Allergies - Food, Skin & more!
Allergies are nothing to joke about, especially food allergies! When I order food, I’m specific for a reason. It’s not because I’m being a bitch it’s because if you don’t listen to my order, you are messing with my life! So a simple, even cheap meal can cost me hundreds of dollars and time at the doctor due to testing and medications. So please pay attention to this blog as I’m sure many of you have or know someone that has allergies (food, environmental and other health issues like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc…) When you go to a new doctor, in the forms they ask you to fill out it asks you “Do you have any allergies?” Meaning allergies to foods, latex, medications and environmental. They also ask about your past medical history, surgeries, if you are currently taking medications and vitamins. Our body is so complex, but they are asking these questions because it’s important for them to know so they know how to treat you and things to stay away from so they don’t harm you.
Lets discuss food allergies. I’ve always been allergic to watermelon. I can’t even allow the watermelon juice or fruit touch other fruit because the other fruit will absorb its juice. If I do the inside of my mouth and throat will itch really bad and start to swell! Growing up in the deep south GA/TN, slicing up a watermelon on a hot summer day outside, eating it with your family is very common and my mom thought I just didn’t want to eat it. Till she learned the hard way. It’s not that I don’t want to eat it, I can't eat it!
When I was at Columbia College in Chicago, I couldn’t afford to eat much, especially red meat. After about a year of not eating it my roommate took me to out to a nice dinner for my birthday! We ordered a nice steak, potatoes and veggies. That night, I was so sick we thought I had food poisoning. Though we ate the same thing. The next time I tried red meat again from a different place, my body reacted the same way. Hum, ok, two more times, all at different places over a few months time and my body was rejecting it so bad I scheduled a doctors appointment. The doctor explained to me that since I had stopped eating red meat my body stopped producing the enzyme to break it down, therefore rejecting it. He told me if I do want to eat it again I can start out eating an extremely small amount (like introducing a baby to different foods) and I might build up a tolerance to it again. My reply was “well, thank you for helping me understand what my body is doing but if my body is naturally rejecting something, I don’t want to try and put it back in. I don’t miss it that much.” That was 1999 and I have not had red meat or soups made with it.
I could still eat chicken and loved baked chicken with capers, fried chicken, chicken soup, chicken pot pie, chicken casserole that my granny made with a mushroom sauce, I loved chicken! I had been living in LA, CA for a few years and when I was 24 years old my then boyfriend was vegetarian and we had a rule. He cooked, I’m sous chef / set the table / clean. Worked perfect for us and he’s an amazing cook! Yes, he would cook non-vegetarian meals for me and vegetarian meals for him. Mostly sides and add for me baked chicken with capers or salmon. When I was around 26-27 years old I had not stopped eating chicken yet one night after eating it was like having food poisoning. He said “that’s weird maybe we need to buy organic or free range?” Nope, my body had just started rejecting it like it did with red meat. The next time I saw my Doctor I told him what happened and he said “you had a hormonal change.” Sounds good to me. Ok, no watermelon, no red meat, no chicken. We also found out that I black out almost instantly with liquor and I mean almost instantly, not even half a glass! That was 6 trial and errors because my then boyfriend was like “lets see if you can have a mixed drink with vodka? Nope! Tequila? Nope! Whiskey? Nope. etc... I could have some wine or champagne. Man, I was like our own science project! LOL! One New Years eve he booked a nice dinner at a beautiful hotel that was throwing the New Years Eve party and a room for us. They had a meat option, vegetarian option and their fish option was Sea Bass. I had never had sea bass but ate other fish. He obviously orders the vegetarian one, as that’s what I should of done as well. Right after dinner, we didn’t even get to go to the party as I was puking my guts out in our hotel bathroom. Oh, boy! Thankfully, we were just down the street from our house and he took me home. We changed, I crawled in bed and he watched the ball drop. He was so disappointed and I felt horrible! Both physically and because I wanted us to have a wonderful, fun holiday but how was I to know. So, lets add that to the list of allergies.
Since 2014, I have been dealing with a skin rash that started out as one little red spot on my left shin, but eventually started progressing covering my legs and arms. It never itched, it's not contagious but was affecting what I could wear. I have a beautiful, expensive wardrobe and during the hot summer who wants to wear pants and a long sleeve shirt especially when you're perimenopausal, so you have hot flashes on top of it! It's very uncomfortable and frustrating! I was going to the dermatologist because I had skin cancer again as well. They didn’t know what my rash was / is or causing it. They just kept giving me different creams to try. Nothing was working and it was starting to cover most of my legs and arms. It looked horrible! Eventually I went to 8 different dermatologists, 2 different allergists, a rheumatologist, 2 biopsy’s, many different creams, 1 dermatologist even tried v beam laser on a rash spot (he was already doing v beam for a skin cancer scar on my leg), many blood panel tests from 1 allergist and the rheumatologist, skin prick test from another allergist, and still no answer and I was getting worse!
I carried around a file full of the notes, testing, and med’s the doctors had been doing on me for 3 and a half years. I went in to see my OBGYN, Dr. Banooni for my yearly check up and he said “what is going on?!” I said “I don’t know and apparently know one else does either. I brought you this folder with everything in it. I don’t know what else to do.” He read through all of them and said “well you had a very thorough check up and great news you’re completely healthy! I know who to send you to. I went to medical school with him. He’s a great dermatologist!” Then he continued with my yearly check up, which is also important. After I left my OBGYN, I quickly scheduled with the dermatologist he referred me to Dr. Behroozan and he found something that worked one time but didn’t after. So he did my skin cancer biopsy’s, a biopsy on a spot of my rash, freezing pre-cancerous places and referred me to his skin rash specialist that works there, dermatologist Dr. Scherschun. I saw her, she looked at my file and said "there’s only one you haven’t tried." Guess what it works! It doesn’t prevent the rash but helps clear it up and I was being scheduled for 3 more skin cancer surgeries.
I asked my dermatologist, Dr. Scherschun if I should go by the skin prick test that showed I’m allergic to cats, histamine, nuts, dust mites, trees / pollen, annatto, latex or by the other allergists blood test that said I wasn’t allergic to anything which I know is wrong. She told me since I’m having skin issues to use the skin prick test as a guide. Now the issue with the only cream that works for me, which is a steroid is that it thins your skin and I already have thin skin, makes you bruise easier (yep true), you're more prone to infections and makes you heal slower. I highly believe that diet affects health issues by either making your health worse or better. So, my quest to figure this out continues. I’m not one to eat pizza often but noticed every time I did my rash would flair up. Same when I had bread, pasta, yogurt and eggs. Sucks because I really do love an omelet with mushrooms and tomatoes or scrambled eggs with toast! Good news is that they make other alternatives like rice based pasta now and if you like ice cream but have the same or similar allergies like I have, these in the pic.'s seem to be working for me (though I haven't been eating them long!) Another option is to put a frozen banana in the blender and blend it till it's frozen yogurt consistency. Yummy! Or just stick to fresh fruits and veggies.
It's now 2018 and I've had different protein bars almost everyday since 1995 but couldn't figure out what was causing me to have moderate to severe diarrhea, tons of bloating and pain in my belly for over a year. Due to this I would only eat 1/2 of my Balance protein bar (my favorite) and a glass of water right before I went to ballet in the morning but I had to stop going to ballet for a bit because I was having to run to the toilet. So, while in this elimination of foods, a month ago, I stopped eating my protein bars and the diarrhea stopped! Most protein bars like the ones I was eating have a combo of wheat, dairy and soy. I already knew I can't have nuts, which a lot of protein bars have because it causes ulcers on my tongue. I saw a video where they were discussing how guys that carry a gallon of water around with them in the gym are the most dehydrated because they are sweating so much, flushing their system and not putting electrolytes back into their body. Crap!!! I drink a lot of water (I have 2 of the 7 cup Pur filtered water pitchers and I fill them both up twice a day so I'm drinking 28 cups of water on average a day), exercise a lot, don't drink Gatorade or put electrolytes back in my body and was having bad diarrhea. Hum, think this could also be contributing to my rash. I was totally dehydrated and think that's why I was drinking so much water. Information is key! Now that I stopped having to run to the bathroom, I still exercise a lot but after ballet, cardio, Pilates and or swimming I drink a small bottle of lower sugar gatorade. This has also made me not guzzle water so much. I have about 1 to 1.5 pitchers of water which is 7-9 cups of water now a day.
I didn't always have these allergies and my doctors just think it’s due to hormonal changes.
I was on a flight back home to LA, CA and started talking to the gentleman sitting beside me. He said his wife had had eczema and she was so frustrated with the process of trying to figure out what she could or couldn’t eat that every time she was about to eat something she’d get anxiety because she was afraid it was going to make her rash worse. I totally understand and have been feeling the same way. The anxiety about food was actually contributing to the rash (not just food). This makes so much sense to me! They say stress is also a trigger for eczema but don't really discuss the stress regarding food and eczema. I've noticed and joked with my boyfriend when we are together especially for a longer period my rash always starts to heal or heals "honey you're magic, I love you!" I know now it's because I'm not just being conscious of all these things but I'm so much more relaxed when we are together! He use to be concerned with all my health stuff but has come to the doctors with me and knows I'm staying on top of things. This quest to heal myself has definitely been a test of patience but making all these discoveries and changing my diet / habits has drastically been clearing up my skin.
Recap and a few more allergies:
*Watermelon - Makes my throat and inside of my mouth itch.
*Red Meat, Chicken and Sea Bass - Like having food poisoning.
*Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Annatto, Turkey, too much soy & most alcohol - Gives me a skin rash (eczema).
*Red Wine - makes me itchy and eyes start to water.
*Combo of wheat, dairy & soy - tears up my stomach, diarrhea.
*Nuts - create ulcers on my tongue.
*Stargazer Lilies - I come down with flu symptoms within 5 minutes of being around them, this has been since 1998. Also learned they are not allowed in certain hospitals because a lot of people are allergic to them. They look pretty, I have a dress with that flower printed all over it. I just can’t be around the real thing.
*Dust Mites - make me really itchy, even my eyes. I try and stay away from fans as most are covered in dust and flying it around the room.
I hope sharing my experiences have helped some of you that are also dealing with allergies and skin issues. To those out there that haven't or don't suffer from these things, I hope that you have gained a better awareness and compassion for those of us that do. You never know who might need help.