It is a glorious sunny day outside and I intend to do some cleanup in the yard while the weather is good. Last week the city maintenance crews spirited away the Christmas trees that had been buried under the snow for months and this week the daffodils and crocuses are springing up in the lawn.
Other surprises have crept up on me lately. I have noticed some strange reactions to certain foods over that last several months – itching, coughing, and the occasional stomachache. Years ago I realized that apples and cherries were problems. Then almonds seemed to cause a minor reaction. This reaction was later diagnosed as oral allergy syndrome. For those items that I identified as irritants, I practiced avoidance since it was just a nuisance rather than any real danger.
Once the list of foods that seemed to irritate me got longer, I finally decided to see a doctor. The quick diagnosis – I have allergies or sensitivities to a number of foods, even some that I had begun to eat only recently to replace other foods that were giving me problems.
So what is next? I will meet with my doctor next week to develop a plan but my inclination is to avoid triggers rather than take a lot of medicine. I did the allergy shots as a child, then once again in my twenties and I would like to avoid that.
I’ll be honest, at first I was quietly angry that this had even come up. Except for my fondness for the occasional cookie or ice cream, I try to eat healthy foods. Okay, cookies, ice creams, and maybe chips… sometimes. I was totally vegetarian for many years, and if I eat fish, it is not that often. So although I do not usually admit it, I felt that I had “earned” the right not to be bothered by food allergies; the seasonal and other environmental allergens were enough.
But that is not how life works, is it? Who really deserves to be sick, or totally “earns” good health? Quite honestly, my dust allergies kept me out of a load of chores while growing up, so it wasn’t all bad. We do our best and when things don’t turn out according to plan, we shift. So I am shifting. I have moved past the annoyed anger, mild self-righteousness and hint of frustration towards trying to figure this out. When I remembered that a cousin died several years ago after accidentally ingesting nuts that were in trail mix, I got over myself; it was sobering. So was the visit to the pharmacist to pick up my first EpiPen®. It costs more than $200 and I have a good insurance plan and also used the coupon my doctor gave me. What do people do when they don’t have the insurance or the money? I am putting it all in perspective.
I am amused when people ask me, “Then what can you eat?” because right now, I am not quite sure. But there are a host of vegetables, some fruits and other foods that should be fine (Did I mention that I am allergic to string beans too? Seriously, string beans?). And chocolate, a treat that I would find it hard to never indulge in again, is still permissible. A shift in attitude, a shift in behavior – I am already feeling better just knowing what was going on in my body.
How about you? Have you or a family member had to deal with food sensitivities or allergies? What was the hardest shift to make?