Friday, December 2, 2011

Managing Life With Bumps In The Night

So, the bumps had returned. So I did the best thing I knew to do: I went online in search for answers! Well, sort of.  In all honesty, I went online to get a phone number for an allergist in my Hometown and did what any reasonable adult would do: called my mom and asked her to set up the appointment for me, even though I had looked the number up.  I got scared so I had her do it. Pathetic, I know.  But, in all fairness, the allergist's office has been my dad's family's doctor for over 50 years! So my mom, dad, and brother are all well acquainted with the office and I knew she would have more sway about getting me in on the exact and only days I would be available for several months. 

And sure enough, she came through! They scheduled me, somewhat unwillingly, for allergy tests over the exact two days that I was planning to be in Hometown.  They told my mom that there was a good chance the tests would be inconclusive, but I persevered and thought it would be worth going.  So I stopped my medicine for a few days, became quite irritable and bumpy and itchy, and then went and got a lot of scratches and a whole bunch of food injections.   The tests showed that I have food sensitivities to, oh, pretty much everything that any normal person would like to eat.  

Seriously.  I'm sensitive to wheat, coconut, garlic, blackberry, cauliflower, strawberry, pear, pea, kidney bean, grape, red and green pepper, chile powder, brewers yeast, oat, rice, banana, pecan, spinach, apple, celery, coffee, watermelon, cow milk, beef, lobster, shrimp, tuna, halibut, apricot and peach.  

If you made it through that list you will probably be thinking two different thoughts, simultaneously. Those are 1. Man, that is a lot of food; and 2. There must still be tons of other foods that you are not sensitive to and therefore, what is with all the whining?

I know, because I had these same thoughts for about a month before I got a handle on myself. For a while, I tried to eat other foods they tested that I had no reaction to. Things like chicken, corn, pinto bean, cherry, etc.  And I think I was doing okay, but the bumps kept coming and I kept cheating on things like coffee because it can be really discouraging to limit your diet. 

But eventually, I realized I needed to see a nutritionist to figure out how to truly eliminate the foods I knew I was sensitive to and how to still eat a relatively healthy diet.  The dietician taught me a number of things I never knew, introduced me to foods I hadn't heard of, and advised me of other foods that weren't tested but were in a like family to those I were so I could stay away from them too. 

I think it has been almost two months since I saw her, and since that time, I have been doing better at staying with my safe foods and not cheating by eating unsafe foods.  I did have one more pretty bad attack and have had some other slip-ups, but overall I'm doing okay with "safe" foods, many prescription drugs, and now, some digestive enzymes.

I'm not sure how long it will take to get over this bout of illness or if it will be something I live with for many years.  Right now, this combination of things seems to be working, and I'm trying many different types of cooking and recipes that I likely would have before these issues. 

We were trying to generally eat healthy for a while before the bumps started, but in all honesty, I wasn't deterred enough from things like cheese to really eliminate them.  But now that I have essentially been forced to rethink food and diet, I don't even miss most of those things we have eliminated.  It may be partly because it makes me feel better as far as hives go, but I think I generally feel better in life, too.  So I'll keep eating "safe foods" until something changes, and that makes things like preparing my own Thanksgiving a lot less worry free, since I knew exactly what was in everything I was eating.