The Lesson: Understanding

September 12-12-12 project forced me to re-examine my assumptions. I ASSUMED allergies were not as valid of a health concern as say MS or vestibular disorders.

ASSUMPTIONS CANNOT EXIST when they are overwhelmed by facts. So let’s break any assumptions we may have about the severity of allergies.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, here are a few facts.

  1.  Food allergies account for 30,000 visits to the emergency room each year.
  2.  Exposure to latex allergen alone is responsible for over 200 cases of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions) each year.
  3. Nearly 400 Americans die each year due to drug allergies from penicillin.
  4. More than 200 deaths occur each year due to food allergies.
  5. The annual cost of allergies is estimated to be nearly $14.5 billion.



Now that we have dispelled the myth that allergies are not a serious health concern let’s move onto the next step, understanding.

How many of you will openly admit you dismiss the sign hanging in your doctor’s office that reads…

“Be courteous of other patients and don’t use scented lotions or perfumes.”

12-12-12 project member Sarah Mills shares with us the important lesson on understanding…

Severe allergies are not as understood as much as they should be, partly because you just don’t hear about it. A lot of patients are tucked away, hidden away in a little bubble, basically because they have to be.

If someone says to you, “Can you alter your ways because it affects me?” do it. It makes such a difference.

Much love,
Marissa

p.s. Thank you Sarah for being open enough to help dispel incorrect assumptions myself or others that have come across this blog have held!

Podcast September 12-12-12 With Project Member Sarah Mills- Severe Alleriges

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The month of September was a journey toward understanding severe allergies.

Working alongside 12-12-12 project Sarah Mills, I realize we have been given an awesome gift.

Sarah is open and honest about the adjustments she is making in order to survive the restricting and volatile world of severe allergies.

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How You Can Help Sarah:

Standing order mandate
Donate via Paypal
Easyfundraising.org.uk

Much Love,
Marissa

The End Of The Allergy Food Rotation Diet Is Here…

It’s DAY 7, and the final day participating in an allergy food rotation diet.

I am filled with a few emotions right now….

RELIEF – There is a sense of calm that’s come over me. I felt throughout the week I was stuck in lock and load mode. Always a bit anxious about eating outside of the restrictions.

GUILT- Guilt that I feel so relieved that the week is over. Guilt, that babe and I talked about eating one of my favorite foods at midnight tonight.

ACCOMPLISHMENT- There were several opportunities for me to ditch this 7 day food rotation diet. I was happy that I didn’t cave in.

SADNESS – I am seriously worried about Sarah’s health. It hurts me to know that she is forced to make so many unfair adjustments.

BUT… here’s the truth. It’s not about me.

IT’S ABOUT SARAH AND AWARENESS OF THOSE THAT ARE LIVING WITH SEVERE ALLERGIES. 

This is not a fad diet to Sarah and others forced to make strict dietary choices. Sarah is adhering to a strict diet so that she doesn’t encounter an allergic reaction that could kill her.

What’s the point of this 7 day food rotation diet? AWARENESS

The NEXT TIME a family member, friend, co-worker, ask you to make an adjustment because of an allergy, DO IT!

 

Much love,
Marissa

You Can Never Be Too Careful

It’s Friday, and I have hit Day 5 of the Allergy Food Rotation Diet.

I believed I was being extremely careful adhering to the strict dietary restrictions 12-12-12 project member Sarah is forced to follow.

Yet, I realize I have been treading over dietary land mines.

Land mine #1: Gluten

One of the food restrictions on Sarah’s list is gluten.

Let’s define gluten:

“A substance present in cereal grains, esp. wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough.”

OK, that’s easy enough. I made a mental note….STAY AWAY from cereals and breads.

WRONG!

After a defrosting mistake the other night, I plowed ahead attempting to make chicken and egg fried rice. Sounds delicious, right? Who doesn’t want to liven things up with a little soy sauce?

CAREFUL… did you know that soy sauce contains wheat? (They actually make a gluten free soy sauce! )

soy sauce ingredients

Check out the ingredients list!

Land mine #2: Yeast

Just purchase gluten free bread, right? As long as it’s gluten free I’m still under the guidelines.

WRONG!

Also, noted on Sarah’s list is an allergy to yeast. Duh Marissa, most breads contain yeast! I was SO FOCUSED on locating a gluten free bread that was nut free that I overlooked yeast.

Bread ingredients: Yeast

Under all those ingredients you will stumble upon yeast!

Lesson learned:

Those that suffer severe allergies are forced to take extreme caution to avoid allergens. Here, I thought I was being extra diligent. If I had severe allergies like Sarah I would have not ONCE, but twice caused myself a severe reaction!

Much love,
Marissa

Defrosted The Wrong Meat…

Its DAY 3 of the allergy food rotation diet and I ran into a hiccup. Breakfast and lunch went off smoothly, BUT I defrosted the wrong meat!

According to my allergy awareness food rotation diet schedule I am supposed to have chicken and egg fried rice tonight. I accidentally defrosted a STEAK vs. CHICKEN.  I had steak yesterday, so I will be messing with the food rotation!

 steak, sweet potato, peas

Steak, sweet potato, and peas for dinner last night.

The chicken JUST defrosted around 6:50pm and it’s in the oven right now. Looks like I am going to be eating around 8:00pm tonight.

In a perfect world, I would have jumped in my car, drove to the store, and picked up some chicken. One small issue… with my condition I CAN’T DRIVE and babe is at school! OOPS.

Looking forward to being more on point tomorrow!

Much love,
Marissa

P.S. I AM HUNGRY RIGHT NOW:) It’s a good thing your not standing right next to me! Sarah, you are a solider:)

Babe, You Want Some Salsa?

This is DAY 2 on the allergy food rotation diet. Yikes… this rotation diet is something else.

salsa and chips

Photo by fabalv

LUNCH TALK…..

Babe: “Babe you want some salsa?”

Marissa: “Babe, not sure I can have that. They probably use chili powder, and that’s not on Sarah’s list. I don’t want to push it”

Babe: “Wow, you really have to consider EVERYTHING you put into your mouth.”

DING DING DING…Babe is CORRECT.   I am REALLY having to consider EVERYTHING I put into my mouth. I keep telling myself…

What would happen to Sarah is she ate something outside of the approved list? Also, what about the ingredients she can’t control or see in prepackaged foods!

I have a new level of respect for those with severe allergies forced to make SO MANY limiting changes in hopes they have a better quality of life.

Much love,
Marissa

Have You Heard Of The Food Rotation Diet?

Most of us are familiar with diet powerhouse programs like Jenny-Craig, Weight Watchers, and Slim Fast.

Eat Diet Keys

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Let me introduce you to the Food Rotation Diet….

The Food Rotation Diet is not a fad diet or a diet that you can fall off the wagon and just get back on the next week.

When dealing with multiple, severe food allergies it’s often suggested that you go on a Food Rotation Diet.

According to food-allergy.org….

A rotation diet is a system of controlling food allergies by eating biologically related foods on the same day and then waiting at least four days before eating them again.

Purpose of the food rotation diet:
1. “help prevent the development of allergies to new foods”
2. “pick out allergies to foods for which you were not tested and may not have suspected were problems.”
3. “allows you to eat foods to which you have a mild or borderline allergy and which you might not tolerate if you ate them often”

At the beginning of the month, Sarah provided me with a list of foods she was ALLOWED TO EAT!

We are not just talking elimination of milk for lactose intolerance, we are talking about a LIMITED DIET of no more than 60 food items because her reactions to the items are severe.

Sarah ALSO provided me with a food rotation list.

Not only has severe allergies caused Sarah to eat limited foods, she is forced to rotate those foods every 4 days.

Sarah heads into a clinic and is given low-dose immunotherapy. (Low doses of allergens to stimulate and switch off the response to the antigen.)

What Sarah is vaccinated for….

Non-food related vaccinations:

  • Histamine (to neutralize the histamine response)
  • Flower
  • Tree
  • Grass
  • Summer Flower
  • Summer Tree
  • Summer Grass
  • Weed/shrub
  • Ragweed
  • Rape pollen
  • Mixed Moulds (in 3 different mixed sets, named D, E & F, covering a whole host of moulds)
  • Dust
  • Dust mite
  • Cat
  • Dog
  • Petrol
  • Gas
  • Formalin
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Perfume
  • Chlorine
  • Nickel
  • Flu Vaccines (sort of works like a regular vaccine, but like the rest of the low-dose immunotherapy, it’s telling the nervous system not to respond to the antigen, rather than giving me the antibodies of the influenza virus as with a regular vaccine)

Food and drink related vaccinations:

  • Turkey
  • Blackberry
  • Chickpea
  • Cabbage
  • Egg
  • Tea
  • Mushroom
  • Broccoli
  • Cheese
  • Chocolate (milk)
  • Milk
  • Buckwheat
  • Mixed beans (green, runner, broad)
  • Capsicum (sweet pepper)
  • Mixed herbs (Parsley, Thyme, Marjoram, Oregano)
  • Lactobacillus Acidophilus (probiotic)
  • Strawberry
  • Rice
  • Soya
  • Olive oil
  • Sardine
  • Kiwi
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Spinach
  • Cod
  • Fructose (extra protection for fruit, I don’t do well with fructose)
  • Apricot
  • Onion
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Potato
  • Lemon
  • Swede
  • Sweet potato
  • Lamb
  • Pea
  • Quinoa
  • Evian water
  • Blueberry
  • Mint tea
  • Pumpkin
  • Mackerel
  • Maize
  • Sunflower seed and oil
  • Coconut
  • Tomato
  • Organic dark chocolate
  • Redbush/Rooibos tea

SO………………… I decided I WOULD ONLY EAT the foods that Sarah is cleared and vaccinated  to eat. I am also participating in a modified  food rotation diet.

Babe took me shopping on Saturday, ( Love you bug! Good looking out finding the jams!)  and today is my first day on the diet. I will keep you posted and share my experience.

If you are interested here is my food rotation and restrictive diet I will follow for the next 7 days ( Sarah was kind to allow me to experience a 2 day food rotation on some foods.)

Much love,
Marissa

P.S. THOUGHTS ON DAY ONE…I went into a bit of a panic. I wanted to use tarter sauce on my fish, but I was afraid the tarter sauce didn’t fit under my restricted list. I didn’t want to press it, so I just used lemon instead.

References:

http://www.food-allergy.org/rotation.html
http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/shots
http://www.breakspearmedical.com/
*I am not advocating the clinic mentioned in this video. I used the video to help me understand low-dose immunotherapy.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hdwRQj1C4A

IgE Antibodies Are The Culprit And Allergies Are The Response!

Last week’s blog post titled, Allergies Are An Inappropriate Immune Response. What’s Appropriate? I attempted to explain what happens to an immune system that responds appropriately to viruses, bacteria, and other invaders.

Antibodies (fighter proteins) are formed, antigens (bacteria, viruses, invaders) are attacked, and ridden.

In a person WITHOUT allergies, substances can pass through the bodies immune system without a response.

In a person WITH allergies, substances normally seen as “harmless” become allergen invaders and the body will react.

Woman With An Allergy Smelling A Flower

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

According to Allergy Therapeutics, here are examples of substances that can turn into allergens…

* Pet dander

* Tree and Grass Pollen

* Moulds

* Certain foods

*Insect venom

*Dust mites

The allergen substances attack, and the body responds by creating several antibodies.

It’s necessary to note that there are 5 DIFFERENT CLASSIFICATIONS of antibodies. When dealing with allergies, IgE antibodies are the culprit.

SO…. when your body is producing antibodies to fight off what it believes is “harmful” the result can lead to allergic reactions.

We know that memory cells are created to “remember” the specific intruder. SO…the next time your body encounters an allergen substance the body remembers to attack!

The attacks set’s off a chemical release known as histamine. (A compound that triggers the inflammatory response).

According to the Breakspear medical group

“Contact with an allergen (the item that causes the reaction) can be with your skin, eyes, or with the lining of your lungs, mouth, oesophagus (gullet), stomach or intestine.”

As more chemicals are released into the body, annoying to life threatening symptoms can form.

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Runny Nose
  • Inflammation
  • Swelling
  • Hives
  • Skin Rash
  • Watery eyes
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Congestion
  • Itching
  • Dizziness
  • Mental Confusion
  • Difficulty Breathing

AND more

Much love,
Marissa

P.S. How can such a beautiful and complex process go SO WRONG?

References:

http://www.allergytherapeutics.com/what-substances-commonly-cause-allergic-reactions.aspx
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histamine
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antigen
http://wiki.medpedia.com/Allergy_and_Autoimmune_Disorders
http://www.scienceclarified.com/Al-As/Antibody-and-Antigen.html#b
http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/allergy-symptoms-types

 

“Remember I’m allergic to shrimp?” You can eat salmon!

hyp·o·crite in the house? GUILTY.

This is the 2nd time this week I’ve had to call myself out!

A popular seafood chain has brought back for a LIMITED TIME endless shrimp for $14.99.

“Try as much as you like, any way you like.”

Cooked Shrimp

photo by mhaithaca

I LOVE SHRIMP. Fried, grilled, and breaded, I don’t discriminate.

It’s important to note because of my vestibular(balance) disorder my visits to restaurants are infrequent. I was up to the challenge and invited babe to join me for some endless shrimp.

Babe: ” I’m allergic to shrimp babe. ”

My response: “But babe, I really want to go! You can eat salmon! Just order salmon or a steak.”

WHAT? I TOTALLY DISMISSED babe’s allergy concern because I had dreams of eating Alfredo shrimp pasta.

My selfish justifications:

1.) I infrequently visit restaurants.

2.) I REALLY want that endless shrimp. I have been waiting for it to come back to the menu for a few years.

Babe’s shellfish allergy justifications:

1.) Hives or eczema

2.) Nasal congestion

3.) Allergic conjunctivitis

4.) Nausea

5.) Abdominal pain

6.) Vomiting

7.) Diarrhea

8.) Wheezing

9.) Coughing

10.) Runny nose

11.) Swelling of lips

12.) Swelling of tongue

13.) Swelling of face

I offered babe menu alternatives to shrimp without taking into account restaurant preparation. Shared cooking areas, utensils, cooking pans, etc. all part of cooking kitchen operations.

According to The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis network…

Eating away from home can pose a significant risk to people affected by food allergy. Research suggests that close to half of fatal food allergy reactions are triggered by food served by a restaurant or other food service establishment.

The seafood chain’s website has an allergy information page. They are committed to making adjustments to those with allergies and dietary needs, BUT there is a disclaimer toward the bottom of the page…

Since all of our dishes are prepared-to-order at (popular seafood chain restaurant), our normal kitchen operations may involve shared cooking and preparation areas. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that any menu item can be completely free of allergens.

To prevent babe from encountering a severe allergic reaction it’s required that we practice shellfish avoidance.

Thank GOD for Sarah (babe thanks you as well) this month’s 12-12-12 project member.  Sarah is living with severe allergies and learning about the condition has opened my eyes. I now realize the severity of the situation and I will make adjustments ensuring babe is safe!

Much love,
Marissa

References:
http://foodallergies.about.com/od/seafoodallergies/p/shellfish.htm
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/shellfish-allergy/DS00987
http://www.foodallergy.org/page/facts-and-stats