How One Food Might Save My Life
I am allergic to life!
I’m not kidding! I’ve suffered from various mysterious allergic reactions for most of my life.
I’ve gone to school with random swollen knee joints, swollen eyes, half a swollen lip, rashes across my hands and back, red blotches on my face and neck, etc. It kinda sounds like I was beaten up a lot, but there was no bruising, just large red swollen patches.
For decades I tried to figure out the cause.
The doctors first thought I had chillblains when I was 11 years old and my knee and elbow joints kept swelling up. My mum threw away a brand new air-freshener from my bedroom because she thought that was the cause of it.
A friend told me that I had a very dire disease because my red blotches didn’t go away when they put a glass on it (I was terrified for a week!). During my first year of college, I stopped eating mushrooms for a year because I thought I was allergic to those (I wasn’t).
And recently, I went to 3 allergy specialists in New York City and had every pinprick test possible (I tested positive for just about everything)!
Do You Want A Prescription For the Gym?
I had just about given up hope when an Ear, Mouth, and Throat specialist (whom I went to see on an unrelated matter) diagnosed me as having angioedema, a fairly rare immune disorder.
As my angioedema specialist stated very matter-of-factly, I was basically allergic to stress and everything else in life. Anything from visiting the dentist, to waking up in the morning, to anything and everything could cause a reaction.
As I have since found out, if I stop taking antihistamines for just 1 day, then I will guaranteed to have a reaction.
When I asked how to cure this disease, he prescribed me antihistamines and gave me 2 epi-pens for anaphylactic reactions where my throat closes up and I can’t breathe.
You’re supposed to stab yourself in the upper thigh really hard with the pen, and the reason why they give you 2 of these is because the first one might not work and you’ll have to stab yourself again! I’d have enough trouble stabbing myself once.
When my face displayed the utter shock and horror I felt at finding out that there was no permanent cure, he went on to offer me a prescription to go to the gym. I turned that down.
Why am I telling you all this? And what does this have to do with food?
The Food That Might Save Me
I’ve been reading a lot about celery (crazy right?), and I was shocked to find out that a large number of people are severely allergic to celery (it’s an allergen that often causes anaphylactic reactions where your throat closes up)! In fact, the EU has celery on its list of allergens that must be declared on food labels.
A paper published in The Western Journal of Medicine notes that celery is one of the most allergenic foods in existence, just below cereal grains. Celery is the only vegetable listed on that top allergens list!
There is even a syndrome associated with celery allergies – the “birch-mugwort-celery syndrome” – and it’s suggested that around 40% of all Swiss patients with food allergies are sensitive to celery tubers (one common form is celery root or celeriac). This allergy appears to be particularly prevalent in parts of Europe.
Even though celery has so little protein (or anything else for that matter), like most food allergies, it is one of the proteins that’s the cause.
While I’m pouring through the ton of websites and studies open on my computer screen, I suddenly read the following scary and sobering fact:
“Two common characteristics in many patients who die of food-induced anaphylaxis are denial of the severity of their food allergy and a reliance on oral antihistaminics alone to treat their symptoms.”
This is me.
Even now, I routinely downplay just how severe my angioedema is. (As I write this, I don’t even know where my epi-pens are, despite the fact that they will be the only things that could save me if my throat closed up!). I don’t watch my stress levels, I don’t relax enough, and I don’t sleep enough.
Here’s the real kicker: Even though I research obsessively about other random topics (like celery), I don’t research angioedema. I’m afraid of what I’ll find. Instead, I rely on taking little pills every night (hoping that I won’t forget one night and praying that I’m never in a situation when I don’t have access to them).
How Celery Might Save Me…
That one quote, in one study I found while researching celery, may well save me. I’m making an appointment to get new epi-pens, and I’m making more of an effort to de-stress and sleep enough.
Will I research angioedema now? Maybe…I know it’s irrational, but I am terrified that there will be no cure and that I will have to just live with taking a white pill every night and being careful about everything I do (even though that’s what I have to live with already). In fact, I’m crying while I write this, because I know just how irrational and scared I am!
I know many of you suffer from allergies too – I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below about how you deal with them and how they’ve affected your life. Do they scare you? Is it something you research obsessively, or do you try to forget about it?