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Amoxycillin and Me

About ten years ago I had a sore throat that wouldn’t go away after a month and a half. So I went to the doctor and she prescribed amoxycillin. It’s a particular form of the cillins, like penicillin. Before that I never had had a problem with penicillin but also hadn’t had any in years.

I proceeded to take the medication and a few days later when friends were visiting I was feeling feverish and having trouble breathing. That eventually passed a day later but I started to break out in a rash. The rash proceeded to hives, which proceeded to cover my entire body.

I went to the doctor and for whatever reason she thought I had the Australian flu, a particular virulent version going around that year. I continued to take the medication. I now was itching head to foot, slathering myself in calamine and welting up. I couldn’t brush my teeth or hair, wash my face, touch any part of my body without giant welts forming. I was a mess and scared.

The Thursday night (everything had started the previous Saturday/Sunday) I could feel welts in my throat and on my gums. I asked a friend to call me in the morning because I was afraid I wouldn’t wake up. In the morning, luckily I did, but things were not getting better. I called my doctor’s and burst into tears. I went in (the third visit that week) and she gave me an epinephrine shot. Unfortunately I overreact to epinephrine with racing heart, numbness and tunnel vision so she could only give me half a shot.

The shot worked for about a half and hour and then everything continued, so I went back in that afternoon. My doctor sent me over (rushed me in) to the dermatologist’s who asked me about five questions and said I was having a severe drug reaction. He put be on one drug to stop the itching and prednisone to stop the hives and welts.

The problem with the anti-itch drug was that it makes one eat and crave carbohydrates more. The problem with prednisone, a steroid, is that it puts weight on you. Because prednisone takes over for one’s adrenal glands a person cannot quit it right out. Doses must be tapered down so that the adrenal function comes back on. People can die from stopping prednisone cold turkey or screw their adrenaly systems permanently.

It took three weeks for my symptoms to go away. In the process of taking the prednisone I put on 40 pounds in a month, became very round and puffy and grew sideburns. My face was as round as the moon and I got something like zits but closer to cysts on my body. My nails grew longer and straighter than they ever had done and the stuff kept me out of the hospital. It gave me an appreciation for asthmatics who must use prednisone to breathe and the weight problems they must then deal with.

It took about 6 weeks to two months to be tapered off of the drugs. And once off I lost all the weight relatively fast. I also did a four-day juice fast as soon as the drugs were gone. Growing up with an eating disorder had left its mark and the way I was eating while on prednisone scared me. Luckily the eating disorder didn’t resurface.

Unfortunately I was left with some long term and permanent affects of prednisone and amoxycillin. I can no longer take any of the cillins for fear of an adverse reaction. I’ve run into other people who have had severe reactions from amoxycillin and I would caution against it. It contributed directly to the illness of my cat and subsequently his death months later. He had a persistent ear infection and the drug nearly killed him. I stopped it because he wasn’t eating or drinking and was vomiting. I forced water into him but his kidneys were damaged and six months later my very robust cat was dead from cancer. There is no proof that the cancer came from the amoxycillin but he never fully recovered from the amoxycillin.

Prednisone also permanently changed me. My hair had always been bone straight like the rest of my family’s. Now it has a medium wave throughout. I have spots on my body where there had been cysts from the prednisone and they will swell up from time to time. I had, before prednisone, been sensitive to dairy, couldn’t eat oats or lentils, and couldn’t drink grape juice. That was it.

Afterwards, I began to develop itchy red patches on my face, neck and arms. Eventually I had to go to my doctor about this and she sent me to an allergist who was a research doctor. This doctor told me that many food allergies cannot be tested with just the scratch test because if you’re affected by eating, surface areas do not accurately reflect this. I tried a few different diets and we found that I was reacting to foods that contained histamines. So those old cysts would swell up when I had too much and eczema would develop (which is now a chronic condition for me).

Some foods that contain natural histamines are: citrus fruits, all seafood, caffeine, dairy (cheeses, milk, cream, etc.) including whey, casein, milk solids and lactose, eggs, tomatoes, eggplant, pumpkin, spinach, vinegars and fermented foods, alcohols, preservatives such as sodium benzoate, sulphites, sulphates, tartrazine, prepared meats like bacon, salami, sausages, soy and red beans. There may be a few other categories but those are what I remember off the top of my head. And you can be sensitve to some but not all.

The elimination and testing period are long and tedious and I could never stay on it long enough to test everything. But some foods became self evident, such as when I eat vinegar or an orange and get itchy immediately, breaking out in a rash and possibly suffer from diarrhea. I may welt if the citrus touches my skin. I’ll get eczema as well. I’m not just sensitive to dairy now but will bloat, get stomach aches, bags and dark circles under my eyes, and break out–a full allergy.

And in the past year, my once hugely annoying eczema has progressed into rosacea but I’ll talk about that another day. Needless to say this is a cautionary tale about amoxycillin and prednisone and just some fo the things that can go wrong.

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My Mental Health Day

Thursday was my health day. Because I work in one city and my doctors are in another, I try to get all the appointments together. So I took a sick day to see my podiatrist, my GP and get my eyes checked after the laser surgery.

Right now it’s warm to downright hot in Vancouver. An unusually hot day is anything over 30 Celsius. So yesterday was a nice day to take off. I stopped by Art’s Auto on Clark Dr. He’d worked on my burned out signal light earlier in the week but it still wasn’t working right so he said to bring it in Thursday. However, after I left that day, it seemed to work fine so I dropped by to pay him. He said, oh don’t worry about it. If you have problems, come back. Not only does he run a good mechanic’s shop but he does things like this. Saturn looked at my car and charged me $90 to tell me I needed to spend $600. Art looked at the same problem but when he couldn’t fix it, he didn’t charge me a penny for the time. Thanks, Art.

Then I mosied downtown to my GP’s. Unfortunately it’s one of those tune-up appointments where everything is checked and probed. The oh so fun pap smear and after a certain age, the doctor says, it’s best to check the anus too. Oh joy. But relatively painless if discomforting.  

I then had an hour to kill so I walked a few blocks down Davie. I haven’t gone along there in years. Many of the shops are the same and I just wandered in and out of a few stores in the sun. It amuses me that the stores that have men’s underwear in the windows always have mannequins with prodigious packages. Those gay boys. Then I went back to my podiatrist and he chipped away at the orthotic (unfortunately it didn’t work when I tried it later).

It’s nice to have a day off during the week and it’s been a long time since I have taken one. With a few hours until the eye appointment I decided to go to the Comicshop, my old haunting ground. I had worked there for years as a book buyer and it’s one reason why I get any score at all on a geek test. Well, that and being into science fiction and fantasy, even if I don’t dress like a Trekkie. I picked up a few comics that I still read: anything by Los Bros Hernandez, (the Love & Rockets related comics), Fallen Angel (though I’m starting to get tired of it), Castle Waiting and Echo (the new comic from the author of Strangers in Paradise).

After talking with the guys, Doug and Brent, for a while I decided to wander up and down 4th Ave. in Kits. This is the trendoid yuppie area. I used to know it well when I worked there but it’s been maybe a year since I went into the shops. The Bath Shop was gone. So was one of kitchen shops. Both are now clothing stores. Other shops had come and gone and by the higher level of trendification I could tell the rents had had been substantially raised. I found a little craft store, a charity run for people with disabilities. They sell all sorts of handmade toys and sewn objects. There were some sock monkeys so I checked them out for Kij, who always needs a source for more. The woman there confirmed that the rents had shot so high that many people had to leave. The charity had shrunk to a smaller space to survive. I figure it’s only a matter of time before the Comicshop can’t afford the rent. 

I did go into Capers when I saw there were lovely cream yellow and deep purple gladiolas and bought some for my place. It was also fun to just walk along and look at the people and the way they act. I bought a top and then drove downtown to the laser eye clinic for my checkup.

One bad thing is that it’s during a workday and rush hour. I actually found some metered parking that wasn’t too far. As I was about to put money in, the meter the guy who collects the coins came by. I told him to go first and then joked that he could just give me the money. He said, I’ll give you some free time. How much do you need? I said an hour but realized afterwards I needed less. He popped my loonie through the parking meter twice and then gave it back to me. Thanks, meter guy.

Eyes are mostly doing what they’re supposed to though my midrange is still dragging. I go back in three months to see if that’s improved. When I got home, I parked the car and then walked up to the Drive to buy some food for me and the wee beast, and to get some cider for a friend’s barbecue in the evening. It was just too nice a day to stay inside. And considering the worry I still have over my mutant tooth, which is healing slowly and which they say I might now lose (I’ll look like hillbilly trash if that happens because I can’t afford $3000 for an implant…so I’m freaked), I wanted to enjoy the full day.

That’s why I went to the barbee and sat around talking to a few people. I haven’t been in a great mood of late, too stressed by money issues and boredom. My mental health day was just really pleasant and low key. Those little acts of generosity by the mechanic and the meter guy were uplifiting. When I finally got home I was going to write my 200 words but I fell asleep with the laptop on my lap.

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