A Tale of Two Allergies

Today’s post is a bit more serious in tone as I was waxing nostalgic for some reason during my morning commute and remembering how my food allergies came to manifest themselves.  As if being Celiac was not enough I also developed a shellfish allergy not that long ago so in the course of a few years my life became very interesting indeed.  When first diagnosed with Celiac it was a pretty big blow.  I mean I loved bread, pasta, beer – okay, I had a love affair with gluten and did not even realize it.  Yet, this was a one-sided love affair as I may have loved gluten but gluten was slowly destroying my digestive system unbeknownst to me at the time.  It is funny when you think back and the signs were so clear yet Celiac was not something that had mainstreamed so it was always a case of having a funny tummy or GERD (God, I was on Nexium for 3 years which I am sure is not a good thing).  It is amazing how something can be right in front of you yet without a little bit of knowledge it just goes unnoticed.

I often wonder what life would have been like having known I was Celiac all along and am glad that younger generations can spare themselves the damage and discomfort early on.  I am also still amazed that one can become allergic to anything at any point in their life.  Celiac aside, because obviously many of us had it our entire lives but just went undiagnosed.  My shellfish experience was a real wake up call because, once again, the initial warning signs my body was sending off were ignored because I did not know what was happening. I would eat shellfish and feel itchy or get small hives but never connected the dots until my body sent a clear message which led me to a fantastic allergist and in-depth allergy test to find out not only what I was allergic to but also to what degree.  I was amazed at how specific the tests could get (down to the different varietals of individual species).  I will never forget my allergist going over the results and starting to read the shellfish section – about half-way through, after being off the scale for every type thus far, he looks at me and said Just never eat ANY type of shellfish again because you are off the scale.  At the time I felt like, great, yet another entire food group wiped away.  But somehow the shellfish took a priority in the sense that 1) it would likely kill me and 2) the thought of having to jab my Epi-Pen into my thigh (which I had to be trained in) was really not appealing because I am essentially a big baby when it comes to any type of needle.

So where am I going with all this?  My lesson learned was to listen to your body.  No one knows it better than you do.  If something seems a bit off, get it looked into and nip it in the bud.  Also, you have to be comfortable with your physician – if you are not, find someone else.  I am lucky to have a brother who is a physician and I can bounce things off which comes in very handy.  But is important to ask questions and have a physician that does not seem put out in answering whatever (or however many) questions you might have.  It is your responsibility to take a proactive stance in your own health in order to keep living a full and fabulous life.

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