Saturday, January 26, 2013
This is a stressful time for me, discovering new food insensitivities and dealing with food allergies in my early 40's, and at the same time trying to keep my family fed in a healthy way while I have to avoid some things that they eat.
I thought life was pretty easy two years ago when I tested positive for a hazelnut and strawberry allergy, and positive for every tree pollen, grass, mold, animal, etc. I could easily avoid strawberries and hazelnut, and I've been successful in doing that (even though I was sad when strawberries were big, juicy and in season.) I sort of brushed off the fact that my doctor wanted me to carry an epi-pen. As if I would ever need that, I said to myself.
But since then, I've discovered that other fruits and vegetables are triggers, and there is an "oral allergy syndrome" community out there that suffers almost daily with food reactions. This is my life now, and every day is new and a challenge. I am discovering that the asthma that I developed in my early teens is very likely/closely linked to food insensitivies. I can climb a mountain or run a 5K and not worry about my asthma- unless I've eaten a food that causes an allergic reaction, no matter how minor.
This year I have decided to eliminate most highly-allergenic foods- wheat/gluten, soy, egg, and corn. I have cut back my dairy significantly. I can eat peanuts right now. Other nuts can make me feel sick. Since cutting out most of those things, I'm feeling so much better, less bloated, my skin is clearer, I feel energetic and enthusiastic.
Until Thursday. I made a regular, usual dinner in my home. Spring rolls, clean-eating style, with cabbage, carrots and shrimp, wrapped in rice paper. No sauces for me- but they were there for anyone in my family who wanted them (soy sauce, fish sauce, ranch dressing are popular ones in our house.) I immediately felt a cold coming on, and wondered if I might be getting what's going around. My hands felt puffy. My skin felt itchy. I thought it was all due to the cold weather we're having. Overnight, I couldn't breathe. My inhaler wasn't working well, and I couldn't get good breaths. I wondered if it was just the weather. I fell back asleep, and looking back, I wish I had woken up my husband to let him know I wasn't feeling well.
I woke up in the morning covered with hives, my eyes were bloodshot, and my face was all blotchy. I thought I had pink eye, and I lectured my kids to PLEASE use soap in the school bathroom, as I was sure they had brought home conjunctivitus. I thought my irritated skin had to do with our dry, cold New England air. And then I had that "OMG" moment and realized that I very well could have been experiencing a shellfish allergy. I looked it up, and sure enough, I was experiencing classic symptoms.
So I'm off to visit my allergist again this week. I am very sad, almost mourning. Seafood has always been a fun splurge for me, in a healthy way. We vacation in Maine every summer, and we enjoy crab, lobster, shrimp, and mussels/clams. If I test positive this week, I'm not sure how I'm going to feel. Surely I will know that I will be diligent in avoiding seafood for my safety. I will look at pictures of shrimp in their ugliness swimming in the depths of the ocean with their googly eyes and try to gross myself out. But deep down, I am very, very sad.
I'll come back and report the results. The skin test will give me a reading right away, but this time they'll do a blood test which may take a few days. It will completely s*u*c*k if I have a shellfish allergy.
Goodnight, sleep well, and yes, I will have my epipen on my nightstand.