Now to the topic at hand, a recent study at the University of Maryland actually made me a bit ill when I read it. It was a study about children with food allergies learning helplessness. They say that when something causes an emotional response, its because its a part of you and something you hate about yourself. So if you get angry catching someone on the highway picking their nose, you're a nose-picker. And just because that nose-picker now provoked a serious need to pass them, you step on the gas, except now...uh oh. That light just turned red and you're forced to slam on the brakes and sit at the light next to them. Of course, you're livid that they made you floor it to begin with and against your better judgement, you turn to look one just one...more...time. A spasm twists your face into Picasso contortions of disgust as you watch them dig for gold, then with lightning speed look back at the light realizing they cannot catch you judging them.
|The stress many people with food allergies deal with. And my thoughts exactly.|
- Medical bills, vitamins and supplements - Includes co-pays, over-the-counter drugs, like Allegra and Up and Up brand Zyrtec from Target (the only brand I know of that is soy-free and gluten-free) which I take daily, yearly annual deductibles which average a thousand to two-thousand dollars per year and let's not forget monthly insurance costs. I also count supplements because I notice a monumental difference in my overall immune system and my body's ability to heal if I don't take them. These supplements include daily doses of: Solgar Ester-C (2-3 1000mgs daily after meals),Solgar Vitamin B12, Solgar Vitamin B6
(alleviates carpel tunnel pain and is a natural antihistamine), Bluebonnet Vitamin D3
(docs found I'm always low on this) and probiotics (Ultimate Flora ). Then I also must have my Natural Calm Raspberry Lemon
(magnesium supplement to calm body's stress levels and eliminate gut stress or blockage), gluten-free, soy-free Up and Up Ibuprofen, Braggs Apple Cider vinegar (to eliminate acid reflux or indigestion) and Fiber Smart Clear Fiber for those days I'm too emotionally stressed or nervous to poop (works especially well while traveling).
- Food. - My grocery bill total every month is 400-500 per month. If I'm in a relationship, it's double that (usually with their help) because they can only eat what I can eat if or I will react from kisses. Because of my soy allergies, everything has to be USDA Organic to avoid soy waxes (on fruits and veggies), GMOs and any other sneaky areas where soy might hide and not be listed in ingredients. My meats all have to be grass-fed or USDA Organic to avoid soy-feed reactions. My fish, wild caught to avoid soy-feed reactions. My oils, all USDA Organic to avoid severe reactions to 'faked' oils, or worse, a peanut oil reaction which happened this year to Shop Rite canola oil which I found out from calling the manufacturer was processed on the same equipment for peanut oil (which I'm anaphylactic to). My juices have to be USDA Organic (once again, to avoid soy waxes) and the only soda I can seem to get away with without a reaction is Seagram's or Schweppes Ginger Ale (because of 'natural flavors' aka GMO soy).
- Other necessities - These necessities will be different for everybody. Like years ago, when I didn't realize soy was in so much makeup and my soy allergy and dimethicone allergy were getting worse, I had an obsession with Fabric Band-Aids. I would wear five of them on each hand at a time and I looked like a leper (or at least the looks and questions I got from clients made me feel like I did). So yeah, Band-Aids and now my obsession transitioned to sticky Lint Rollers. I'm not talking about that gross infomercial one where you wash the crap off and keep reusing it. I'm talking about the stickers you simply peel off and throw away after they look fuzzy. I love those. Put that under my tree, please. I use it daily all the time, rolling it all over my blankets, my comforters (I have a firm belief that once I or anyone has walked outside for more than 15 minutes, I/they are a walking dust/skin/pollen/ragweed collector). I run it methodically over both sides of my pillow before I lay down to sleep each night. What does this do, besides make me look like a crazy person to most of you? Well, for one, I don't itch at night anymore! My dust mite allergy issue has been a thing of the past thanks to this obsessive little new habit.
Well, guess who moved out. (Aaand maybe not. See update at end of this post.) Upon calling a close friend, the gates of heaven opened up and his roommate was moving out. I jumped on it and two weeks later, I moved in. Of course, at the same time I was terrified. My family didn't make it easy. Screaming fights ensued but I stood my ground while they brought up worst-case-scenarios to scare me about trusting others with my life. Then we made up.
They were afraid for me and rightly so. However, keeping me safe was not the solution; I had to make my way on my own. Of course, all those fears are valid for someone with deadly food allergies. The easy access for others to a tiny peanut, peanut butter, tofu or other deadly allergen is like a loaded gun to us.
Even someone cooking a Campbells soup in a pot before I used it could cause a major case of hives and itchy suffering only an Atarax and time could heal. Or maybe someone used a sponge not realizing the protein residue on that plate from the hummus will contaminate everything else. And so, to rectify my own doubts, fears and negative emotions that were beginning to creep up, I did some soul-searching. While indulging in chocolate, of course!
As I took notes and ran through worst-case-scenarios (with the help of my lovely paranoid, OCD dad) I realized that many of the negative possibilities mirror the same stress and worries parents have when their kids go away to college. And although I was safe from the high percentage of college kid rebellion and immaturity, I still would have to take proactive steps to ensure my safety. I made a list of my immediate needs in the new place.
A lot of the possible scenarios I ran through in my head could be avoided by having my own fridge. So I got a mini one by Haier which I absolutely love. The freezer compartment is tiny, however, it just fits the buckwheat pancakes I make in advance as well as my gluten-free rolls from Whole Foods but that's enough for me!
This way, you know for sure nobody is eating any of your severe food allergens then drinking from juice or other beverage cartons. Not only that, but we know gluten-free and allergy-friendly foods (especially if you have soy allergy) are expensive. Soy allergy people have to be neurotic because soy masquerades as about a hundred other derivative ingredients. Everything has to be grass-fed, wild-caught and USDA Organic to avoid dreaded soy allergy reactions from even soy-fed creatures and soy wax on regular fruits and veggies.
Of course, I keep extra Epi-Pens in different areas of my room that no one else knows about except for me. I also have two bottles of hydroxyzine in the room at all times. My purifier I keep in my room at all times is the Whirlpool Whispure HEPA Air Purifier. I honestly don't know how I went without it before family bought this for me two years ago. When you go into another room, then in my room that's been purified on the 'Turbo' setting for for at least three hours, there is a world of difference and the air just feels lighter and more breathable. My roommate noticed the difference the first day I had it on and took several deep breaths as if he was at the top of a mountaintop. I smiled and of course, he now wants one.
Lint rollers. After my rant earlier, need I say more?
And yes, if you have environmental allergies that you get shots for (even if you have the mack daddy of air purifiers) you still need lint rollers.
Whether that security means putting a lock on your door so that you can lock it while you're gone (with you being the only one with the key) and putting an alarm system on your window if you're renting in a house or making sure you're in a secure environment where your food and things in your room cannot be accessed, please please please invest in security and take extra precautions. Not everyone in life is going to like you and if you are trusting people within your space, you're also trusting them with your life. The last thing your parents need is to hear you died from anaphylactic shock and the ones who find you think you just ate something you're not supposed to. I'm willing to bet that a small percentage of food allergy deaths around the world are not accidents at all. But who would know? Not even the cops or the coroner, unless there were an investigation. Why do you think this scenario has been featured on numerous crime shows and tv plots including CSI and third season of American Horror Story? Because the concept probably happens more often than we realize.
(Update: Unfortunately it didn't work out and my safety was compromised. Although I cannot get into details, as of 12/23 I'm back with family...let this, too, be a lesson that the moment you feel you are not safe, you go to a place you know for sure you are. I've come to the conclusion that if I want to be on my own, I will have to have my own place, no shared space and no roommates. Well, hey. Now I have my own mini-fridge. =) Go with your gut, always.)