Mrs. Peacock, in the library, with the revolver!

One medical mystery solved this week.  Yes, you heard that right.  I finally have a few answers.  It doesn’t explain EVERYTHING, but it does explain something that has caused me significant disability in the past and which I have had to try to work around without really knowing what it is I need to avoid in terms of a trigger.

This would be the allergy test.

color photo of a woman's back with positive reactions to allergen patch testing.

Itchy-owie mess.

I had patch testing, not being super psyched about the idea of them injecting stuff under my skin since when I react, I react STRONGLY.  There were three patch test panels placed from the TRUE test – in the picture, these three panels are the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd if you count from my left to my right.  Because I asked for it specifically, they also did metal testing.  The metal test involved two panels – they are on my right shoulder in the picture here.   Each panel, in both the TRUE test and the metal set, has about a dozen substances in individual disks which are placed on the skin and then held there with adhesive for 48 hours before removal.  At the 48 hour mark, the results are given an initial read.  I was told that the nurse would read it then I’d be sent on my way for the day, to return the next for another (final) reading.  In my case, at least one of the substances could have been read at about hour 12 I think.  The nurse actually made a little “oh” noise when she removed that particular panel from my back.  “Something reacted I guess?” I asked.  “Yes….it’s a strong reaction,” she said.  I told her “I react strongly to some things.  That’s why I’m having this done.  Two of the most severe were to the insoles of my shoes and to the elastic in my underwear, you know, around the waist and legs.  Blistering, itching, it was bad.”  She told me that she was going to have the fellow come look at this one before I left that day.  “Wow!” he exclaimed, “that’s a severe reaction.”  I felt like telling him he could take a picture if he wanted to.  This was  Big Ass Teaching Hospital after all.  I was told that I could feel free to go ahead and use hydrocortisone ointment on it despite the ban on that sort of thing before and during testing.  “We know that one is positive” the fellow said.  “And you can take antihistamines.”  I do.  I am.  This is my reaction on benadryl, ranitidine, and amitriptyline.

Which one was the severe reaction that now solves one of my medical mysteries?  It was a substance called Thiuram mix.  Thiurams are rubber accelerators. In the picture, the Thiuram mix patch is the lower right corner of the second panel in on my left shoulder.  The nurse brought me a pamphlet on Thiurams, and pointed out that it is found in some shoes and in the elastics of some underwear and bathing suits.  Well I’ll be…so now I know.  And I also know that it is in other things which, given how severely I react to it, I should avoid the hell out of.  Imagine inhaling this shit?

Other notable reactions included three spots that look like bruises on the metal panel, a strong reaction to Nickel (twice, it’s on one of the TRUE test panels and one of the metal panels), not surprising.  The marker was a little smudgy, but you can see that the panels with the most positive results are the metal panels (right shoulder).  The large hive on the first TRUE test panel on my left shoulder is the TRUE test nickel patch, I’m pretty sure.

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  1. Anaphylaxing

     /  June 14, 2012

    Yikes that looks uncomfortable! haven’t eve heard of that Thiuram thing, crazy!

    • I bet it’s something you should avoid too. I think I read somewhere on your blog that rubber stuff triggers your mast cell symptoms. I don’t think you should ever have this sort of testing though – as strong as my reactions are, they are largely local. I did get some good info on nickel free diets, and some tips on talking to my dentist about perhaps taking all the damned metal fillings out of my teeth. Not something to look forward to, but the doc agreed I should consider having the metal fillings removed since I reacted to so many of the metals (by yesterday about half the metal panel was reacting moderate to strong) and because of the timing of my GI and oral symptoms relative to the introduction of metal into my mouth.

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