Friday, November 18, 2016

Allergies

Cheryl has asked a valid question.  I went back through the blog, thinking I had addressed what happened between the time I closed the old blog and started the new.  I was suprised to find I hadn't.  I'm blaming it on a pre-senior moment.

 Long and short of the story, I have food allergies to 4 of the major 8 food allergens recognized here in the US.  I am highly allergic to peanuts, treenuts, fish and shellfish -- so much so that I have to avoid cross contact with other foods and carry my epi-pens at all times.   For a few months before I was diagnosed I kept having what they thought was either something wrong with my throat, my thyroid, or my lungs.  However, nothing would show up in the tests they kept running.  I was living on steroids and various medicines trying to keep things cleared up.  None of us even thought about allergies even though there are people in my family with the same allergies I have and allergies to eggs and milk as well.  I don't know why I didn't think to ask to be tested.

 Fast forward to one weekend and a trip to the beach combined with a snack of peanut butter crackers -- yes I hit what turned out to be all my major allergens in just one day.  Let's just say not being able to get in enough oxygen is frightening as all get out.  The hospital sent me home with a list a mile long of things to avoid until I could see the allergist.  Mostly I ate white rice, oats and a few other things during that time.  I eliminated all wheat, vanilla, dairy, spices, coffee, nuts, seafood, etc. No packaged foods were allowed.

 It was quite an experience. I was fortunate to be able to get in to see the allergist somewhere around 5 weeks later.  I even told him I was expecting him to tell me I was nuts because I was well over 40 and had never had a problem with any kind of allergies other than to stinging insects.  Imagine my surprise (and his too actually) when I went into shock there in his office.  They had to stop testing, treat me, and rely on blood work only for the rest of the tests.   I could add back in some things, but basically short of specially labeled things my days of eating anything packaged and eating out were pretty much over.  We cleaned out the pantry and I started teaching myself to cook again.  Somethings were easy to do and others were a little harder.  With strict orders to avoid cross contact I avoid most packaged foods and most restaurants.   Twice I have tried to be lax about following the "rules" and both times I have ended up in anaphylactic shock.  Once was over a cookie that didn't have nuts, but had been processed around them.  I didn't call the company to verify first.  The second time was when someone was served seafood near me.  I learned my lesson though and I try a bit of anything new, make sure people around me know I am trying it, and then I wait to see what happens. Over time I have found a few things I can eat that are processed, but I am vigilant to read labels each time. I also can eat a Chipotle tofu mix with no difficulties.  I can do a veggie sub from Subway.  They both verify nut free and I check with the local restaurants.  Beyond that I think every restaurant here sells seafood of some sort.   However, I don't live in a bubble.  I cook things for my family that I do not eat or they will eat out without me.  I choose to eat a vegan diet because it helps me control my blood sugars (I have reactive hypoglycemia)  in addition to other reasons that are much more complex.   I don't really know what else to add.  However, if anyone has any specific questions I will do my best to answer.  

4 comments:

  1. So sorry that you have had to deal with this. DD has been diagnosed with IBS, and is currently glutten free and following both a GERD and a FODMAP diet. This severely limits what she can eat. She is feeling much better and slowly is trialiing foods, a list being generated as now "off limits,: through trial/error.

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    1. Making that list is the difficult part, but I am glad that she is slowly feeling better. It is amazing how much of a difference knowing what to look for can make.

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  2. Thank you for answering. I have a granddaughter who is allergic to nuts and seaford. She can be around both but not eat either. No one in the family has the nut allergy but my father-in-law had the seafood one. My dh is allergic to citrus, citric acid (a preservative in lots of foods) and penicillin. I need to watch all detergents, hand soaps and meds because it causes welts to his body. Seems in his family every other generation would have the allergy but my daughter has to be careful with citrus too. Seems my granddaughter can eat some chocolates (m & m's) but not a local chocolate shop in our area. Good luck on your journey, you always seemed to cook from scratch so I bet that helps you. Cheryl

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    1. Bless her heart.
      I understand about watching what you buy. Thank goodness for labeling. Although I admit I almost need a magnifying glass to read some of the bottles in the store.
      I do like to cook from scratch, so that definitely helps. I think what I miss most is the social aspect of freely doing things with other groups.

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