While traveling to Hollywood to exhibit my Intimate Apparel brand CrisscrossIntimates.com in September 2018 at the 70th annual Emmy Awards red carpet luxury event with celebrity swag bags for top talent and nominees, I got ill. It happened within 12 hours of landing in Los Angeles. I toughed out the pain the first 48 hours to prepare for my event with OTC meds, not really knowing what hit me. Then shuffled through three ER rooms and Specialty Top Docs, on both Coasts, set out to find the answers for this melody ‘To Dye For’? Here’s my crazy story I’d like to share with you.
When the pain became unbearable and lumps began to appear on my scalp (both inside and out), I got concerned. . . low-grade fever, night sweats, nausea, lethargy, sore throat and throbbing inner-ear. My mind was wondering fast and furious as an 11-year Breast Cancer Survivor – what do we think of first? Metastatic Breast Cancer hitting you when you least expect it. I don’t like to go by premonition or guess work so I decided before I jump to any conclusions, I would take a deep breath and look at my symptoms more closely. In fact, I would head to the local Urgent Care to be checked out! Typically, when cancer pops it’s pink head, it can come on strong and after 10 years I’ve been cognizant of my window no matter what stage Breast Cancer I’ve had.
I attempted to ask all the right questions, informed them of my extreme, debilitating pain in head and neck. While searching high and low for the answers and source for this extremely painful virus worsening by day and night. It seemed toxic and skin irritating. I was prescribed steroids and later an antibiotic in which I had an allergic reaction to with full-body break out in hives. Still left with this mysterious chronic illness and unsolved medical dilemma – what was wrong with me and the source for my pain?
With my investigative hat on, and sleepless mind and body, I returned home and consulted my specialty physicians to cover all bases. As patients and survivors, we like to take our health in our own hands and be proactive right? Especially when it comes to women’s health and wellness. I write about these subject matters often and stay abreast of trends. It didn’t matter how many visits I made to the ER as long as I obtained the proper care for this painful experience. On a scale of 1-10, I was at a 10 going on 3 weeks! getting worse. Then prescribed 30 days of steroids, nerve blockers for brain, antibiotic to clear the head infection, and local anesthetic to numb or block the nerves at the scalp. The lymph nodes had grown large and multiplied and were pulsating every 30 – 60 seconds up and down the left side of my head. Alternating ice and heat to subside the pain. It was truly unbearable. I was in agony with nerves pulsating at my skull. My exciting biz trip to Hollywood became a nightmare with this unexpected turn.
I began to think of the airplane headrest, hotel pillowcase, shampoo, etc. Could something that simple or more severe cause this? I started to think of other possibilities like lice, aneurism, blood clots, tumor, bacterial infections, food allergy, I was thoroughly checked numerous times and it was none of the above. CT scan only showed swollen head and lymph nodes. The Docs suggested anything from bacterial infection, virus, hair dye, Zosters, and claimed it was unknown but agreed it would go away and was not contagious.
It was suggested that swollen lymph nodes could be caused by PPD, most commonly used in reddish dyes which is used as a partial ingredient in my hair base color two days before I left town. What is PPD or Phenylenediamine? Paraphenylenediamine, p-phenylenediamine, or 1,4-benzenediamine, PPD is an organic compound used in hair dyes, as well as in rubber chemicals, textile dyes and pigments. Manufacturers like it because it has a low relative toxicity level, high temperature stability, and chemical and electrical resistance. In other words, it helps the new color stay on your hair despite numerous washings, dryings, and stylings. So yes, it was possible – but probable? I wasn’t buying in yet.
Sample Red Hair Dye Ingredients – make sure your color and developer are same brand, preferably organic if allergic.
All I know is that this went on for over three weeks, before meds kicked in. Unsure if the meds masked the pain or treated the problem, the pain started to sub-side and I started to feel better. Now scheduled for a PPD hair-dye patch tests in 6 weeks, two weeks after completion of medicines. We agreed to test multiple hair colors and keratin products that I use and don’t use, to see the affects. Swollen lymph nodes is a serious ailment, often triggered by something else going on – our bodies have a mind of their own sometimes. Since my reaction affected only one side of my head, I truly did not believe it was ‘To Dye For’ since my entire head was not affected from the chemical reactions. Soon we will know for sure.
While the waiting game began, my pain management subsided. I have used partial reddish-brown hair dyes for years and never had such a reaction with semi-permanents or permanents. Was my body now resistant to these dyes? Is this another NEW allergen? I know I’ve been susceptible to many foods and drugs, especially with a low autoimmune system post cancer, post Tamoxifen, but honestly, my gut has been telling me it’s caused by something else. It is a known fact that Autoimmune Disease can cause the body turn on itself, attacking healthy cells as it worked to protect the body from viruses, bacteria, and other invaders; creating mysterious chronic diseases. There are double the number of people afflicted with autoimmune disease than are diagnosed with cancer. Some autoimmune diseases are multiple sclerosis, lupus, Crohn’s disease, type 1 diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis – however, some autoimmune disease occur post-cancer treatments, like mine.
So where does this leave me? Well it leaves me wondering what will be the end diagnosis or will I have to walk on eggshells from here on out, not knowing what went wrong and will it re-occur? The test results, whether positive or negative will shed a light in the coming weeks. In the interim, no PPD color dyes for me. My friend called this the ‘red-hair dye virus or flu’ trying to make me laugh. Believe me, this experience has not been a funny experience but one ‘To Dye For’. Test results to be reported on a future Crisscross blog.
There are many shades of RED (just like Gray!) Read the ingredients.
Salons can also perform a skin test for you!
All the breast, Jean