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 🙂

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 🙂 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. 😉 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

 

Safe Holidays?

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How were your Holidays? Were you able to eat delicious food surrounded by those you love without a reaction. Thanks to wonderful friends and family who truly understand my allergies, I had a reaction free Christmas. Even my environmental allergies were well controlled as I avoided any environments which might have triggered a reaction.

If you and your family went to friends and family for dinner, did your hosts understand your food allergies? If they had pets, did they understand how your asthma and allergies would be affected?

Hopefully you had great safe holidays and that New Years will also be a safe one for you. If you are going somewhere, please prepare ahead and communicate your allergies and the level of severity. Better to be safe.

Have a wonderful Monday!

Erika

 

“Defining allergy fact from fiction”

I’ve been busy lately, and am trying to organize my routine, so I can still have time to post and share interesting articles and research I come across with you, my readers.

Nowadays, there is so much information on the internet that it can often feel like you need to sift through fact and fiction or myth and reality. I always say to go with what you hear straight from a board-certified allergist and/or physician. Who knows what the real source is on the internet. I know if I have questions, whether it be about contact skin reactions, food reactions, potential allergic reactions to medications, I go to my allergist, and if he’s not available, then I’ll run it by my physician. And then, once they’ve diagnosed, or explained it to me, yes, I may do an internet search to see if others are living with the same challenges, because it’s nice to not feel alone.

I hope the following article will help you see some fact on a few topics you or perhaps someone you know believed, and in the end is fiction.

Defining allergy fact from fiction” – Press Release from American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

What was the biggest “Ah ha!” of this article, that you perhaps wish your friends or family read, so they would see that it is “just a myth”.

For me it is hands down #5; “I’m Allergic to Cats and Dogs, but Can Have a Hypoallergenic Breed”. So many people say “oh, it’s a poodle, you won’t be allergic”… actually, yes, I am.

Hotel stays… Not always exciting for us folks with allergies and asthma

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It’s all in the title. This coming weekend I am taking some kayak athletes to an out of town race. What this means is that we will be staying in a hotel for 2 nights… As there weren’t many options to choose from in this town, this place was our best bet. Coincidentally, they allow pets. Now if you have environmental allergies as severe as mine, it’s a little worrisome.

Yesterday I called the hotel and asked my “slew” of questions… I was lucky to have a receptionist who was not flustered by all my questions and was helpful. It went something like this… (not verbatim)

Me: Hi, I will be staying at your hotel this coming weekend and have a few questions for you as I have severe allergies, especially to pets.

Reception: Ok, sure, go ahead.

Me: Well, it says that you allow pets, is that correct? 

Reception: Yes

Me: As I am extremely allergic to pets, I am wondering whether you can guarantee that the room I stay in has not had a pet in it. 

Reception: Well, we generally don’t have pets above the 1st floor. And it looks like the room you reserved will be on the second floor. When you arrive, you can go to the room and if it affects you, we can move you to another room.

Me: Ok, thank you.

Me: All rooms are non-smoking, correct? 

Reception: Yes

Me: Are there windows or patios in the rooms? And if windows, can they be opened?

Reception: No patios, there are windows that can be opened.

Me: Thank you so much, umm, just one more question… Can you please make a I am extremely sensitive to cleaning products and such. Is it possible to have them use less scented products for cleaning our room prior to arrival and not spray any air fresheners or other products in the room, as I am extremely allergic.

Reception: I cannot confirm that now. I would recommend you call on thursday morning, prior to your arrival to confirm your allergies with the reception as it will be closer to the date. They should be able to accommodate.

Me: Ok, thank you very much. I appreciate all your help. It is tricky traveling with allergies. I am also wondering if there is a fridge in the room.

Reception: You are welcome, I can only imagine. Yes, there is a mini-fridge in all rooms. Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Me: No, you have answered all my questions. Thanks you again. Have a nice day.

Reception: You too.

Though the answers did make me feel better, I am still a little hesitant about the hotel and will be sure to take all my antihistamines and asthma inhalers with me. I will likely bring a few masks just in case there is no other option. Thursday morning, first thing, I’ll be calling them back.

Have you ever had a conversation like that with hotel reception? Have they been helpful or did they not really understand? My questions about the patio are the result of a bad experience two weekends ago, when all rooms in the hotel had patios. Though the hotel is non-smoking, there had definitely been people smoking on the patio in the first room we checked into as my asthma was triggered almost instantly upon walking into the room. After talking to the receptionist about the room, she moved us into another room (upgrade) and I was symptom free! Thinking back, had we stayed in that first room overnight, my asthma would have flared up and I would have been sick and miserable. I am so glad my boyfriend convinced me to go to the reception right away. Yes, even I sometimes try to settle because I feel like I may be “annoying” about my allergies. I am so lucky to have someone to help me keep my game on. When it comes to health, it’s not worth the risk! Step up and speak up. I’m good at this, but sometimes I slip. Luckily this time when I slipped I had someone to catch me. 🙂

Travel safe!!

A fine balancing act

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Finding a balance between jobs, school, rehabilitation from injuries and volunteering, all the while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle can prove challenging at times. Even with many things on my plate, I find time to go for a walk, sit on a bench in the inner harbor to watch the float planes take off and land, or do some art. It CAN be done. Even if you think you don’t have the time. Find the time. Often times the reason I am not posting is because I have too much on my plate, and I am taking some much needed down time.

Like many other chronic conditions, allergies and asthma can add a significant time commitment to your already filled schedule. Reading all the food labels at the grocery store; on cosmetics, beauty or cleaning products, can take a fair bit of time, depending on the allergies you have. When I am looking for new products to use, whether it be; shampoo, conditioner, make-up or other soaps, I need to plan for a good hour or two for label reading, going to different stores if needed, and often, calling manufacturers. My most recent challenge has been to find a new shampoo as I have been getting hives from the one I used for years. It is becoming quite the search… A week later I am still looking.

This can often add more anxiety to our lives. Too much anxiety is not good. What do you do to wind down, relax, take a break? Who helps you to let loose and take some time where you are not thinking about the million things you have to get done?

Shampoo, conditioner and body wash

Natural hair products

In following up to yesterdays’ post…

If you are anything like me, the products at the pharmacy or local grocery store just won’t cut it when it comes to shampoos, conditioners and body washes or bar soap. All the fragrance, perfumes and other scents always make me itchy or give me hives. Have you ever read the ingredients on your shampoo bottle? Or on the bar soap you use? If you haven’t I’d suggest having a read. All I can say is that most conditioners have wheat and/or soy.

Did you know that… another common ingredient you will find in most of the products on the market these days are parabens. Parabens are used as a preservative in many products, beauty products mainly. I’ve gotten hives from them in the past.

My scalp used to be itchy all the time! I switched to these natural products and now, I could never imagine trying a new product. They work great and I never feel itchy. If you are considering switching to a natural soap, be sure to read ingredients VERY diligently as you’ll notice that a lot of the different brands out there use soy or almond. When I first set out to find new hair and body products, I spent a lot of time reading and re-reading labels.

And when I go to the hair salon, I either bring my own products, or go prepared to have an itchy scalp for the next 24 to 48 hrs… Read an earlier post of mine; Time for a Haircut? about trips to the salon.

Tomorrow’s post will be about perfumes and makeup…

Pulmonary Function Tests

This morning I went to the pulmonary specialist for an assessment. I have been to the asthma clinic before, however they only performed Spirometry on me.This morning, I had pulmonary function tests done at the asthma clinic before I went to meet the specialist. In all honesty, I’ve been looking forward to this appointment for weeks! I have been having flare ups and such and having clear data about my lungs is great. I use a peak flow meter at home to keep tabs on my asthma, however these tests show a whole lot more about your lungs. To be honest, I was a little uncertain about the idea of sitting in the “clear box” for the tests, however all went smoothly.Though it subsided fairly quickly, the numerous breathing tests did trigger some coughing for me.

The tests lasted about an hour and I was off to see the pulmonary specialist. All in all, I had quite an informative and educational morning, learning about asthma, what tests could look like, how mine compare and our plan of action! What a great team at the Jubilee Hospital. 🙂

Have you had pulmonary function tests done before? How did you find the experience?

Below is some information on how these tests work, and what variables are measured.
MedlinePlus – Pulmonary Function Tests