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

 

Public Transit – A challenge for someone with allergies and asthma

Bus

Many people commute to work, school and extra-curricular activities using public transit. And most of which use it on a daily basis as their primary transportation means. It helps us reduce our emissions, our carbon footprint and can have so many other benefits. The bus or metro is often a great time to catch up on some reading, relax and listen to music, or even look out the window and be inspired. Here in Victoria, commuting to work by bus means we are not having to pay extra for parking and can sit and relax on the ride to and from work. Now, there is a catch. Living with severe environmental allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivities, public transit has not always been an option for me. Over four years ago, I started immunotherapy treatments for cats and dogs. Many may think the reason for this would be to enable me to have a pet or have less allergies when I was in someones house who had a dog or cat. Actually, the treatments has served as a means for me to be in public spaces, including public transit.

For some time, If someone who had cat dander on their clothing sat next to me it used to trigger my asthma, and I ended up in the ER on a few occasions. Nowadays, with regular antihistamines and continued immunotherapy, I can take the bus on a regular basis, but it means that there are several mornings when I get to work and my asthma has flared up. And mornings where I have to take antihistamines which make me extremely drowsy and make it very hard to concentrate at work. On the bus, all my worst triggers are present. There is dust, pet dander on people’s clothing, smoke from people who smoke right before getting onto the bus, people with cigarette butts on the bus with them and lots of perfume, cologne, the strong body lotions and creams. For someone like me, with lots of allergies, it is quite something. And it’s a gamble. There is no way of knowing what triggers will be on the bus each day.

Do you or anyone you know take public transit and struggle with environmental allergies, asthma and/or chemical sensitivities? If so, please share your experiences below.

“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.

A homemade $25 HEPA filter!

HEPA Filter

If you have environmental allergies, you will want to make sure your home is a safe place. Minimizing the triggers in your home is of utmost importance, and it is harder to minimize triggers in an office or in public transit. Having a controlled home environment means that you can come home at the end of the day, to a safe place. Where your body gets some down time and is not exposed to as many triggers. Air purifiers are very good at cleaning the air in your home from those smaller particles that could be triggering you.

HEPA filters can be expensive. They usually range between $100.00 and $800.00 and in some cases, for larger houses, you may need two.

The University of Michigan Health System has come up with a short, informative video that demonstrates how you can make your own homemade filtration unit for approximately $25. I fully intend on making one myself to see how it works!
Click here to view their video…

Another post I have written on dust allergies can be found here:
Dust here, there and everywhere

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…

Things you don’t think about when you sign up for a gym membership…

gym

Having sensitivities and allergies to scents; perfumes, chemicals etc. can be challenging. If you deal with these, have you ever noticed how trips to the gym usually trigger allergies or asthma? My trip to the gym on monday night had to have been the worst yet in terms of triggers. The smell of deodorants and perfume was overwhelming! And I found myself taking antihistamines to make it through the session, chaperoning my athletes. What are your experiences? Have you noticed the same?

I am also very cautious using the cleaners at the gym, as I haven’t the slightest clue what they use. I wash my hands immediately after using the spray and cloth to clean off the machines. Anyone else do the same?