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

 

Keeping friends who understand food allergies close

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A few days ago, I wrote a post about my emotions around food allergies and how I have learned to from my experiences. I shared with you that I cope with fear by asking for help. I am not afraid to ask for help and know that if I don’t feel safe, then I don’t challenge or question¬†that feeling. I have learned to trust my gut. There were a few comments shared around people who truly understand your allergy, or that of a loved one. About trust. These comments had me thinking… I am very fortunate to have the friends I have, who¬†I can trust with my food allergies. They are the ones who will go out of their way to make sure I am safe and feel included. These are the friends¬†we all need to keep really close.

I little while back, a good friend of mine invited me to her child’s birthday party.¬†My friend¬†knew I would not be able to eat the cake and asked me what cookie or muffin would be safe for me so she could get it for me. She went searching for the one brand of cookie I completely trust; Benjamin Bites. Little did I know, she had driven¬†to several different¬†grocery stores to try and find the cookie which they sell in individual packages, because it was not sold in every store or was out of stock. She is one of the friends I trust with my life. A friend I know will take every possible precaution when having me over for dinner to ensure that the meal is safe. A friend who will wipe down every single surface before I arrive to make sure that there wasn’t any peanut butter from the day before on the table, or a counter top. A friend who is not afraid to pick up the phone to call and double and triple check ingredients with me and precautions to take.

I have several¬†friends that I often think might even take more precautions than I do; and I love that. I always feel safe. Even though I feel safe when these friends cook, I still ask questions, as I never want to let my guard down. That’s when accidents happen, accidents which could cost me my life. If my friends prepared the food without me in the kitchen, I ask about the prep, I ask about the ingredients that went into the meal, if there are labels, I re-read them all. Good friends never judge. They never question. They never feel that you don’t trust them because you want to re-read labels or feel uncertain about the utensils used to make the food. They want you to feel safe, and have a safe meal. They want to make sure you feel relaxed, and are not stressed. These are the friends we need to keep close. The friends we need to send thank you cards to out of the blue, just to let them know that their caring means so much to us. Openness, gratitude and appreciation go a long way.

Which friends would you trust with preparing food for you, or a loved one? Do they “get it”? How do you know when you can trust someone?

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

 

Hosting for friends and family with food allergies – Before the event

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Please share with those that do not have allergies and may be hosting this    holiday season.

Christmas Eve is just 10 days away and many of you may already be on holidays already or very soon. Christmas and New Years is a very busy time of year for parties with friends and family. Holiday parties usually¬†involve some kind of food, whether there is a meal, or h’ourdeuvres. If you are hosting¬†a dinner¬†with family and friends this holiday season, here are a 4¬†tips for you to ensure your loved ones can have a fun time while feeling safe.

Before I get into the tips, one very important note; COMMUNICATION is KEY! So please do not be afraid to ask questions or share if you feel uncomfortable preparing food for the person with the food allergy/allergies.

  1. Ask if anyone coming to the party has any food allergies. You may not be able to cater the food that is to be served to completely avoid their food allergens, especially if they list is a long one, however it is nice to feel like we are being considered in the planning. The smallest of gestures; like not placing bowls of bulk nuts out because we have a life-threatening food allergy to peanuts and tree nuts means so much to us.
  2. Ask the severity of the allergy. If you are aware of the allergy, and severity, you can discuss the next steps with them. You do not want to find out when you are serving dinner that someone has a life-threatening allergy and
  3. Ask if they plan to bring their own food and let them know that if they prefer to bring their own food that is perfectly OK. I know I often feel uncomfortable bringing my own food to dinner parties, however I always feel better when I know that the hosts or other guests know about my allergies and thus understand why I have my own food.
  4. If they do not plan on bringing their own food, it is up to you, as the host, to discuss with them if you are worried about what you plan to serve or how to make it safe. Perhaps they would like to help in the preparation of the food or can bring a dish that would be safe for them and that others would also like to eat. Maybe they can give you tips about what they can eat which will help put you at ease.

On Wednesday, I will be sharing tips on what to do once you get the list of food allergies or perhaps sensitivities like wheat and gluten. I’ll discuss ways to make your kitchen safe before preparing the food and how to minimize the risk of cross-contamination in your kitchen.

Christmas Parties and Food Allergies

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December 1st has arrived and I keep asking myself where the time has gone. This year has flown by! In any case, December is a fun month filled with Christmas parties, friends, family and lots of joy and laughter. Have you been invited to any Christmas parties this year, or perhaps in the New Year? Are they organized by your work or your partners work? Are they hosted by friends? These are all questions that will often distinguish the approach you take before hand to ensure you can have an enjoyable time without worrying about having an allergic reaction.

Are they organized by your work or your partners work?

Communicating with the person organizing the Christmas party might be very different for each scenario. If your company is hosting, you may be able to speak to the catering staff because the company you work for will want to ensure you are able to eat and have a good time. If the Christmas party is organized by your partners work, you may have to jump through a few more hoops to try and speak to the caterer. I always say that if you don’t get all the answers you need and speak to the people you want to speak to, like catering staff etc. it is much better to simply eat before you go. That is my plan this year.

Are they hosted by friends?

If your friends are hosting a party, you might feel much more comfortable discussing your allergies with them and they may already have your list. You might even be able to help in the food planning as well as in the kitchen. I know for me, if a friend is organizing a party with food, I always see if I can help with the cooking and prep ¬†that way I can ensure I will be able to eat safely. If for some reason you are unable to help with the prep, make sure you feel very safe before you eat anything. If someone else has brought the food and you aren’t certain it is safe, do NOT eat it. Be safe. Do not take chances with life-threatening allergies.

Please tell someone if you feel sick after eating something. Even if you are not sure it is an allergic reaction. It is important that others around you know what is going on especially if you were to react. Safety first.

Best,

Erika

An Educational Video on Food Allergies you will want to be a part of!

Kyle Dine & Friends - Food Allergy Awareness Video's video poster

Many of you either live with severe food allergies or have friends or loved ones who do.

If you would like to help make a difference, this is the one Kickstarter campaign you won’t want to miss out on. With a variety of reward levels all offering great gifts for your support, even $10 CAD will help get this great educational video off the ground and help make it a reality.

Kyle Dine is a great friend of mine and I have worked with him on numerous different projects. He’s toured North America presenting fun educational shows to elementary students. I have backed his project. Will you? ūüôā

Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kyledine/kyle-dine-and-friends-food-allergy-awareness-video?ref=category_popular