On Saturday, August 20th, 2011 I decided to “get away from it all.” This resulted in a massive attack by chiggers. My immune system did not take kindly to skin-liquefying insects using me as a buffet and instituted TOTAL DESTRUCTION. My initial symptoms were just really itchy chigger bites, but two weeks later my hands broke out in an unusual looking rash that took several doctors and rounds of prednisone and drug hell to control. The initial diagnosis was erythema multiforme, but the problem continued. A second skin biopsy was performed that showed nothing terribly helpful–same as before, mostly. A different pathologist opted for “primarily T cell infiltrate consistent with drug reaction or insect bites”. Okay. So my immune system was royally pissed. Multiple attempts to taper off the prednisone (in multiple ways) have resulted in breakthrough flares of new blisters… until a couple of days ago.
For the first time, the skin on my hands looks like NORMAL HUMAN SKIN!
My lower leg (the really badly chewed-up one) finally looks somewhat better. I have small pinkish scars that show through hosiery and bother me mostly because, well, I’m female and vain, okay???? The exposures on these pictures suck and I really don’t care. The point is that I think my immune system has finally been beaten into submission. I’m down to 10 mg prednisone and most of my body is handling the decrease well–my rosacea seems to flare at this point… but as long as I’m not getting blistering red horror, I’m vastly relieved.
The prednisone was difficult. I had persistent, near-migraine intensity headaches, blood pressure through the roof (above 160/104 at one point), chest pain (severe a couple of times), general fever/malaise, persistent low back aches, irritability, and INSANE CHOCOLATE CRAVINGS. I know very, very well what risks I was running and what I was doing to my body, so no lectures please. Remember, for once, that I do have a Ph.D. I don’t take a drug until I understand what it does and how it does it to the best of our cumulative human knowledge–or at least everything I can find out about target organs, serum half-lives, metabolism, etc. I don’t feel much better yet, but I’m starting to feel… cautiously optimistic. When my blood pressure returns to something below geyser level, I can start exercising and trying to repair myself.
I mentioned in another post tonight that it’s been a bad year for illness and injury–and it has. I’ve never been sick so much, or had so many minor injuries. I even fractured my radius (elbow end) earlier this year. I’ve caught myself wondering if quitting smoking was hazardous to my health! I don’t regret that one. I suspect I’m going to have to make 2012 the year of “get my body fixed.”
Assuming I survive this year.