Friday, October 8, 2010

I'm now a has been a challenging week!

Hello tiny group of loyal blog readers! Before too much time passes before my next entry, I just wanted to check in and let you know that I've officially moved to WA now. Eric and I did a straight shot up here from CA last Thursday. We left at 6:15am with a car full of pets and luggage and pulled into our driveway in Longview, WA at about 12:45am. The kitties spent the day in a soft crate I had bought in the back of the car. They huddled together the entire day. Having them back there also meant that every time we stopped to let Bailey out, one of us had to stay with the car.

The next couple of days consisted of us getting groceries and helping the kitties acclimate to the new house. The 2 males have spent most of the days under the bed, especially the youngest, Ramius. He's used to sleeping all day and prowling around the neighborhood at night. Right now I'm letting them out one at a time with supervision for a few minutes. However, Ramius especially has enjoyed exploring the ledges and skylights that go across the 12 foot ceilings in our dining room and kitchen. We seem him waayyy up there, happy as can be. The next best thing to climbing a tree, really.

Unfortunately, our move has been overshadowed quite a bit by some major issues with my skin. For 3 weeks now I have had a red, seeping rash around my mouth that has made eating, sleeping, talking, and even kissing my husband painful and uncomfortable. I have been on 2 different antibiotics and have seen my doctor in CA 2 times. Nice lady, but she has done absolutely NOTHING. After $200 worth of visits, creams, and pills with no relief, I went online one night when I couldn't sleep (there have been a lot of sleepless nights lately) and Googled "seeping rash around mouth." I found something called Perioral Dermatitis, with pictures matching what I had been suffering from. I printed up a few articles, all of which determined that I was supposed to be on Tetracycline, then made a 3rd appointment with my doctor and brought her the articles. She thought it "could" be that condition and prescribed Tetracycline.

How scary is that?

She's supposed to be the doctor and I'm the one doing a self-diagnosis. She just prescribed what I asked her for. I asked for some extra refills since I was moving and she did that too. Our health care system is a mess.

2 days later I started to see some real improvement with the rash. Yay for Dr. Kristie and Google, right? (No, the thought still infuriates me.) Then the improvement started to taper off and stop. Plus, there was a rash developing on my chest that was very itchy and uncomfortable. Eric ran to the drug store one night in CA and came back with a buffet of itch relief products. I settled on topical Benedryl, since I was already taking an antibiotic and didn't want to ingest anything else. The relief was sporadic, but relief was relief, so I kept using it.

When we arrived in WA I made an appointment with a doctor at Kaiser, since I'm now on Eric's insurance. The only way to see a dermatologist was to see a general doctor first and get a referral. He prescribed a topical clindamycin with alcohol (OWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and a cream, which I used once and it did nothing. At least I got the derm referral and was impressed with the workings of Kaisers in house pharmacy. Wow, they are efficient!

On Tuesday the movers arrived at 8am with our stuff. Monday night I had had a HORRIBLE night's sleep because my chest was so itchy and my face was completely red and totally seeping from my nose to my chin. I looked like a freak and had to keep dabbing my face with Kleenex. it was getting worse and worse. I made an appointment with the derm at Kaiser for that afternoon. For 3 hours the movers unloaded their huge semi. I stood at the door checking off the box number or item number that they would bring in. Eric led them to different rooms and would take over clipboard duty every few minutes while I would go and splash cold water on my ever burning face.

When the movers left at 11:30, there was nothing to do then but wait for my appointment. Meanwhile, my face was getting WORSE. The right side was now getting swollen and numb. The redness was spreading. This was getting scary. My appointment was at 2:20, but at 1:30 Eric said enough was enough, we had to get this taken care of. We drove to Kaiser, he dragged me to the front of the line of people waiting to check in and demanded that we see the derm at once or we were going to the emergency room. I have to say, in my misery I was really proud of how he took control of that scary situation. The check in nurse could see that this was dire and led us back to a room. Everyone was very nice, the RN attempted to keep me calm, because I was crying at this point because I could not feel the right side of my face. It was like someone had given me a shot of Novocaine.

The derm came in very quickly. No 20 minute wait like in my clinic in CA. He looked at the redness, asked about the history of the rash and products, foods, detergents, soaps, lotions, etc--anything that I could've come in contact with. Because he was fairly certain that this was now a contact allergy. What I had around my mouth before was most likely the Perioral Dermatitis and the Tetracycline was working, but since then, I had developed something else. He actually thinks it is an allergic reaction to the topical Benedryl, which he says is quite common. He even got a little miffed at Eric for bringing it home and not mentioning it immediately when we discussed what the cause could be. Keep in mind that we were flying blind in CA because we were getting no help from the medical profession there.

The good news was that he acted like this was easily treatable. Time to bring in the big gun though: Prednisone. 4 in the morning for a week, then 3 in the morning for a week, then 2, then 1, until all 70 pills are gone. Side effects? Irritability, weight gain, and jitters. On the face I could use water and Vaseline only to help with the burning and dryness.

Thank goodness. Finally! Some answers! I took the first dose of Prednisone as soon as I got home. I took another shower and Eric ran and got a pizza for dinner. By the evening, the redness had gone down about 75% on my chest, and my face was no longer swollen and numb (that had been pretty scary.)

That night I slept for 10 1/2 hours. My poor body had been so, so tired. I had been awake from 2:30am the previous night. The seeping stopped, and the next day my face began to dry out and renew the skin. It got pretty dry, but there was no pain and no itching and burning. I felt human again. It still didn't look great, but at least I wasn't suffering the way I had been.

Yesterday was a little bit of a back slide. My chest and neck were incredibly itchy and parts of my face were kind of itchy. I was very uncomfortable all day, but the more unpacking and sweating I did, the more my skin became irritated. I would take breaks and just sit in front of the fan. When I went outside in the cool air to take out trash, my face felt better. In the evening we took Bailey for a nice long walk in the brisk WA cool air and my face felt the best it had felt all day.

Today it feels better, no itching, and on the mend. As long as I see progress, that is all that matters. I cannot expect miracles in just a few days when I'm supposed to be on Prednisone for a month.

Our challenge last night was insuring that Eric got a good night's sleep because he had to be back to work this morning. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to be the perfect wife and help him get his lunch readt, create a quiet house while he went to bed before me, and make sure the pets didn't hinder his sleep. Sadly, my pets can be pests sometimes, especially right now as we're all adjusting. Last night, my older male, Darcy, decided to be the pest, scratching on the closet door and waking Eric up at 2am. He was frustrated and when I tried to go back to sleep, I guess I was sighing a lot and rustling the covers and keeping him from nodding off and then I was frustrated. I slept from 11pm until 2am, then spent the next 2 hours in the kitchen making sure that nothing interrupted Eric's sleep. His alarm rang at 4am.

I've never shared the house with him before while he's been on day shift, so even though I know his routine, I didn't want to get in the way. It didn't help that I was very emotional and felt very guilty that anything me our my pets had done had hindered his sleep in anyway. We're a 1 income family right now, and I want to be as supportive as I can and pull my weight around the house as much as possible. It was hard not to be a little teary this morning. The lack of sleep didn't help.

I know that this is only the first week and we all have to adjust. I keep telling myself that. I think that what has thrown me is that some of the things I thought would be harder, have been the easier ones, and vice versa. Certainly, all of the problems with my skin have been at unexpected challenge that have really made each day difficult.

I am trying to focus on the positive, count my blessings, and take each day one at a time. My mom has missed me a lot, and I feel guilty every time she tells me this. But the good news is that she finally taking a long overdue vacation with some friends on a cruise around new England. she'll be spending her birthday there, of which I'm glad about. My house in CA is rented to a nice man who seems like he will be a low-maintenance tenant. Now that the movers have delivered my things, we won't have anymore groups of strangers traipsing through the house (2 days of packers and movers last week and one this week--that's a lot.) Our WA neighborhood is lovely and it is so great to be able to take Bailey on walks. This happy dog has gotten two long walks per day. We are 3 houses up from the city's man-made lake and the surrounding park. And, even though our house needs some updating, it is a great house, lots of charm and history, in a fabulous neighborhood with incredibly nice neighbors. I'll post some pictures when I can find my camera cord in one of the boxes.

See? I feel better already. OK, time to start my day. Let's see how my face does when I'm out of the shower. I want to give Eric his wife back. I haven't worn makeup all week and I miss getting all prettied up. Thanks to my new GPS, I'm going to go and get some groceries today and I promised Eric a spaghetti dinner would be waiting for him when he gets home tonight. His first day back to work, I want to do things extra nice.

I just have to keep telling myself, "I am blessed, I am blessed." I am. We are.


Karen said...

Good grief! It's no wonder you're a little emotional! Even without the skin problem, you've just made two of life's big adjustments - marriage and a move - all within a few weeks time. One of those by themselves is enough to cause major stress, but you had to go and do both! =) Not to mention being at home instead of working full time. Even though you wanted and expected it, it's still an adjustment (trust me on that one). =) Hang in there! It will get better, I promise! In the meantime, take it one day at a time, and make sure each day has something a little fun. =)

Emma (emmsifop - I deleted my blog) said...

Hey Kristie :)

Your skin reaction sounds strange, not something I've come across before. Having eczema I can appreciate the frustration and irritation that you are experiencing, but numbness, wow, that's odd. Hoping it clears up very soon!


Amy said...

Hi Kristie!
I enjoy reading about your adventures. So sorry you have had such a time of it with your face and the rash. Sounds like things are getting better though now that you have the right diagnosis. But still, scary! It sure sounds like a beautiful place. Take care!

Sally said...

Adjusting to living together was difficult enough when I was early twenties, had never once lived all by myself and was used to housemates. It must be even more of an adjustment when you guys are used to living solo. Then with medical emergencies and displaced pets...well, I'm pretty sure things will only get better from now on! Hang in there, a year from now you and Eric will be laughing hysterically about it all.

I love the part about Eric muscling you into the dermatologist! Go Eric!

Gail said...

I have to echo Karen and Sally's sentiments. They've done studies on major stressors and you've experienced at least 3 in a one-month period. Additionally, learning to adjust to living with another person, no matter how wonderful, is beyond difficult. It will get better. Don't feel too weird about diagnosing yourself. I've done it so many times with my children and my husband that I've had doctors ask if I was a nurse. Nope. I was Just more concerned and invested than they were in my family's health. I'm Glad you got the prednisone, it's amazing stuff for all sorts of inflammation.