Tuesday, June 30, 2009
My Hives (Postpartum Hives)
PLEASE VISIT MY OTHER BLOG: postpartumhives.blogspot.com
Since May 17, a little over two weeks since my adorable baby boy was born, I've been suffering (and I mean really suffering) from hives. They are full body break outs. I hate them. They are painful, itchy, and everywhere. I've been taking 24 hour Clariton and Benadryl (not at the same time) but neither are completely effective, but while taking them they are at least some what livable with.
Last week we arranged for me to go see an Allergist. I've already seen our local doctor twice on the matter and he can do anything for me, he suggested I go see an Allergist. Hard part is there are no Allergy Doctors in Sierra Vista and I had to make a trip to Tucson to see the doctor. Also I had to go off the Clariton in order to be tested, and off the Benadryl for the last 24 hours before seeing the doctor. With nothing in my system there is nothing to control my hives and I was having full body break outs. The pictures attached to this blog were taken the morning of the appointment with the Allergist, and this isn't even my worst break out. The worst part of the whole experience is the Allergist didn't do testing because I had some hives at that time (eventhough none were on my back where they were going to do the testing). I understand why he didn't test me, if I am so sensitive there's a chance of a lot of false positives. He didn't want to do a blood allergy test (he just doesn't do them). He doesn't know what is wrong with me. He seemed sceptical that it might have something to do with me having a baby recently. Now I feel I must take a moment to explain my background. My BS is in Molecular Biology, my emphasis would be in immunology. After graduating college I worked in a blood allergy lab in Tempe. We determined what people (mostly dogs, cats, and horses) are allergic to by testing to see what they have antibodies to. I did that for 2 years. Immunolgy is a BIG part of my education and my education has taught me that there is something going on in my immune system and it is highly likely to have something to do with the fact that I had a tramatic body experience ie having a baby- I know doctors have a lot of educations but they don't know and remember everything. The Allergist also wanted to put me on a bunch of medications that would cause me to have to stop nursing my baby. I tried to make it clear to my doctor that stopping nursing was not what I wanted to do and it really upset me because his response summed up said that nursing was a luxary. I do NOT beleive that nursing is a luxary but a prioity, and I didn't like that he dismissed my theory on my hives. I had a friend in Florida (from where I served my mission) tell me she had the same experierence after each of her children, hives and the doctors couldn't tell her why. They did all sorts of tests and after the last child finally decided that she is allergic to herself and the condition is flaired up by having a baby. They would try to control it with medication and eventually the hives would go away on their own about 6 months after they started. It got me thinking, I did some internet searches on 'postpartum hives'. I found story after story of woment who are have been or are in the same situation my friend and I are- hives started after giving birth and the doctors have no idea why. Now we have to decide what we are going to do. Are we going to stop nursing and try the meds or not do the meds and live with the hives. Its a tough choice. But one thing I do know, that when I go back to school to receive my Masters I want to do reseach on what in our immune systems caused postpartum hives.
Baby Al is now 6 months old. My hives haven't gone away yet. I am still living with them. The difference is we have found medications that work for me. Benadryl and Clariton gave me some relief but it didn't last. The doctor prescribed Zyrtec for me and I was upset because the box says 'do not take if breastfeeding'. The allergist said that it isn't any worse as a chemical compound than Benadryl would be, it just isn't as tested because its newer. I brought up the concern with my family doctor, and our Pediatrician- all three gave me the same answer (my OB would not participate in a discussion because I was no longer pregnant and referred me back to my family doctor). The allergist also prescribed a heavy allergy med called Hydroxyzine HCL to take at night on days when it has been really bad. This too I was told was no worse than Benadryl, just might make him sleepier as it makes me sleepier. These by themselves have not been enough. In addition I also have a nasal spray. Allergy testing showed that I have allergic to a lot of environmental things. Even if my hives are been caused my hormonal changes, they can be worsened by environmental factors or food allergens. We have used this information to try to limit the effects of my environment. I am now at a point where I can live with my hives. I am miserable if I forget to take my meds for even one day, but at least I can function now. I still hope to feel "normal" one day and be off of my meds, but "normal" changes after having a baby. For all of you out there that are suffering from postpartum hives, I feel your pain. Talk to your doctors. Don't give up until you find something that works for you. I spoke with one lady that was convinced it was the breast milk hormone. She then proceeded to pump constantly until she had a stash of a year supply of breast milk for her baby, then stopped nursing, and her hives went away. Maybe someday we'll learn what is the real culprit here. Maybe when I go back to school for my Masters and Doctorate I will do my thesis research in postpartum hives, but until then don't give up, there are things out there that can help. Good luck and God bless.
I have started a blog to create a place where all of us suffering from this problem can share our experiences. Please check it out. I will be updating on my status there from now on. postpartumhives.blogspot.com
please let any of your friends and family who have suffered from postpartum hives know about this blog. And please share with me your experiences and stories.