This morning I made the trip up to Brigham and Women's center for Allergy and Immunology, in the hopes that a second opinion might shed some new light on this bizarre exercise-induced anaphylaxis I've been dealing with since last May.
The doctor I saw seemed very knowledgeable, and pretty well-informed on this condition, but unfortunately, there wasn't much he could tell me above and beyond what my local allergist has already covered.
We went over the history of all the reactions I've had, discussed the potential triggers, and what I've been doing up to this point to attempt to control/prevent the reactions, and we ended up right back where I end up every time I talk to anyone about this - it's a very uncommon, very unusual, and somewhat mysterious affliction, and we may never know why it's happening to me, and we almost certainly will never really be able to definitively 'fix' it.
You might think this would be really discouraging - to drive almost 2 hours just to hear the same thing I've already heard several times before. But it's really not, because honestly, I kind of suspected that that's what was going to happen.
I've done plenty of my own research on this condition, and the fact of the matter is, it's just not well understood, even among the most skilled and qualified doctors. There was a small part of me that hoped that maybe I'd learn something new that would help me understand what's going on, and how to help prevent it or cope with it. But I knew the chances of that happening were slim.
I did have some bloodwork done, though, in an attempt to rule out a few possible allergens - namely, the foods that I most often eat before a run - bananas, wheat, and coffee. (Let's not talk about what a travesty it would be to find out I was allergic to coffee.) He doesn't really suspect any of these are truly the culprit, but better to rule it out than to keep wondering.
And there were also some fancy acronyms and mast-cell disorders that he ran tests for - basically to see if the mast cells in my body (the things that actually trigger all the crazy stuff that happens when you have an allergic reaction) are somehow defective. Again, he doesn't think this is the case, but at least we'll have a definitive answer on that within a week or so.
So, the news is that there really is no news. I'll continue to do all the things I've been doing to keep myself as safe as possible when running, I'll keep taking Allegra before I run (he said I could even start taking it every day - it might not make a difference, but it wouldn't hurt, either), and I'll keep my fingers crossed that I'm one of the lucky ones for whom this all just magically disappears one day.
And on a much more fun note - it was kind of cool to be driving through Brookline and Wellesley and Newton, not far from where I'll be running in just 11 short weeks!