I already have serious diagnosed Type I food allergies, the most challenging being to onions and the whole onion family, but the list also includes tomatoes and most tropical fruits. (The onion family ends up being used in everything making it hard to trace.) Over the last 2 plus years I thought that I had gotten these food allergies under control gosh, darn it! Cooking my own food, paying careful attention to ingredients, and only eating at a handful of restaurants where the chef and wait staff are willing to take the extra steps so there was no cross contamination in my food.
Unfortunately, it has since become clear that I was entering a whole new chapter of my allergy challenges. Welcoming back my throat-swelling has not exactly been like finding a long lost friend. I am most likely now allergic to something new, making the last several days a roller coaster. I have again had swelling on multiple occasions, even when preparing meals at home or eating foods that are part of my usual diet. Clearly new foods are wreaking havoc but I am having a hard time figuring out what could be the cause. When my usual breakfast this morning led to another one of these swelling episodes, I knew that I needed to go to the allergist office to start to try to figure out what might be the new allergenic culprit(s).
While we are trying testing to isolate the new problem, we have yet to reach any clear conclusions on the cause of my new allergies. (I'll spare the details but because I'm on steroids, testing and getting clear results is more complex than normal.) In the meantime, since I am now so reactive and we don't know why I have been put back on an elimination diet. I have had to do this in the past and it is no fun. You slowly add each new food one by one back into your diet, record what you eat daily, and note every allergic reaction. This approach means not eating foods with multiple ingredients, like cookies or breads from the grocery store, because if you do have an allergic reaction it is then impossible to parse out which ingredient is the cause. As I said, no fun.
Being so allergically activated is challenging (and dangerous) in its own right, but making matters worse is that treatment options are limited by my autoimmune disease...while at the same time the reactions themselves put me more at risk for an autoimmune flare. Because I have Sjogren's syndrome, anti-histamines make my dry eyes and dry mouth much worse and also increase my ear pain (related to my eustachian tube dysfunction). This is the delicate balance that my allergist and I are trying to piece through together. I wish it felt more like science than trial and error.
While my autoimmune disease is what has materially changed the quality of my daily life, I know first-hand that allergies can be life threatening. Where does that leave me? At the moment, trying to get my recovery back on track. Just when my autoimmune symptoms were under control enough that I could begin to socialize and start participating in the world again, my allergy symptoms decided not to cooperate. I don't have an easy solution. I would like to find a creative way to distract my immune system from attacking the wrong things. Could I teach it to meditate? Yoga perhaps? Or maybe long distance running. Anything to distract it from attacking me...and the food I love.