Dr. Suess

"And will you succeed? Yes indeed! Yes indeed! Ninety Eight and Three Quarters guarenteed!"

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Too long of a blog post

Pearls and Dreams

I saw a report, probably on 20/20 with John Stossel (love the guy, especially his junk science reports & Give me a Break reports ...my favorite was his flooded houses on the beach & the government paying for them ..as he reported from his own property!). The report was on latex allergy and how a few reports of how dangerous it was has people all over the country scared to death, and people who are actually 'sensitive' to the powder in latex gloves are thinking they're deathly allergic to latex.
He (if it was Stossel, if not,whoever the reporter was) went on to say, that most of these people weren't even allergic to the powder, it just irritated their skin.

So, I see this report and a few days later, I am getting a home infusion of IVIG. My home health nurse is recovering from a horrible skin problem ... and has new gloves, and I have all knew equipment. WHY I ask? Because I had an emergency reaction to latex (or something like that, I can't remember how she put it, it wasn't normal 'medical speak' and I spent the next 5 hours giving her a hard time about not being able to 'talk nurse'). She then recalled that I was horribly allergic (not anaphalatic, but I react awfully fast) to kiwi fruit (having seen my reaction when I forgot and ate some fruit salad brought to an MG board meeting we were both at), she tells me that I need to use caution around latex.

She leaves, my mom brings my kids home with a bag of balloons. I proceed to blow the whole bag up for them.

Time goes on and more and more, each exposure to latex causes a bit more of a reaction till one day, blowing up a balloon causes one of the worst asthma attacks I've ever had. I blame it on the blowing, not the balloon.

I ask my primary care doctor about it, telling him my home health nurse & my physical therapist are concerned I'm developing an allergic reaction. He seems unimpressed and John Stossel's (or whoever) report looms large in my brain. I continue to ignore my reactions.

Before too long, any contact with balloons causes a rash, or an asthma attack or both ... hives on the lips ..really attractive let me tell you!
Then one day, I notice on my chart at the doctor's he'd written latex allergy on my chart. I ask him ..he says "better safe than sorry"
The next month, a new lab tech girl draws my blood, I fail to tell her I'm allergic to latex ... I react within minutes and the doctor quickly gets me some Zyrtec and won't let me go till the arm looks better.

Several months later, I go to a meetting where a photo album is passed around, I start itching and I scratch, and it spreads. After the meeting, my friend who had the photo album is laughing about having left her children with her husband and 75 balloons she's blown up to irritate her husband. She had blown them up and left, not washed her hands. Then I touched her photo album.

I will skip the Ob/gyn appt that I forgot to tell about the latex allergy ...use your imaginations ... it's probably that bad!

So, I go to get knee surgery. I'm a good girl. I tell them I'm allergic. EVERY employee of the hospital (Ok, not every, just the ones I'm having to deal with for the surgery) ask me screening questions...what happens if you blow up a balloon? What happens when they draw blood? Do bra's and underwear bother you? What about swimsuits? What happens when you help your child with their homework and they make a mistake?

I'm answering ... I have an asthma attack, my arm swells and breaks out if they don't use the latex free bands, yes, the new under clothes bother me, but I wash them in bleach a few times first, that helps, the new cotton covered elastic really help. I wash the bathing suits in bleach and go through 2 or 3 a year OR I have a bathing suit shaped rash for the first several wears. My children no longer have regular pencils in the house after my hand broke out one too many times from the erasers.

The nurse asks me all this. The anesthisologist assistant asks me all these questions. The anesthesiologist asks me. The nurse tech asks me and the physicians assistant asks me. Only the Ortho did not ask me. Each time, they were obviously skeptical. Frustrating. But I'm sitting there visiting with my pastor when the IV nurse comes by to put my IV in. She numbs my arm, and puts the IV in. I'm not looking, I'm talking with my pastor ..and suddenly I hear "Oh my! You're not allergic to latex are you?"
UH ... YEA!
So she jumps up, grabs a wash cloth and washes off my arm, where she'd used the latex tournequet (sp?) and then goes over and tells the nurse ...this patient is allergic to latex, she reacted to the band for the IV. I hear the charge nurse get on the phone and say "Change the knee to room such and such, we need a latex free OR for her"


So, that was about 4 1/2 years ago. I figure, since I have forgotten so many times, I could forgive their skeptism, after all, I'd seen John Stossel's (or whomever's) report and kept buying into it too!

Last year, a tire plant caught fire 2 miles south of here. Winds blowing due north ... I um ...don't stay inside. I not only don't stay inside, but I stop at the Quik Trip to get a cup of coffee & see the black cloud hanging low in the sky and WALK THROUGH IT!
I was taken out of church that morning and ushered to the ER with a few friends telling me it was high time I accept my latex allergy. But you know, John Stossel said most people who think they're allergic really aren't ....

So this last December, I go to the dermatologist who finds a skin cancer. He comes in to remove the cancer and I see the yellow gloves and say "um Dr. W. It's me!" He washes his hands and comes over to remove the gloves ... puts the latex free gloves on. He comes over to me and says "you didn't remind my nurse did you?"
"No, why?"
"Because you have finger print rashes on your face"

Then I proceeded to get a 20 minute lecture on self preservation, self advocacy and how doctors are only human and even with the big red sticker on my chart, it is still my job to remember my allergy and latex allergy is nothing to fool around with and 'you are most certainly allergic, I'm a dermatologist, I'd know' (to which I asked him if he flunked kindergarten and he asked me how in the world I had the nerve to ask that question while he had a scalpel in his hand near my face).

So, I say all this to say ... I go to small group tonight ...
Someone hands me a stack of papers ... it's bound by a rubber band ...and what do I do? I not only take it, but i fidgit with the rubber band. Now, I'm broke out ..again and somewhere is John Stossel's (gee, i really do hope it was his report) voice saying "most people who think they are allergic to latex, really aren't"

If you are still reading this ... I'm VERY impressed.
I wonder what my psychiatrist would say about my denial, and I DO hope the reaction has cleared up before I see him on Monday because he's seen me with 4 or 5 reactions to latex ... and he scolds me for not taking care of myself!


  1. Too funny-- though you DO need to take care of yourself and watch out for that stuff! :-)

    I'm up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep yet again. But, ya know, heaven forbid anyone use such terrible things as sleeping pills. GRR

    btw, I did get your email... I'll send you some info tomorrow (well. later today, actually since it's 4 am here) though, when I'm a little more with-it.

    Hope things are going as well as possible- :)

  2. de Nile is a river in Egypt! Perhaps MOST people don't, but obviously you are in that very small, and very special group of people who ARE---so take care of you!!!!!

    big latex-free hugs!

  3. You know, it's extremely difficult to be allergic to a common product of today's world. You have to practically tiptoe through the world and your daily interactions to avoid reactions. Now, latex allergy is a tricky thing. Some products look like it but are latex free. Rubber bands....I never would have thought to be careful of them. Same with my vehicle tires when adding air. See?

    The thing is, part of all these medical warnings and taking care of ourselves.... it's overwhelming. You know what to avoid but mistakes happen. Things get missed. And for anyone to blame you for reacting to something, whether you did it on purpose or not is a terrible thing I think. The point is - you need care when it happens. Beyond that, it's nobody's place to chastise you. You don't strike me as someone who deliberately does these things and that is the difference.

    I hope you have no more of these episodes because they are so awful. But if you do, just tell them you were caught off guard. That should shut them up. {hug}

  4. I get chastised on a regular basis.

    Somewhere in my brain, I'm ok, I'm just fine and I don't stop until the body drops me (which happens quite literally as well as figuratively.)

    My poor dermatologist is probably at his wits end with me and fortuneately for both of us (me anyway) we both have a sense of humor and have known each other for almost 13 years (will be in May when I took my then infant son to him for treatment of severe excema).

    You should have seen his face when he got off the elevator last summer as I was coming out of my neuro's office for a regular follow up and I had a rather severe sunburn! He looked at me sooo funny, but didn't say a word.

    I figured I'd gotten away with it, till I saw him in December (appt before the skin cancer removal where I got the fingerprint latex reactions) his first words out of his mouth were

    "WHY was my blue eyed fair skinned, lupus patient on immunosuppressant therapy sunburned this summer????!?!?!?"

    I think I drive him nuts. I can't seem to get that my skin has to have the same care as the rest of me ..it's just skin right????

    But, what would he do without patients like me to keep him entertained?

    Besides, I did get the kindergarten slam in.

  5. Looking at asthma info online today while my son coughs I came across this post. Does anyone know a good asthma site to help?


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