Category Archives: Food Allergies

Nose Blind?

I, and several other bloggers who suffer from multiple chemical sensitivity, talk about how hard difficult it is to navigate  public places and deal with the multitude of fragrances both in the buildings themselves and on those in the buildings. Have you ever walked by and thought the person you just passed must have bathed in perfume?  Since becoming ill I have thought that these people have masked to chemicals or have simply lost the ability to smell. Therefore, they keep putting on their fragrances until they can detect the fragrance.

I remember returning to my last workplace after becoming ill and being absent for many months. I had gone to gather my things because it was obvious that I would not be able to return to work. I walked in with my mask to gather up my belongings. Suddenly I realized that their were fragrances. The fragrances were everywhere I turned. They were overpowering even with my mask on. I quickly walked out. My fellow co-workers wanted to visit with me. I had to stand outside and keep them at a distance. I asked them if they had always worn perfume? They all replied that they had. Why hadn’t I noticed before? Why didn’t I notice the odor of the paint that was being applied to the door facings while I sat at my “new” desk with “new” carpeting still being laid down around me? My only answer is that my sinuses, because of so many infections and surgeries, just could no longer detect anything. I was sick everywhere I went but had no idea all these chemicals were adding to my body’s already weakened system and over all body burden.

It wasn’t until recently when I had a bad night and could not sleep that I turned on the television and heard a commercial. AHA! There was the answer. I  had been “nose blind” due to all that my sinuses had gone through. This also explains why so many others not only where perfume or cologne, but bathe in it. They are “nose blind” until they get to a certain level of fragrances.

 

The commercial was for “Febreze”. The person was talking about their pets and the odors they caused. The person said she had become “nose blind” to all the pet odors. When friends came to visit it was like visiting a place with twice as many animals. The answer, of course, was to just spray the house with “Febreze”!

The chemical industry is bombarding us with more and more chemicals on a daily basis. I forget the number of new chemicals that are introduced each year; the number is staggering. Dr. Rea said once that we were just the tip of the iceburg so to speak when he talked about chemical sensitivities.

We need to stay vigilant and continue to speak out about the dangers of chemicals and the debilitating effect they have on us.

 

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My “Allergic to Life” Giveaway Ends Soon!

Hi Everyone

First let me thank all of my new followers. I have been away dealing with my deep vein thrombosis.  I will write more on that after I meet with the hematologist tomorrow afternoon.

It is hard to believe it has been a year since Allergic to Life was published. Where did that year go? So much has happened since then.  If you haven’t already signed up to receive one of three signed copies or the chance for one of three e-book copies, please read the giveaway information below.

To celebrate this amazing year and all the wonderful people I have met, I am giving away three signed copies of Allergic to Life (US Only) on Goodreads.  I am sorry that I can’t do signed copies for those of you outside the US.  I am going to also give away three e-book copies to anyone outside the US. To receive an e-book copy, simply leave a comment below on why you would like to receive a copy. The contest will run from August 30, 2014 through October 30, 2014, my birthday.

Is this reaction Histamine worthy?

How many of you remember the Sponge Worthy  episode from Jerry Seinfeld? The whole episode revolves around the discontinuance of the Contraceptive Sponge.  Elaine stockpiles cases of the “sponge”.  She goes to every pharmacy she can find to buy whatever is left. Then suddenly she is faced with the dilemma of whether or not her date is “sponge worthy”. Does she dare waste one of her precious sponges on him.

Recently I noticed that my vial of histamine was getting low.  I emailed an order for more. I was told that because it had been too long since I was actually seen in Dallas, I would have to return for a visit before I could get any more.   A visit to Dallas is not possible now. I am working on something else that may help me.  In the meantime, I have to decide whether or not a reaction is “histamine worthy”.  Do I try to ride out a reaction when I normally would have just given myself an injection and gone on about my day? OR Do I give myself an injection and hope I don’t have any reactions that will require histamine?

Just last week I had a reaction to someone’s cologne/perfume/whatever in my doctor’s waiting room. I went outside and was coughing and gagging so much that I disrupted the dentist in the office next door. He came outside to see if I was alright and to see if I needed any help. To my dismay I only had my inhaler and had completely forgotten to bring my histamine with me. By the time I got back into the office my usual BP of 112/70 was 149/90.  I was stuck letting myself ride out the reaction when it would have been so much nicer to have calmed my body down.

What types of situations have you been in where you have to decide if something is “sponge worthy/histamine worthy”?

All Natural Ingredients—I don’t think so!

I was watching one of those shows on the cooking channel the other night when I couldn’t sleep.  It was one of those shows where they take you to different places and share amazing food.  This particular show was Unique Sweets I think.  Anyway, they were sharing these wonderful ice creams in incredible flavors.  As they were describing the flavors they were priding themselves on using fresh and natural ingredients.  I thought, “Oh This is Great!” Ice creams were made to order in the amount purchased (single scoop, double scoop, etc.).  How could they make ice cream that quickly for you while  you are waiting?

Then the truth came out.  The camera takes you to the back of the ice cream shop.  A customer has just ordered a double scoop of ice cream in a specific flavor.  The mixture is poured into a stainless bowl and a whisk begins turning.  Okay, are you ready for the way the get the ice cream done so quickly?

nitrous oxide is pumped into the liquid as it is mixed freezing it almost immediately!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want nitrous oxide in my ice cream! I have enough problems with my chemical sensitivity without adding something this volatile to my food.

Why No One Figured Out Food Was Making Me Sick

Allow me to introduce you to Amy.  Her story of food allergies and the journey to find out what was making her sick, is an interesting one.  Now, I will let Amy tell you for herself.

Why No One Figured Out Food Was Making Me Sick

Five minutes. That’s all it took for golf ball-sized hail to destroy the four gorgeous pots of flowers I’d just set out on the patio. In two days our extended family was gathering for a dinner party to celebrate a wedding; I’d have to scurry to find more flowers. What a waste of time and money.

 

hailflowers

 

What I didn’t realize at the time was that the hail had also completely destroyed our roof along with many windows as well as the siding of our house. I’d be spending the entire summer dealing with the insurance company and contractors. Losing those flowers were small potatoes.

Sometimes we focus on the little things and entirely miss the big picture.

This is exactly what happened when I started getting sick in my thirties. The doctors focused on each of my symptoms—from vertigo to chronic pain– entirely missing the symptoms were all a part of the same illness.

The first doctor said my blood pressure was high and put me on meds. The second one told me my iron was low but brushed it off to a poor diet. Another doctor said the pain in my chest was GERD and prescribed meds. A dietitian told me I was malnourished and gave me a diet to follow. A gastroenterologist gave me meds for IBS. Another gastroenterologist told me to go eat fried foods and if I got sick, I most likely needed my gallbladder removed.  A gynecologist told me I needed a total hysterectomy.

Each time I got a diagnosis, I let out a sigh of relief.  At least it wasn’t cancer.

Still, something wasn’t adding up. After all these tests and procedures, followed by a hysterectomy and gall bladder surgery, my symptoms worsened. In fact, I became so exhausted I couldn’t get out of bed. Everything I ate made me run to the bathroom. I couldn’t remember what year it was, or how long I’d been married. Pain shot through my entire body. My legs caved when I walked up the stairs. My eyesight weakened, and I kept developing weird skin lesions. I itched all over.

I’d about given up when I saw an advertisement in our local paper for a food allergy blood test. Not one doctor had suggested food might be causing my symptoms—even though I now know reactions to food can cause all the symptoms I experienced.

When the blood test came back, I argued with the pharmacy that something must have gone wrong in the lab—I couldn’t possibly be allergic to that many foods!

So I went to a board-certified allergist for skin-prick testing. He confirmed I was allergic to myriad foods, including dairy, soy, eggs, corn, wheat, vanilla, nutmeg and asparagus.

I’d received negative results for celiac disease years earlier, but a new doctor ran a genetic test and confirmed celiac disease. Turns out I have both genes for celiac disease; either one parent has both genes, like me, or each carries one gene.  An endoscopy also revealed I have eosinophilic esophagitis, which explained why food often got stuck on the way down.

At first, I found it hard to believe food could make me so sick.  I was an adult—adults don’t develop food allergies! But as soon as I started eliminating certain foods, my health improved—immensely!

The prescribed painkillers for chronic pain and the antibiotics that followed all those procedures and surgeries in all likelihood contributed to a leaky gut and resulting food allergies and celiac disease. Certainly they didn’t help. Nor did the gluten-filled saltines I kept eating for an upset stomach!

I’ve learned a valuable lesson: Pay attention to the details, but look at the big picture. While each doctor had his or her theory for the cause of a symptom, my instinct was that all my symptoms were part of a bigger problem. I’ve since learned celiac disease can have over 300 symptoms!

 

flowersrevived

 

It took some time, but the flowers I thought had been destroyed by the hail eventually grew back. They don’t look quite as pretty as when I brought them home, but they are getting stronger and healthier.

Just like me.

I Am A Survivor!

I AM A SURVIVOR!

Yes, I am a SURVIVOR! I fought the battles and decided that I would not allow myself to be a victim any longer.

After years of allowing myself to sink deeper and deeper into depression as a result of my isolation and never-ending medical and legal battles, I had to choose whether I was going to stay in the unhealthy role of victim or begin to live my life despite its many limitations. I chose to SURVIVE!

Please join me on day three of my “Spotlight” Author blog tour with Rave Reviews Book Club.  Today I am being hosted by Harmony Kent, Harmony Kent Online.  Take a moment to visit Harmony’s blog and read my guest post.

FEAR!

In March I read a blog post that my friend Karen Ingalls had on her blog outshineovariancancer.  The title of the blog post was For No Fear: You Must Know Fear.  The title intrigued me and I would have loved to have found this back in the days when I was so fearful; fearful of living another day, fearful that I wouldn’t live another day, fearful of the next reaction, etc.

Thank you Karen for sharing such a wonderful post with us.

 

A Gluten-Free/Dairy Free Scone Disaster

I have been baking scones and freezing them the last few days.  I have some organic half and half that needs to be used up; so I am baking.

My favorite scone has lemon or orange zest and poppy seeds (sometimes substituted with Chia seeds when there are no poppy seeds).  My husband’s favorite scone has chocolate chips and sliced almonds in it (sometimes with a little coconut thrown in for good measure).

Thursday I made a batch of my scones and substituted Chia seeds because the organic poppy seeds I had ordered didn’t arrive. I also made a batch of my husband’s scones.  I decided to be a little creative and added some almond flour. The recipe calls for 2 cups of flour and I substituted 1/2 cup almond flour for part of the organic wheat flour.  They tasted very good.

This morning I woke up determined to use the last of my half and half before it went bad.  Again I made a batch of my scones using lemon zest (need to order some more orange zest) and Chia seeds.  I also decided I would bake another batch of scones for my husband.

This is where I became a little over creative.  The batch on Thursday with 1/2 cup of almond flour and 1 1/2 cups of organic wheat flour had been good.  Why not change things up?  I decided to make this batch totally gluten-free.  For the 2 cups of flour required in the recipe I used 1 1/2 cups almond flour and 1/2 cup coconut flour (since I add coconut anyway) and a handful of unsulfured coconut.  Hmm, I thought. Why not substitute the tablespoon of sugar with coconut sugar (denser and dryer than I thought but I went for it anyway).  Well, if I was going to go gluten-free, why not go dairy free?  I substituted the half and half for almond milk (left over from my daughter’s visit) and mixed it with the two eggs.

So, if I am going dairy free, I should use dairy-free mini chocolate chips.  I mixed everything together and patted it out into a circle on  parchment paper.  I brushed the entire surface with a little of the almond milk/egg mixture and added a few more dairy-free chocolate chips and slivered almonds.  Into the oven it went.

25 minutes later, I pulled out the scones with the melted chocolate chips and slivered almonds on top of a golden brown crust.  My husband walks in a little while later and takes a slice of his favorite scone right off the baking sheet.  He immediately asks what I did different.  He says they are grainy and hard to swallow.  Uh Oh!  I had to taste them for myself.  And yes they were a little gritty tasting and kind of stuck to the back of my throat when I swallowed, calling for a quick glass of water to get them down.

What went wrong?  Should I have balanced the almond flour and coconut flour better?  Should I have used coconut syrup instead of coconut sugar?  Should I have used more almond milk or added an extra egg?  I just don’t know!  If any of you who have baked gluten-free have any suggestions, I would love to hear them.  Until then, I may not be trying this again for a bit.

May is Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Month

round_MCS-awareness_badge

The Month of May has been dedicated as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) month.  I suffer from MCS (also known as Environmental Illness and Chemical Sensitivity). I did not always have MCS.  I was a very active and busy stay-at-home mother of two.  I was active in their school, their activities, as well as in our community.  I lived by my at-a-glance calendar to know when and where I was supposed to be at any given time on any given day.  I sewed and did craft fairs. I baked and canned, and did things with my friends.

My MCS began after a mold exposure in my work place where it first manifested itself in severe sinus issues and brain issues (although I didn’t realize the brain issues were happening in the beginning).  My boss would bring a phone message that I had written and placed on his desk to have me explain it to him.  I remember many times writing a message and then realizing it was sloppy or didn’t make sense and redo it.  The sad thing is that even then the messages would not make sense.  Yet I still had no idea my brain wasn’t functioning correctly.

I didn’t know what was wrong with me or why I was constantly getting sick.  It took nearly a year to discover that there was mold in the office and and a few more months before my ENT could get mucous taken from my sinuses to grow in a culture plate. I rapidly began reacting to all sorts of medication and developing food allergies.  The chemical sensitivity took a little longer to rear its UGLY head.  When it did, I was shocked.  I had seen others where the masks and walk around in a daze but that wasn’t me!  At least that is what I kept telling myself until it was me and there was no escaping it or denying it. Mold isn’t the only thing that can  push someone into “MCS or environmental illness land”.  An extreme exposure to pesticides will do it.  An extreme exposure to chemicals in the workplace can do it.  Slow but steady exposures to chemicals can also eventually cause someone to become sensitized to chemicals.  How much is too much?  There is no answer to that.  Everyone reacts to different levels of a chemical.  Not everyone has the same toxic load already before being exposed. Do people think we are crazy?  Do they think it is all in our head?  There are some that do.  Sadly there are family members who condemn their own brother or sister or mother for having a sensitivity to chemicals.  They truly do not want to accept that this condition actually exists.  For if this exists, they may have to change their habits to avoid causing further illness to their family member.  I have seen husbands leave their wives over this illness.

The isolation that MCS causes is dark and lonely.  Very lonely.  For that reason I chose many years ago that I would begin writing my story.  I would become an advocate to the best of my ability. I started by writing my story which is now available (Allergic to Life:  My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope).  A link to purchase is in the sidebar.

Throughout the month I will be reblogging posts from some of my fellow bloggers who are also posting about MCS Awareness month. Last month I celebrated my 2 year Blogiversary.  As a celebration, I began a giveaway on Rafflectopter.  I several items included in the giveaway.  Take a moment to click on the link and enter the giveaway which runs through the end of May.

Catch-Up Mondays: Life is What Happens – Revisited

This was originally posted on February 19, 2013.  I have often used the term I would have done it but life got in the way.  How many of you have had life get in your way and drastically alter your plans?  We can either become a victim or a survivor.  I choose to be a survivor!  How about you?

I was reading a book (one of my mystery books by Tami Hoag). As I was reading, I came upon this sentence:  Life is what happens when we’re making other plans.

This pretty much sums up my life.  I was busy making other plans – starting back to work, my daughters were finishing high school and I was looking forward to summers doing fun things and the possibility of traveling with my husband.  Then “life” happened and my life turned upside down.  I became ill, work eventually ended and the possibility of traveling suspended.

We always thought there would be plenty of time to take those trips.  The girls would be grown, we would be closer to retirement, and would have the time and hopefully the income to do those things.  Looking back I wish we hadn’t put so many things off until later.   Many of those things are now lost but I can focus on what we can still do – day trips to the beach, trips to the mountains, any where we can go in a day.  If the day is nice and sunny and I am feeling well, I want to go, go, go.

I am sure many of you can say the same thing.  We were busy making plans and life suddenly changed all that.  Illness struck and changed everything without warning.

My words to my daughters is to enjoy life.  Make plans but don’t postpone doing things; the things you love and want to do.  There is no time like the present because who knows what the future holds.