Imagine, if you will, grabbing the closest thing at hand and using it to try and take your own skin off. A knife, a hair brush. Anything would suffice.
Now that I’ve got your attention, it’s true. I am allergic to myself. I’ve had allergy tests and they come up empty except for bee stings. I have a mortal allergy to 6 of the 7 bees in the United States. The 7th, the sweat bee, is a minor annoyance.
Years ago, in the United States Navy, they did an allergy test on me. They couldn’t figure out why I would gouge my skin with anything handy. I constantly itched and when it got bad enough, I would use anything. Knives were my friend.
It all came down to being allergic to nothing. We’ll skip the repetitive, “except bees” part. I had no known allergy to anything they could produce for an allergy test. and yet, I would still tear into my skin with abandon when the itches started.
No, I wasn’t doing meth. I wasn’t seeing phantom bugs crawling in my skin. In fact, I’m one of very few that I know who have never done drugs. Ever. I am born of the last of the flower children, I grew up in the 80s with drugs rampant in our schools and have never touched a thing.
Don’t applaud me. If it weren’t for the military, I am quite sure I would have done drugs, at some point. When I was a teenager, I wanted the Air Force and knew I couldn’t, if I did drugs. Don’t hate me that I initially wanted Air Force… we all make mistakes. As soon as I heard the Navy had more active planes than the Air Force, I switched over.
When I was in the military, it would have ended badly for me if I were caught doing drugs. And, of course, when I got out, I was disabled receiving disability pay. If I were caught doing drugs and possibly landed in jail, I’d lose my benefits. And they give me quite a bit of money a month for my disability.
Yeah, so don’t applaud me for not doing them. I’m curious as all hell and always have been. The military keeps me clean.
Since I wasn’t on meth and the allergy test showed nothing, the doctors concluded I was allergic to myself.
Here’s how it works.
1. My stress level rises, my body releases anti-stress chemicals. I’m allergic to them and start try to scratch the itchy parts.
2. The itching would make me stress more and so my body would release even more anti-stress chemicals.
3. I would rip my skin to shreds, trying to make the itching stop.
A side note, my mood was also affected by this allergic reaction. I would have almost manic highs and terrible lows in the middle of an itching spell. Anything from wanting to commit the most horrible homicide you can think of to the desire to terminate my own life. It was all tied into the damned allergic reaction to my own body and the horrific itch that would cover my body.
The first drugs they tried were mental in nature. I hated them because I lost my ability to think while taking them and, very shortly, would cease taking them and then we’d be back to me trying to destroy my skin.
Someone at the hospital in Jacksonville, Florida (my first duty station) got a bright idea to give me an anti-hystamine instead of placing me on the thirteen floor. For the clueless, the “thirteenth floor” is synonymous with a mental hospital. That’s where they were looking at putting me. I’ve had an interesting babyhood, childhood and adulthood but I don’t think I deserve all that but that’s where they wanted to put me.
The first anti-hystamine was called Atarax. I slept for nearly 12 hours, but when I woke, I no longer itched. This went on for around about six days. They tried it again and the itching (and subsequent highs and lows) stopped. They put me on a prescription for it. Atarax, bt the way, is simply a higher dose of Benedryl. I used to tell people it was Benedryl on steroids.
I took this magic pill every 6-7 days from 1992 until 2006, when I found out I was pregnant with my firstborn. I would warn everyone I ever worked for that when I took my magic pill, I was useless for 12-15 hours. The first hour or two after waking were always foggy and I would run into walls. I finally, after a few years of that, learned that Atarax dropped my blood sugars dangerously low and I just needed to boost them.
Another side note: Originally, the docs wanted me to take Atarax every day. I vetoed that because all I ever did was sleep. I am highly susceptable (sp?) to medications because I’ve tried to never take very many. Even to this day, I take vitamins for my diabetes but do not want to take too many pills. That’s another story.
When I got pregnant with Caiden, I was switched to Zyrtec. A relatively new drugs that was still super-expensive and prescription-only. Two things changed. First, this drug only worked for about 20 hours and I had to take another and, it didn’t put me to sleep. Much better, in my opinion.
Well, unless I forget to take it. Then, my palms start itching. That’s the first warning sign. Then, my mood starts to fluctuate and people around me have a hard time being around me. From there, it begins to feel like I am living hell on earth.
Nowadays, if I get a slight itch on my palms, the Nanny is quick to grab my pill and a drink and bring them straight to me. Like today. I forgot to take my pills this morning. All I said, as I was in the middle of eating lunch was, “Pills.” Roughly 30 seconds later, my hand had my pills in it. Thirty minutes after taking my pills, I am calm and happy again.
What started this in me, no one can say. I clearly remember my first itching spell and black out (yes, I suffered those silently for years) at about 8 years old. I had been stung by a bee for the second time in my life. From there until 20 years old, I dealt with near constant itches and uncontrollable mood swings.
Thank God for smart doctors in the United States Navy for giving me a chance instead of throwing me into lockdown.
Thank you for listening,