file under “good to know”

So about that penicillin allergy .. yeah, I’m still totally allergic to penicillin.

Also, stupid. I’m very stupid. Can’t forget that.

Timeline: I was prescribed Amoxicillin for my strep throat. It worked wonders on me, and I was feeling better a few days into the medication. I finished up the meds I was given (albeit a little slower than recommended – I am not good at medicine) and continued about my merry way, until the strep came back a week or so later. This time, I was prescribed straight-up penicillin to flush it out of my system; a heavy dosage meant to kick germs to the curb as soon as possible.

During this time, I dealt with the other crap the end of 2014 had decided to dole out to me: a cough that wouldn’t go away, waking up every morning at 4am to bolt to the bathroom and noisily throw up nothing at all (or my favourite, nothing at all but bile and chunks of phlegm), chest rattling so loud it kept me awake every night until around 3am, at which point I’d get an hour of sleep before the barfing started, and a mysterious itch along both forearms that could not be soothed. I’ve managed to get all of these issues under control, save for the last one: I’m itchy all the goddamn time, and nothing helps.

I assumed it was just my annual winter skin freakout, so I went about treating my forearms in the usual ways: moisturizing to combat dry skin, antihistamines to control the itch, even more antihistamines to knock me out at night so I don’t scratch in my sleep, swearing, etc. Nothing helped. It wasn’t until last night at Friendmas during a conversation with my favourite Yunn that two and two were put together: the itching I’m experiencing is probably a reaction to the penicillin, to which I was allergic to once upon a time*.


Suddenly, everything made sense. Some quick Googling has shown that I am most likely experiencing a common side effect to the various forms of penicillin I’ve been ingesting, which is a horrible non-stop itch with no accompanying rash (thank dog) that starts several days after you stop taking the medication. Everything lines up perfectly, although I’m highly concerned about what comes next: this itching started after the Amoxicillin, but before the penicillin. I’ve already dug a hole in my arm from all the scratching, and both arms are covered in bruises and tiny scabs. In short, I’m a hot mess. A busty, itchy, hot mess.

I’m thrilled that the strep throat seems to be under control, but I would love for this itching to stop. I look like a junkie, with the clear discomfort and constant scratching and nervous twitching (which is only because I have not yet had any caffeine today).

*: A long, long time ago, it was written into my file that I’m allergic to penicillin. I assume this was from when I was a baby, and when my tail was removed. However, I’d never experienced the allergy – I just went by a decades-old note in a file somewhere. I asked about it once, and was told that “these things go away” so I was probably fine to take penicillin if I needed it. Strep throat seemed like a really good reason to need it, so I just went with the flow .. only to find out that no, I’m still pretty (mildly) allergic to it. I got lucky this time.


murder by death

What do all of these things have in common?

They all tried to KILL ME DEAD in London.

I’ve never had any problems with breathing or using my lungs – they’ve always been top notch. Air goes in, air goes out. I have a system, and it’s never failed me before.

At night, while trying to sleep, I noticed my chest rattling a little like it does at the tail end of a cold. I didn’t have a cold or cough, so I thought maybe it was the pollution in the air and tried to ignore it. After all, everything was fine! Nothing to worry about!

.. except for that Thursday night I COULDN’T BREATHE. I couldn’t take a full breath, and when I lay down on the bed, my chest would rattle like a car 20 years past the replacement date. I wasn’t getting enough air, the sound coming from my air hole was terrifying, and my lungs were full of fluid. I tried multiple times to relax and ignore it, but the instant I was horizontal, the game began again: no breathing. Bad noises. Fluid. Panic.

After an hour of this, I woke Ed up. I was in full blown freak out, and couldn’t calm down (which didn’t help the breathing thing). I didn’t necessarily think that Ed was going to be able to dry up all the extra fluid in my lungs, but it helped to have someone else awake and making sure I was still alive. He could hear my chest rattle from across the room, and we tried a number of different things to ease the pressure on my chest .. no go. Eventually, we drugged me up with Benedryl, which eased the symptoms somewhat and I passed out. I managed to sleep until morning, but the same can’t be said for Ed who stayed up all night to make sure I didn’t stop breathing. Aww!

The following day, everything seemed fine. I knew something was going on though, and Heather and Renee forced me to track down a doctor. I’ve never had to look for a doctor overseas, and was pretty resistant to the idea – the only way they could get me to go was to promise I could visit the Greenwich Market after my lungs were looked at. We walked all over Greenwich trying to find a pharmacist (who couldn’t help me because I’ve never had an inhaler or any kind of breathing issues before) and eventually a clinic of sorts – a Polish medical office that was the most Polish thing ever. The doctor I saw had to ask me to repeat my air saga multiple times, because I talked too fast and had a weird accent. She listened to me breathe for a long time, but couldn’t hear anything because my lungs are fucking jerks – but I was obviously in distress, so she wrote me a prescription for an inhaler and sent me to the pharmacy. Success! The visit cost me £70, which wasn’t nearly as bad as I had feared (plus we have insurance so I’ll get reimbursed eventually), and the inhaler was £8. I would pay that much to be able to breathe.

Things never got nearly as bad as that night I had to wake Ed up, but I still needed to use the inhaler a bunch of times throughout the trip. This was my first trip to London in the summer, and all those wildflower gardens I love so much generate an IMPERIAL SHIT TONNE of pollen. Throw in the increased air pollution, and .. Kimli can’t breathe. Hooray! I got asthma for my birthday! Second worst present ever.

I was hoping that once I got home to Vancouver I’d be free from breathing problems, but yesterday I had to use the inhaler: I couldn’t breathe. And umm I coughed up pink stuff in the shower. I should *probably* go to the doctor to find out what the fuck .. but I survived London trying to kill me, just as Ed survived a death attempt by the Eiffel Tower (heatstroke is a biiiiiiiitch).

I’m still going back to London, though. Pollen will not stop me from moving there.

Oh, and the Mona Lisa tried to kill me with crowds of idiots taking selfies – I was getting crushed and panicky, and had to be rescued by museum staff. And in the Tate, an old lady tried to glare me to death when she thought I was trying to take a free seat at the counter. I wasn’t – I just wanted to take a picture of the epic view. I’m a survivor!