Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why I do What I Do

It’s been way too long since I’ve written anything. Such big plans on reporting back on all of the shows, great artists we’ve met and things we’ve purchased and fell in love with from them, new formulas & products, tons of notes, yet it seems so difficult to find a few moments to collect them all together and share them with you. Well, I am trying very hard to change that. I plan on trying to catch up. I have some pics taken of the great things we’ve gotten from amazingly talented artists and links to their sites/etsy shops so you can check them out! Check back for hopefully more frequent updates. But for now, I would like to share a personal story that will give you a little background knowledge into why I do what I do and am so passionate about it, not to mention why I am so adamant about doing things a particular way.

Those close to me know, I am not exaggerating in the least when I tell you I am allergic to almost everything and am asthmatic. Knock wood, I have been able to keep my asthma in check for the past few years with many changes to my lifestyle. When I would go to the allergist for what I call the torture test (where they prick your skin to test what you are allergic to), the results would come back with something like 150-160 things caused a reaction. All molds, pet dander (but I love my doggies), some foods, you name it, there’s a chance I will react to it somehow. The allergist would almost always offer up the “allergy shots” where they inject you with a little of what you are allergic to in order to try to build up your system. But, the issue they’ve had with me is that they can only give something like 6 things per shot, so my regimen would consist of like 3-4 shots with a cocktail of 6 allergens in each shot per week in order to try to build up a tolerance over the course of a year or so, then move on to the next set of shots with different allergens and repeat until all the big ones have been covered. I have had these shots several times in my life, and this last time it was offered, after a few weeks, I decided that I would try a different route. I don’t know how or why I am this way, but I am and have had to learn how to live with it and understand how to stop/prevent reactions.

Well, I have been feeling awful these past few months, knowing I have run myself down trying to do way too much, I wasn’t exactly worried about it. I also knew a slight reprieve was coming, so I pushed through it. Since my immune system was a little beaten, it was no surprise to me that instead of the normal once or twice a week reaction (starting to break out in hives, usually around the eyes) to who knows what, they started getting more and more frequent. But, as per usual, the run to the bathroom, strip off all clothes, put them right in the washer with my homemade laundry soap, jump in the shower, use a salt bar (since it seems to do such a great job of getting whatever oils on my skin off) all over, then repeat once or twice, dry off with a clean towel. My wonderful hubby will have water and Benadryl waiting for me and the hives seem to go away within 20-30 mins. Well, this was not the case on July 16th. Leading up to this day, I had been getting increasingly worse, not only with allergic reactions, but my entire body seemed to be hating me, a lot.

I ended up with an ear infection, so was prescribed some drops to clear it up. Apparently these drops had sulfates in them, which my body hates, especially when it is already taking a self inflicted beating. But I will get to that later. I went in to my day job for a few hours on Saturday (the 16th) to get caught up on some things since I missed some time during the week from feeling ill. That morning, my eyes were swollen and hurt really bad. The light was almost unbearable. Oddly enough, the whites of my eyes were swelling bigger than my eyelids could contain. It looked like they were watery, but they weren’t, it was the white of my eye swelling. It was very painful. I only made it 3 hours at the office before heading home. By evening, the reaction kicked into high gear. These hives were the worst I’ve had in about 5-6 years. I knew a trip to the hospital was inevitable almost immediately, but still tried the usual routine. By the time I got into the shower, my entire body was red and the welts started growing. My body was on fire, I couldn’t cool down, I couldn’t stop the burn or itch. It was head to toe. I scratched my scalp until it bled while washing my hair. My legs bruised for over a week from how hard I was scratching to try to ease the itch. I went as far as to use my Pumice Foot Stone on my body to try to get whatever it was on me off. It was clear, this was internal, not something that could be washed off.

I was swelling up and fast, had to get the two rings I always have on off before they would have to be cut off, my grandfather’s and my wedding bands. They were already cutting deep into my skin. Luckily I keep the fast acting, melts-on-your-tongue Benadryl on hand for these occasions. Took it, nothing. Now, my throat started swelling, not again. I tell Dan, my amazingly understanding hubby, my throat may be closing, this hasn’t happened in years, let’s get ready to go to the ER. This, of course, brings a total look of panic across his face, “What do I do?” he asks. My response, “Calm down, get me some decent clothes and drive to the hospital.” In the back of my mind, all I can think of is how angry I was that this was happening. I had 10 batches of soap to make this weekend, why is this happening now?

We got to St. Luke’s in Quakertown, and I have to say, they were fabulous! I had a limited wait (only about 30-45 mins) where I sat in the waiting room ripping my skin to shreds in an attempt to get some relief. My throat now so swollen (on the outside) to the point where I can’t move my head without cutting off my breath, my neck was so swollen, but yet, internally, my throat was still open. My breathing was not affected, with environmental allergies; I immediately cannot breath and need a nebulizer treatment. This was completely different, which was scary, yet comforting because I could still breathe. When they took me back, they apologized for the wait. What? In an emergency room, you apologized for the wait? I’m from South Jersey, I’ve been in an ER waiting room for 4-5 hours having an asthma attack until turning blue in the face, while my mom frantically begs someone to help me. An apology after 30-45 mins seemed crazy to me, but was much appreciated. The staff was amazing and got me out of there within 3-4 hours. Yep, it was the sulfates in the ear drops, at least now I know.

I have decided not to go to the Allergists that do the torture tests and even the treatments don’t seem to agree with me, not saying they aren’t right for others, but my body does not seem to like most of Western Medicine other than my asthma maintenance drugs. I seem to have a negative reaction to so many medications, I wanted to try another route. So, I went to a homeopathic practitioner, who seems to have narrowed down my systemic issues (hopefully) and we are now trying to treat them with diet, supplements, and changes to my lifestyle. Only time will tell what my body can handle, even recovering from this reaction and getting all the yuckiness out of me seems to be taking longer than usual, I’m still not quite myself. But, I am so thankful for how smoothly this last reaction went, it could have been so much worse. But, I am still way behind on my soapmaking, packaging, updating the website, blog & booking shows! There just aren’t enough hours in the day, but hopefully I will be making better use of the hours I do have and give you more and more useful and fun information!

If you’re wondering what any of this has to do with soapmaking and my other products; it is my body’s reaction to things that got me into soapmaking in the first place. I love fragrances, always have. But I couldn’t/can’t always wear them. I did years and years of research to find out that it wasn’t necessarily the fragrance that caused the reaction, but in a lot of instances, it was the formulation of the product. I found formulas that work for me and I can use most fragrances now. As many will attest to, I am obsessed with fragrance, that is why I can’t ever seem to narrow down my lines, I want to offer it all! If there’s ever something you are looking for and don’t see, just ask, there’s a good chance the gears are already turning in my cluttered head and I already have some of the oils to work with, I just need that push to get me started. I always appreciate inspiration coming from a customer or friend. Speaking of which, Cape Cod Jeff, I have not forgotten about you, but actually have probably way more working than you were looking for, but I think it will be worth it, I’m getting carried away with the Vetiver blending! Samples will be headed your way soon!

Thank you to all of you for your patience and understanding if things are taking a little longer than usual to get done. This is temporary and I will be back to my hyperactive, whirlwind self in no time (hopefully).