Saturday, August 21, 2010

Something Weird This Way Comes

Life is weird. Really weird. I need a theme song to that effect, honestly. The weird life buffalo theme song. Of course, it's hopefully getting better, too, so my theme song would be having a happy crescendo right about now.

So what's going on in my world right now?

The Throat
I found a marvelous allergist who figured out WHY my throat was swelling up, and it's really odd. Odd enough that I'm very impressed he figured it out. Turns out, I have something called Paradoxical Vocal Cord Dysfunction. There are different triggers for this, but mine falls into the category of 'irritant induced.' When I come across certain smells, foods in my mouth, or food particles in the air, it makes my vocal cords all of a sudden try to shut when they should be open. Like when I need to breathe or talk. Not swelling at all, although it certainly hurts and you have trouble breathing, so you can imagine why it feels like it's swelling up.

Good news is that there are exercises that can help calm the vocal cords down after they trigger, so I can breathe a bit easier. I have to see a physical therapist for them, but even the very mild ones I've used to date have helped some. My voice will stay hoarse after I'm triggered, but I can breathe a little more, phew.

I've actually gone into a store twice now without a paper mask. I feel nearly naked, seriously. People can see my face for the first time in almost a year. It's weird. I don't think I'll be doing it again for a while, as it really does hurt when this triggers and I like to, oh, breathe normally, but to know that I CAN go without the mask? Wow. Simply wow.

And for anyone who has asthma - you should check this condition out. Depending on the study, between 40-56% of asthmatics ALSO have vocal cord dysfunction. It often gives symptoms that are very similar to asthma and so is overlooked. Also, about 10% of asthmatics who don't respond to treatment actually have vocal cord dysfunction instead, and NOT asthma. So, it's worth checking out!

The Reactions
So my allergist said he thought that the dysfunction should explain things on the 'scary' allergy front. None of my foods has given me hives, just the throat stuff, gut issues, and headaches and such. He's not sure why I'm getting other reactions from foods (we're going with celiac-related, at the moment), but if my vocal cords are the reason my throat has issues, then I should, theoretically, be able to chuck the epi-pen. My throat wasn't swelling up, just doing this and feeling like it swelled, so that should be good, right?

Unfortunately, looks like perhaps not. This week, after the diagnosis, I was, well....kind of insane. Like someone who is handed an unlimited credit card they never have to pay back and released into a mall.

I ate a bowl of ice cream. I ate a few handfuls of chips. I drank an entire glass of soda (all Gluten Free, of course). It was beyond awesome. And beyond stupid, but I kind of lost my head. Do you know how freaking LONG it's been since I had something different? And to find out that maybe some of these foods are okay to eat? There are no words. Winning a ferrari or the lottery or a whole month of babysitting are nothin' compared to this.

The ice cream made my insides about die, of course, but my throat didn't bite the dust, which is what I wanted to check when I ate it (Yeah, really. It was. And yes, I can lie to myself with the best of them.). I had the chips and the soda, and the same thing happened. And then, because one answer would be too simple, I got hives later in the day.

Son of a b!@$#.

Sigh. So much for completely chucking the epi-pen.

In some ways, I suppose this makes me think about my own body and trusting it. Yeah, my throat is doing this weirdo thing that I'd rather it didn't. But so far, out of the three things I've tried that I couldn't have, two of 'em did bad things to me. My throat feels a bit like it's my body's first line of defense. It's that asshole marine in the movies who curses and sneers but saves everyone's butt in the end by dying heroically as he holds off the horde of aliens so the other less irritating heroes can escape.

My throat is sacrificing itself so the rest of my body can dodge the bullet. Way to go throat. If only you could clue in that there are better ways to keep me away from the food. A letter would be a good start.
Dear body,
The following is a list of foods that will make you terribly ill. Don't eat them. You don't want the drama. I will text you when something good is sitting on the table and you can chow down.
Sincerely, your mouth and throat.

That would make it all so much simpler, wouldn't it?

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