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Author Topic: This allergy is going to break my spirit  (Read 6157 times)

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jschwab

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This allergy is going to break my spirit
« on: October 22, 2013, 11:44:48 PM »
Hi, I'm checking in for help and maybe to vent every once in awhile  ~). I developed anaphylaxis to shellfish and dairy a few years ago in my late thirties, but was able to avoid serious reactions through strict avoidance and I never had to use my Epi-Pen, with strict avoidance meaning no restaurants except except for the three that I knew could guarantee no cross-contamination and never eating at anybody else's house. I also developed a lot of hobbies and social interests that did not center around food in compensation for the lifestyle change. I was episode-free and feeling really solid in my plan until the other day when I had the worst episode I've ever had eating food I personally cooked in my own house. Hubby had to christen the thigh with the Epi which I had never need to use previously and I ended up in the ER under watch. I was flummoxed as to what could have happened but confirmed the next day that it was a new allergy to almonds. I had reacted for the very first time to a splash of almond milk in a custard I had made. Up until just before this, I ate almonds daily and I had just bought roughly 10 pounds of almonds at Trader Joe's (I wish I was making that up!). I am not the smartest bug so I actually confirmed it by eating an almond the day after the ER visit (obviously, Do As I Say Not As I Do and never, ever try this at home!). I was still on the steroids which maybe helped mitigate a reaction and I was able to just take some Benadryl and suffer it out without returning to the ER. A week later, feeling pretty confident I could avoid the allergens with the type of label-reading and cautiousness that had gotten me through my other food allergies, I ate a bag of chips at a cafe I always go to clearly labeled "does not contain tree nuts". I almost passed out on my six year old and I developed head to toe hives. I don't know anyone with adult onset food allergies like this (except my mom who developed shellfish allergy around the same time I did but hers is not as severe). Unfortunately, everything in my house contained almond derivatives, including my body lotions, so almond oil was on every surface of the house and I kept reacting to it. We also used a lot of almond flour so that was in every nook and cranny of the kitchen. That is more under control now with cleaning and I am finally able to turn my attention to thinking through how to handle this. I have had mini-reactions to lots of things - potato chips from major manufacturers, etc. I just really don't know how to figure out what to eat that is safe and I'm having all types of reactions seemingly unrelated to almonds or tree nuts. I had to give up my laundry detergent (pine derivatives?). I almost keeled over with lightheadedness and doom feeling after eating eggplant last night which I never eat and dry heaved for ten minutes from eating roasted squash seeds which I also never eat. I'm just writing it all down and will be seeing an allergist in a month. Anyway, HI and I appreciate any and all advice and information!

twinturbo

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Re: This allergy is going to break my spirit
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2013, 11:58:19 PM »
That's a lot to deal with! I'll start with a hi, a virtual hug, and good on your husband for giving you the epi. After my big reactions I have about two weeks of seemingly reacting to everything.

Offline rebekahc

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Re: This allergy is going to break my spirit
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2013, 08:15:57 AM »
 :grouphug:

Yes, I agree with twinturbo.  Once you get your system calmed down and are successfully avoiding your true allergen(s), the random reacting should stop.  I believe SilverLining has experience with that as well.

Welcome!
TX - USA
DS - peanut, tree nut, milk, eggs, corn, soy, several meds, many environmentals. Finally back on Xolair!
DD - mystery anaphylaxis, shellfish.
DH - banana/avocado, aspirin.  Asthma.
Me - peanut, tree nut, shellfish, banana/avocado/latex,  some meds.

jschwab

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Re: This allergy is going to break my spirit
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2013, 08:47:24 AM »
Aw, thanks for the messages. I am glad to hear it might calm down! My husband was REALLY on it with the Pen and I am so grateful. The tip actually bent but he was still able to jab it in and get all the liquid out. I was terrified of the pen before this happened but as soon as he gave it the throat swelling stopped and I could breathe.

Offline SilverLining

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Re: This allergy is going to break my spirit
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2013, 10:12:24 AM »
Hi.  Sorry to hear all you are going through.

I was thirtyish when I suddenly developed food allergies too.  I figured out the peanut fairly quickly, but darn sesame seeds are in everything.  And I continued eating trace amounts, so didn't  realize the daily reactions I was having were to unlabelled sesame.  Then, eating a sesame snack I had an anaphylactic reaction.  I wasn't carrying an epi because all the doctors said my reactions would never be anaphylactic. 

Like you....I needed to test the theory.  Was it REALLY sesame seeds?  At the time, they couldn't do a test....so...I went to McD's.   :hiding:  let's just say....I've never been back since.

But, still it took a while to find out where all the hidden sources of sesame were, and cleaning cleaning cleaning my home.  And in the meantime, reacting.  Not anaphylactic, but all over body hives, or getting hoarse.  Sheesh!  It was happening all the time.  I did manage to pinpoint cats and dogs.  My neighbour's cat liked to run down the hall and lie across my doorstep to get the cool breeze under the door....and the dander and hair would float into my home.

But, when I finally managed to completely eliminate the peanuts and sesame seeds from my system! I slowly stopped reacting to the animals.  (Actually, I also reacted to either gorillas or something near the gorilla habitat! but that wasn't 't such a problem.  None lived in my building.)

Sorry....back on track....

I don't know why some people suddenly develop allergies as an adult.  But I think it totally confuses our systems.  Something that used to be good for us suddenly becomes the enemy.  When we overfill our "allergy cup" I think our bodies just decide to turn against multiple things.

But, hopefully, like me, if you completely eliminate the REAL allergens, your body will realize it doesn't have to attack multiple foods.
When I was growing up we didn’t call it “Political Correctness”.  We called it things like “manners”, “respect” and “the Golden Rule”. ~~~ Peter

Offline SilverLining

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Re: This allergy is going to break my spirit
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2013, 10:15:18 AM »
Quote
I almost keeled over with lightheadedness and doom feeling after


That feeling of doom is a symptom of anaphylaxis.  I'm going to look for the grading chart to add in here.

 Here's the plain language one.

http://the-clarkes.org/stuff/ana.html
« Last Edit: October 23, 2013, 10:18:41 AM by SilverLining »
When I was growing up we didn’t call it “Political Correctness”.  We called it things like “manners”, “respect” and “the Golden Rule”. ~~~ Peter

Offline GingerPye

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Re: This allergy is going to break my spirit
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2013, 11:40:34 AM »
No advice to add but hello and welcome!!  I know you will get good support and info here.
DD, 23 - MA/EA/PA/env./eczema
DS, 21 - MA/EA/PA/env./asthma/passed baked milk challenge
DH - adult-onset asthma
me - env. allergies, exhaustion, & mental collapse ...

Offline CMdeux

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Re: This allergy is going to break my spirit
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2013, 11:57:00 AM »
Add me to the list of adults who should REALLY know better, who have engaged in the inexplicable denial-fueled need to doubt unto risking one's life in the search of a loophole.

Your body;  "Hahaha!  Just kidding.  No, not really! It was just a fluke!"

 :disappointed:  Yeah-- no, it wasn't.  For me it was shellfish.  Sometimes it is really bad, and sometimes only kind of bad.  Unpredictable.

I have not felt the need to "check" it again for many years.   I still miss the allergen, but only in an abstract sense, given how bad shellfish now SMELLS to me.  In my memory, it's lovely, though... 
Resistance isn't futile.  It's voltage divided by current. 

Western U.S.

jschwab

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Re: This allergy is going to break my spirit
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2013, 01:02:26 PM »
Quote
I almost keeled over with lightheadedness and doom feeling after


That feeling of doom is a symptom of anaphylaxis.  I'm going to look for the grading chart to add in here.

 Here's the plain language one.

http://the-clarkes.org/stuff/ana.html


Oh yeah, I know. My throat did not swell shut but I had the doom/MUST LIE DOWN AND SLEEP immediately feeling. I put it on my "list" of stuff I've reacted to since that almond reaction, just for the allergist to look at. It could also be cross-contamination since my husband has a severe gluten intolerance (he has always been good about saying intolerance instead of allergy, BTW, even before I developed allergies) so half of what we ate was made with almond flour. I'm hoping it all calms down, though... In some ways it doesn't matter because I'm already so restricted. Do for real allergic people for real eat out on a regular basis because I cannot fathom that? I was cool with Outback and Five Guys before this nut thing. I'm feeling the world closing in a bit. I just had a meeting in DC (I am chair of a Board of a small nonprofit) and was so stressed by the lunch/social aspect.

jschwab

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Re: This allergy is going to break my spirit
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2013, 01:35:57 PM »
I just looked at that chart and it is really useful - thank you SO much for posting. Part of my denial process has been to ascribe symptoms as being not serious or not really allergic reactions. Or, say, in the case of that meal with the eggplant to think that because my sleepy/doom was not accompanied by throat closing, just merely throat scratching, that it was not really a reaction. Or, oftener, to think that JUST having my throat close/sense of doom is not really an allergic reaction because I don't get hives or swelling. My shellfish/dairy was all throat closing and the sensation only ever lasted for a short period and nothing else so, for a long time, I did not take it seriously. So, even though during my last reaction 18 months ago my throat closed all the way, I discounted it and did not use my Epi because it opened on its own within 30 seconds. This whole almond thing has felt bizarre because suddenly I seemed to have all of the classic symptoms, just not all at once. And then there are these other reactions that popped up after the almond - squash seeds are severe, sudden nausea and dry heaving (but no vomiting - does that count??) and then the eggplant just sleepy doom. The almonds were throat closing/doom/passing out the night I went to the ER, but a week later with the "funny" potato chips I had real, immediate hives, doom, flushing and only a little throaty symptoms. I also was always under the misconception that hives were big lumps (did I pick that up from cartoons??) so I did not even realize my full body rash was hives until I looked up pictures of patches of hives. I have felt like if the allergies were "real" they would look the same all the time and also look like other people's reactions (not vomiting and not breaking out in hives having been my biggest triggers for feeling like they are not real).

Online YouKnowWho

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Re: This allergy is going to break my spirit
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2013, 01:50:11 PM »
Keep in mind the sleepy doom could have been your blood pressure dropping.  We now keep a cuff on hand for mine (have experienced that numerous times).  Though mainly for drug reactions.

My allergist is okay with me avoiding eggplant but thinks it may have been a wine/high histamine food reaction.  But that darn sense of doom combined with years of itchy throat while eating it has scared me off.  DH is glad, he detests eggplant.  I miss it but not the feeling that occurs while eating it.

My banana allergy morphed from what was likely oral allergy syndrome to anaphylactic.  But it took years to figure that out and it wasn't until roughly 15 years after my first ana rxn to banana that I was able to piece things together.  Heck, even the ER refused to recognize that banana was the true cause of the ana rxn - they assumed it was the nuts in the mix as well (I was accidentally served banana nut pancakes one Christmas morning while I was working as a nanny, Merry Christmas we killed the nanny).

And sadly it started to come together after my son was diagnosed with his allergies. 

On the front of the gluten intolerance/almond allergy - beware of any flours from Bob's Red Mill (their tree nut warning is due to the almond flour) and also be aware of loose flours in health food stores. 
DS1 - Wheat, rye, barley and egg
DS2 - peanuts
DD -  tree nuts, soy and sunflower
Me - bananas, eggplant, many drugs
Southeast USA

Offline CMdeux

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Re: This allergy is going to break my spirit
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2013, 02:04:53 PM »
Quote
Do for real allergic people for real eat out on a regular basis because I cannot fathom that? I was cool with Outback and Five Guys before this nut thing. I'm feeling the world closing in a bit. I just had a meeting in DC (I am chair of a Board of a small nonprofit) and was so stressed by the lunch/social aspect

Well, the truth is that it's NEVER without risk, and it's NEVER entirely what it is for people without allergies.

Honestly, we only go to a handful of restaurants without considerable 'ahead-of-time' preparation, including phone calls ahead of time, etc. etc.  We go to those few again and again, and all three of us tend to get the same things each time.

Even so, there are generally only 2-5 items on a typical menu that are "okay" for any one of us.  That's what I personally find the most aggravating thing.  I might LIKE everything on the menu, but get stuck ordering something I'm not wild about, just because it is lower risk.  And then other people wonder why I could care less about "dinner out" at a restaurant....

My family has the following allergies distributed among three people:
walnuts
pistachios
cashews
peanuts
soy
shellfish ( crustaceans)
egg
milk (high threshold now, though)
citrus fruits (probably OAS-- cooked is okay)

The soy, citrus fruit, and milk are the only ones that we don't really "worry" about in terms of possible anaphylaxis risk-- it's so improbable given the amounts that would be needed, see.

My DH and DD both have pretty significant OAS-- and it's at times been so bad that we've worried about it being true allergy.

Like you, we've built our lives around hobbies, activities, and friends who DON'T revolve around food-food-food.  Still, it comes up fairly often in the context of professional activities, leadership/awards/service, and family...

it's always stressful, and every situation involves risk-benefit analysis all it's own.
Resistance isn't futile.  It's voltage divided by current. 

Western U.S.

Offline SilverLining

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Re: This allergy is going to break my spirit
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2013, 04:10:52 PM »

My throat did not swell shut but I had the doom/MUST LIE DOWN AND SLEEP immediately feeling.

My worst reaction, I developed hives, took benedryl, and the hives were fading, coming back, fading, coming back.  Like a wave.  When they finally completely faded, what I was left with was a feeling of doom and sleepiness.  I wanted to go to bed.  When I found my husband (we were walking through a mall) I meant to say "I want to go home to bed" but what came out was "I want to go to the hospital".  I made it to the hospital before losing consciousness...but just barely.

Quote
Do for real allergic people for real eat out on a regular basis because I cannot fathom that? I was cool with Outback and Five Guys before this nut thing. I'm feeling the world closing in a bit. I just had a meeting in DC (I am chair of a Board of a small nonprofit) and was so stressed by the lunch/social aspect.

I haven't eaten in a restaurant in about 20 years....until this summer.  I found a place that is peanut/nut free, and they were able to make my meal sesame free as well.
When I was growing up we didn’t call it “Political Correctness”.  We called it things like “manners”, “respect” and “the Golden Rule”. ~~~ Peter

jschwab

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Re: This allergy is going to break my spirit
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2013, 11:34:30 PM »
Quote

Like you, we've built our lives around hobbies, activities, and friends who DON'T revolve around food-food-food.  Still, it comes up fairly often in the context of professional activities, leadership/awards/service, and family...

it's always stressful, and every situation involves risk-benefit analysis all it's own.

I'm not working right now but I worked in kind of a hostile environment at a short-term professional position this summer. When there was food involved, I was just excluded which sucked because I am happy to sip a drink while others lunch. I had my old job pre-allergy and was able to work around it and I had a lot of seniority so no issues. But almost all the work I've done is heavy on food being a central part of the environment. It's one of my biggest anxieties with this nut thing - that I just won't be able to do the kind of work I am qualified for which also would normally involve travel. It's really stressful. I found that I was quite happy sharing when appropriate about the shellfish and dairy (because easy to avoid) but this one makes me want to just run and hide, quit my professional obligations and just give up on living a  public life. Even though I am not working because I need to be home with my kids right now, I still have a toe in via volunteer/leadership positions and I plan to work again when I have child care. I was supposed to be at an event for an organization I have worked with just prior to the major reaction and missed it due to severe stomach distress (guessing this was the leadup to the anaphylactic event?). I still have not contacted the organizer to apologize - just can't face it. I was so spunky and not anxious or stressed at all through my food allergy diagnosis the last time but this one is pulling me under the rug. It's incredibly helpful to hear about other people experiencing similar issues. I know some adults with food allergies but they are not restricted in any real way, don't carry an Epi-Pen, etc. Nobody else in my family has a food allergy except my mother to shellfish but she has only ever had one reaction years ago and is fine with just not eating it. None of my kids or my husband are food-allergic.

jschwab

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Re: This allergy is going to break my spirit
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2013, 11:44:38 PM »

I haven't eaten in a restaurant in about 20 years....until this summer.  I found a place that is peanut/nut free, and they were able to make my meal sesame free as well.

I think that is where I am headed for awhile. We were down to two chain restaurants (Five Guys and Outback) and one tiny Italian restaurant we could hold in our back pocket if we ever had to have a social dinner with friends or family. I'd be curious to know where that nut free restaurant is, and can I tell you I am glad to hear you have an option now! Personally, I don't care about being able to go out to eat but if friends suggest going out to dinner or we have a special occasion and we need to entertain an out of town special guest or something, I really appreciated having that one option to fall back on. We entertain a lot and always insist that people come here for dinner with no expectation of reciprocity - and we make that very, very clear so there is no guilt. But we have lost friends who have not been able to let go of feeling like they need to reciprocate.