Allergic to work

I’m allergic to work.

This may not surprise you. Moreover, you may think that I’m not the only one. But I have symptoms.

This morning, I walked into work after my holiday, and within five minutes I was covered — covered — with a horrible rash. Looked like I’d been stung by a whole field of stinging nettles, repeatedly. So, I had a chat with the first-aider at work who packed me off to casualty (our facilities manager gave me a lift to the nearest hospital, for which I am very grateful). This rash was the itchiest thing I have ever known. The first-aider thought I was shivering from cold, but I wasn’t; I was trying to not touch the inside of my clothes. Horrible feeling, your skin being that sensitive. Horrible.

So, as I say, they sent me off to casualty. I was a bit worried by this point; I mean, I was having this fairly pronounced reaction to something, and it came on very fast; five minutes or so. I was half feeling that it was just something random and so all this lift-to-hospital stuff was overkill, and half worried I was about to fall into anaphylactic shock and die right there. Not all that happy, in other words.

By the time I actually got seen by a medical professional in the hospital, a good 90 minutes after I arrived, the rash had faded remarkably and there was no itching. It was still showing in some places (it was all over me, remember?), and they diagnosed it as urticaria. After further research I have not been persuaded away from my initial conclusions that this essentially is a medical code-word for “some kind of allergic reaction that brings your skin out, and we don’t know what caused it”.

So, the doctor, after the long wait, prescribed Piriton, which is a general allergy treatment. Although I went to the hospital pharmacy, I didn’t get the tablets there, because they’re cheaper to buy over the counter than they are to get on prescription (despite having a welfare state, getting a prescription carries a minimum charge of £6.30 in the UK). So, eventually got home, after this big wait in hospital and so on, at about 5.00pm. Had something to eat, and took a Piriton tablet.

And then I fell asleep.

It says on the packet, may cause drowsiness. It’s not kidding. I slept from 6pm until 11pm, and then woke up because my back hurt (which happens every night, this isn’t anything to do with the tablets) and now here I am.

My firm swear blind that they haven’t just changed the air freshener or has the building fumigated or something. The doctors all said that they rarely find the cause of this sort of thing. My big worry now is, what if it’s still there tomorrow? I mean, I’ve taken another one of the tablets, and I’ll take another tomorrow morning (after I’ve driven to work but before I get there, so I don’t fall asleep at the wheel and die), but what if it’s not enough? I imagine a lot of people would be doing somersaults at the idea of being allergic to something at work, but I have loads to do. Ah well. Maybe I can take my laptop up to a meeting room where they didn’t vacuum with Stuart-Death-Shake-n-Vac or whatever.

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