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. 😉

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.

Food Allergies and Anaphylaxis- No Joke

Many of you know that Severe food allergies and Anaphylaxis are no joke. There are still many people out there that do not realize how serious and life-threatening a food that may seem so innocent, like a peanut can be. We need to raise awareness.

Below is yet another sad story of what happens when us severely allergic people ingest these foods and a reminder of how important it is to take every possible precaution possible. When your life is on the line. Be as safe as you can be.

Amy’s nut allergy devastates family and friends

These stories need to be shared. We need to raise awareness that food allergies are no joke.

 

Do you have Food-dependent exercise induced Anaphylaxis?

One of my readers is wondering if any of you have FDEIA and would like to chat with others that do have this. Please read her message below and add comments below or contact me if you would like to be connected.

“Hello, like you, have been living with asthma and anaphylaxis related to peanuts and nuts since birth. I have no issue with any of these; I am so used to them they don’t bother me anymore. Since grade 8 I have also had sensitivities to something which was first assumed to be soy or legumes, but which I now believe to be some chemical or additive in processed foods, in particular meats. This doesn’t bother me too much, as it only causes uncomfortable but not life-threatening reactions. For the last few years however, I have a new one to add to the list (new ones aaalll the time – such a blast!). I have diagnosed myself with food-dependant exercise induced anaphylaxis. This is based on (so far) 6 different episodes. I know my body and I listen to it by now. All my symptoms match, but when I tried to explain this to emergency personnel or to two different allergists, they dismiss me by saying I must have come into contact with nuts. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that after a lifetime of avoiding our allergens and living in my own apartment which is completely allergen-free, this is not a possibility. I always have an Epipen and also a very attentive husband who always exercises with me. I’m just wondering if you have contact with anyone else who has this condition, diagnosed or not? I’d even consider some doctors who would be interested in studying my case, not necessarily for my own benefit but maybe they could learn something about it. Thanks!”

Allergies are not fair…

Let’s be honest. Sometimes when we have to miss out on something we really want to do, or perhaps our plate looks less appetizing than the person next to us, we start to think “allergies are not fair, why me?”. It’s what happens when we have allergies. Whether it be food allergies or environmental allergies. I’d be lying if I said that I’ve never missed out on something or felt a little angry and even sad because I could not attend an event. And there have been numerous times when I went to a party and ended up eating veggies while others ate things that looked a million times more appealing… however I’ve always tried to spin my thinking.

It’s easy to start telling ourselves that life would be so much better without allergies, especially the food allergies… It is often easier to focus on what we’re NOT able to do, and NOT able to eat than it is to tell ourselves all the great things that are going on in our lives. Society nowadays leads one to want to compare what they have with what others have. If I have allergies and not one of my friends do, it is easy for me to feel frustrated and think life’s unfair or unjust. Is it always easy for me to embrace life? No, it’s not. It takes a little more energy, more confidence and a lot of honesty.

Whenever I start to feel down about not going to a party because my friends have a dog or a cat or not being able to attend an event because it is in an old, dusty building I just have smile and tell myself “it’s not the end of the world” and plan something else. It is what it is. There are a lot of people out there that would much rather have allergies than the disease they are fighting, or the injuries they have sustained from an accident. Allergies do suck sometimes, however allergies can be managed. We can control our environment. We can control the food we eat. And not everything involves food. We can still go to the movies with friends, go for a hike or a camping trip. To some people, these are all things they wish they could one day do…

Embrace life. Next time you think to yourself that you wish you didn’t have allergies and that life is unfair, think of those that have even more allergies… There are a few people that instead of being allergic to 4 things, can only eat 4 things.  I can’t even imagine.

At the end of the day, what matters the most is not the food you can or cannot eat. There is sooo much more to life. Allergies do feel unfair. Sometimes I’ve wished they’d just disappear on me. Reality is that my life-threatening allergies to peanuts, nuts, lentils and soy are likely here to stay. And I’m ok with that. Are you?

First Date

rose

I figured with Valentine’s day around the corner I would bring up the conversation of dating again… particularly first dates. i have been asked many a time from parents what dating looks like for me. Well, its been a little while since I’ve been in that scene though thought I’d chime in. 

When it comes to dating, it has always been a big concern for me because all of a sudden I am putting my life in someone else’s hands. My action has always been to discuss my allergies and the Epi at the very beginning of the relationship. Even before the first kiss. I’ve never had anyone reject me or turn me down because of my life threatening allergies and asthma. Believe me, if a guy or girl likes you they will ask questions and want to know how they can help keep you feeling safe. 

Where to go on a first date? Some place where food is not part of the game,  or a picnic where you offer to get the sandwiches. I’ve gone to coffee shops or for a walk on the breach or to a park, or done something active like gone for a bike ride. There are sooo many things you can do that do not involve food.

In leaving food out of the first date you can focus on getting to know each other and not worry about the food or stress about having to ask the waiter about your allergies in front of your date. 

The story of an 11 year old girl who survived

The holidays can often prove to be a challenging time for most of us with food allergies. Especially when it comes to dinner parties and such.

Please listen to this young girls’ story and share. It is a great story of survival and strength and shows that it doesn’t take much for some of us with life-threatening allergies to react severely.

http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/story/20342823/atwater-girl-raises-awareness-of-food-allergies-after-holiday-party-scare

During this holiday season, be sure to ask lots of questions and when in doubt, go without. If you are not sure about the food that will be served, eat before the party, and only snack on a few things you feel safe with and are not worried about cross-contamination.

 

 

Victoria Allergy and Asthma Fair! A success.

Today was the Allergy and Asthma Fair organized by “Protecting Anaphylactic Children Today“. There was a great turnout to this event held at the Esquimalt Recreation Center this afternoon. There were speakers as well as several booths set up with resources and treats. Sara Shannon spoke as well as a Ministry of Health 811 Dietician and an Ambulance Paramedic.

Some of the local companies included Crumsby’s Cupcake Cafe, The Market on Millstream and The Market on Yates, Dare Foods, Epicure Selections.

Many of us challenged each other with our spirometry results which was great fun, all thanks to the VIHA Respiratory Health team!

The information booths included:

Allergies Abroad
Health Canada
Asthma Society of Canada & National Asthma Patient Alliance
Allergic Living Magazine
Anaphylaxis Canada
Allergy/Asthma Information Association (AAIA)

If you joined us today, what did you think? Did you return home with some new resources and perhaps new ideas on how to manage either your allergies and/or a loved ones?

Feel free to share comments here!