Meal time is a little different around our house now. About 4 weeks ago I had a bad allergic reaction to something; we weren’t sure what though. It started with my ears, they started itching and swelling and then my legs started itching and developing little bumps. By the time I made it home from work it was starting to spread even more, my arms, my neck, my chest, anywhere that would not be covered by shorts and a tank top. Strange. This was Monday that the itching started so we were thinking back on the weekend and the only time I wore shorts and a tank top was to cut the grass Saturday morning. That was a difference in 48 hours though, but we were thinking that it took a while to “bake” in. We couldn’t think of ANYTHING else. Tuesday morning I woke up to my eyes being swollen with what looked and felt like a burn under them, and everything else was worse than the day before. So after dropping off The Boy at school I headed to the ER to see what they could do to help me. They gave me the typical steroid, in pill form, which would take about 48 hours to kick in, so only about 48 more hours of this torture. Wrong! It did get better, a lot better but it did not go away. All the swelling went down around the 48 hour mark and a lot of the bumps went away, but I still itched, constantly.
Week two, I headed back to talk to a family practice doctor to see what I can do to get this to get better or when I should expect to get better because we are still thinking it was something I came into contact with. The Doc told me to go back to anything I changed, which was nothing, and gave me some medicine to help with the itching temporarily, but I would need to slowly do some detective work to figure out what I reacted to. She also gave me a blood test to check me for allergins that I could have inhaled or came in contact with, such as, grass, pets, woods, etc. The results came back stating that I only had a slight allergy to cockroach, which I already knew. She said with confidence that it will clear up soon that we may never know what I reacted to. I changed and washed everything that week with still not much relief.
So, week three back to the doctor, a different one, still in my same clinic to discuss this detective work a bit more. By this time the itchy rash had subsided to my knees and lower legs primarily and occasionally on my wrist. I asked the Doc about the possibility of it being a skin rash not an allergic reaction to something, especially with the weird locations of the rash, she said that it was defiantly an allergic reaction and could be something I was eating. But at every meal or every day? I still didn’t have a time when I didn’t itch, it just wasn’t as intense. So she put in a referral to an allergist to have the reaction more closely looked at, but said to expect 2-3 weeks for it to process. So I left with not much hope I would stop itching anytime soon.
The only thing that that started about the time I start itching was an increase in my Coke & Pepsi intake, but are people really allergic to cola? I don’t drink caffeine after 1600 if I help it so I can’t figure out why I was itching so badly a night if I had cola only during the day or in the morning. With a little research it seemed farfetched, allergic to cola, Coke or Pepsi products, or caffeine, really? Farfetched & silly. So I figured I would just wait to see the allergist.
Lying in bed one night after having Olive Garden for dinner and then a beer afterwards I started feeling really sick, maybe dinner didn’t agree with me. Then a light bulb went off! Wheat, could it be wheat? It is in just about every meal we eat and is even in the caramel coloring in coke. The symptoms seemed to fit mine perfectly. So the next morning, at the 10 day mark I called to check on the allergist and it had just been processed, so I got the office information and call right away to make an appointment. What great news, an end is in sight. When I called to make the appointment I expected a week maybe 2 or 3 to see to Doc but the offered me an appointment that same afternoon. Who was I to refuse! What a great birthday present, a means to an end is now within my reach.
During my visit I was asked all the expected questions, what have you changed, what have you ate new, that have you been doing or going? I didn’t even have to mention my suspension of a wheat reaction; he recommended that I drastically reduce my wheat intake, including cutting out coke & beer. So a little worried I wouldn’t be able to eat anything I left his office with some hope that I wouldn’t itch much longer.
A week later being on a gluten-free diet, I do feel better. I itch VERY LITTLE, my ears still itch here & there, but it seems like even that is solving its self. I have had great support from my family with this transition. Meals around my house are a little different, it takes a little more planning to bring my meals with me to work and snacking is a bit harder but I am eating better again and feeling better. I even had a monthly cycle, this may not seem like much, but I haven’t had one since I had gotten pregnant with The Boy, three years ago, and even then they were forced with medicine. I am also on the Depo-shot & have been for two years now, so it is expected that monthly cycles don’t show up at all. This is all either my body in shock or breathing a sigh of relief.
Since everyone asks “so what gluten-free mean you can’t have” here is a small list of the major ones I am finding a little challenging to adjust to:
Beer, pizza, bread, pasta, cake, cookies, muffins, pancakes, breaded fried items, soy sauce, dressings & condiments (ranch, bbq sauce, teriyaki sauce, syrup, etc), prepared & processed foods (seasoned packets of rice, lunch meat, hotdogs, sausage, seasoning mixes, etc.), cereals, crackers, flour tortillas, some chips, prepared coffee drinks, breadcrumbs (meatballs, meatloaf, meatrolls), some milk chocolates and candies, any dark cola, baked beans.
What I CAN have though:
Rice, potatoes, gluten-free cereals (chex and rice crispies have some), bread made with rice or potato flour (tends to have a dryer/stale kind of consistency) meats, dairy, oatmeal, corn and potato chips, corn tortillas, vegetables, fruits, things that come in a natural state and can be prepared at home.