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Allergic Reaction

April 18, 2020

Did you ever hear someone say children, spouses or friends of medical personnel have to be in serious condition before they get any medical care from them, and they’re often just told “you’re fine” instead? For me, one day back in the early 90’s, I went with my sister Mary Jo, her friend, our husbands and kids to Sesame Place Water Park on a super-hot sunny summer day. As soon as we got into the carpool car on the way to the park, I noticed that I had broken out in about 10,000 red bumps from head to toe, which was highly visible since I was in a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops and not jeans or a jacket. I looked like a poster child for angry chicken pox, or instantaneous leprosy. From the third row, I whispered to Mary Jo in the second row of the vehicle that I was going to have to go to the doctors while everybody went to the park. This was back before google on cell phones where I could have googled my symptoms, or looked up where the nearest walk in clinic was. We lived in a constant state of medical fear back before google, basically. My plan was to go up to Oscar the Grouch at Sesame Place and ask how to get to the nearest clinic. He might get mad at me and tell me to scram, but I didn’t really have too many options. I thought for sure I was dying, so I thought how strange that Bert and Ernie will be the last people I see, or maybe Big Bird could give me my last rites. It wasn’t quite how I saw the end of days, but it sounded a little comforting anyways to go out with some childhood favorites while, “Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street,” played annoyingly in the background. Mary Jo said her friend driving the SUV we were in just happened to be a pharmacist, so she said to her that puffer fish looking patient “X” in the back seat has a dilemma. In true medical personnel fashion, without pulling the vehicle over to look at me or even look in the rear-view mirror at me, she asked if I was on any new medicine lately. I said I was recently put on a sulfa drug, so she said no worries it’s just an allergic reaction. She asked very nonchalantly if my tongue was swelling or if I was having trouble breathing. I said, “Oh great, is that next? Should I say goodbye?” She said nah, you’re fine, it’s just a reaction from the sun and the new medicine. Keep in mind my sun exposure was from walking barely any steps from the hotel into the SUV, and now I’m heading into a water park for the day? I said I don’t dare go into the park or I’ll scare all the children. Even my own son was looking frightened at me from his car seat, and he knew me! She said nope, don’t worry about it, just wear sunscreen. All I had was baby sunscreen factor around 500, so now I had a white, visibly opaque layer of sunscreen that never quite rubbed in properly over my red bumps, making me look like a ghost with mange. I just met the poor family we were with so I was making a great impression for sure. The fact that she wasn’t phased in the least leads me to believe that the poor woman has seen some stuff. Like the stuff of nightmares she can never unsee. God bless medical people. People in the park may have given me some extra space that day and some stares, but it will always hold a special place in my heart because as soon as we walked through the entrance gate, my toddler announced that he no longer wanted to wear pullups ever again. We had a ceremony where we dramatically threw away his last ever pullup, and he never went back! Turned out to be a glorious day on Sesame Street after all!

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