Accepting A New Reality

The past year I’ve been battling bad stomach pains and horrible bloating. I’ve had countless tests and some procedures. There is inflammation in my stomach that hasn’t been figured out yet. I met with a gallbladder surgeon and he was fairly confident it wasn’t my gallbladder. I have POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) and there are several gastrointestinal disorders that correlate with it. He highly suspects that’s what’s going on.

When COVID hit, it put a pause on that stuff. Then, my allergies got awful and I’m not talking seasonal allergies. I was having hives like crazy and stomach pains were much worse. I seemed to be reacting to gluten but there was never a clear answer.

So I met with an allergist/immunologist. We increased my allergy meds to 3x a day and tried some medications that didn’t end up working. He did a blood test for different allergens and the food allergies came back fine. We were all surprised. He started asking some questions and discovered I have a latex allergy.

Some people who have a latex allergy also develop food allergies. It’s called latex cross-reactive foods. He gave us a list of things to avoid. We did it during the summer and it helped some but not a lot. We thought these foods were just an intolerance or sensitivity.

After Labor Day my hives were getting awful. I was having random reactions throughout the day and was having to take a lot of liquid Benadryl (per doctors orders). Every day the reactions got worse.

So now, I’m taking Allegra daily which is an antihistamine. I take 180 mg. It has helped reduce some of the hives. I’m also having to take the children’s Benadryl frequently. For those wondering, the liquid works much faster and the pills do not help or work for me for some reason. He said for now we’re just basically pumping you full of all the antihistamine possible. My hives were stable – not getting better but not getting worse. He also decided instead of trial and error that we would be very strict on the cross reactive foods and see if it would help.

My bloating has gone down a lot and my pain is lessening. There is still some, so not sure what all that means. I’m still having some random reactions, but for the most part things have calmed down.

So for the past 3 weeks I’ve had to eliminate the following foods:

  • bananas
  • nuts
  • peanut butter
  • avocado
  • apples/pears
  • carrot
  • celery
  • cherry
  • citrus
  • coconut
  • fig
  • hazelnut
  • kiwi fruit
  • mango
  • melons
  • papaya
  • passion fruit
  • peach/plum
  • peanut
  • peppers
  • pineapple
  • potato
  • tomato
  • ugli fruit

I’ve also had to stop using certain fragrances and even essential oils. I can’t have any dryer sheets in the laundry and the laundry detergent has to be clean and free of any scents. There seem to be some clothes that make me break out in hives. I also react to sterilization chemicals which isn’t great during COVID. I have to be careful with antioxidants and etc.

It’s a lot and honestly overwhelming. I also can’t have any sausage or hot dogs. Did you know they have hidden fillers in them – a lot of times they use gluten. I’m also very allergic to gluten/wheat.

My allergist told us that just because the blood tests for the food came back fine it’s not 100% accurate. He said it’s a good test not a great test. How you react when you eat is more of an indicator, and I react strongly to gluten. I’m so thankful that I can have most meat. I would honestly be devastated if that was taken away. Also I can still have bacon, if you know me that’s a big PTL!

Grocery shopping is literally a chore. We have to check EVERY ingredient right now. There are so many foods out there with something “hidden in it”. Like barbecue sauce most all barbecue sauces have tomato paste in them.

One of the hardest things to give up was Italian food. I love and I mean LOVE Italian food. Pizza and pasta are my favorite. Thankfully I found a local pizza place that makes some delicious pizza for me. It’s a gluten free crust then I get white sauce since I can’t have pizza sauce. I got ham and bacon on it and it was so yummy. There is also great gluten free pastas out there. Walmart makes their own gf macaroni and cheese and it’s good.

When I first got sick I was always so incredibly thankful for not having stomach issues or being allergic to anything. It was almost like I knew it wouldn’t last. I had some stomach issues/bacteria infections previously but it had resolved once I got sick.

This started last year, but the allergies seem to get really bad this spring. It’s hard to have another big thing taken by chronic illnesses. It’s overwhelming and some days I don’t even feel like eating because it’s that overwhelming. I feel lost and like a deer in the headlights most days. I’m learning to give myself a lot of grace. This is brand new territory and something I have to learn. For 25 years I didn’t have to really worry about what I was eating.

Now I have to literally look at all the food labels. Grocery shopping takes a long time right now. We are starting to learn what I can have. I know as time goes on this will all become easier. I am going to ask if I can meet with a Dietician/Nutritionist to help me get started.

My allergist did talk with me about how I’ve got to be really strict since it is an actual food allergy not just an intolerance. I didn’t want to let go of some foods and I know that sounds silly but the rug gets pulled out from under you and you can’t control it. I tried to control it but my body wouldn’t. Each time I try to have something the reaction gets a bit worse.

Right now I’m truly taking it one day at a time and giving myself as much grace as I possibly can.

“Keep the good fight finish the race keep the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

xoxo,

Abby

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