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Posts Tagged ‘allergies’

Moving. Moving on.

Moving There are many moments in life in which we all experience transitions and changes. Some are good, some are bad. In most cases, I think many are just a mixed bag. As for me, I’m looking forward to my move, both in the physical literal sense and in the more esoteric emotional and psychological fronts. I want to close several chapters and my life and starting anew, beginning with my move.

I’d like October to be over ASAP. I’m starting to hate this month. When we bought this house 9 years ago in Oct. 2003, I wasn’t here to pick out this house or sign the papers because I had flown back to Houston to take care of my mom, who had endometrial cancer. Two years later, on her 55th birthday, Oct. 24, my mother died. Needless to say, October has been an especially tough month for me since her passing. Now hubby and I are selling this house and no aspect of the process hasn’t been easy. This October has been much harder than usual with everything else that’s transpired. Life has thrown me many difficult obstacles in the last 15-16 months…more than I could reasonably handle, but I think I did an okay job. All of them overlapped one another and the hurdles seemed never-ending. The top 3 in order of their occurrence:

  1. Hubby and I decided to split. We married in 2001. Things just weren’t working and I think we’re both happier now, but the way in which it happened was really messed up. I won’t go into all the personal details, but I felt very devalued and disrespected. It’s not the kind of news you want to tell your parents, so it took me a while to tell them. I didn’t want my dad to feel worry, disappointment or shame for me, especially since it’s not that culturally acceptable, even though my parents divorced when I was 15. My dad was none of those, except concerned, as all parents are. My sister’s reaction was surprisingly funny: “Are you okay?” Yes. “Oh good!” I feel a weight has been lifted. “Yay!!! Since you’re ok, I guess I should tell you then…” Tell me what? “Well…[boyfriend] and I have been plotting to breaking you up for years.” WHAT?!? “You deserve better! I know it was so hard being with [him]….I had this idea that you should be with some sort of artist, like a metal sculpture artist.” Apparently she had been fantasizing about setting me up with a variety of people.
  2. UntitledMy allergy/ immune issues got worse than ever and 80-90% of my body flared up for more than 9-10 months. I looked like a red boiled lobster stung by 100,000 bees. It was gross. To keep my skin from cracking, I had to moisturize several times an hour with straight oil and chemical-free lotion bars I made. I even wrapped myself in plastic wrap. That meant lots of laundry, ruined clothes, sheets and towels, and grease everywhere. I had to toss half of my clothes and sheets because they got stained and/or started smelling like rancid oil. Eww. My whole body burned, hurt and itched 24/7. Sleeping  was nearly impossible even with drug intervention, and work and just about everything else was also nearly impossible to achieve.
  3. Around Thanksgiving, I was recommended for surgery to remove painful fibroids that had been troubling me for long while and getting worse. I always assumed a decision like this would be easy for me; however, I was very surprised at  the sense of loss I felt when faced with losing part of my womanhood. I started wondering whether I never reconsidered not wanting kids because I knew that with the issues in our marriage and our personality differences, I would be doing a huge disservice to any kid and myself if I had one. Other questions ensued. Will I regret this decision in the future? What if I really do want kids? What if I waited? What if I really need it and I don’t have insurance later? IMG_2909 I resolved not to dwell on the what-ifs and just weighed more tangible factors like my age, upcoming divorce, fears of getting uterine cancer like my mom, and loss of affordable insurance. I had surgery 5 days before Christmas. My sister came to take care of me, but she could only do it for a couple of days (I didn’t want to worry my dad & stepmom, so I didn’t tell them). For the most part, my recovery was very lonely, depressing and painful, though I was very grateful that a good friend came and helped out as much as possible in between family obligations. The loneliness was my own doing though. I really didn’t want to bother other friends for help or company because I didn’t want to interrupt their busy holiday plans with their families.

Those major events triggered a domino affect: body and mental stress made my immune system even more sensitive, exacerbated my chronic back problems and other issues, which all negatively affected my health more. It was an endless looping nightmare. I got increasingly worried and anxious about health, insurance, work productivity and other scary issues, though I really tried to keep as positive as possible. (I’m more of a “glass half full” kind of gal.) Nonetheless, I had a few bleak moments where I totally broke down in frustration and cried like a baby for hours, especially when there didn’t seem to be a solution to my immune issues, no matter what I tried. The months of incessant itching, burning and lack of sleep didn’t help my mental state either.

Things are still stressful, but are much better. The ex and I are amicable, my flares are all gone now that I’ve cut many more foods from my diet (frustrating too, but better than flaring), and I have no more uterine pain. The rest of my body is still healing slowly. My family has been supportive and very helpful with my life transition, especially my dad (we don’t have an emotional touchy-feely kind of family, definitely not by American and Western ideals, but we are close and supportive of one another in our own way). I’ve been trying hard not to let the many frustrations and snafus with the house-selling and buying process and other things get to me too much, though it’s hard not to stress about uncontrollable circumstances that led to a 2-day moving window.

with mom

My mom and me in May 2001. Lately I’ve been wondering what she might say to me about my choices if she were here today and whether she’d be disappointed that my marriage is ending. At the same time, I don’t think there’s much to think about in that respect because the marriage wasn’t working for us and the truth is that I hadn’t been happy or myself for several years. I think she would understand.

Enough! I’m close to the home stretch. October is almost over. I’m sure there will be additional bumps along the way, but I’m looking forward to locking up this chapter of my life and starting a new one, although I can’t really toss the keys until the ex and I ink those D-papers. Even with all the stress and obstacles, I feel more rejuvenated and much more like myself than ever. I look forward to starting fresh, to finishing my books and a host of other things to come! Wish me luck!

Get you Knit On. 25% off sale

**For up to the minute updates and news, follow me @AnneKuoLukito on Twitter or “Like” my Crafty Diversions page on Facebook!**
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Blog Face Lift

Does the blog look different to you? I gave it a long-overdue face lift!

My website is getting redesigned as well, so the blog may change later to be more in-line with the overall site look. However, I just couldn’t stand looking at the old black background and gray text in the previous blog template. Ugh. Anyway, because I changed templates, some of the formatting in my older posts (especially photos and photo descriptions) might be a little off. Please forgive me for that.

Diet Face Lift

In other news, I’ve been gluten-free for over 3 months now. I’m seeing incredible improvement to my skin. I definitely is not hot, inflamed, itchy and gross like before. In fact, at first glance, most people don’t even know that my skin is still not 100%. The plus side is that I can now wear t-shirts and shorts during this hot summer heatwave! I think there’s still a long ways to go until my skin is back to “normal.” There’s still discoloration from the 10 months of inflammation as well as some residual inflammation. I also still break out in random hives 2-3 times a week, though the breakouts are no longer super intense.

Photos of my adaptation to GF cooking, Taiwanese style using veggies I can have and GF soy sauce: Left: Garlic stir-fried ong choy + rice + fish, peas and beech mushrooms; Right: Yam leaves with organic ground turkey + quinoa and rice + mushroom medley (trumpet, maitake, beech, wood ear mushrooms)

Dinner: fish with beech mushrooms, garlic stir-fried ong choy Dinner: Yam leaves w/ ground turkey, mushroom medley (trumpet, maitake, beech, wood ear) & quinoa+rice #yummy

I still find the whole ordeal incredibly frustrating though. My list of can’t-have foods is long and extensive. Even the nutritionist with whom I was consulting had no ideas for me. She and her department head were not able to suggest any new foods or ideas that I wasn’t already doing or couldn’t have. She was mystified when I sent her my excel spreadsheet with a log of those no-no foods.

Photo: My first recipe experimentation – Gluten-Free Lemon Coconut Cookies. I’m still tinkering with it. When I’ve got it *just* right, I’ll share the recipe on the blog.

Lemon-coconut cookie experiment 2; 8 dozen, 2 batches. Different texture than the 1st experiment. #glutenfree #yummy

Thankfully, I have several friends who are also gluten-free and they’ve offered me some suggestions. One cookbook suggestion is The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen. I was also referred to the blogs Gluten-Free Girl and FrannyCakes. When I was researching books, I decided to buy The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guides 1 and 2 and have found the books to be simple and informative — great for a beginning GF baker like myself. The one thing that I have NOT yet gotten used to is the idea and fact that gluten-free baking and cooking is not always going to taste like what you expect and are used to from gluten-containing foods. For example, while I am no stranger to rice pastas due to my ethnic heritage, spaghetti with rice pasta is just not the same, and neither are GF potstickers. It’s just simply a different animal altogether. Pepe LePew can pretend to be a cat and love cats all he wants, but he will still be a cute little skunk. (Not that GF foods are skunky, smart asses.)

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Food Allergies

If you’ve been following my tweets over the last several weeks, you’ll know that my elimination diet is no longer one. It has been really challenging and depressing and has morphed more into a pre-elimination sleuthing diet.

As it turns out, I came to the realization that many of the veggies and fruits I love cause immediate reactions in the form of lip/mouth itching, tongue tingling/numbness, throat irritation. face bumps & itching and soft palate (roof of mouth) swelling.

So far, of the foods I’ve tested (or have known about), I’ve found that I’m allergic to the following foods:

Vegetables

green beans;  red leaf lettuce; oak leaf lettuce; romaine lettuce (but cooked is not so bad); artichokes; cabbage; spinach, raw (highly likely, need to test again); edamame (soy)

Fruits

honeydew melon; cantaloupe; pineapple; tomato; apples; figs (though I don’t have a problem if they’re cooked); grapes (highly likely, need to test again)

Meats/Fish

ahi tuna; Alaskan cod; I don’t really eat any other meat but poultry, so I won’t be testing other meats or game.

Other

stevia; sunflower seeds, raw

I’m pretty sad about the edamame allergy discovery. I was vegetarian for over a decade and while I am no longer one, my diet is still largely vegetarian most of the time. I don’t like many meats and generally don’t eat enough protein, so I usually get my protein from soy and other legumes. It’s not a good sign in the legume department given that I’ve already had reactions to green beans and edamame. Sigh. While I don’t know if I have sensitivities to them, at least I don’t seem to have an allergy problem with almonds & cashews.

I still need to test a few lots more foods. Then after I find out more culprits and figure out what foods I can safely eat while trying to keep healthy, I’m going to start over on the elimination diet to find out possible food intolerances and sensitivities.

For those of you who have food issues, I’m sharing a list of food families and foods commonly associated with various  allergies (i.e. latex, ragweed) that I compiled for myself using information from my allergist and other information I gathered from my own research. Click here for the document.

People allergic to birch may also have allergies to almonds, apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, carrots, celery, cherries, chicory, coriander, fennel, fig, hazelnuts, kiwi, nectarines, parsley, parsnips, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, potatoes, prunes, soy, strawberries and wheat.

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So, I’ve been on this Elimination Diet for 2 weeks now. The whole point of the elimination diet is to pinpoint what foods I’m allergic and sensitive to.  While a person may not to be allergic to a food, one can still be sensitive and/or intolerant of it.  (I talk about it my plan and allergy history in this post here.)

Well, I knew that it’d be challenging and was up for it, but I had no idea how hard! It turns out that some of the foods I thought was “safe” for me to eat during the elimination period are foods to which I’m actually having allergic reactions!! Thus, my elimination diet will have to be considered a pre-elimination diet. I need to first identify what foods to which I may be getting immediate allergic reactions. Then once I identity those foods, I’ll probably need to start over on a true elimination diet to identify foods to which I might be merely sensitive or intolerant. This royally bites. The frustration certainly does not help me function and be productive when I’ve also got a major case of the blahs, but I am trying to stay positive.

For healthy eating, Essentially Healthy Food has some great ideas on lettuce wraps. Click on photo to get to their site for the lettuce wrap article.

Because of my multitude of allergies, I figured that of the few safe foods I could eat were sweet potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, lettuce, brussels sprouts, chicken and fish. Safe oils and sweeteners are extra virgin olive oils, grapeseed oil, stevia, agave nectar and maple syrup.  Most of my foods I get either pesticide-free or organic. Imagine only being able to eat those foods through the course of at least 2-4 weeks.  All those veggies have certain odors…yeah, and I sure smell good when I sweat!

I was wondering why I was getting oral symptoms sometimes when I ate cabbage so I started testing that and some of my “safe” foods by themselves.  It turns out that I am allergic to cabbage and several varieties of lettuce!! My throat gets scratchy pretty much upon immediate consumption, and in most cases, part of my soft palate (roof of my mouth) gets puffy and tender.  In the case of fish (I tried wild ahi tuna and wild Alaskan cod) and stevia, my lips, cheeks and neck itches and I get tiny bumps on my cheeks, which then turns to eczema.

Because of those reactions and my concern over eating enough and balanced calories, I decided to change gears and try to figure out what low-suspect foods might be okay. I’ve since added steel-cut oats, cauliflower, almonds, pistachios and cooked spinach. I think later, when I restart the a true elimination diet, I will cut out the oats and test my tolerance and sensitivity to it. We’ll see what I can really eat first though. I love veggies, but I’m pretty sick of yams, chicken and broccoli right now, and all the veggies I can eat tend to cause bloating. ugh.

IMGP5218

I love baked whole sweet potatoes, but another great way to enjoy them is to slice them, toss them in some EVOO, sea salt and bake into healthy fries!

Garlicky Sweet Potato Fries Recipe With 2 Dips

I really love whole baked potatoes, but I got tired of eating it that way almost everyday, so I made myself some baked sweet potato fries. Unfortunately, I could only eat them without the dips or pepper during my elimination diet, but I hope y’all will at least enjoy them for me.  Here’s my basic recipe (please note that I mostly cook with the “a little of this, and a little of that” method, so these measurements are general guidelines):

Fries:
5-6 organic sweet potatoes, washed and sliced into about 1/4″ thick (use more if yours are small)
2-3 tbsp organic extra olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced (use more if you like extra garlic!)
sea salt
cayenne or white pepper
parsley

Dip 1 – Plum Sauce:
3 organic plums, peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 tsp of fresh grated ginger
fresh lime juice (1/2 or 1 whole one depending on size and taste)
juice of 1 orange
honey or organic raw agave nectar
1/8 tsp salt
cornstarch (optional)

Dip 2 – Spicy Mango Mayo:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mango
1/4 tsp sambal hot sauce
zest of 1 lime

Toss the sweet potatoes (make sure that they’re dry) in a bowl with the EVOO, salt and pepper. Salt and pepper according to your own preferences and taste. Spread them out on a greased cookie sheet in a 450 degrees F pre-heated oven, making sure that the slices are not too close together or touching. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until edges are crispy, centers tender and golden brown, turning occasionally. During the last 5-10 minutes of baking, sprinkle and toss the minced garlic with the fries – Be careful not to burn yourself when you do this. Garnish with some chopped parsley and more pepper if desired. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes before serving, but serve it warm!

Dip 1: combine all the ingredients except for the cornstarch in a saucepan until it boils, turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. If it’s too runny for your taste, add some cornstarch according to package directions to thicken. Add the honey or agave nectar to taste. The sweetness of the sauce will actually depend on your plums, so make sure you taste it before adding your sweetener. The final sauce should be a little tangy and sweet.

Dip 2: Combine all ingredients. To add a twist, you can also add some curry powder or a little bit of dijon mustard. I hate cilantro, but I think cilantro lovers would enjoy this dip with some finely chopped cilantro.

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August is going to be an interesting month for me. First the good stuff:  In August, the Fall issues of  Twist Collective and Knitcircus will be published. I have a garment in each of those ‘zines and am very excited to see the final layout and photos of my garments. I will also be devoting much of August solely on a very large secret project that I’m cooking up.

Above Left: Snippet of one of the projects on the needles. You can see my draft pattern in the background. Right: Part of the main body of the 2nd project and a tiny sliver of a contrasting element. C’mon, did you really think I’d reveal the secret and actually show you details? This is all the hints I can give. Y’all will just have to be patient and wait for a few more days until the publications’ release.

And now, something not so exciting, but hopefully will be very good in the long run…I plan to start an elimination diet on Aug. 1. I’ve contemplated doing the diet for a while now, but I always came up with some sort of excuse and lacked the motivation. Given my lifelong problem with allergies, which seemed to have worsened in the last 2-3 years, I definitely need to do it now.

IMGP2242 For over 6 months, I’ve been undergoing Allergen immunotherapy. And while I’ve seen some minor improvements already, the process is slow, time-consuming, frustrating and not to mention, costly (insurance covers most, but those copays add up). The treatments involves me getting weekly injections of custom-formulated serums of chemical and environmental allergens. My allergist generally starts patients on a tiny, tiny injection (we’re talking about like 1 drop) serum that’s diluted to 1:5000 (1 part serum to 5000 parts saline). Whereas the majority of people tolerate that very well, I was so sensitive that I experienced an anaphylactic reaction to that first injection and the Doc had to administer epinephrine as a result. So, she had to take me waaaay down and started me on a 1:50,000 serum. I am finally on the 1:5000 serum that “normal” people tend to start on.

Anyway, even with the immunotherapy, the highest allowed prescription for Allegra (other allergy drugs like Claritin & Zyrtec do nothing for me), inhalers, Advair (low-dose steroid), lots of $$ spent on super expensive mattress covers & filters and regular sinus rinses, I still get random eczema, hives, and other allergy-related reactions and breakouts that require me to supplement with OTC drugs like Benadryl and Sudafed.

Whatever the cost, difficulty or inconvenience, I don’t want to ever go back to this:

I’m really tired of it all, especially since my allergies aren’t that controlled on top of all the medications I’m taking. I suspect that there are foods contributing to some of these other issues, whether I’m just sensitive or even truly allergic to them. I already know that I’m sensitive or allergic to sulfites, preservatives, citrus and some melons. While the process will be very hard as I’ll have to give up things I love to eat, I think (I hope) that in the end, I will be much happier, more energetic, sleep better and just be much healthier.  I am scheduled to have some food allergy testing done in December, and while food allergy testing can help, the tests can also register false positives and false negatives. With me playing my own food detective, I can probably pinpoint some of the other culprits and help my Doc to formulate a better diagnosis for me.

I actually suspect an allergy to cherries, one of my favorite summertime indulgences.

So with the Doc’s approval and my desire to have a better daily life, hopefully free of daily headaches, more energy, more sleep, better breathing and no more itching, I’ve committed myself to start the diet starting August 1.  After doing more research and reading, it appears that given my ultra-sensitivity to so many things, I will need to eliminate lots of foods that other people on elimination diets can eat, which is a bit of a dismay. 😦 Because of some of my known and tested allergies, I need to eliminate foods that are commonly associated with those allergies.  I’ll have to cut out all fruits, some of my favorite veggies and all grains (even rice or quinoa!) during the elimination period; it’s the only way that I can really test to see if I am sensitive or allergic to some of those foods.

The plan: Make my diet public to hopefully help me maintain the motivation. I’ll do a 3 week elimination period and only test low-suspect foods like broccoli, carrots, bananas and rice first. All other foods will be eliminated for 1 month before I start challenging and re-introducing them, slowly and one by one. I’ll be keeping a food diary of everything I eat (or rather, don’t eat!) and my reactions and how I feel everyday and before/after each meal.

Saying goodbye: It’s so hard to say goodbye to some of my favorite foods, and it’ll also be hard to see all the food-related post my foodie friends make on Twitter and Facebook. In “prepping” for this upcoming very restrictive diet, I downed lots of swiss cheese and a quart of ice cream in the span of 3 days. The rest of this week will be filled with indulgent meals of pasta, sweets, chocolate, breads, tofu and sushi.

Goodbye, my friends, I hope I get to see you again. I know that I may not taste some of you for a very long time, if ever again…

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A baby cashmere goat

A baby cashmere goat


Last year, my allergies got so bad that I literally could not see, sleep or do anything properly.  Life really sucked for several months, especially with massive sinus migraines and the constant watery and itchy eyes that ended up bleeding. Yuck.

My left eye, last year. Click to see note blocks on Flickr.

My left eye, last year. Click to see note blocks on Flickr.

At least I’m not allergic to cashmere, alpaca or wool. (Though I have sensitive skin and can only tolerate fine fibers like fine merino or superfine alpaca.)  I had a knitting swap partner who was allergic to all things goat, including cashmere! I mourned for her when I found out.

I’m gonna apologize in advance for boring you with my allergy problems, but writing about it helps me vent a little.

Anyway, as a result of all that eye-bleeding crap, I finally was able to see a specialist- the most awesome doctor  – my allergist, Dr. C.  The insurance approved my immunotherapy and with a small setback with some lazy receptionist at Dr. C’s office, I finally started my allergy shots last Thursday.

Because of Thrusdays reaction, Im not carrying around an epi pen.

Because of Thrusday's reaction, I'm not carrying around an epi pen.

They usually start you off on some really dilute doses and the majority don’t have problems so early in the therapy. Nope, not me. Being that my body is so sensitive, I’m not at all surprised that I had a reaction.  (I still get really nasty symptoms despite preventative measures and being on the strongest Rx of allergy drugs 24/7.) The reaction didn’t really alarm me that much because I get the chest congestion, itchy throat and sinus problems at least 2-3 times a week anyways.  The reaction concerned Dr. C and the wonderful nurse M. (Maybe I should have been more concerned because normally my throat and palate do not swell.) They gave me a shot of epinephrine, some extra allergy meds and prednisone (steroid).  All those meds royally messed by my system and rendered me sleepy and lethargic for over 3 days.  The upside to that is that I actually slept 8 hours straight for 2 nights like regular people! I even napped.

I didn’t get tested for every conceivable thing (i.e. food allergens), but I did get tested for some chemicals and environmental stuff. According to my allergy testing, I’m allergic to some chemicals and basically Mother Nature (boo!):

  • Dust Mites – I am most allergic to these; tested for 2 kinds.  Very very highly allergic. On a scale where anything more than 0.35 is considered an allergy, mine was 96 and 97!
  • Olive Tree – this was also quite high on my allergy scale. I think it was the highest after the dust mites. We chopped down our tree, but there are still tons in the neighborhood.
  • Colophony – found in wood/wood products, adhesives, polishes
  • Carba Mix – multiple chemical stuff found in gloves, neoprene, shoes, goggles, even bedsheets, etc. bad stuff, I tell ya.
  • Imidazolidinyl Urea – found in lotions, cosmetics, soaps and other personal care products
  • Trixocortol-21-Privalate – anti-inflammatory used in many meds, including ones for eczema(which I also have)
  • Bermuda Grass
  • Ryegrass
  • Ragweed (also tumbleweed, thistle, saltwort)
  • English Plantain
  • Pigweed/ Carless (also goosefoot, quinoa, purslane)
  • Wing Scale
  • Cats – Out of our 3, I’m most allergic to Maggie (the 23lb one) and we’re the only people sans kids who have a baby gate to prevent cats in the bedroom.
  • Jail visiting hours have commenced.

    Jail visiting hours have commenced.

  • Dogs
  • Cockroach
  • Southern Grass Mix – mix of several types of grasses
  • Walnut Tree
  • Chinese Elm
  • Acacia Tree
  • Birch Tree
  • Mountain Cedar (also Ashe’s Juniper)
  • Mold (mildly though, surprisingly)
  • I’m sure I left some other things off.

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Stupid Spider!!

I’m interrupting my posts of my TNNA adventures to curse the stupid spider that bit my knee.  A bite that went awry.

I have gotten spider bites many times before and I usually get some sort of minor allergic reaction where the area swells and reddens for a few days.  Knowing that some spiders are really venomous, such as black widow and brown recluse spiders, I’ve become somewhat paranoid about them (thanks a lot Animal Planet), especially since I’ve spotted some black widows in my backyard before.  Thus, I’ve developed a habit of marking the swelling…just in case. I guess it’s smart anyway, with my horrid allergy problems and all.

Stupid Spider. I hope the cats killed it. click to see larger image

Wednesday morning, I notice a red pimple-looking bump on my knee that hurt a little.  No biggie. But by Wednesday evening, it got much bigger and more swollen and painful than my usual spider or other insect bite reactions.  I was starting to get a little concerned because it hurt to the touch. And as the swelling grew, and being that it’s on the knee, it hurt like a mofo when I walked or bended.

Friday night, after consulting the ‘net and with my sis, who is a volunteer medic at the Berkeley Free Clinic and planning to pursue a second career in public health nursing or as a nurse practioner, we concluded that it most likely is cellulitis, an infection of the skin tissue layers.  If not treated, it can be B-A-D.

Excuse my hairy leg. I retraced some of the faded lines. Click to see a larger image.

So, I got to spend a very exciting Friday night at an afterhours walk-in med center.  The doctor there concurred that it is cellulitis and prescribed me some antibiotics. He also commended me for marking the progression of my swelling.  If only I didn’t have to! On a more optimistic note, it could’ve been much much worse.  Just google for images of “bad spider bite” and “cellulitis.”

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