us to yesterday. After work my wife, Heather, picked me up. As I sat down I noticed the inside of my heels of my feet were itching. I have dry skin, this happens. But this was beginning to feel like one of my old allergy attacks. In hindsight, walking about 2.5 times what I usually do in a day may not have helped; but I know what a “New Exercise” burn feels like and this was not it.

I went to my weekly dinner with some of my dearest friends and the discomfort seemed to subside; or at least the social situation helped distract from it. Heading to the car, I noticed it flaring up again. Heather was having elevated discomfort in her back so I opted to drive. This may not have been a good idea. It hurt more the more I used my feet.

By the time I’d gotten home my heels and arches felt like they were burning. Definitely the allergic reaction. I took some Benadryl. I complained about the pain to Heather which I often feel guilty about. When you live with someone with chronic pain, you really get the feeling that you really don’t understand what severe pain really is. See my older post on the topic.

I hobbled into bed early. I had to walk on my toes because setting down or placing weight on my heels only made it worse. I rigged myself to my relatively new CPAP machine and tried to relax.

It’s said that pain is very hard to measure. You’re dealing with a subjective analysis of something that only has a frame of reference based on itself. Further, the more you deal with it, the better your tolerance becomes and thus the entire old scale has to be thrown out. Heather lives in the range of 5-7 and thus it can be very hard to tell when she is in severe pain because she goes into a quiet meditation. I have seen Heather at a 10 out of 10 (during labour) and never want to see that on her or anyone else ever again.

On the other hand I tend to live at about 2 – 3. I’m over 40 now so things in general aren’t completely comfortable. I rarely go above a 5. As the pain in my heels hit a 7 – 8 last night; I did NOT deal with it by going into a quiet meditation. I turned into a 4 year old. And I know what that is as I keep one in the house for me for comparison. Rocking in pain, fetal, moaning, whimpering, and close to tears, Heather woke up from the noise. (And as she is deaf at night with her hearing aids out, I must have been loud)

The pain was so bad that I went into mild shock and ran (well, double hobbled quickly) to the restroom and … um… did the porcelain embrace for about 10 minutes. During this time, Heather managed to dress and tried to figure out how to call 911 with no landline and no local cell phone. My cell phone was hidden on my bed as I use music to tune out the CPAP. (Ah the CPAP, did I mention how far I threw the mask as the pain sailed past 5?)

Our cell phones are also still carrying the 818 area code. So she thought that calling 911 might not work. Please note, for those who know Heather… She was trying to make a phone call. By the time I was done not actually evacuating anything in the restroom, my pain was back down to a 4 and sinking slowly. We decided not to call 911. But I did call my 24-hr nurse.

The nurse was friendly. She only asked if I might have diabetes about 6 times. It’s in my foot, it has to be diabetes. She could not give me actual medical advice but did say… a doctor or Emergency Services “might” be a good idea. I told Heather that I was going to keep the phone next to me and try to get some sleep as the pain was subsiding. If it started to come back up, I would call 911. Now the pain was down to about a 3.

Half an hour later I was making my way down the steps. the pain was back up to about a 6. I unlocked the front door in the event that EMTs would need to come in. Heather was in no shape to drive. I was in no shape to drive. Aiden… Aiden wasn’t driving. I tried to find anyone online at 2+am who’d make a run for me so I wouldn’t have to call an EMT. I went to the restroom for a few. More bodily reactions to the pain.

I sat down on the recliner in the living room to assess where I was and how I’d proceed next… And fell asleep. (Or passed out. Hard to tell) That tired and after that much pain. I’m pretty sure I’d covered most of the house in spoons. At one point earlier in the evening I told Heather that being in severe pain was exhausting. She gave me a smiling nod that looked eerily like the albino in “The Princess Bride”.

I climbed back into bed at about 5:15 and told Heather that I didn’t wind up calling 911. (She doesn’t remember me doing this.) Around 7:15, a bit later than usual, I woke up. I did comment that I had a code demo first thing in the morning. She looked at me and said, “You’re not going in. You will be calling a doctor.” I love those moments where the only proper response is “Yes, Dear” because she’s right.

I tried to write a short “I’m not coming into work email” that explained I’m not able to make it in without using the phrase “I didn’t need to call 911 last night” because that kind of statement needs nearly 7,000 words of context.

Now? Now I am sitting in the pass-out recliner. I’m writing this to clarify what has happened and to explain my rather cryptic twitter from last night. And also to fill in anyone from work who is curious. Heather has just returned from dropping the boy at day care and I will be getting to a doctor at some point.

And for the knowledge of folks at work (who might choose to read this)… I hate being stuck in a chair when I’m in the zone with a project. Fortunately, the pain is at about a 3 and the only thing I can do is type and use my head. So I will probably end up making good headway today on my project (that I am REALLY jazzed over) and not lose any ‘work time’.

Blah. I feel lousy.

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