“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.

Do you Allow Pets?

This weekend, I stayed at The Inn on Long Lake in Nanaimo and it was a wonderful experience! From start to finish. I was EXTREMELY pleased. I called in 48 hrs before our arrival date and mentioned that I had severe allergies to pets (cat and dog) and wanted to know whether they allowed pets. The women I spoke with was extremely understanding and explained that yes, they do accept pets. She said that they “try” to keep the third floor free of pets, though they cannot guarantee 100% that there has never been a pet in those rooms. She said that the decision would be up to me, dependent on how severe my allergy was.

I expressed that my allergies were VERY severe and she offered to put me on hold whilst she spoke to her manager. Only a few minutes later she returned. She explained that they did have a few rooms that were a little higher priced as they had a king size bed and were more spacious. For the extra $20.00 I decided it would be the best decision for me. Now, some might wonder… how did you decide? Well, considering I have had a tough time with my asthma the last few months and that Inns, Hotels etc. usually trigger allergies, due to the cleaning products they use and detergent for sheets and towels, the decision was a , “no-brainer” for me. No point adding another “possible” trigger into the mix!

I opened the patio door for the night (usual practice for me) and slept great.I had a great stay despite being a little itchy from the sheets and towels, which I have gotten used to.

I highly recommend their beautiful in, with views on long lake. What an amazing sunrise this morning.  :)

 

Asthma attacks and Flare-ups

Have you or someone you know ever had to be on prednisone? After such a flare-up were you able to fully identify what the triggers were that lead to the asthma attack? Most of the time it is hard to know EXACTLY what the trigger/triggers were. Sometimes it is a combination of things and our body is not able to handle it.

The last 10 days have been hard as I had a flare up with my allergies and asthma which has resulted in my being on prednisone. As annoying as the side effects can be, I am glad to be feeling better. This is the first serious flare-up for me in quite some time and it makes me realize that though I have lots of support, a great allergist and family doctor, there are still some actions I can take, which would make me even better prepared for any similar attacks in the future.

Do you have an adequate “Asthma Team” in place? Here in Victoria, BC we have an Asthma Clinic which has a pulmonary specialist on call. Do you have a pulmonary specialist? What is your action plan, or the action plan for your son/daughter or loved one? Having a proper plan in place is very important. Do you have a peak flow meter and know how to use it? Knowing what your lung capacity is when you are feeling at your very best and when you are feeling tight provides a great way to monitor your lungs. The American Association of Allergy Asthma & Immunology has a great article on peak flow meters and how important they are; “A peak flow meter for asthma is like a thermometer for a fever. It helps monitor what’s going on inside your body.” AAAAI

I highly recommend having a glance through National Asthma Patient Alliance – Asthma Society of Canada‘s website. Do you know many others who struggle with asthma? Are you wondering how others deal with their asthma and how they might have overcome some of the challenges we often face on a day to day basis? Have a read through some real-life stories on the Asthma Society of Canada’s website! It’s always nice to know you are not the only one :)

 

 

Another positive hotel experience!

This weekend we were in Tofino, on Vancouver Island and stayed at the Tin Wis Hotel. http://www.tinwis.com/tofino-accommodations

If you are looking for a nice place to stay, perhaps celebrate or spend a nice weekend as a couple, the staff here were amazing. When I initially called in to make a reservation, they took notes about not to use any scented cleaning products and assured me that our room would have been thoroughly cleaned, if in the past there had been a dog or other pet in it. Each room also had patio doors, which was great! Nowadays, many hotels have windows that do not even open, which can be a real nuisance for us allergy sufferers.

Dinner was also phenomenal. The kitchen staff and waitress were extremely understanding and modified the dish to cater to my allergies. They were not taking any chances. And their menu has several gluten free options! They are aware. They also have gluten free wraps available for breakfast.

Definitely worthy of another stay.

What places have you stayed at that you feel extremely comfortable returning to for your next stay? Do many come to mind?

Going on a trip…

Sometimes a trip or vacation comes up sporadically and on short notice, however most often the idea is “in the cooker” for weeks and months prior to. Today is “Day 1” for me in planning for a conference in August 2012. I was so excited to know that I could attend, and have already started brainstorming about what needs to happen to make sure I have an amazing, safe trip. Things to start planning and looking into for me are:

Flights –  Which airline will I travel? Do they have requirements for passengers with allergies? What policies do they have with respect to Peanuts and Tree nuts? Do they allow pets on board?

For example: Air Canada requires medical approval and notice at least 48 hrs in advance of the scheduled flight if they are to set up a <buffer zone> – Air Canada Medical Approval & Advance Notice

Accomodations – Will I be staying in a hotel or trying to find friends who I can stay with for the length of the conference? If I stay in a hotel, which one? I have to start calling around now to see which ones allow pets (quite a few do). I must find out which hotels have windows that CAN BE OPENED (as I have been stuck in some that do not open and had to switch hotels). Which of my friends would have a relatively safe place for me to stay? Do they have pets? Have they ever had pets in their apartment or house? Is it carpeted? Is it a much older place?

Food – What meals will be served? Is there a caterer I can be in communication with? Where are the local grocery stores and how feasible will it be for me to make my own lunches and bring them to the conference? …

And then I can start to get into the easier logistics & planning that shouldn’t be as tricky and require as much investigation, like transportation.

Never a dull moment. I know from experience that the best and safest trips I have ever taken are the ones when I left the house prepared. I felt like everything was already coordinated and that all the discussions with hotels and organizers and caterers were done. I had my “to do” checklist marked as complete and my confidence was 100%.  On these trips I always had a few non-perishables with me, some fruit bars, apple sauce, rice crackers and other things. Oh, and I almost forgot! … BABY FOOD  :-) Check out my earlier post on Convenient food for Travel to understand the “baby food”.

What do you do when planning for a trip? Do you have a ready made checklist? What are your first action items?

 

Flying with a Mask

As a follow-up to last night’s post, I thought I might share what flying is for me, with my allergies. When I was younger, I flew several times, and after most flights I would always feel like my immune system had been taxed. Usually resulting in a cold or a period of time where I was more sensitive to allergens or my chest was tight.

About 3 years ago, I finally convinced myself that flying with a mask on was the best idea ever. As I had moved across the country for my studies, going home to visit family in Montreal meant for a long flight. I do not recall exactly when my first flight wearing a mask may have been, however this minor detail does not really mean much to me, as the fact of the matter is that I have found a way to reduce my symptoms. Wearing a mask (N-95 in my case) was definitely tough at first, however after even just one flight, the idea of wearing a mask no longer “got to me” as I felt so much better not being exposed to dander from pets on-board.

Being a young adult, I was extremely self-conscious about appearance and what everyone would think of me. Nowadays, when I prepare to take the air plane, I always make sure I have 2 masks with me, so I can switch mid-flight. This has become routine and knowing I have these with me, makes me feel safer when I board the plane. I no longer worry what others think of me, when they pass me on the plane. I smile (behind my mask), sit back and relax for the ride.

Appreciate the smaller wins too!

Today, one of my colleagues brought in their poodle, one of the few dogs that don’t make my allergies too bad. I am on antihistamines daily, therefore I was not too worried, and did not react at all. It was hilarious however, just like the 3 other times she has been in the office, she wouldn’t let me go. I don’t know what it is, but I seem to ATTRACT what I am allergic to… cats, dogs, they seem to want to play with me and often-times they follow me around more than anyone else! Do you seem to have this problem too !?!? Craziness I tell you! But today it made me smile and laugh! Which is always a good thing.

Since I don’t have a dog at home, I was very happy when I saw her come through the doors this morning. I LOVE dogs and dream of maybe, just maybe, having one of my own in the future, granted of course that my allergies let up a little. When I was younger, we used to have a dog and I had gotten used to her. If I ever felt down, Kita, our beautiful Leonberg, was always in close range for a hug. :-)

I am confused how things can change sooo much with time and circumstances. I still don’t quite understand why my allergies seem to have gotten worse over time like I am sure many others out there feel too. That is why, I have been having Immunotherapy injections for almost 2 years now for cats and dogs. And the dust mite injections for almost 7 months now. I can’t quite grasp how come my body has become so over-reactive and sensitive to things that I never used to react to. But even so, I am fairly keen at taking this on as another challenge! I figure ” I used to have less allergies, so why can’t I go back to that? ”

POSITIVE, POSITIVE, POSITIVE! It’s really the only way to go!