Tag Archives: food allergies

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?

Thank You!!!

I know that I have said this many times over in posts, but I truly mean it.  There have been so many new followers in the last three months that I need to take a minute to say “THANK YOU”.  

It means a great deal that I have so many followers who want to hear what I have to say.  I cannot stress it enough how important all my followers are to me.  To my newest members I say, “Welcome”.  Thank you for stopping by, liking what I have to say, and choosing to follow along.  To my followers who have been with me for such a long time, many from the first few days/weeks of its existence I say, “Thank you for being my support all these months.”

This blog started out as a way of promoting my then upcoming book, Allergic to Life.  But it has turned in to so much more and I have met and fostered some amazing relationships through it all.

 

Lunch with the authors

In July I posted a blog titled, “Talking About Published Authors” .  (July seems like years ago and yet it has only been six months.)  So much has happened since my post in July.  My book became available, I have had a book launch party, I did a “Meet The Author” at a health food store near my daughter’s home, and most recently I became Membership Director for Rave Reviews Book Club (an online book club).

Before all these things happened I was invited by Pattimari and Peter to join an online group of authors, PNP Authors.  I was welcomed into this group by an amazing group of people.  The blog post “Talking About Published Authors” features links to an interview Pattimari did with me and a blog post she wrote featuring me and my book.  We have contacted each other and worked together back and forth via the PNP Author website and email.  We had never talked on the phone or met in person.  A few days ago I received an email from Pattimari saying that she and Peter would be in town and invited my husband and I to lunch.  She also asked that I bring them a signed copy of Allergic to Life.

Of course I was very excited to finally get the opportunity to meet these wonderful people in person.  There is one cafe in town where I have been able to dine outdoors and they have one item on the menu that I have been able to tweak to suit my allergies.   I went ahead to get us a table and my husband would join us there.  I arrived at the cafe and my jaw dropped.  I hadn’t been there in quite some time.  I forgot that they put up a tent in the outdoor seating area to allow more customers to eat there during the winter months.  I couldn’t dine in there because all the chemicals and fragrances would be trapped in the tented area.  I went inside wearing my lovely charcoal mask and waited to be assigned a table.  I pointed to a couple of tables in the back of the courtyard outside of the tent and asked if we could sit there.  The answer was no because there was only one way in and out of the tent and that was through the cafe itself.  I began to worry about what I was going to do.  We had people coming from out-of-town to have lunch with us and my options were gone.

The hostess being the resourceful person that she was had a solution.  She opened up the gate to the courtyard and brought out two small tables and four chairs and set them up on the sidewalk area in front of the Cafe.  She came in an out of the cafe to serve us and check on us.  What a wonderful young woman!

Lunch with Pattimari & Peter

Lunch with Pattimari & Peter

This just goes to show how creative and kind the staff are at Toni’s Courtyard Cafe.

Catch Up Mondays: How Allergies Prevent a 50 Shades of Grey Life

A Lot of Women around the Pool are Reading the Same Book

Amanda from Celiac and Allergy Adventures featured a blog post with this title.  I loved how she compared allergies and Celiac Disease with the book, 50 Shades of Grey.  For me adding in mold and chemical sensitivities and Amanda has it right on.  I thought I had posted this in 2012 but in searching my past blog posts I only found a few comments and Amanda’s text wasn’t shown.  So for all of you, please visit Amanda’s blog and read this post.

Critical Day 3: The aftermath

Hello everyone.  Critical Day 3 ended yesterday.  No more lamb required.  I can go back to eating normally with the exception of the foods that I have gained through the LDA (low dose antigen) process.  I still can’t have my almonds, lettuce, tomatoes, oats, etc.).

I got up this morning to the thought of NO MORE LAMB!  However, there was still some ground lamb left.  At $9.00 a pound I wasn’t going to throw it out so I had a patty with an egg.  The egg was delicious – the lamb just didn’t do it for me today.  Unfortunately there is still a good amount of lamb stew left over.  It doesn’t freeze well and I can’t throw food out.  My husband and I will both have stew for lunch.  Tonight will be beef, chicken, pork, or anything but lamb!

I am still dealing with a headache and being discombobulated.  I also still have itchy arms.  More information about my LDA this go around can be found here, here, and  here.

I hope you are all having a good day.  Me, I need to go and rest and let my head calm down.  I came into the office to do a little bit and have been in front of the computer far longer than I thought I would be or needed to be.

Critical Day 1: LDA

Yesterday I posted about preparing and cooking my food in anticipation of the 3 Critical Days for my LDA treatment.  Today is Day 1 of the 3-day critical period.  This morning for breakfast I had my ground lamb patty and grated potatoes cooked in the famous rendered lamb fat I made yesterday.

Breakfast of Champions.

Breakfast of Champions.

I don’t miss many of my foods just yet.  After all, it is only Day 1 and I haven’t had much of a chance to miss anything except for my cup of hot green tea.  I love drinking something warm in the mornings and in the evenings when the house is cool.  I had to settle for this today. A wonderful, delicious cup of hot water.

A Delicious Cup of Hot Water

A Delicious Cup of Hot Water

I was going to post a cup of my lamb stew from dinner but I ate it before I remembered I wanted to take the picture.  I will share a cup of it with you tomorrow.

In the morning I am off on the 2 1/2 hour each way drive to get my shots.  If I am up to it, I will report back when I get home.

On a totally unrelated issues:  I still haven’t managed to go in and get my bridge for the tooth I had pulled in September.  I was told I needed to wait 6 weeks, then it was Thanksgiving, then it was Christmas, and now I am preparing for my treatment.  My upper front two teeth are achy.  I think they are starting to spread apart.  I am going to call tomorrow before we leave and get an appointment scheduled for 3 weeks from tomorrow to go in and get this taken care of.  Just one more darn thing.

So, What’s Cooking?

What is that smell  aroma throughout my home?  Could it be?  Dare it be?  Yes, it is the overwhelming smell aroma of lamb cooking.  Lamb in a pot for stew, lamb fat being rendered down to use when cooking my potatoes and ground lamb patties in the morning.  Yes, I am prepping for my LDA (low dose antigen therapy) treatment.  Tomorrow starts Day 1 of my three critical days.  What’s on the menu for those days?

DAY 1

Breakfast:  Ground Lamb Patty &  Organic Potatoes fried in none other than rendered lamb fat.

Lunch:  Lamb stew and a glass of cold sparkling water.

Dinner:  Lamb stew and a glass of cold sparkling water.

Snacks:  More Lamb Stew or a naked baked potato or sweet potato.

DAY 2 

(Repeat Day 1)

DAY 3

(Repeat Day 1 & 2)

WARNING! THE PICTURES YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE MAY BE TOO MUCH FOR THE VEGETARIAN OR VEGETARIAN AT HEART. THERE WILL BE PICTURES OF MEAT, MORE MEAT, AND MEAT FAT.  THERE WILL, HOWEVER, BE A PICTURE OF VEGETABLES.

Step 1 – Get the lamb roast on a cutting board and prepped for cutting into cubes.

Lamb Roast

Lamb Roast

Step 2 – Cube lamb roast and place in large Dutch Oven.

Cubed Lamb Roast

Cubed Lamb Roast

Step 3 – Place fatty pieces in skillet to render down into fat to be used for frying potatoes and ground lamb during breakfast meals.

Fatty Lamb Pieces

Fatty Lamb Pieces

Cooked Lamb and rendered Lamb Fat

Cooked Lamb and rendered Lamb Fat

Step 4 – Cut up potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, and cabbage.

Cut up veggies.

Cut up veggies.

This is what the final project should look like.

Dinner is ready!

Dinner is ready!

Tomorrow I will post a picture of my wonderful lamb breakfast of a ground lamb patty, potatoes, and a glass of water.

Catch Up Mondays: The Holidays are approaching; are you ready?

This was first posted on November 6, 2012.  The holidays are here again and we are all asking the same question.  Are we ready?  How will we handle the holidays with chemical sensitivity as well as food allergies?  It is difficult.  I have been fortunate that my family is always cooperative and we manage to make it through without too many issues.  The picture below was my first Thanksgiving at my house in 2004.  I am posting this early because I have another post scheduled for Monday.

Thanksgiving at my house.

Thanksgiving at my house.

The holidays are approaching.  Are you ready?  Someone Googled “Christmas with multiple chemical sensitivity” and found my post on mold spores and cross contamination.  I Googled it myself and found my blog post on page 6.  The holidays are hard for everyone with the craziness of shopping, decorating, wrapping gifts, preparing for company and planning dinners.  For those of us with multiple chemical sensitivity life becomes even more difficult and we have to be so much more creative.

My sensitivities had peaked by the end of 2003 when I came home after being in Dallas at the Environmental Health Center-Dallas for nearly a year.  My husband had been working on a safe house for me without carpets and other toxic substances.  I had rented a computer in November while still in Dallas to try to do some Christmas shopping online.  I was determined that there would be a Christmas someway, somehow.  My family would not go without some gift from me.  I arrived home on December 22nd.  The house was not finished.  The only rooms tiled were a bedroom for me to sleep in and the guest bathroom.  I had my cot and a washer and dryer.  I arrived home to a stack of boxes and two days to get it together.

Christmas morning arrived.  My family (daughters, mother, dad and sister) arrived.  The living room floor was just concrete.  There was no furniture so I borrowed some metal folding chairs from my sister.  There was no tree so I tied a bow on an oscillating fan that my husband had been using while working on the house and gently placed a few packages down around its base.  My husband made coffee at the house next door and brought it in for my family to drink.  The house was cold because the heat wasn’t hooked up yet, made even colder by the cold concrete underneath our feet.  The only heat I could provide was from a small ceramic heater that I used in the bedroom.   We survived the opening of gifts and then everyone left me alone in my room to go to my mother’s for Christmas dinner.  Oh how I wish I had a picture of the fan to share with you all.

The following year was Thanksgiving.  By this time I had some wicker furniture in the living room and a table in the kitchen.  My house was now to be my safe place and no one could enter without wearing the beautiful and elegant white tyek suits to protect me from possible mold and fragrances.  They also wore white painter hats and booties to cover their hair from fragrances  and cover their shoes from whatever they might have on them.  The photo I am sharing is what Thanksgiving looked like at my house.

My point in this post is to let others know that yes holidays are hard  with multiple chemical sensitivity but there are ways to make it work.  If you can’t go to shop like me, there is an abundant amount of online shops.  The trick is to have an idea of what you want to buy.  The first time I tried it, I became panic-stricken and began to cry.  It isn’t like going to the mall and picking up something you see that you know would be perfect for Aunt Ginny or cousin Susy.  It takes time, patience and practice but it can be done.  Wrapping paper is another issue.  Solutions can be something as simple as plain tissue paper or kraft paper that doesn’t have all the inks or shine of traditional wrapping paper.  My second Christmas after my family all graciously endured the tyvek suits, hats and booties from Thanksgiving, I wanted something better.  I purchased pajama pants for the entire family and plain simple t-shirts.  I laundered them so I could stand them and one by one my family entered the garage, changed from their “stinky perfumed things” into my safe clothes and walked into my living room.  For the first time Christmas felt a little more normal.  We all looked like we had just gotten out of bed and went straight to work celebrating Christmas.  We just had a pajama day.

Christmas dinner was what I could eat and what anyone else wanted to bring as long as the aroma from the food wouldn’t bother me.  I ate what I could eat and left the other food to everyone else.  We have continued this way of celebrating the holidays.  It may not be everyone’s normal, but it is our normal.  I am so fortunate and grateful to have a loving family that supports me and gives me the opportunity of celebrating holidays with them even if it means that they have to step outside their comfort zone to do it.

I would love to hear what others with multiple chemical sensitivity do to celebrate Christmas and other holidays.  I hope that I have answered the question for the next person that searches out chemical sensitivity and Christmas or given hope that there are things that can make it work.

Dragons Loyalty Award

dragons-loyalty-award

I was nominated today by the lovely Jenny at My Fibrotastic Life for “The Dragon’s Loyalty Award”.  Jenny is the proud nominee of this award four times already.  For this reason I am not including her in my nominees – but I want to state that she has been a great and loyal follower.  I have had several nominations over the last few months but have been so wrapped up in all things book and other issues that I have not taken the time to honor them.  Today I am turning over a new leaf and promise to be more diligent when it comes to responding to awards given me.

“The philosophy of the award is: The Dragon’s Loyalty Award is an award for the loyal fan/commenter, whether the recipient is a fellow blogger or just someone who follows and comments regularly”. 

There are some rules that one must follow in order to fully accept the award and they are as follows:

1. Firstly, display the Award on your site. You earned it and you deserve it! (check)

2. Link back to the person who gave you the award in your acceptance post; (check)

3. Nominate 15 well deserving bloggers for the Award and let them know the wonderful news by sending them a message on their site;  (this will be done as soon as this link is posted)

4. List 7 interesting facts about yourself” (check)

I have done these awards before and don’t know if I can come up with 7 facts that you don’t know about me but here goes;

  1. I have never learned how to skate.  I remember trying a few times at the roller rink but was so bad (uncoordinated) and embarrassed that I quit going.
  2. When my left hand gets cold you can faintly see a scar across my fingers where I grabbed a fresh cup of hot coffee on the table and spilled it on my hand when I was a baby.
  3. I didn’t get chicken pox as a child no matter how many times I was exposed but instead got them when I was 31 from a child who was visiting my daughters’ preschool on the day it was my turn to volunteer and then gave them to my own daughters 21 days later.
  4. Since we are about to celebrate Thanksgiving – I will tell you that I came down with the mumps on Thanksgiving Day.
  5. I chose to walk nearly two miles to school during high school because I didn’t want to walk 1/2 mile and then ride the bus.
  6. I was in Whose Who Among Junior College Students.
  7. My favorite toy was a stuffed dog with bells in his ears that I for some strange reason named Gas Pipe.

My 15 nominees are:

  1. Sondasmcschatter
  2. Fergiemoto
  3. Sensitivetochemicals
  4. quirkywritingcorner
  5. boredsick
  6. acflory
  7. outshineovariancancer
  8. lifeinthecitywithafuture
  9. jenniesherwin
  10. spruestory
  11. addercatter
  12. tissuetales
  13. adventuresofanallergicfoodie
  14. doilooksick
  15. theallergista