Category Archives: Allergies and Sensitivities

My Sense of Direction and Landmarks

Once my husband has been somewhere, he can tell you how to get there using street names.  He can tell you which highway to merge on and whether the highway you want is 580 West or East.  He knows which highway he is on and which connecting highway he needs to take.  He pays attention when he is the passenger in a vehicle and stores in his memory the route.

I, on the other hand, rely heavily on landmarks to get me to the same place I have visited before.  I can’t tell you whether I need to take 580 West or East. I do not pay attention when I am in the passenger seat.  I just enjoy the ride.  You may remember my blog post entitled, “The Never Ending Drive”. Of course brain fog and short term memory loss add more confusion to my sense of direction.

My sister and I once flew out-of-state to surprise my parents at a family reunion.  We used landmarks to get us around to all of the old places we used to venture to when we would go there as children on vacation.  We knew we were close to our uncle’s house because we had just passed the brick school.  We spent a great deal of time driving around and around in this very small town trying to find the Dairy Queen we visited every summer.  The landmarks we used to get us there were right but we could not find the Dairy Queen.  Finally we asked and were told that it had been torn down.

About the time of our trip my mom gave me a copy of her Modern Maturity magazine to read.  As I scanned through the articles, one in particular stood out. The article was entitled Turn left at the dog.  I shared it with my sister and we had a good laugh.  I carried a copy of that article folded up neatly in my purse for a long time finally having to toss it like everything else I gave up.  A month ago I was mentioning the article to my sister and how I would love to read it again.  To my surprise, she had her copy.  Today she scanned it and emailed it to me.  I am sharing Turn left at the dog with all of you who have a strange or bizarre sense of direction.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

 

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.

Catch Up Mondays: Human Canaries & Friendship – revisited

I originally posted this on March 5, 2013.  This is a topic that comes up all to often among those of us with chemical sensitivity or chronic illness.  I decided it was time to share it once more on my Catch Up Mondays.

Today I was honored to be listed among some other very good bloggers on Ichigo Ichie in her post on Human Canaries and Friendship.  We all know that we are the canaries, the guinea pigs for finding what works/doesn’t work on our environmental illness and chemical sensitivities or other chronic invisible illnesses.  We also know what it is like to lose friendships during our struggles to make our world safe and in search of improving our health.  We also know how empowering it is to make new friendships with those who understand and will gladly lend a sympathic ear.  I am now following this blog too.

Dr. Rea once said that we are just the tip of the iceberg.  One day, we will be the ones that are empowered, the ones with the knowledge, and everyone else will be beating down our doors for information and sympathy.

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.

There’s Peanuts In That?

I have had a difficult time focusing on writing my blog posts.  I am not sure what is going on other than I am still grieving.  I have been watching many episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives with my husband.  Despite all my food allergies, I still enjoy watching the cooking shows.  I keep thinking I might see something that looks so delicious I might want to spend hours in the kitchen trying to rework it to make it safe for me.  It doesn’t happen too often.  Quite frankly I get frustrated too easily.  And summertime does not exactly conjure up a longing to spend hours in the kitchen slaving over a steaming pot on the stove or in front of a hot oven.

A few nights ago Guy Fieri was at a restaurant where the chef was making Mole.  I have never had it.  In my non-food-allergic world I might give it a try.  Then the chef began tossing ingredients into the pan.  The first ingredient was peanuts (a definite no for me).  Then she added mushrooms (another no especially with my fungal infection).  This was followed with plaintains (anaphylactic to those) and avocado leaves (very allergic to avocados and I am sure the leaves wouldn’t be any safer than the avocados themselves).  I think there was alcohol in there as well.

So where am I going with all this?  Imagine you have a peanut allergy.  You go to a restaurant and by a dinner that has sauce.  Because peanuts are not mentioned anywhere in the description, you think you are safe.  Then WHAM, your throat swells shut!  We have to be so very careful!  Food allergens can be hidden in everything!

When was the last time you ate something you thought “was safe” and found out the hard way it wasn’t?

That Funny Little Voice In Your Head

Today is the last day of my “Spotlight” Author blog tour with Rave Reviews Book Club. I am excited to be hosted by J.V. CarrMy time in the “Spotlight” has been so wonderful.  I thank Rave Reviews Book Club for the honor.

That Funny Little Voice in Your Head

Out of nowhere I would be driving to work and start crying as I was about to turn onto the street where my office was located.

How many times have you had that feeling deep in the pit of your stomach that tells you that something you are about to do is wrong? To read more of this blog post about that “little voice” in your head, please visit me on J.V. Carr’s blog.

I Am An Author

Today I am excited to be hosted on the blog of D. E. Haggerty.  It still feels very strange to say, “I am an author”.  

It still feels strange when those words roll of my tongue! I never set out to be an author. As a child I didn’t dream of writing books like those I loved checking out from the library every week. I was going to be a nurse until I realized that being a nurse meant dealing with needles and blood. To read more of my blog post, visit D. E. Haggerty’s blog and read the rest of my guest post.  Please take a moment to leave a comment and thank her for hosting me.

 

What Is She Saying?

Today is day 11 of my “Spotlight” Author blog tour through Rave Reviews Book Club. I am being hosted by fellow RRBC member, Marlena Hand on her blog Life as I know It.

What Is She Saying?

I am not a part of this world
When I speak, strange
terms come from my lips
People look at me with my mask
as if I am an alien
Holed up here inside my room—
stripped bare of carpet

To read more of my guest blog post and learn what Marlena has to say, visit her blog using the link above.  Please take a moment to thank her for hosting me.

How I Got Here

Today I am honored to be featured on Notes From Tabor Lane penned by Katherine Logan.  I am so thrilled at the wonderful response I have received from my fellow Rave Reviews Book Club members in supporting my time as “Spotlight” Author. 

My life was full and busy. I was a stay-at-home mother of two teen-aged daughters.  My life was wonderful and hectic.  If it weren’t for my at-a-glance calendar I would have been lost.  I was a board member of the local elementary school, a 4-H leader, president of the PTA, and a member of a local athletic booster club for young ladies at a new high school. When I wasn’t busy with community events I was playing Bunco with a group of women that I had met through PTA..to read more of my guest blog post with Katherine, please click on the link above.  Don’t forget to take a moment to leave a comment and thank her for hosting me.

How Do You Celebrate The Holidays?

It is amazing being in the “spotlight” with Rave Reviews Book Club.  Today I am honored to be hosted by Loren Weaver.

Today, I have the honor to welcome Kathryn Treat to my blog for a word about her book, Allergic to Life. Kathryn is a Rave Reviews Book Club member and author. So, join the fun with Kathryn and me.

HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS?

I am sure that most of your holiday celebrations do not include your family looking like this.

Kathryn Treat Holidays

This was my first Thanksgiving after returning from Dallas and moving into my safe home. This looks more like a group of people at a painter’s convention than a family sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal. My family has done its very best to do whatever it takes to keep me from having reactions. Even if it meant wearing these lovely one-size-fits-all Tyvek suits (that one size being XXXL). These lovely Tyvek suits protected me from anything my family’s clothing might contain. to read the rest of the blog post, please visit Loren’s website at the link above.  Please take a moment to thank her for hosting me.