Trial and Error - The Results

First, I must apologize - December ran away with me and I did not find any free time to post.  Sorry.  I’m back in the game again now.

After my last post, I began to really watch my food diary and pay attention to my reactions.  The result:

Not bad, right?  I was hesitant to post this picture because my camera is so kick ass that is shows all of the redness and my years of scars in detail (so much for my kick ass camera working in my favor!).  But, if you compare to the last picture, 100% better.  Unfortunately, it didn’t last.  Last week, right before Christmas (naturally!) I had a reaction - a BAD one - to I have no idea what.  I have been so careful not to eat gluten, corn or soy.  It is very likely that it is an OVERreaction due to holiday stress as well.  However, that aside, it is still ugly and painful.  This latest reaction was not very cystic at all and for that I am grateful, but there were many spots and they are taking a long time to fester, come to a head and heal.  So, it looks like I end yet another year with ugly face.  I’m feeling discouraged because when I removed corn and got the above results, I thought I had finally figured it all out.  At this point, I have a sneaking suspicion that I am allergic to a salad spice or some component of that spice that my parents use.  We eat with them on the nights I work and the last 2 weeks when we’ve been eating A LOT of salad, my reactions have been bad and are not getting better.  A few weeks ago, we hadn’t had salad for a while and everything was ok.  So - it is back to the drawing board……again.  Hopefully I will be able to post in 2012 with good news and a good face.  Until then friends, Happy New Year.  Be well.


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Trial & Error - Discovering Intolerances

Well - here I am…..2 months after my last disaster face post.  I wish I could post a new picture of my face, but unfortunately, I had an allergic reaction to a bacitracin cream and I have a rash on the side of my face (I can’t win!).  The upside?  My face has been relatively clear since I began removing grains from my diet.  The few blemishes that have reared their ugly heads have been non-cystic and minor.  First, I started gluten free.  That helped until I started purchasing gluten free products.  (My husband tells me that I adapt to new food issues too easily now)  It took me a few weeks of writing down everything I ate to figure out that corn was bothering me BIG time.  Once I removed that, I seemed to be doing ok.  After doing some research online, I decided to stay away from all grains except rice since there seems to be a relatively low occurence of rice allergy problems in people.  This seems to be working well for me.  Eating at home - no problem.  Eating outside of the home?  Much more difficult.  However, with some planning and phone calls to restaurants before hand, it can be done.  AND many of the restaurants are happy to accommodate (so if you have an issue, just call!)  I’ve also been eating very basically.  No weird chemical ingrients, no dyes, no crap.  I’m still not 100% convinced it is all of the grains and not just corn (or even something else).  However, once I get rid of the bacitracin rash, I’m going to attempt eating wheat pasta and see what happens.  Unfortunately for me, because I am considered intolerant, rather than allergic, everything is trial and error.  So for the immediate future it looks like it is going to be me, my insulated lunch bag and my food diary!  Have cooler  - Will Travel!

FYI - If you are ever in the Hershey, PA area and have food allergies, please visit Piazza Sorrento or the Houlihan’s in Hershey.  I called beforehand and both of these restaurants and their chefs were AMAZING!  They went out of their way to accommodate me and made me some of the best (safe/allergy-free) food I’ve eaten outside of my home in a very long time!

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In with the Beef, out with the Pooideae?!

So, after last week’s post that I was attempting to eat vegan to test my theory that if a chicken ate soy and then I ate soy, would it affect me like an allergy/intolerance, I woke up on Thursday looking like this:

Reaction from eating the plant family Pooideae

Ugly, cystic, red and painful…..the story of my life…..perhaps….until now.  In the past 20 years, I’ve tested many theories about my allergies/intolerances, done many elimination diets, tried many products and seen many doctors.   I already know that some of my intolerances don’t show up on allergy blood tests - tree nuts make my mouth swell up, but have never appeared; soy appears sometimes and not others.  But this week, I think I finally had the epiphany I’ve been looking for.  2 years ago was when I had my last allergy test done.  The only thing that came up was Kentucky Bluegrass - and it came up majorly high (which explained why when I went into my backyard barefoot, my feet itched for days).  This was the first allergy test ever done on me that wasn’t just straight foods.  So, I hit the internet (my blessing and my curse!) and found that many of the grasses are in the Pooideae family which also contains Kentucky Bluegrass.  This week, I also suffered some majorly itchy ear reactions when I ate rye and oats and I had some tummy troubles after eating pasta several days in a row (trust me, you don’t want the details on that).  In the past, my diets have been wheat free, but never gluten free or completely free of a certain family of grains.  The Pooideae family includes wheat, rye, barley, oat, spelt and triticeae.  Rice, Corn and Sugarcane fall into the large Poa family, but not the same subfamily.  Well, I will tell you, that in the last few days, I’ve only eaten rice and corn as my grains and my face is clearing up and starting to look normal.  I know what this means.  It means a very restrictive diet.  Been there, done that.  It is a pain in the neck, but if it means I’ll feel better and not look like I have the measles, I’m in.  Sign me up.  So, it is back to Whole Foods I go to read label after label.  And hopefully soon, I’ll be able to put up a Nice Face Picture rather than an Ugly Face Picture.  On a side note, I must thank someone above for the blessing of Janet Sartin makeup because without it, I don’t think I would ever leave my house.  They make skin care products for people with extremely sensitive skin and have been my saving grace/face for many years.

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Where’s the Beef?

Earlier this week, I began my journey into the world of veganism.  It has nothing to do with politics or saving the cute and fuzzy little animals.  It has to do with SOY and how it is slowly but surely breaking me.  In the past, I have posted here of my freakish allergy problems and skin ailments.  While I have always been VERY careful in avoiding my allergy/intolerance triggers, I have never been completely soy free due to the fact that soy is in EVERYTHING these days.  My long standing theory has been this: If a mother is told not to eat or drink dairy when her baby seems to not be able to tolerate it, does that mean if a chicken is fed soy feed all of its life and then I eat the chicken, will I, too, react in the same manner?  Same goes for cow’s milk?  So, as of Monday, I am completely soy free.  I have purchased a few bags of food from Whole Foods to get me through this journey.  I have only purchased items that say soy free and when in question, I have double checked with the companies.  I have removed all animals products from my diet.  And due to my existing nut allergies, I am basically subsisting on fruit, vegetables, legumes (I’ve chosen to eliminate peanuts as well since on the first day of this journey I ate all natural peanut butter and my ears itched like hell) and grains.  It has been a tough go, but I am determined to try this for a few weeks to test out my theory.  I’m still not totally convinced that my skin won’t just get better because I’m not eating a bunch of crap - no additives, no preservatives, no dyes, very little sugar, etc.  I’m sure there are other factors involved for me, as well - first and foremost, the hard water in New Jersey is awful.  My skin problems are always worse in NJ.  When I went to college in PA where the water was soft, I never had the same issues I have now.  Secondly, I still take a birth control pill which many doctors have told me is enemy #1 because of the overgrowth of yeast it causes in the system.  Over the past 20 years (yes, I’ve had skin problems for 20 years with no reprieve), I’ve seen hundreds (literally!) of doctors, dermatologists, allergists, naturopaths, acupuncturists, etc.  Most of them tell me they don’t know what is wrong with me because I look great on paper (my blood is awesome, my skin…..not so much).  Others tell me I’m crazy (yes, I actually had a dermatologist tell me that I needed psychiatric help because it was all in my head).  Many people think my life story is crap (and have documented it via comments on this blog) because I don’t have an immediate, anaphalactic reaction to soy.  They say that we all know our own bodies best.  Well I know this, something is wrong with me.  I may not be a doctor, but I know and feel that I am not a healthy person.  SO, I will continue to test my theory.  It will either be the medical breakthrough I’ve been waiting for or another failed self-diagnosis.  I will tell you all this, though.  In the 3 days since I’ve been on this special diet, I’ve felt better than ever.  I have more energy, I haven’t had many migraines and I’ve even lost 3 pounds.  My skin seems to be getting better, but I haven’t seen an overnight miracle. Only time will tell.  I’m not going to make any judgements until I’ve done this for at least 2 weeks.  I want my system clear and I want my skin to have time to heal from its existing blemishes/lesions.  Wish me luck on this potentially life changing journey.  After a few weeks of this, I will attempt to reintroduce animal products one at a time.  If I’m still fine, I will stick to the natural diet with the addition of meat.  If I’m not, I will attempt to try no-soy fed meat.  If that doesn’t work, it looks like I’ll be the newest member of the Vegan crew.

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Thanks Johnson & Johnson

Last week, I forgot to put a new bottle of shampoo in the shower for me, so I decided to use the kids’ shampoo, which this week happened to be John & Johnson’s baby shampoo for thick and curly hair (the light blue bottle).  BIG MISTAKE……HUGE!  Now, I’ve posted before about my past/present with food allergies, but NEVER in my life have I had a reaction like this.  The reaction is concentrated around my neck , chest, back and ears, with spots also on my forearms and the back of my hands.  I don’t know why this is the case since the shampoo ran down my whole back when being rinsed off.  I hope my new allergist, whom I will be seeing tomorrow will be able to tell me more because I certainly don’t want to use another product with whatever ingredients were in the J&J thick & curly shampoo.  And I certainly don’t plan on buying anything else from J&J anytime soon.  So much for it being dermatologist and allergy tested, which by the way it says in the description of the product.

Chest after allergic reaction to J&J baby shampoo (thick & curly)

Man, does this itch!

Left arm after allergic reaction to J&J baby shampoo (thick & curly)

Right arm after allergic reaction to J&J baby shampoo (thick & curly)

Normal Sized Ear

Somehow my left ear seemed to escape any reaction.  My right ear was not so lucky.  Anyone seen Hitch with Will Smith?  Yeah, that’s my ear!  It feels like someone has a blowtorch on it and is crushing it at the same time.  Sleeping on my right side is a real pain…..literally.  You can also see where it is starting to migrate onto my cheeks.

My angry allergic reaction ear

Back of neck after allergic reaction to J&J baby shampoo (thick & curly)

See that angry ear again in this picture???

Angry, Itchy, Painful neck after allergic reaction to J&J baby shampoo (thick & curly)

Needless to say that shampoo went right into the garbage.  I get to spend the next two weeks on steroids to make this rash go away and I’m praying that the allergist can tell me anything about this reaction tomorrow because I have no idea what caused it.

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