Wednesday, April 19, 2017

adventures in allergies

It's no secret that I have allergies. Oy, with the allergies already. For those not in the know, allergies are not just itchy eyes and sneezing. Allergies can be debilitating. Symptoms can often mimic a cold, what with the sniffles, congestion, and sore throatiness of it all. I often have these very symptoms plus wheezing, so much wheezing, and fatigue, I am not a fan of the fatigue, or the wheezing, breathing is kind of necessary, no?

Along with the general feeling of being unwell, the inability to breathe freely, the eczema, and the fatigue, I have nasal polyps which swell up making it more difficult to breathe through the nose. They also take away my sense of smell. We're talking complete absence of smell. It's a bit of a buzzkill and in all seriousness, has caused depression. Well, that and not being able to be as active as I used to be...wanders with the mister are very infrequent, and it truly saddens me.

I have tried numerous homeopathic and home remedies to no avail. I have altered my diet with no noticeable results. This year, I have finally found an allergist. You would think we would have more than a few to choose from here in wonderland, but for the past few years, there have been but two. Lucky for me, a new allergist joined the team and was accepting new patients, and I was one of them.

For my first appointment we did all the usual stuff and tests were ordered. Off I went for blood work, and a chest x-ray which showed my IgE levels were ripe and ready for me to take a drug called Xolair. I had researched Xolair many years ago for my asthma but I did not have insurance that would help me cover it, and it is spendy. Even now, with insurance, my cost for the first round was $250, and I would need to get an injection every two weeks...youch!

But I'm rambling here. I was anxious about this drug as I need to have an epipen* to take it. One of the side effects could be anaphylactic shock. Oof! I took to the internet to see what other people had experienced but couldn't find anything, which is why I am rambling here. I got my first shot today and thought I would write about what to expect and what was happening to me specifically. So here goes:

For your first injection, you need to be able to wait around afterwards for two hours. My office tells me this is for the first three times. So, I brought two books, and my laptop...go free wifi! They need to mix the drug and let it cure for 30 minutes so you are looking at a visit that will last around three hours, at least. I got there around 9:15 in the morning and was out by noon. No reaction, phew!

My allergist's office does shot clinics so it's all walk in. Luckily there was no one waiting when I got there. They mixed up my very spendy scary medicine and I waited for 30 minutes. They called me in and told me there would be three injections, all on the back of the arm. Two one side, one on the other. The amount of medicine you get would depend on your IgE levels, etc. The shot gal told me that the fluid was thick so it would take a while to inject. Nothing like sitting in an awkward position on a mauve colored chair in a doctor's office as a stranger squeezes at your arm fat to grasp purchase for a needle. It took her a good 15-20 seconds for each injection, and then I was free to hang out in the waiting room.

The chairs in the waiting room were the most uncomfortable things I have set my arse in, in a long time. Once the one other patient vacated the mini sofa, I moved over and settled in. I read one book and played many rounds of Candy Crush Jelly Saga, all the while nervously assessing my breathing. I did have my inhaler, two epi-pens, and a travel mug of water at the ready.

Two hours later, and I was good to go. I've been a bit wheezier than usual but it did rain yesterday and sometimes I respond unpleasantly to the after-rain. My arms sting a little where the injections were given and I have a very unpleasant headache camping out in the noggin. I go back in two weeks for my next round, let's hope all goes well and this headache is a one-time deal.

*My doctor told me that CVS pharmacy has generic epipens. I got a box with two pens for $30 total! Not sure if these would work for kiddos with severe allergies, etc. but it couldn't hurt to check it out as epipens can run around $200 and up!


  1. Krissy7:58 PM

    Hi! I was catching up on your blog tonight and saw this post about starting Xolair. I've also been getting Xolair injections every two weeks. I really related to your story because I was also nervous about starting it, mainly because of the small risk of anaphylaxis. I've been on Xolair since October and am starting to see some improvements though I'm still wheezier than I'd like. Don't get discouraged...they probably told you that it takes 3-6 months to see any changes. Best of luck with it! (And if you have any questions, feel free to ask...I'm certainly no expert but I know sometimes it's nice to have a real person to ask...not just a doctor or pharmaceutical company hotline.)

    1. Hey Krissy and hello fellow XOLAIR user...I am getting my third round tomorrow. Still have to wait two hours after the injection which makes me nervous, of course. My asthma has been out of control this past week. So much wheeze. Thank you for connecting with me! We'll be xolair buddies!

  2. Krissy10:19 PM

    Xolair buddies, indeed! Sorry to hear you've been super wheezy too. I'm sorry, I didn't leave a way for you to contact me if you had questions/needed someone to chat with who is going through a similar experience. Here's my email if you ever want to reach me: or @teawithmilkandhoney on Instagram. I know now after leaving that first comment that you have to approve before they appear here, so if you're ok with it, maybe don't publish this one so that my info is kept private? Thanks, Jessica! All the best.