30 days of bizarre allergic reactions explained

24 hrs post reaction

Though many of you reading this have likely seen some of my Facebook and Twitter updates over the last month, it’s fair to assume that many of you haven’t heard from me since my last post, from a while back. In my last post I had mentioned I’d get back to writing more often, and I apologize for not doing so. As you all know, sometimes life gets in the way… In my case it most certainly did.

Fast forward to this morning… Quick summary to those of your reading this who have not heard a thing from me since my last post… June 8th I had a very severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) and was hospitalized. Once in the hospital I continued having bizarre reactions for which doctors at the hospital could not explain. The last 4 weeks I’ve been reacting to foods I used to eat on a regular basis and did not understand why… Yesterday I finally got to see an allergist after 5 weeks of not really knowing what was going on. And it all finally made sense!!! The pieces of the puzzle finally came together! This morning I woke up feeling more confident than ever that my system will eventually calm back down and I’ll be able to resume the level of exercise I was doing before my June 8th reaction.

So. What happened on June 8th? June 8th I woke up early around 6am, hopped on my bike like I did most mornings and had a pretty intense hour bike ride. I definitely got my heart rate up there and sweat it out. I was really hungry after my ride and decided I’d have some almond butter on celery as a quick protein fix to tide me over until breakfast… Little did I know the combination of the celery, almonds and intense exercise sent my body into reaction mode. Within 5 minutes of ingesting the celery and almond butter, I started having symptoms of Anaphylaxis and knew I needed to administer epinepherine IMMEDIATELY. I administered my first dose of epinepherine and called 911 who dispatched an ambulance. After a few more doses of epinepherine, corticosteroids, and lots of antihistamines my body finally started to get the message that it was time to calm down! I’ve never had a reaction so intense as I did that morning… I was hospitalized over night, and sent home 24 hours later as I was feeling a whole lot better and symptoms of anaphylaxis had disappeared. 3 days later I had another reaction and found myself back in the ER… I had another 2 reactions the following days (while hospitalized) and we were pretty sure it was to the fresh cherries and raw carrots and tomatoes I had snacked on, because the hospital food was not the safest option for me. I stopped eating these things and things seemed to clear up. After a few days they sent me home. I had never been hospitalized before and though the doctors and nurses were great, I was happy to go home to my own bed.

The next few weeks I reacted to foods I had’t reacted to before and had some other weird things going on with my breathing and asthma. After speaking with friends and family, keeping a food journal and doing some research of my own, I suspected that part of the bizarre reactions might be a result of an oral food allergy syndrome related to birch pollen. Yesterday the skin prick tests confirmed it! And I was relieved! Many of you might be reading this thinking “Is she crazy!?! she just found out she’s got more allergies and she is relieved? No one is relieved to have more allergies.” Well, I REALLY am! And let me tell you why… Yes allergies can put a damper on life sometimes, but I would much rather know what I am reacting to and pick up a few more allergies than continue on not knowing what I’m reacting to. The rest seems to be my system trying to recover from all the reactions and medications I’ve had. And this will get better with the right medications, follow-up with my new allergist and time. As we all know time heals many things…

Once we know what we are allergic to, we can avoid those foods. Adding a few more foods to my list of allergies does not frustrate me in the least. It just means there are a few more things I need to watch out for. We all have different challenges we have to manage, whether it be health related or other. Being able to manage these and overcome them only makes us stronger! We need to embrace these challenges and not let them define us. I don’t let allergies define me. I’ve accepted the fact I have allergies and that I need to be more cautious than a lot of people. It doesn’t change who I am as a person. Even if I were to develop more allergies tomorrow, I’d still be the same smiling, positive, driven person I am today. Nothing can change that! Throughout the last 5 weeks I’ve learned many things… I could probably devote an entire post to what I learned, and I will… in due time. But for now I’ll leave you with the most IMPORTANT thing I learned which was “patience”. I learned to be patient with my expectations and my body and to trust that in time I;d have answers to everything that was happening. I trusted that in time my body would calm down and things would come back to normal.

If you stayed with me through this long post, I congratulate you!

Stay tuned for more updates and some key lessons I learned from all this, coming soon. ūüėČ

Wishing you all a great day wherever you happen to be! Keep smiling and finding the silver lining. There’s always a silver lining! Often times it’s just really hard to find! Keep searching for it in those really difficult situations and you’ll feel enlightened. I know I sure have throughout all of this.

I’ve overcome my allergies and asthma! Bring on 2017!

I just realized the other day that I hadn’t posted in almost a year and decided it was time to get back into a routine with my posting! So much has happened over the last year. I wanted to update you all and keep you posted on the successes as well as the hurdles I’ve been working through. After 8 years living in Victoria, British Columbia I have moved back to Montreal, Quebec to be closer to family, where I grew up. I’ll catch you all up slowly ūüôā

On the allergy front, the past year has been filled with wins.

Firstly, I am thrilled to announce that I am still eating almonds!! It’s been over a year after passing my challenge to almonds, and I must say,¬†having one more source of protein in my life has made all the difference.

Secondly, after 6.5 years of cat and dog immunotherapy, I can be around all dogs without issue and without antihistamines. My body seems to be considering the same for cats though it has not been as accepting of them yet. Emphasis on yet.

During the holidays, I had an exciting win! I tolerated 3 hrs in a house with 3 cats! I had taken some antihistamines and gone for short breathes of fresh air throughout the evening… That being said, I was in a house with cats!?!?! if someone had told me 10 years ago that one day I’d be in the same house as a cat, I’d have told them they were crazy… But they would have been right ūüôā To all those out there feeling hopeless about your pet allergies, I urge you to look into immunotherapy and talk with an allergist. Reducing the severity of my pet allergies has changed my life. Everyone I run into who talks about having to deal with major allergy flare ups when they go to a family members house with a cat or dog, I say, you don’t need to suffer. There are solutions out there. There are advances in the science of allergies and asthma every day and the research is starting to come up with potential solutions to all of this. Please don’t suffer in silence. Ask me questions here if you want, or send me an email and I’ll gladly answer any and all you may have.

Getting control of my allergies has resulted in EXTREMELY controlled asthma. Without changing a thing for my asthma treatment, my lungs are better than ever! Allergies and asthma are a domino effect. Solve one thing, and another will be resolved too.

If there’s any wisdom to share with you all from the last year, I’d share this:

Ask questions and be curious.
Ask for help and never give up.

The¬†answer you’re looking for could be right around the corner!

And most importantly of all… Keep smiling and focus on the positives! Trust me on this one. Focusing on what’s not working the way we like is¬†not the way to go. Think of embracing the challenges you are faced with. Strategize how you might overcome them and who you might engage in your journey to success! And know that it’s ok to have moments where we feel down. I’ve had them too. It’s what makes us human. It’s what we do to get through these moments that shapes us. If you can find the strength and resilience to pick yourself¬†up when¬†you are at your lowest low, you can take on anything life throws your way.

Life’s a journey and we don’t have all the answers. Be open to asking others for help and guidance and you can reach your goals and milestones. I struggled with asking for help. Everything changed when I started asking for help and not feeling like I was burdening others by doing so. At the end of the day, it’ll be up to the people you ask to let you know if they don’t have time or the capacity to help you. To be your best self, one needs to believe that we are never alone. Friends, family, colleagues, medical professionals, people we meet on the ski trails or at a coffee shop. We are surrounded by people who all have their own successes and challenges. Speak up and you’ll get to where you need to go.

Wishing you all the best for 2017 and looking forward to sharing some recipes I’ve been saving up and some more insight¬†with you all on how I’ve overcome my allergies and asthma. You heard that right. I have overcome them because they no longer control my life, I control theirs. ūüėČ They exist, there are foods I can’t eat and some places I won’t go with a ten foot pole like a pet store, but I’ve got the reins on my life and no one can stop me!¬†Perspective is everything.¬†Watch out, there’s no stopping me now.

In health,
Erika

 

More stories about life with asthma and allergies!

It’s been a busy few weeks with multiple oral food allergy challenges and preparing to attend¬†Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology¬†(CSACI) conference in Vancouver next week, however I wanted to share with all my readers a few longer posts and stories or essays I have written about life with asthma and allergies. I’ve created a new page for these, so they don’t get lost in the my blog. The first two I have shared are titled: “Life with Asthma ‚Äď The Never Ending Game of Chess”¬†and¬†“When thinking positively makes all the difference”

Check out the stories by visiting Longer posts and stories

 

Sea otter named Mishka has asthma just like us

Credit: Seattle Aquarium/ Twitter

Mishka is the first sea otter in the world to have been diagnosed with asthma. Mishka is in Seattle and has to take an inhaler just like those of us with asthma do. You’ll want to watch this video of them training her to use her inhaler (Flovent) and hear more about Mishka and her asthma. More research will have to be done to look at environmental factors and impacts on asthma to see how changes in the environment affects everyone, not only humans.

Victoria Regional Transit Commission votes to keep existing pets on buses policy

Yesterday, after presentations from 3 delegations and a thorough report presented by one of the Commission members on the topic of whether or not to allow dogs on leashes on buses a decision was made. That decision was to keep the existing policy wherein working dogs are allowed on buses at all times, however other pets are only allowed on buses when in carriers.

This was a very interesting meeting to be present for as we heard about the research they had done, the surprising response to their survey that was posted in the fall and more about what other cities have as policies around pets.

The survey asked questions around how often you use transit on a weekly basis, how would this change if dogs on leash were allowed on buses and so on.

Over 50% of the public who responded to the survey said they did NO to a policy change which would allow dogs on leashes on buses. A little over a third said YES to allowing them and 10% said Sometimes. The response was even more overwhelming with Transit Operators with well over half of them saying NO to the idea of a policy change.

In both my research and that of the Commission, it was clear that some transit Commissions across Canada have not opened up discussions to the public on the matter. I would like to thank the Victoria Regional Transit Commission as well as Vancouver for opening up this topic to the public, as we all have a right to speak up when it is a matter of public safety. They are going above and beyond to ensure that they make an educated decision and incorporate the public’s opinions in their decision. With surveys, presence on various social media platforms asking these important questions, accepting letters and emails and phone calls on the topic.

They have agreed to keep the policy at this time, however they may reconsider once Vancouver has made their decision about their own Transit Policies.

Watch the Video Clips from Chek News and CTV News to learn more:

No leash dogs allowed on Greater Victoria buses РChek News

No pups on public transit, unless in a carrier – CTV News

Meeting with Victoria Regional Transit Commission this afternoon

Do you have asthma triggered by allergies like dog dander and live in Victoria, BC and area:

I will be presenting my delegation as to the impacts allowing non-service dogs outside of carry cases on buses would have on us. I have been working hard on my presentation as the asthma community deserves to be heard. Another follower, Robin Bayley will also be presenting on the subject. The two of us hope to cover the whole picture of what impacts this would have. If you are available at 1 pm today, the meeting is open to the public, however only as an observer, no questions or comments can be made from the public at this meeting. 520 Gorge Road East.

If you cannot make it to the meeting on this insanely short notice,  please share your thoughts in the comments section below or send me an email erika.ladouceur@livingwithallergies.ca

How would this decision to allow non-service dogs outside of carry cases on buses impact your life or that of a loved one? Would it make you at risk of a serious asthma attack on the bus?

A wet start to the week…

Today we woke up and opened the door to check the weather. Turns out today is a “heavy rain” day. One of many living here on the west coast of Canada.

On days like today I am always very aware of my breathing as after rain there is often mold. There are giant puddles everywhere! Days like today I think of how much fun we had as kids jumping in puddles and the water didn’t bother us in the least.

Allergy injection for me tonight. Then I am finally at my maintenance dose. After  3 months of trying to get to maintenance, I will be able to take the maximum dose, on a monthly basis, I am finally there!!!  Relief. Regular allergy injections definitely make my schedule busier as I have to wait at the walk-in clinic to get them. However, it is well worth the wait as the doctor administering the injections does her best to administer in a way that rarely triggers a reaction. I am fortunate to have found a really good doctor at the walk-in.