Reaction to Stress – Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria


Foggy and I have just enjoyed a lazy and very sleepy Sunday afternoon. He has just fallen off BED in excitement after seeing a Red Squirrel on Countryfile. While he is feeling sorry for himself and sulking, I am writing this blog in the peace and quiet!

Do you watch Grace and Frankie on Netflix? Well, the last episode of the latest series is the inspiration behind this blog. My appalling memory has been nudged by one of the characters having to use an Epi-pen for her allergies. It reminded me of something I had completely forgotten – I was diagnosed (if you can call it that) with chronic Idiopathic Urticaria 6 months before my M.E./C.F.S. hit in 2016. I was told to carry an Epi-pen at all times because of the severe symptoms I was having. I’ll explain…

I had had a nasty looking rash on the right underside of my chin and the right side of my neck for about 3 months. It was a bit itchy, didn’t go away with acne treatments, didn’t look or feel like acne either, but it was mainly covered by my hair so I wasn’t overly bothered. Then it started along the length of my spine. I was a bit worried that it was something serious so I went to the GP. My GP in Plymouth said they thought it was a kind of allergy. So they referred me for a ‘prick test’ (I have no idea if that’s the official name – that’s what I call it!) at the local hospital. I was tested for 6 of the most common things people have reactions to. All came back clear.  I was told to keep a diary of food/cleaning products that I was coming into contact with and to keep an eye on it.

Later that week, my throat and tongue swelled up and I could barely breathe. It had happened while I was asleep and it scared the life out of me. I took an antihistamine and fortunately, the situation calmed enough for me to go to my GP for an ’emergency’ appointment the following morning.

I gave the GP my food/chemical diary and there wasn’t anything suspicious on it. She took a wider medical history and asked me what my life was like ‘at the moment’. I was finishing my degree, on the verge of moving, going through a relationship break-up, and overwhelmingly stressed. I was also experiencing occasional panic attacks. She sent me straight back to the hospital, I forget which department, and they said I was basically having an allergic reaction to stress. They told me to take antihistamines daily and to always carry an Epi-Pen in case my throat swelled up again.

I took those anti-histamines for years and then got out of the habit. Then, a tree pollen allergy started so I had to start taking them again. This is why I had forgotten about the Idiopathic Urticaria, I now take the tablets for a tree pollen allergy.

As you all know, I am a tinsy bit stressed at the moment. It’s good stress, it’s productive ‘I’m doing good stuff’ stress, but, it’s stress nonetheless. The spotty rash is back down my spine and on my chin/neck – left-hand side this time. I know it’s the same as before. I’m just hoping it doesn’t get as bad as last time. I may have to invest in an Epi-Pen…just in case!

I’ve seen a few tweets this week about our M.E./C.F.S. bodies being very sensitive to stress. I wonder if I was getting M.E./C.F.S. indicators 6 months before the main symptoms started. Non-M.E./C.F.S. peeps get Idiopathic Urticaria too so it may not be related but… does make me wonder about ‘what ifs’!

Love Sally

and Foggy (Obviously)


p.s. I’ll be stopping recording audio blogs for a few months. With everything else I’m doing, it’s one thing too much for me to think about. I’ll restart offering audio blogs when Stripy is up and running and I have a bit more time and headspace.