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Posted by MacManKrisK (Member # 955) on August 23, 2009, 09:06:
 
(or, "why we need national healthcare")

I have an allergy to red 40. You know, the red food dye that's in... oh... EVERYTHING! I found out about it when I was helping my friend Miles clean his apartment and move about three years ago. I drank too much Faygo Redpop and broke out in hives and started itching and didn't stop until I took some Benadryl. A few months later I drank too much Hawaiian Punch at a White Castle in Michigan City, IN and broke out in hives again. Another Benadryl and it was okay. The thing is, I can have a little red 40, like a handful of twizzlers, just not a lot, like a whole bag. I never realized how serious this allergy is, I thought it just made me itch, but now I know that I can't ever be without Benadryl.

Yesterday afternoon, I had some blueberry waffles with Maryanne. We made them out of Blueberry pancake mix. I need to start reading labels better because it turns out that those little blue specs in the mix contain red 40, lots and lots of red 40! After brunch and lazing the day away we made our way into Ann Arbor. Simple plan: dinner, then to Pinball Petes, and then Bubble Island after.

We were shooting pool at Pinball Petes when I started itching. I didn't think much of it because I knew I hadn't eaten anything red all day. And then I started itching more, and more.. and more. After our second game of pool, I ran out of Pinball Petes and practically ripped my shirt off my body and started scratching any exposed skin I could reach. That's when Maryanne saw the hives all over my body. By this point I had been itching for about 35 minutes.

I didn't have any Benadryl on me, so we went into Bubble Island (I put my shirt back on), and asked where there was a drug store nearby. We ran to the drug store and got there *just* as they closed, so we wound up going to a liquor store and buying some Benadryl. By now I've been itching for about 40 minutes and it's just getting worse and worse. I'm sure the lady at the counter at the liquor store thought I was on drugs or something because I opened the bottle even before I paid for it and took one and I was twitching and shaking like an addict.

After we left the liquor store and I pulled my shirt back off we jumped back in the bus and drove to Maryanne's house. I itched and scratched the whole way so much to the point where I have raw spots on my skin this morning. I was desperate to take a shower to help ease the itching until the Benadryl kicked in so I ran to the bathroom and ripped off my clothes on the way.

As I turned the corner into the bathroom I suddenly felt very weak, my vision dimmed and blurred and I heard a low rumbling in my ears, and when I got to the bathroom sink I fell to my knees in front of it. According to Maryanne she herd two thuds, one when I landed on my knees and the other when I passed out and landed flat on my back on her bathroom floor.

Maryanne said I was out cold for at least 30 seconds, my eyes were spinning around in my head and I wasn't responding. When I came to she asked me who I was, who she was, where I was, and I was able to respond correctly, but I was not able to get up off the floor. She asked me if she should call 911 and before I said "yes" the first thought in my barely-conscious mind was "I can't afford an ambulance ride!!" My actual response was more wishy-washy, a meek "that might not be a bad idea" was less then the resounding "yes" that I should have answered her with, but I couldn't get past the idea of having to pay the bill for the ambulance, not to mention the ER. In the end, we didn't call...

Around that point I realized I needed to pee and did not want to do so all over myself. I attempted to stand up to pee, but very quickly realized that wasn't going to happen, so I sat down on the toilet instead. I think I sat there for about 25 minutes in all. In the meantime, Maryanne took my blood pressure and it was so low that her machine wouldn't even read it. I was seeing spots before my eyes and it felt like my head was in an echo chamber. At one point my vision became so poor that Maryanne looked like a cartoon: I could see the shape of her face, and her features were shapes, her skintone was as if someone had colored her with a tan colored crayon. She gave me a glass of water and told me to drink it very slowly, which I did. I closed my eyes and breathed deep and slow and prayed... I prayed so hard... I prayed harder than I had ever before. I felt so close to death and was so scared. Maryanne said that I was so pale that I was almost white.

After about 25 minutes, my vision was back to normal and my right foot was falling asleep from sitting on the toilet. I wanted to move to the couch where I could lie down, so I told Maryanne my intentions and she warned me that I was still going to be weak. I stood up as slowly as I could and when I did my vision dimmed again. Maryanne helped me... practically carried me.. to the couch where I lay down. Once I was horizontal, I felt better.

After a half-hour on the couch, the Benadryl finally kicked in and I overwhelmingly wanted to sleep. Maryanne took my blood pressure again and it was fairly normal so we decided that it was safe.

I have no real conclusion to this story... but that was a very scary evening...
 
Posted by dragonman97 (Member # 780) on August 23, 2009, 10:15:
 
Two things:
1. I know it would've sucked the big one, but medical assistance probably would've been a good idea.
2. Not sure if you're aware of this, but /liquid/ Benadryl (labelled as Children's Benadryl) is your best bet for allergic reactions as it acts faster (the full dose is absorbed faster than a pill, I think). At least that's what an allergist told me. (I /used/ to be allergic to bee stings.)

and thing #3:
Terribly sorry you went through such an ordeal. [Frown] I hope you're feeling /much/ better now. [Smile]

P.S. Why the hell isn't your employer giving you medical benefits?
 
Posted by MacManKrisK (Member # 955) on August 23, 2009, 12:49:
 
Dragonman: I only work part-time so I don't get insruance. I am feeling much better now, thank you. The ironic part of this is that Benadryl contains... red 40!
 
Posted by The Famous Druid (Member # 1769) on August 23, 2009, 13:37:
 
Frak. [Eek!]

When people talk about a brush with death, they're usually exaggerating, but that sounds like The Real Thing.

Glad you made it through ok, but you were lucky, next time call a frakkin' doctor, and worry about the bill later.

/me wonders how many Americans die every year because they couldn't afford to call a doctor. Could explain the 3 year life-expectancy difference between USA and Canada.

[edit]
See info here and here about Benadryl's possible side-effects.
quote:
highlights of the side-effects list:
Disturbed coordination,
dizziness,
sleepiness,
Anaphylactic shock (extreme allergic reaction),
blurred vision,
confusion,
low blood pressure,
nausea,
ringing in the ears,
vertigo
tingling or numbness of the hands and feet

Maybe the Benadryl was part of the problem?

I know the internet is the source of all wisdom, but you really should talk to a doctor about this.
 
Posted by Xanthine (Member # 736) on August 23, 2009, 14:43:
 
TFD, I don't think there's an EMT in the US who hasn't had at least one patient beg for a sign-off because they couldn't afford the trip. And if they're conscious, alert, and oriented, the EMTs have to let them...even if they're being very very stupid.

quote:
Originally posted by dragonman97:

2. Not sure if you're aware of this, but /liquid/ Benadryl (labelled as Children's Benadryl) is your best bet for allergic reactions as it acts faster (the full dose is absorbed faster than a pill, I think). At least that's what an allergist told me. (I /used/ to be allergic to bee stings.)

Paramedics have said the same thing. Also, the first line allergy drug ambulance crews give in injected Benadryl, even for anaphylactic shock if they arrive before things have gone too pear-shaped. The epi comes out only if the Benadryl isn't working. Oddly enough, I've seen Benadryl work miracles and never seen epinephrine do shit. I think there's a lesson in that.

MMKK, I'm glad you're still with us. Now that you've seen the void, how about you keep a bottle of Benadryl handy from now on? And, uh, maybe consider calling 911 next time. The bills are awful, but you almost traded your life for them and that's a bit fucked up.
 
Posted by Snaggy (Member # 123) on August 23, 2009, 14:49:
 
oh man!

Glad you are better!

/me wonders how many Americans die every year because they couldn't afford to call a doctor.

I know of one instance a couple of weeks ago where a young woman died because of that exact reason. [Frown]


(I talked to a Yank at a party last night, his family moved up to Canada a year ago because they liked Vancouver Island so much. They went from spending over $700 US a month on insurance to $140 loonies on health care.)

MM, next time, (hopefully there is no next time) please take Druid's advice, or please move to Canada ASAP!!!
 
Posted by TheMoMan (Member # 1659) on August 23, 2009, 15:53:
 
____ Poop MMKK As an old ParaMedic, real parachutes, you were in fact at deaths door, don't go there again, next time they may hear your knock. On allergies usually each reaction is more severe than the previous, go to a pill pusher or health clinic and find out what drug works best for you. As for Red 40 that crap is in damn near everything. You have to read all labels and stay away from that crap.

____ I wish you well, I really do, some times life is not very fair. Do an internet search on red 40 and find out what it is not in, that shall become your new diet.
 
Posted by Grummash (Member # 4289) on August 23, 2009, 16:56:
 
Bloody Hell! - That was a very close call. I'm glad you have recovered and were able to tell us about it.

I understand not wanting emergency treatment because of the cost - if you fall in the street it might seem reasonable to refuse the ambulance ride, as you can call 911 later if a bad concussion develops.

But severe allergic reactions don't come with thinking-time built in. You may only remain conscious long enough to call the Paramedics, so worrying about the cost is wasting precious time.

Which is the better option - being alive with a bill you don't know how to pay, or being dead with your bank balance unaffected?

There are lots of us who would want you stick around a while longer - don't disappoint us! [Wink]
 
Posted by DoctorWho (Member # 392) on August 23, 2009, 17:05:
 
quote:
Originally posted by MacManKrisK:
Dragonman: I only work part-time so I don't get insruance. I am feeling much better now, thank you. The ironic part of this is that Benadryl contains... red 40!

They do make dye free Benadryl. Get some and keep it on you just in case MMKK. We like you hanging around here.
 
Posted by macmcseboy (Member # 1232) on August 23, 2009, 18:23:
 
MMKK That is one holy horseshoe you've got up yer arse. Glad you are OK and still with us. Consider keeping more than just Benadryl in your kit. I would suggest an epipen seeing as red 40 is rather prolific in usage, but I am no expert.

Stay strong and be careful out thar!
 
Posted by Zwilnik (Member # 615) on August 23, 2009, 18:58:
 
The ER part of US healthcare is something that's freaked me out before. In the UK with the NHS, we're used to the fact that if it's an emergency you call an ambulance and they come and take you straight into hospital even if a paramedic is part of the crew.

So when we were in LA for E3 a few years ago and a guy on our shuttle bus started having breathing difficulties, chest pains and all the general "he might be having a heart attack" type effects. His friend rang 911. and got a hold message! (we all ended up ringing 911 until I was the lucky one that got through and got the call placed for the ambulance to get to the bus).

When the paramedics got to us, they assessed the guy, said it was *probably* just dehydration and they could take him into hospital for a full checkup, but they'd recommend just having a lie down so as to avoid all the fuss and the bills.

So a major consideration in a US emergency response crew is "will our patient be able to afford treatment or end up worse of because of it". Which is plain crazy!

In the UK. Any sort of heart attack symptoms that emergency crews are called out too are taken to hospital. Just in case, as you don't have to worry about how much it costs.

There's a minor downside to everyone getting emergency care as a right. People have a horrible habit of calling 999 or rushing to Casualty when it's not an emergency. So a degree of triage can end up going on (don't expect to see a doctor in the next couple of hours if you've just cut your finger and the waiting room is full).

Oh, and glad you're still with us! Might be worth keeping an emergency pack of that red free benedryl on you or in the VW Bus [Smile]
 
Posted by Xanthine (Member # 736) on August 23, 2009, 19:50:
 
First of all, the LA EMS is a notorious mess and there's not much else to say about it. Second, they weren't just worried about bills; they were worrying about crowding up already over-crowded ERs. An ER can't turn anyone away so uninsured folks will use the ER as their primary source of care. This causes problems.

All of that aside, that's pretty nuts and it wouldn't have happened where I used to ride. We took a more British approach to chest pain calls, even if we strongly suspected it was bullshit. It would, however, sometimes happen that a patient would refuse transport and care because they couldn't afford it. If they were competent to refuse, we had to honor the refusal...so long as they couldn't be persuaded. And some paramedics have some pretty intense force of personality going. They say "You're going," and the patient just couldn't argue.
 
Posted by dragonman97 (Member # 780) on August 23, 2009, 21:45:
 
TFD: That sounds like any other drug. [Wink]

But seriously...Benadryl is good stuff against allergic reactions. It helped me stay amongst the land of the living a few times as a kid (see 'previously allergic to bee stings' above), so I have no complaints. Of course, if there's an issue with the dye, that's an slightly different story (I'd like to hope that the diphenhydramine would counter it...).
 
Posted by Stibbons (Member # 2515) on August 24, 2009, 04:21:
 
Shiiit MMK, as an allergy sufferer that scares me witless (and thankful for the NHS!). I second (third, fourth, whatever) all the "carry more Benadryl* and a couple of Epipens" comments. But with allergies, please don't mess around and call 911 - as said, you can always refuse transport if they assess you and you're on the road to recovery.

On a more self-medication train of thought, yeah, I've always found liquid anti-histamines (we use chlorphenamine - Piriton) are absorbed much faster than the tablet, so it's worth digging some syrup rather than tablets to stick in your bag and on the truck. And get some Epipens! They're lifesavers (voice of experience as treater and treated) in the direst of allergic reactions, especially if you train those around you how to use them.

* It always confuses me that the US persist in using brand named drugs when generics exist for a much lower price. But then, that's another issue with the US healthcare system...
 
Posted by fs (Member # 1181) on August 25, 2009, 01:04:
 
quote:
Originally posted by Stibbons:
* It always confuses me that the US persist in using brand named drugs when generics exist for a much lower price. But then, that's another issue with the US healthcare system...

I don't think that's actually the case. We often refer to it by its brand name, but what's actually sitting on the medicine cabinet shelf could just as likely be something with "the same active ingredients as Benedryl."

Which is another thought, MMKK. Check and see if some of the off-brands come without red 40. And I sympathize with attempt to avoid the ubiquitous red. E120 isn't vegetarian friendly (for those that consider bugs to be animals, anyway). And it's in freakin' everything--it's used for some yellows and oranges too.
 
Posted by Stibbons (Member # 2515) on August 25, 2009, 03:48:
 
quote:
Originally posted by fs:
I don't think that's actually the case. We often refer to it by its brand name, but what's actually sitting on the medicine cabinet shelf could just as likely be something with "the same active ingredients as Benedryl."

That makes more sense. It always takes me a moment when watching US tv shows/movies and they refer to Tylenol or some such for my brain to go "ah, they mean paracetamol/acetaminophen" (or similar).

But then, there's the whole "wow, they had it as a generic and it was half the price!" that I keep hearing about from American friends (and on here), whereas in the UK you get the generic rather than the brand if one exists by default (because it's cheaper for the pharmacy). I guess it comes down to big pharma being able to market direct to the patients in the US, and so people remember the brand rather than the actual drug.
 
Posted by Stibbons (Member # 2515) on August 25, 2009, 04:29:
 
quote:
Originally posted by Zwilnik:
There's a minor downside to everyone getting emergency care as a right. People have a horrible habit of calling 999 or rushing to Casualty when it's not an emergency. So a degree of triage can end up going on (don't expect to see a doctor in the next couple of hours if you've just cut your finger and the waiting room is full).

That is slowly changing. There are now more and more pathways becoming available for EMS in the UK to use so we don't have to convey to hospital, such as Emergency Care Practitioners/Paramedic Practitioners who can deal with minor injuies and illnesses, GPs and Out Of Hours GPs who can be called in, direct transport to Minor Injury Units, falls teams, etc. Even the "Cat C desk" where low priority calls can get triaged at control, and a nurse/paramedic sees whether an alternative pathway can be used without even sending a van. In hopsital they're starting to do something similar, with OOH GPs and Emergency Nurse Practitioners treating and streeting the minor issues and so freeing up the Emergency Department to deal with the serious illnesses and injuries.

By doing this, everyone wins. The hospital and more ambulances are available for appropriately sick people, the patient's aren't put at the same risk of hospital acquired infections, and road users aren't put at risk by 3-4 tonne vans hurtling around.
 
Posted by Zwilnik (Member # 615) on August 25, 2009, 08:15:
 
quote:
Originally posted by Stibbons:
[
By doing this, everyone wins. The hospital and more ambulances are available for appropriately sick people, the patient's aren't put at the same risk of hospital acquired infections, and road users aren't put at risk by 3-4 tonne vans hurtling around. [/QB]

Very true. The more people know about the optional services where they are the better it will be. The 45467 NHS helpline for instance has been very handy for me in the past, either giving advice on symptoms that can be self treated or advising to actually call 999 for a particularly nasty kidney stone incident.
 
Posted by Aditu (Member # 2340) on August 26, 2009, 09:49:
 
I am so glad that you are okay. Most hospitals will work out a payment plan. Please call next time!!!!!!!!
 
Posted by Mr. Geek 2U (Member # 28663) on August 26, 2009, 17:32:
 
MacManKrisK,

Hello, you lived. Congratualtion!

Good thing your brush with death was only that and not a paint roller with death, and the paint did not have red dye #40!

I almost made the comment that your medicine has the dreaded dye, but I see you know that.

Just to be sure, I think you should carry some of that medicine in your hippie bus at all times.

"Driving that Train, High on Benadryl" doesn't have the same ring, but it will keep you alive. Yes sir-ee.

Oh and Mr. Druid-thread-jacker-antipodean-health-care-bragger-thank-you-very-much. You may have better health care but you don't have our Red(dye #40)necks like we have in this country!

They are a hoot! And you know what they say? Laughter is the best medicine, unless you need benadryl.

Mr. Geek 2U
 
Posted by Aditu (Member # 2340) on August 27, 2009, 07:25:
 
Just remember not to go over your monthly limit too. LOL We have to sign at the pharmacy for a lot of that stuff now. You only get so many boxes and then they think you are a meth lab. Or is is sudafed that you have to sign for? hmmm
 
Posted by TMBWITW,PB (Member # 1734) on August 27, 2009, 07:47:
 
It's Sudafed. The real stuff (pseudoephedrine) anyway. There's a new version that you don't need to see the pharmacist to get, but it hardly does anything.
 
Posted by MacManKrisK (Member # 955) on August 27, 2009, 18:52:
 
I've already answered dman, so I shall move first to TFD:

I highly doubt the Benadryl caused any issue. I suspect that by ignoring the warning signs of my allergic overdose (hives, itchies, etc [something I will *NEVER* ignore again!]) for too long that the reaction moved onto the next level before the Benadryl kicked in and stopped it.

Xantine: I will always carry Benadryl with me from now on, now that I know how very serious this is. I don't anticipate there being a 'next time."

Snaggy: I know for a fact that the neighbor lady that lived across the street from me when I was growing up died prematurely (at age 71) because of medical complications that she ignored for far too long because she didn't have insurance. Very very sad, she was a true saint on Earth.

MoMan: I'm reading labels now. It's in *everything*!

Grummash: Yes, yes, I know.. I know...

DoctorWho: Dye-free would be good, but I think the antihistamine cancels out the dye that's in the pill. It is rather ironic, though.

macmcseboy: Thank you for the well wishes.

Zwilnik: The entire US healthcare system is a fucking mess. Making people healthy should *not* be a for-profit, business-driven enterprise.

Stibbons: Yeah, I'm new to the whole world of allergies. I wasn't allergic to *anything* until a few years ago. This episode scared the crap out of me, though. Oh, and as fs explained, I'm calling it Benadryl because I find that easier to type and remember than Dipi... whatever. For the record: even though I was itching and freaking out a little, I took a second to price-check the generic and do the math to figure out that I was getting twice the product for half the price; and so *did* buy the store-brand generic.

fs: All the generics want to look like Benadryl so they all have bloody red 40 in them. [Frown]

Aditu: Thank you for the well-wishes.

Mr. Geek 2U: "High on Benadryl" indeed. I don't think I'll be doing much driving with it in my body as it tends to put me to sleep.

Thanks to everybody for all the well-wishes and concern. [Happytears]

This incident really freaked me the fsck out. I never realized how serious this was until now, I just thought I got itchy. I'm glad Maryanne was there to keep me responding and to know what to do otherwise I probably wouldn't have made it. [ohwell]

I'm being good and reading all my labels now. Red 40 is in almost everything. [shake head]
 
Posted by geekygoddess (Member # 15702) on August 27, 2009, 19:17:
 
Mac...wow..how scary!
I am glad you are ok.This is apparently fairly common. A girl who works on campus with me is highly allergic as well and she ate a purple sucker and that was all she wrote...she swelled up like a blowfish! Please be careful, scary stuff:(
 


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