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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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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My "Allergy" Story

Today, I do something that I never thought I would do….EVER.  I’m posting a picture of myself for all to see without makeup in full-blown “allergy” mode (hence the mugshot look).  I use the term “allergy” loosely because after seeing many (I’m talking over 50) doctors (dermatologists, naturopaths, gastroenterologists, etc.) no one can really tell me what I have.  Over the years I have repeatedly been tested for FOOD Allergies - both scratch and blood.  For many years, my “allergies” were constantly changing, but generally the milk, wheat, yeast and soy stayed with a few other stopping by for an occasional visit.  Shortly before the birth of my first son (at age 30), I had my yearly allergy test and it came up clean.  I honestly thought the doctor (my cousin) was bullshitting me.  But, then I saw the paper.  Nothing - not even tree nuts to which I have an immediate swelling of the mouth (ironically, tree nuts have never come up on my allergy test - go figure!). So, I began eating “normally” - another word I use loosely.  I discovered I still have a severe sensitivity to soy.  I can have the lecithin used to preserve products but once I see that soy protein isolate term, I run the other way…fast.

It all started back when I was 15.  First, I became very sick with some unknown, undiagnosable stomach “virus”.  I lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks because I could not keep anything down - not even water.  I was in the hospital for dehydration and I took a medicine (whose name I do not recall) that tasted like a banana milk shake.  That seemed to stop the stomach issues.  But, then I started having big, ugly, painful, red cysts on my face (see picture!)  I was beside myself because previous to that I had been the equivalent of the Noxema covergirl and never had any skin problems.  My mom took me to dermatologist after dermatologist and everyone told me I had cystic acne (except for the one doctor who told me I needed a shrink because I had psychological problems and I scratched at nothing on my face) and I needed Accutane, a poison medicine which causes birth defects which I was unwilling to take.  I tried rounds of all kinds of antibiotics and nothing really helped.  Same with the creams.  Over the counter stuff was even worse.  Benzoyl peroxide makes my eyes swell shut and Salicylic Acid turns my entire face bright red. My mom ordered me every acne product from TV  - again more problems.  I went to high school with no make-up and creams on my face.  The kids were cruel.  They asked me if I had everything from AIDS to cancer.  I used to come home from school and cry - every day. Then, my mom starting sending me to every “natural” doctor she heard on our local talk radio.  One of those doctors in NYC diagnosed my “allergy” problem but the passed away unexpectedly in a car accident.  From there, I never really found anyone who could treat me properly.  I tried acupuncture, drank crazy, nasty tasting health drinks and was treated for an internal yeast problem.  Most doctors still deny the fact that my “allergies” are possible.  They also can’t explain why I suddenly have psoriasis (which incidentally only appeared after my laundry list of “food allergies” disappeared).  Over the years, I have figured out 2 things - 1) the doctors still don’t really know what my problem is and 2) I know my body better than anyone else.  So, I now avoid soy like the plague except when I eat it unknowingly (like I did in that damn Hillshire Farms sausage the other night - why is there soy in meat anyway?) and I take the good with the bad.  This week being the bad….very bad to me since it has been a while since I’ve had an episode like this.  My face hurts like hell and looks like crap (and my psoriasis is also in full swing).  But, thankfully, I have a great makeup to cover it all up.  God bless the people over at Janet Sartin for making a product that I can actually use on my face without issues. Needless to say, I continue to watch what I eat and am strongly thinking about having an allergy test done again, something I haven’t had done in over 3 years.  Let’s hope this was a just a bad soy day and not the re-start of something.

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