The first time I really understood what allergies were was when I got a large rash and swelling around my right eye; just like my dad, and his mother, I was allergic to chocolate. A few short years later my brother would receive the same diagnosis when he was rushed to hospital after accidentally ingesting some while at daycare. We were officially a chocolate free house. Children typically love chocolate and women typically love chocolate; I was a 0 for 2. Throughout my childhood I got a lot of sympathetic and surprised looks. At first I felt bad for myself but, to be honest, I didn’t really miss it that much as I’d never really gotten a chance to like it. The worst part about growing up with a chocolate allergy was that I often got left out at birthday parties and school events- the cake was always chocolate. However, these feelings all changed when I realized that I was a superhero: a Halloween superhero.
I was a dirty child. I spent a lot of time outdoors, I rarely washed my hands before eating, and I was not a picky eater. When using hand sanitizer became fashionable I refused to take part. I’ve always believed that there is such a thing as being TOO clean. And it appears that I might have been on to something! A new study shows that the presence of a certain gut bacteria in mice can prevent or even cure food allergies.
“Environmental stimuli such as antibiotic overuse, high-fat diets, caesarean birth,removal of common pathogens and even formula feeding have affected the microbiota with which we’ve co-evolved. Our results suggest this could contribute to the increasing susceptibility to food allergies.”
People who do not live with a chronic condition often have a really hard time understanding what life is like for someone who does. Things most people take for granted become long drawn out processes with many risks and dangers.
I fly more than the average person but I hate it. Not because I’m in a metal box thousands of miles above the earth, or that it’s uncomfortable and boring, or even because I might have to use the bathroom. I hate it because I have asthma. What do I do if I have an asthma attack in the middle of a 8 hour flight over the Atlantic? The first time I flew after I developed asthma I gave myself an asthma attack just from the stress! Another time I had to wear a mask the entire flight because the man next to me had gone for a smoke just before he boarded the plane and he reeked!
It’s one of those things that gets easier over time, but you can’t let yourself get complacent. One mistake is all it takes.
I don’t blame people for not understanding. Even though it seems obvious to me, I realize that it’s not even on most people’s radar. What I do blame people for is not accepting or taking risks seriously. When I read this article from Allergic Living it made me angry.
3 years ago this fall my health changed dramatically. I was sitting on the floor of my apartment working on a scrapbook and eating peanuts when I started to feel dizzy. I lay down on my bed and waited for Jay to arrive home. Within an hour my throat felt like it was closing up and we were walking to the hospital (which was a few blocks away). That evening I didn’t actually enter the hospital, but it marked the beginning of a 2 1/2 year battle with my body.
All sorts of thoughts were running through my head, but ALLERGY was lit up in bright lights and blinking on my forehead. I’m allergic to many things, but as far as I know I’ve only ever been allergic to one food: chocolate. My dad has some mild food allergies (including peanuts) but they started much later in life. Could I possibly be allergic to peanuts? My father also suffers from urticaria where his lips and face swell. Perhaps I had that? The thoughts alone began to drive me crazy.