Sunday, September 21, 2008

Elementary, My Dear Starbucks

I had a great time on my trip to northern California, but encountered a bit of a health issue along the way -- hives! A few weeks before I left on my trip a small patch of welts showed up the left side of my neck. Annoying, but not intense. I left on my trip Sunday and by Monday when I arrived at my first speaking engagement, the welts had gotten worse.

Monday night, I slathered myself in cortisone cream and went to bed wondering what could be the problem. I did a mental check list: what lotions, soaps, etc. had I changed in the past few weeks? The only thing that came to my mind as a possible culprit was makeup. I had changed my brand of makeup in the past couple of weeks. That could be it. Maybe.

Tuesday morning the welts were better, but by the time I started to get ready to speak at the San Mateo Legal Secretaries Association, my neck was in full blown hives again, which was difficult to hide in a v-neck dress. The next morning, after a quick cup of coffee with the Boghossians, I left for home feeling slightly ill and still covered with hives. I made a pit stop along the way for breakfast and gas, and another about an hour outside of LA for a pumpkin spice latte.

By the time I reached LA, my face was numb, my lips tingly and I wanted to floss my neck with barbed wire. I was also nauseous as hell. What the #$@& was going on? I went to bed as soon as I got home.

Thursday I felt iffy about going to work, but went in. I only lasted a half day because as the day went on my eyes got redder and puffier, my neck welts (which had quieted down during the night) were in full blown glory. I went home by way of the drug store for some Benedryl. The drugs helped, but I stayed home on Friday. By Friday night the welts were almost gone and my face and mouth were no longer tingly. Yay!

Feeling so much better, I met my friend Miles Holliman for breakfast on Saturday at the Spitfire Grill. We lallygagged on their patio for close to three hours, eating great food, sipping lots of great coffee, and catching up on each other's lives.

Welcome to weltsville! Within an hour or so of leaving the Spirtfire Grill, my neck, eyes, face and lips were itchy, puffy, and swollen worse than ever, and I was back on my sofa swallowing Benedryl.

Okay, now here's the part where my background as a mystery author comes in.

I wrote down everything I remembered eating and drinking since I left for my trip. It had to be a food allergy. I hadn't worn makeup since Tuesday night. And it had to be something I consumed on a fairly regular basis. It boiled down to COFFEE! I don't drink coffee at home. I drink herbal tea at home. But I drink coffee every day at work and when I go out with friends. While on my trip, I drank coffee every day throughout the day, and even slurped down several cups of espresso. Friday, I was home - coffeeless - and the hives improved. Saturday I sucked down at least 4-5 cups of coffee with Miles and had a major breakout. You see a pattern here?

So now I'm trying an experiment. I'm going cold turkey on the coffee. None at work. None in restaurants. Nada. Let's see if the hives improve. If not, it's back to square one and a trip to the doctor, but I'm fairly certain I've narrowed down my problem. I even did some online research and found this to be a fairly common allergy.

The new question is, is it coffee I may be allergic to or caffeine? If it's caffeine, I'm in deep doo doo. After all, chocolate contains a lot of caffeine. Yikes!

Why can't I be allergic to something like nicotine or okra? Something I don't give a rat's ass about.


Diana said...

Hey, don't knock Okra!!

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that caffeine is not the culprit. Good luck with the experimenta-tion!

Anonymous said...

Oh geez! I hope that isn't in our genes ;-)

Hope you're feeling better!!

Miles said...

I'm just hoping you're welt-free soon -- and that this has nothing to do with me.