June 6, 2014

Full Stop.

When I drank the juice box that began my downfall, I was sure that I was getting better. I was sitting in the School of Social Work, finishing up a PowerPoint presentation on US Imperialism and the Commodification of Bodies, dancing to Gumbo's and my new favorite running song:

I was full of sunshine when I walked into my student council meeting, and there are few greater symbols of happiness in my life than a juice box, imbued with memories of full moon bike rides, whooping down hills, the trees illuminated by our headlamps, the night illuminated with laughter. So when I casually brushed aside all of the snacks set out for our meeting (I wasn't going to risk possible gluten or histamine reactions) and reached for a juice box instead, I was making not only what I thought was the healthiest choice, but also the happiest.

Mere minutes after sucking it down, I knew I was in trouble. I had left my antihistamines at home and was an hour and half from home. My legs were shaking uncontrollably, and I could see the woman next to me glancing over to see if I was okay. When histamine hits me cognitively, it's accompanied by legs tremors, rapid breathing, panic, uncontrollable emotions, and inertia. I sat gripping the sides of my seat, periodically clenching my teeth together in imitation of a smile to throw people off of the fact that inside I was cowering under my chair and screaming. Finally, the conversation came around to me. All eyes, on me, and I had to finally gasp, "I'm having a reaction."

Most of the students in the room had no idea what was happening, but a couple knew what I had been going through the past few years and jumped into action. A crushed Benadryl was found, and I poured it down my throat, tears streaming down my face in front of this audience of astonished peers.


After the meeting, I sat in the program director's office, weak, and finally lied that someone was on the way to rescue me. I went withou eating the rest of the weekend, save a couple of smoothies, hoping that the histamine in my body would soon settle down into a semi-safe range.

For 5 or 6 days, I was in agony. Hungry, faint. It felt like someone was driving a butcher knife deep into my lower abdomen. "Do I have kidney stones?" I had a friend who had described kidney stones quite vividly to me and it definitely involved butcher knives in sensitive areas. I also felt like my breasts were 50 pound water balloons on the verge of eruption. "Are these new histamine reactions?" I didn't think I could handle it if these were my new repertoire of symptoms.

And then, something bewildering happened. Something I hadn't seen in over 4.5 years, like my body grinding back to life.

I started my period.

And for 2 months, every period I didn't have over those 4.5 years decided to all come at once.
For 2 months.

And then, as suddenly as it had started, like a Michigan spring storm, it simply vanished.

No food reactions. I even ate chocolate and DRANK BOURBON.
I could think clearly, articulate myself like some nominally intelligent being, remember what I was doing from one second to the next.
Turning my head too fast no longer made me want to hurl.
I made jokes! Hell, I even made a friend!
I could eat a meal and still fit in the same clothes I'd put on that morning. (Yes, I swell up THAT much.)
I didn't want to crap myself every time I coughed!
I felt so healthy and charming and alive and hopeful and sweet lord in heaven I am getting BEEEEEEETTTTEEEEERRRRRR!

Then my lungs blew up and I started my period again,

But while it's certainly annoying to be on this neverending period (Atrayu!), I think it further proves the hormone/histamine connection. And for now, 6 healthy days and a little validation means everything to me.