Every other Sunday the girls leave to go back to stay with my ex. Every other Sunday I tell myself that this time it won't be as bad, by Sunday I'm ready to kiss them goodbye, but it seems like I have to sit and cry for a while after they're gone. The house immediately becomes bigger, colder, and emptier as soon as they leave so even though I'm frustrated that they didn't do some of the things I asked them to, it's hard to see the long week stretch out before me. My ex asked what I wanted to do about Thursday. I'm thinking of staying home instead of going over to my mom's. I'm still furious about the pizza incident, I know I have to get over it and let it go, but I need some space right now.
During my last trip to the library I picked up a book on using vitamins and minerals to help build up your system so allergic reactions don't take such a toll on you. It's a very short well written book. It's called The Vitamin Cure for Allergies by Damien Downing and Andrew W Saul who is the series editor. The book is very easy to read, it takes what I would call a common sense approach to allergies and life in general. His philosophy is that nobody has it all figured out so you may have to do your own experimenting. He states that there is a time and place for conventional allergy treatment plans, but things like Vitamins C and D are necessary for other processes so it stands to reason that if we are low in those we will have more difficulties than people who have higher levels.
One of the frustrating things about allergies is in certain cases exposure is unavoidable. I have a moderate birch tree allergy. About seventy percent of people who have a birch tree sensitivity will also have something called Oral Allergy Syndrome which is typically a localized reaction to fruits/vegetables that are related or in the same family as the your tree allergen. My mom told me that a doctor told her that I wasn't really allergic to tree per se, it was the sap the trees produced, but whatever the case, the tree and the sap appear together in my yard. Even if we got rid of these trees my neighbors have them. Pollen and seeds travel on air currents, avoidance is really not feasible so I have to find some way to cope with the symptoms.
Allergies are rated according to severity with zero being non-allergic and five being the most severe. Out of the trees I was tested for my results came back as a level one for maple with a value of 0.67, oak was a class two at 1.73, and birch is my class three tree with a numeric assignment of 6.56. It's rare for adults to have a true milk allergy, for me that's another class two allergen, but it's on the low side as is my dog allergy. Out of the things I was tested for dust mites is my most severe allergy coming in at 40.8 which is the higher end of that level that covers the range of 17.5 to 49.9. This means I have to have my pillows encased in dust mite covers and wash my bedding frequently in hot water. Not really a big deal, but when pollen counts are high, I'm pretty miserable.
Yesterday I noticed that my lips were tingling and that really scared me because I didn't know what the cause of the reaction was. It was mild, but scary nonetheless. Raging against facts is pretty useless, but I found myself getting really upset since I can't identify what it was and now I'm scared because it could happen again and I could have a more severe reaction later. Sometimes it takes two foods or allergens to create a problem which is a really strange phenomenon and also frightening depending on what your symptoms are and how bad they get. When I was in college I had a tuna salad sandwich for lunch along with some carrots and peanuts.
When I went into the bathroom I noticed that my mouth was redder than it normally was, but I didn't pay too much attention to it since we were busy at work that day. Later on someone asked if I was okay. They said it looked like I had been punched in the mouth. I went back into the bathroom and noticed fine blisters covering my lips which were now very sore and puffy. When I called my allergist to report what had happened he said that foods can combine to cause reactions they aren't causing on their own. As far as I know I'm not allergic to tuna, peanuts, or carrots, but eating these three things together may have given me the blisters and oral pain.
Yesterday I had an apple, almonds, carrots, and tuna salad for a late lunch. It was much later when I noticed my mouth feeling odd. I never fool around whenever I suspect even a mild allergic reaction. I have two sets of Epi-Pens. They can fail so carrying two is recommended. I have two in my purse or bag and two sitting in my pantry at home. I carry an inhaler, chewable OTC allergy pills, and thin medicated strips that dissolve in your mouth upon contact. They're similar to those breath freshening products sold by Listerine, but instead of menthol you're getting a dose of allergy medication. They're designed for pediatric patients, but I feel that they should market them to adults since you may have trouble swallowing if your airways are affected. This is why I no longer carry the Benadryl liquid spoons.
On the positive side there are a lot of things that I can eat. My daughter is mildly allergic to soy, egg whites, yeast, bananas, milk, and because she has celiac disease she can't have any of the grains that contain gluten. There's a way to strip the gluten off of wheat. There are semantic debates about what constitutes gluten free status, an item can be gluten free without being wheat free and vice versa. Reading labels is critical, but you have to know what you're looking to avoid and unfortunately there are ways for manufacturers to disguise ingredients. Gluten free is currently an unregulated term, some use claims like 'made with gluten free ingredients' which is completely useless and I feel intentionally misleading if the item is not manufactured on dedicated equipment or in a gluten free facility.
There really isn't a best way to tell what is going to be safe and what isn't because manufacturing processes and recipes change. The term Certified Gluten Free means that the item has undergone more rigorous testing so I shop for that. Really the best way to avoid items you shouldn't ingest is education, questioning, and making your own food. For an item to be gluten free it must have fewer than 20 parts per million. Natural items such as lentils may be gluten free in nature, but if they are grown and harvested next to a wheat field you're in trouble if you're a celiac. It's a total pain to grill people about what exactly is in the food you're about to order at a restaurant, but it's your health and possibly your life at stake.
I tip well when I go out unless the service is so abominable I don't feel comfortable rewarding it. I understand that my family is considered high maintenance and I feel if I connect good service with a financial incentive people are more likely to be accomodating the next time they run into someone like me. I try to call ahead, I'm well versed in the terminology, and I'm not afraid to leave a restaurant if I feel like they aren't going to take my concerns seriously. Last week a Subway told me that there was no way they could guarantee my food wouldn't come into contact with things I'm allergic to, I respect that, but the tone of voice that was used told me what they thought about my request.
Considering how easy it would be to kill me and what a pain in the ass it can be to live with someone who has chronic health conditions where they rarely if ever feel well I'm kind of surprised I'm still around. I have a life threatening shellfish allergy that is an inhalant allergy as well as a contact allergy. I can get sick if someone at the same table is eating it and I can react from something as stupid as washing dishes that had shellfish sitting on or in them. Some people feel that I use allergies as a way to avoid social situations and 'real' life. I can't deny that, but try going to a party where everyone around you is enjoying your aunt's famous crab dip which is sitting next to a dish that's topped with crumbled rye crackers knowing that exposure to either of those foods means big trouble or possible death for you.
The bottom line is that I have to live my life in a manner that is going to be best for me. It's probably extremely hard to empathize with someone who has allergies of any type if you're unaffected by the foods that bother them and can't imagine life without butter on your potatoes, stuffing or dressing with your turkey, and a choice of whipped cream, ice cream, or both on your Thanksgiving pie. I fought long and hard for a safer kitchen, now that I finally have it to the extent that I've eliminated known allergens with the exception of potatoes that I make for the girls, I'm reluctant to go out of my way to eat a meal that isn't going to sit well with a woman who doesn't seem to give a damn about my health and safety.
I'm sure I'll get flack for not going to Thanksgiving at my mom's, but this is hitting a major nerve and I'm sick of her bullshit. I've explained numerous times that preparing gluten free foods in pots and pans that routinely come into contact with wheat flour means my family can't eat those foods, she doesn't want to get it or she would do her own research and either tell me to bring my own food or figure out how to make the necessary changes which I'm not asking her to do. I feel disrespected, undermined as a parent, and maybe I am suffering from Overly Unique Snowflake Syndrome, but I've felt shitty for almost forty-one years and I feel like I deserve a break from the 'well what can you eat' crowd. I may change my mind, I have to think on this further, but for now I don't see myself putting forth a lot of effort for her.