Artist, Writer, Woman, Mother, Healer, Teacher, Biohacker, Gardener, Friend, Entrepreneur
Thank you to whoever in this wonderful Universe chose to anonymously send me this beautiful mala from China. It made my day better and forever shall be a reminder that even though I cannot eat peanut butter I can be surprised and amazed by the generosity in the world as well as my own human frailty. It will also remind me that there is balance and hope and this will be the mala that helps me get through the series of 30 minute and four hour trials that await me in the future – one per week with a goal of increasing my food options and discerning my food allergies and intolerances – one continuing, slow and often painful step at a time.
You see in 2011 I was diagnosed with nut allergies (peanut and tree nut) and a whole host of other allergies. So I have avoided them like a plague, having been told by the prior allergist at the same UofM Clinic that this was a severe allergy and that I should avoid them all due to potential processing cross reactivity and my oral allergy syndrome. I have avoided my once beloved nuts and a whole host of other foods for more than 5 years. During that time I have diligently and conscientiously worked with elimination diets and nutritionists to remove many intolerances and sensitivities to foods and embraced low-FODMAP eating with positive results, but leaving me deficient in other areas due to these restrictions.
Today, however the allergist I saw gave me hope again. Hope that my safe foods list could contain more than two dozen options (including spices) at some point. He told me that my neck swelling that I and multiple specialists had thought was part of the allergic response as it often happens after eating food is NOT an allergic symptom, but more likely overactive lymph nodes. He also felt the cycling hives I get are not a symptom of any allergy as he insisted a true allergy presents symptoms within 30 minutes and resolves within 4 hours regardless of severity and with intervention. You may remember that my swelling has looked like this in the past and sometimes take months to resolve after a heightened response to sometimes known and sometimes unknown stimuli:
The allergist also informed me he saw no reason I could not reintroduce, with precautions in place, any food, including those previously diagnosed allergens. You see, he told me those initial tests were really just borderline and the way my tests were performed (47 skin pricks at once on my back) made them highly likely to be false positives as my blood tests for them ALL came back negative.
He apologized for the misinformation of the resident I saw previously who told me they were severe, said he did not feel I have oral allergy syndrome at all, and he informed me he would never practice that way because skin prick allergy testing has a 30-40% false positive rate which increases with every test performed. Interestingly I found that the Food Allergy Research & Education site places that number at 50-60%, a sobering statistic either way. Due to the false positives, my current allergist believes in completing skin and blood tests to confirm and no more than a handful of pricks per visit. He also reiterated that hives that recur or last longer than a four hour period are not an allergic response. Please note that any of the foods I had tested positive to, including peanut butter, never results in anything close to anaphylaxis and I do have an epi-pen just in case thanks to that first allergist all those years ago.
So, based on my specialists “confidence” that I do not truly have these food allergies, I followed the doctors orders and protocol ensuring someone was around, that I was not more than 30 minutes from an emergency room, had Benadryl and prednisone handy and happily indulged in a tablespoon of peanut butter goodness for the first time in years after taking my before picture. The doctor told me if I was truly allergic symptoms would appear within 30 minutes and resolve within 4 hours but that my neck swelling was NOT an allergic symptom or reaction but could be a delayed reaction to an intolerance or sensitvity. Hmm. I think he may have to rethink his analysis. The peanut butter food trial went exactly like this and it was not all good:
15 minutes in my lips got red, neck started to swell and the itchy red began. At 30 minutes, well, you can see my friendly swollen frog pouch was showing up to the party between my chin and chest. I also had hives starting on my chest and my throat was itchy and hot. At 4 hours, after some Benadryl and some ice packs to sooth my hot face, I am close to my baseline, which was still a bit swollen from my reaction to some restaurant nachos the last time I had an unexpected reaction. Fortunately from learning with doTerra essential oils I also knew that swishing coconut or olive oil in your mouth is a great way to remove any residual oils from an irritant like peanut butter from your skin or mucous membranes, and that swish and spit helped ease things too.
So, my first trial met my new allergist’s criteria for “if this happens let me know, because that may be a true allergy that merits retesting.” Ya think? So, I will be continuing to skip the peanuts regardless of his recommendation and don’t feel the need for a skin prick or other test to confirm because it just is not worth it even though I would love to open my food options back up. Peanuts are obviously still a problem for my body. It is my hope this was just one of the true positives and there may be some false positives in those original tests. I really miss pecans.
For now though, I’ll shoot my trial photos to the allergist through my med portal so he can see the progression play out. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say about the peanut butter trial. In the meantime, I’ll now wait the prescribed week and try something new after safe soothing foods (and that list for me is quite small). Am I nuts for trying them over? Maybe, but what he said and extensively took the time to explain the why’s of made a lot of sense until I ate that tablespoon of peanut butter and the old familiar itching, swelling, redness, hives process began. I’m hoping the worst truly is over and the four hour mark ended that particular crisis.
The Universe may not find my energies attuned with peanuts, but at least it connected me with a way to peacefully contemplate why this flesh blanket has been such a challenge to wear over the years and what lesson it is I am missing. Thank you again to whomever sent those beautiful cooling gemstones. They felt great wrapped around my hand and chilling on my hot, itchy face as I contemplated how to afford ALCAT testing and awaited the magic of diphenhydramine and time.