Saturday, April 30, 2011


While Odel has been (and continues to) making great progress on his recovery, I am a mess, battling what appears to be an allergic reaction for the past three weeks. I don't remember ever having an allergic reaction before, but this one is a doozy and today is the worst it has ever been.  Though I had decided not to mention it on the blog, I’ve changed my mind in hopes that a reader might have a suggestion that could help.

My skin around my eyes, my lips, and the skin around my lips itches like crazy.  It is somewhat raw, and very swollen.  The only relief from the itching comes from keeping it greased up with Aquaphor, though I have tried many different potential treatments.  Sometimes my tongue tingles (itches), too.
I have none of the classic hay fever symptoms.  No stuffiness, no congestion.  My eyeballs themselves are fine, except that the greasy Aquaphor occasionally blurs my vision.
It is spring there in Sacramento, so there is a LOT of pollen in the air.  These symptoms began around three weeks ago, then worsened considerably on Monday when the wind blew quite strongly and I spent about half an hour outside.  It has been very dry and windy here since then, so I have stayed indoors as much possible.  Yesterday I vacuumed and dusted, and we have been keeping all the windows tightly closed.  I changed the pillowcases on the bed, too - yet my eyes were almost completely swollen shut this morning - by far the worst they have been.  My lips feel about double their size (though they look pretty normal, just very pink and chapped all around the edges).  My stomach feels a little upset, and more parts of my skin seem a little itchy - but maybe that is just my overactive imagination.
As chance would have it, I had appointments set up with both my ophthalmologist and my primary care doctor when this was getting underway.  The eye doc gave me anti-allergy eye drops; my primary care physician recommended Allerga.  Neither has made any difference - things just keep getting worse.  Benedryl doesn’t seem to do much, either (make that “doesn’t do anything”).
Although it seems like pollen might be the culprit, I wonder if it is a food allergy.  I've been writing down things I can think of that might have brought it on, and have eliminated a few things from my diet totally, to no obvious effect - almond milk, almonds, soymilk, red wine... right now, I am wondering about wheat, another total shot in the dark (but we had whole wheat pasta for dinner last night).
It is always worst in the morning, whether that is because I have had my eyelids closed for a long time or ??? - I don't know. Due to itching, I get up around 4 am to bathe my eyes in cool water and reapply Aquaphor.  At that point, when all the Aquaphor I applied before bed has been absorbed, the skin in the folds of my eyelids is dry and scaly, very sensitive to the touch and itchy.  Tonight I am going to sleep on the couch, not using my normal pillow, to see if that makes any difference.  I am really getting desperate to find a solution.
If Odel didn't need to be here for his knee, we would fire up the engine and move out of the Sacramento valley, but that isn't in the cards for another couple of weeks.  For now, I use cold compresses, Aquaphor, and Allegra, and remember all the folks I know who have far more significant problems than I do… but my inability to figure out what’s going on or how to improve the situation is driving me crazy.  :(   If anything occurs to you after reading all of this, suggestions are welcome! 

Fortunately, Odel continues to do VERY well.


  1. You said it started about 3 weeks ago..that was when Odel had his surgery. Could it be something that Odel is using on his wound? Some dressing bandage? Or maybe just plain stress. You've been through a tough time too with this surgery. Think of all the different things that Odel uses as part of his recuperation that he didn't use before. Maybe one of those.

  2. Hello, Laurie

    I know you'll receive a lot of advice and some good ideas.

    I can only contribute that my mother would have something similar on her hands. She finally found that while it *might* have been caused by something environmental, it flared up (sometimes painfully) when she was under stress.

    You've been working so hard and it can take a toll on one's body.

    I hope you get it figured out soon and I wish you all the best. Up here in the Willamette Valley, our grass seed pollens are about six weeks away.


  3. Sounds awful, Laurie. Just a thought, this sounds a bit "yeasty" to me. The fact that it doesn't respond to benadryl seems to indicate that it may not be a typical allergy. I got a weird rash, all over my legs and torso, horribly itchy, when it was especially cold and windy here. The dermatologist said that when your immune system is down, yeasts can do weird things. She gave me a yeast cream, (no not that other icky one from our youth) and being a wholistic doctor, recommended pure coconut oil (from the health food store) as a body cream. Also had me doing some high powered anti oxident supplements. For me, we thought it was the hot tub, but who knows. Hope these ideas help a bit. Good luck!

  4. I agree you should check on anything associated with Odel's surgery. I'm allergic to the adhesives used on bandages and most hand/body lotions. For me, the first causes raised, itchy swelling at the point of contact and the second causes tiny blisters on the palms of my hands. Whoever thinks they might be allergic to physical medical items? If you are using "rubber" gloves in any of your activities you might want to consider a latex allergy.

  5. I was thinking the same as Malone, something like yeast. It could be from stress, being a bit off normal, or even something you might have picked up in the hospital environment.

    But, I also wondered about you possibly being allergic to the Aquaphor. I know Hubster has had things prescribed for both his eyes and ears in the past and then had to have them changed because of allergy issues.

    My nice Jewish sinus Dr. told me that his old Jewish Mother always said olive oil was most like the oil in our bodies. He mentioned this to me in telling me to dab a q-tip in some of it to moisten my ears. You might try some of it on your skin?

    Hope someone has something helpful for you! I did a blog myself about my sinus issues and what I think about the environment and all things "nosey"!! Feel Better!!!!

  6. Laurie not sure this will help at all but any kind of face cream or makeup can get old and could cause this kind of reaction as well.

    Hope you get this figured out soon.

    Take Care
    Brenda Brown

  7. As soon as I read your post and time-line I thought it might have something to do with any of Odel's medication that you might have handled. I hope you will find out shortly what causes your discomfort. Keep us posted.

  8. You two are not having your usual fun! Bummer. Can't help you on the allergy stuff. I hope you both return to your old selves soon!

  9. Laurie,
    It does seem that it coincides with Odel's surgery and I would definitely suspect something like a latex allergy BUT in the remote chance its pollen related (I suffer horribly with the eye thing only) I have found that nothing helps except Zyrtec and I have to take it every 12 hours instead of 24. The eye drops just laughed at me. I hope you can isolate it soon and get some relief. Please keep us updated.

  10. Levonne, totally true. The other day, I looked through my swollen lids at Odel, who was icing his knee, and commented to him that this is the first time in our years of fulltiming that we had both been somewhat incapacitated due to health issues. Fortunately, he is really improved - today he went off in the car a short distance alone.

    In spite of the sleepiness caused by Benedryl, I've decided to take the maximum recommended dose for the new few days to see if it has any affect. Maybe I will just SLEEP until it goes away!

  11. I sure hope you get better soon.... maybe your allergic to not doing anything fun. LOL LOL The connection with Odels surgery sure sounds like it could be something. Hope you get relief soon!
    Travel safe

  12. Two years ago hubby got a similar case. Went to a dermatologist and was told it's contact dermatitis. He was prescribed Triamcinolone Acetonide & has to use it whenever the symptoms begin. He never had this problem in 70 years!! He didn't change his diet or surroundings at the time of the first occurrence and doctor said "it just happens"!! I might suggest you see a dermatologist if it doesn't clear up soon. Good Luck!!

  13. If its worse in the AM, has anything changed with your sleeping attire, sleeping preparations, bedding/pillows, laundry soap, open windows?

    I know this is a pain living with that mess. Hope you can get it under control soon.


  14. Hope you find a solution real soon. I would get an appointment with an allergist if possible.

  15. So sorry you are having this added stress...I have nothing to add to what has already been said -- my first thot was latex -- stress too. I hope you get some relief soon -- I know it's miserable. Glad Odel is doing so well!

  16. Have you tried over-the-counter hydrocortisone ointment? I sometimes get red, itchy patches on my eyelids and that seems to be the only thing that helps. Takes a couple days to work.

  17. Our daughter lives in Illinois...she has a dematologist who gave her some stuff for her eyes....As soon a Odel is OK, get the He.. out of Dodge!

  18. Laurie, I read on another blog, - where she had something similar to your problem. I remember she made several trips to the doctor and finally was given some medicine that helped her. I hope you find this helpful! I love your blog and how wonderful that Odel is doing so well!

  19. Try a nettie pot if it's allergies to the pollen it will clear the sinus. You can look it up on line.
    Watch out for nuts,shellfish,and berries if it's a food, check the labels of the food your eating.

  20. Our daughter, a lab tech in her past life suggests it is water related. Parasite or other organism. Try baby wipes and only bottled water. Do you wash in the rig? Same water. If you can stay away from water and it improves, have it tested at a local lab then treat your water and tank. Amoebas in local water systems have become a problem recently and are quite dangerous to the eyes. Hope this clearssup real soon... nothing to fool around with.
    Barbara and Tom

  21. I never had allergies, then developed asthma like symptoms in my late 30s. Dr said it wasn't unusual to develop allergies late in life.

    One other thought, do you think it could be environmental, maybe something they used when they redid the rig? Carpets, etc? Just a thought.

    I say get yourself to an allergy Doctor and get yourself tested.

    Hope you're both better soon.


  22. I know that we humans tend to touch our eyes, nose, lips, etc., (our face) with our hands. You are getting something on your hands that is setting off these reactions. Be sure to wash hands before touching your face, then rinse them with rubbing alcohol, especially after treating Odel. I know that is hard because we do touch our face without thinking about it, but it will probably work. I suspect something that you are applying to Odels incision or to his skin to the be culprit.

  23. We have a real bad pollen problem in our area, and I've never seen or heard of anyone suffering with the same types of symptoms you're having.

    I was also wondering if it could be a new or different laundry detergent/fabric softener.

    If you haven't changed brands, maybe the brand has changed ingredients. You can buy some brands of detergent that are supposed to be allergy free, or you can make your own. (very simple)with washing soda and castile soap.

    Maybe you could wash those sheets and pillow cases in some hot water (no detergent) and see if that helped. It seems to me with the symptoms on your face, a pillow case might be the cause.

    If not, maybe a different doctor would be in order. It seems you've suffered with this long enough.

    Take care.

  24. Wow, that sounds awful. I don't have any ideas, but I am amazed by the great ideas that your followers have!

  25. So sorry to hear about your allergy. It doesn't sound like pollen allergy to me-having had some degree of that ever since I've lived in WI-at least here-everyone has itchy eyes,and lots of congestion. I'm thinking it's something you touch, latex allergy came to mind right away. Also, have you started eating anything differently because of Weight Watchers-a no cal sweetener? And stress--amazing how it shows up!
    I wish you a speedy recovery and am glad Odel is doing well!

  26. I get contact dermitis on my hands when I am very stressed. Sometimes a steriod omitment helps. Sometimes applying aloe helps. I have an aloe plant. I break a part of the leaf off the aloe plant and apply to my skin twice a day.

    I have found that the best way to deal with stress (and my dermitis) is to mediatate, twice a day for 10 to 15 minutes. For me, it is very calming. I begin view my problems, i.e., stress, from a distance.

  27. I am allergic to aspirin. It makes my lips and eyelids itch and my tongue swell. Have you been taking aspirin lately?

  28. I had chronic hives for ten years...started on the palms of my hands and spread all over. Always worse if I was fighting an impending virus. Sometimes I looked like Miss Piggy, my eyes almost swollen shut. The back of my legs was one huge welt.

    Never found out what caused it...slowly disappeared into pressure hives (under shoe laces, around waist, bra) and then finally gone.

    Hoping you can find something that works!!

  29. Laurie,

    Good grief,sounds awful. I would go along with all the other comments, except I would add that you may want to check around your site at Cal Expo. The cause could be environmental--any new construction or landscaping or disposals ???

    Glad to hear about Odel. Hugs to both of you

  30. Really glad to hear about Odel's progress. Driving the car...sounds great.

    But your situation sounds awful. So glad you have SO many followers with ideas for you. Wish you had told them all sooner and that one of their ideas is the answer.

    Crossing my fingers the next post says you are totally cured or at least MUCH better.


  31. I'd try stopping the Aquaphor. Use a light coat of plain Vaseline instead till things quiet down. Benadryl lotion might work in addition. Systemically maybe some Loratadine 10mg. (OTC Claritin) It's an antihistimine. If it still persists, go back to your doc or an allergist. Good Luck! Denise D.

  32. Laurie, I really think you need to keep following this up with the doctors. Keep a diary of not only what you eat but every product you use on your skin - any lotions, chapstick, makeup etc. Do monitor your symptoms as to time of day. I would also be careful how much medication (including vitamins and herbal supplements) you are taking. Take all that info with you when you go to making sure they know exactly what you are taking (including supplements). The more informaton they have, the more likely they will be able to puzzle this out. You may actually need to see an allergist. Also make sure they know about Odel and any products that you handle in helping him since it seemed to come on about that time. Good luck, hope they figure it out soon.

  33. When my eyelids were itching, my doctor had me wash them , very lightly..not hard, with Johnson's Baby Shampoo. Be sure to rinse well. The itching went away in a couple of days. It's worth a try. Just use a drop or two on a cotton pad and wipe from the inside out. Hope it helps

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