I had a bit of a harrowing experience on Wednesday.
I was sitting at my desk, working, an hour after coming back from my lunch break, when I felt a little tickle in my throat. Like I had something caught in it. I coughed to try to loosen it up, but it wouldn't go away. I tried drinking some water to see if that would help, but it didn't. Over the span of the next few minutes, the coughing became worse, uncontrollable.
I realized then that my throat was starting to feel tight, and that I couldn't take a full breath. I was talking with Aunt Becky online at the time, so I typed to her:
I think I'm having an allergic reaction.
She urged me to call 911, but I didn't think it was urgent enough for that. It was clear that something was happening, but I wanted to see if we had any Benadryl. Trying to keep myself calm despite not being able to breathe normally, I rummaged around in our medicine cabinet.
The Boss was at work, but I called her anyways. I explained the situation as best I could, trying to breathe evenly. I was only able to take short, half-breaths at this point. The tightness in my throat was worsening, and I was still coughing heavily.
I was starting to feel a little light-headed, and I knew that I had to do something, and soon. It would take about 20 minutes for The Boss to leave work, pick up the Benadryl and get home; I knew I wouldn't make it that long. I could call 911 like Becky advised, but even in as bad a shape as I was then, I was stubborn, and refused.
There is a Rite-Aid pharmacy less than an 1/8th of a mile up the road, but walking there was out of the question. Just walking across my apartment made me short of breath. I'd have to drive.
I grabbed my keys and made my way slowly down to my truck. I tried to force myself to breathe through my nose to try to keep things under control. I could feel the panic starting to edge its way in. Still feeling light-headed, I cautiously pulled out of the parking lot and headed towards the pharmacy.
I was wheezing by the time I got there, about a minute later.
I stumbled inside and grabbed a bottle of water from the coolers in the back. I shuffled over to the aisle where the Benadryl was, grabbed a package and ripped it open. I popped a pill out through the foil backing and gulped it down, right there in the middle of the store, not having paid for anything yet.
There happened to be a store associate in the aisle next to me. He looked up at me with wide eyes, shocked.
"Are you okay?"
I pulled the water bottle from my lips and gasped, "I should be okay now," gesturing with the open box of Benadryl.
He followed me to the registers up front, the wide-eyed expression never leaving his face. I paid quickly and left, leaving a frightened-looking cashier behind me. I imagine they talked about me for a few minutes after I was gone, wondering what was wrong with me.
When I got home a few minutes later, the wheezing and coughing were fading. My throat was still tight, but I felt like I was starting to be able to catch my breath. I took another pill just to be safe. Within 15 minutes time, I was mostly back to normal. Within 30 minutes of that second dose, I was drowsy, the unfortunate but welcome sign that the Benadryl was working.
I've thought long and hard about it since this happened on Wednesday, but I have no idea what could have caused the allergic reaction. Until this happened, I had never had an allergic reaction before, to anything, in my life. It had been an hour since I had eaten anything, so I know it wasn't likely a food allergy (and I hadn't eaten anything outside of the normal, anyways). It's possible that I was bitten or stung by a spider or something, but I didn't feel anything, nor do I have any bite or sting marks.
To say the very least, it was a frightening experience. It scared the piss out of both The Boss and Aunt Becky, not to mention myself. For the record, I would have called 911 if I had thought it was bad enough. I'm stubborn, yes, but not stupid.
Take this story as a public service announcement of sorts, to always have Benadryl or some type of antihistamine in your home. You never know when you'll need it.