The itch that upset Christmas

Photo by Mor Shani on Unsplash

We’ve all heard about ties that bind.

Colours we share. 

Memories that matter.

Hands that build, cook, lock or talk.

And then you have hands that itch.

More precisely, itching caused by an illegal use of cough medicine.

You read it right: illegal use. And right again: cough medicine.

Was it not the 18th time in 2019 that something I shouldn’t have been doing, caused an allergic reaction? Most notably, a worse reaction sent me to the emergency room and saw me hooked up to large bags of antihistamines in one arm while at the same time, large bags of steroids in the other arm, and all that after arriving in emergency a mere 20 minutes prior.

Sure, in my branch of medical needs, MS, trigeminal neuralgia, tilted pelvis, fractured coccyx (tailbone), endometriosis and whatnot have all forced me into hospital in the past, indicating my physical state aims to please every healthcare professional possible by giving them the best of the rest: my impaired, run-down body.

And so it was, after freewheeling through airports, flying, train-hopping, and suitcase-dragging on the way to my family, I began coughing in a deafening, barking manner that made people worried my lungs might jump out of my throat.

I on the other hand, found it rather common. Just a cough, winter immunity issue, been there, done that, doing it again winter and during the summer, nothing new.

As per my grandmother on my mother’s side, if she were still alive today, she’d say: “When you do something you have to do it well otherwise, just don’t start to at all.”

As per Samuel Beckett, famous Irish Nobel Prize in Literature Winner in 1969 and novelist, playwright, short story writer, theatre director, poet, and literary translator: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

In short: I am a perfectionist.

And damn right I try to get things done properly. All hail the Nana of Nanas!

Ergo, Lemsip Cough Chesty Guaifenesin Elixir started its journey into allergy-alley on Christmas Eve and continued its journey on Christmas Day. Never one to admit failure, my memory blindingly accepted the challenge. Lemsip: cleared for take off, seat belts unnecessary, you will be OK in a matter of days.

On Boxing Day (Day after Christmas), the hands that itch took hold. No red warning lights, nothing that indicated I should reverse course. Until…

They tingled.
Pinned and needled.

My family and I are not particularly god-fearing people, but considering it was Christmas, I refrained from cursing in every language possible although inside, I sure wanted to to find out why it had to happen on this very day of all 365 days each year.

I felt like my favourite cat meme, where it yells: “Avenge me!”

Itching easily outdoes stabbing facial pain, and with vigour. People who know all about trigeminal neuralgia might find this a rare statement considering how extremely painful facial pain can be. However, its short, unpredictable attacks that can last from a few seconds to about 2 minutes and come and go for up to 2 hours, the attacks stop as suddenly as they start.

On the other hand, allergic reactions result in 3 to 10 days of nagging, continuous itching, yet equally makes you want to yell as if you were a character in Scream. Here though, itching hands feel as if you want to amputate whichever limb is making you wish you had that capability. 

But, there I was. With my family after a year of not having seen them – bar in Skype of course. You want to focus on the chats you’re having. the get-togethers you had planned but had to cancel because of other acute and unpredictable MS symptoms, the writing you wanted to do and the television programs your mum diligently recorded to watch together, yet all you can think of are hands.

I need a six month vacation.
A year.

The severity of that itch should have reminded me I had been there before, and that a mere 5 sips of Lemsip Guaifenesin Elixir were able cause such hassle. After all, the memories I have of allergic reactions should have been more poignant and most definitely on top of the list of bad things to remember.

But, then it dawned on me that the thing that sent me to A&E before, was in fact cough syrup as the combination of it together with the other 29 tablets and daily injection, was the root cause of the biggest allergic reactions I had in 2019.

My brain does work on a limited RAM and ROM storage basis when in need of sleep, rest and relaxation.

Also, calling cough syrup an ‘elixir’ should indicate nicer jingle bells outcomes as sitting in the emergency room is hardly comparable to any type of elevated state of mind.

Today, January 5th 2020, the itching still continues to hassle me albeit in a ‘Light’ form of said ‘Elixir’. I am by now sick and tired of trying to find silly things to do that could take my mind of the stinging, burning itch.

The cough also remains and I don’t foresee it disappearing anytime soon – chronic bronchitis as per every GP I’ve had since my teenage years but absurd growling according to my own unfit reasoning of the yearlong noise.

If you’re on a long list of medicines to treat your MS, I hope this post can help some people decide whether or not to buy over-the-counter medicines without consulting their physician or pharmacist of possible interactions. While Lemsip doesn’t list any possible side effects, it did in fact cause me to visit the Emergency Department in the past, so please do check first before mixing medicines without thinking. I have used OTC cough medicines against the advice from my pharmacist, and have been proven wrong by showing that indeed, anaphylaxis could have been a possible outcome.

As the new year hobbles forward, I’ll continue to look for that one thing that can bring relief from multiple sclerosis symptoms and its related pharmaceutical, symptomatic revelations that so upset my histamine levels.

In the meantime, I want to wish you a happy, healthy and strong 2020. May all your dreams come true and find the success you deserve!

Please don’t be shy and do get in touch if you want to know more about what goes on here on Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me or if you have writing suggestions.


blog-awards-2018_winners-gold-mpu-e1571651056851-12018 Winner Best Blog Post with ‘3443 Needles’, Blog Awards Ireland, Ashville Media Group, Dublin, Ireland
Everyday Health: Top 10 MS Blogs to Follow in 2020
Feedspot: Top 50 MS Blogs to follow in 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017
MyTherapy: Multiple Sclerosis Blogs: 10 of the Best in 2019
Expertido: Top Multiple Sclerosis Blogs 2019
Everyday Health: Top 10 MS Blog of 2018
MyTherapy: Best MS Blog for Simplicity 2018
Ireland Blog Awards: Finalist 2014, 2015, 2017

© Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.