Sorry, Took a Few Sick Days

I came back from the 2014 Food Allergy and Research Conference armed with so many blog topics. I even started a post on the airplane ride home. I just couldn’t wait to share all the information from the presentations and the new products and resources from the vendors.

Then I got sick.

But not from food! Just a summer cold. But one that knocked me off my feet for three days. Have you noticed since food allergies/celiac disease that your autoimmune system doesn’t fight those germs off the way it used to?

It’s so hard to find cold medicine without gluten, dairy, egg, soy and corn, too.

Because I strive to be a helpful blogger and not just a whiner, here are two helpful websites for allergy-friendly medicine:

Gluten Free Drugs

Corn Free Drugs

The problem I have, like many of you reading this, is I have other allergies–soy, dairy, and egg–too. Couldn’t find lists for those; if you know of any, add them to the comments below.  I have to read the tiny labels on the back of the bottles–and when your head’s pounding like a Congo drum reading 4-pt type is impossible. The clerk at Natural Grocers was helpful at first, but then she kept backing away every time I sneezed. 

I came home with some weird sounding “meds” with even weirder sounding ingredients. I was so loopy from my cold that I drove into the garage door (don’t tell my husband). Guess I can get “brain fog” without ingesting gluten.

Anyway, the weird herbal stuff upset my stomach. So I sipped my Ginger tea with honey and that seemed to help.

And I slept and slept and slept. In between napping, I caught up on Orange Is the New Black, so my time wasn’t completely wasted. I can now admit I love Orange Is the New Black because Katie Couric says it’s one of her favorite shows, too.

My mom kept telling me to eat chicken soup–but our refrigerator was empty because I’d been at a conference all weekend! Where’s Mom when you need her? In Vermont, thousands of miles away.

I’m feeling much better today. So don’t give up on me–I’ll be sharing all that great info in the days to come.

I just needed a few sick days. Plus, as my husband likes to remind me, a few days off isn’t going to impact my paycheck. What a funny guy.

Sorry, Took a Few Sick Days first appeared on Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.


A Tribute to Food Allergy Bloggers

When I first started Adventures of an Allergic Foodie, I hoped to meet a few other people out there in the Internet universe who have multiple food allergies like I do. Never did I dream that while sitting behind my computer screen–blogging and reading blogs, chatting in groups, pinning onto boards, joining circles–I’d meet so many inspirational, helpful and kind people!

I now have thousands of virtual friends!

More importantly, I no longer feel like the oddball woman with the leaky gut . . . or the freak who orders no bread, no butter, no cheese, no mayo . . . or the pain-in-the-butt guest who can’t eat anything the hostess serves.  When I log onto my computer, I’m surrounded by other allergic foodies who don’t think I’m an oddball, a freak, or a pain in the butt; in fact, I’m pretty normal to them.

And I’m so grateful!

After all, without you, my fellow bloggers, I’d still be hiding in my safe gluten-free kitchen, afraid to venture out to a restaurant and order a meal.  Thanks to you, I have the confidence and the tools to advocate for my special eating needs.

Without you, my fellow bloggers, I’d still be staring at my pantry shelves wondering what in the world I was going to make for dinner that didn’t have gluten, soy, dairy, corn, vanilla, nutmeg, etc.  Thanks to all you allergy-aware chefs–amateurs and professionals–I now have thousands of safe and tasty recipes on my computer.

Without you, my fellow bloggers, I’d still be wandering aimlessly in the grocery stores, trying to decipher ingredient lists and angrily throwing packages across the aisles (yes, this really occurred–actually, more than once).

Without you, my fellow bloggers, I’d still be starving during airplane trips.

And now I will get to meet and thank some of you in person!  This week I signed up for the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference in Las Vegas on November 2-4.


Who would have thought! A conference for people who blog about food allergies! Brilliant!

This will be the very first conference I’ve gone to where I won’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat! 🙂

I’m not sure why my autoimmune system went haywire, but I do know that I wouldn’t have met all of you if I hadn’t started my blog looking for a little help.

There is always a silver lining, isn’t there?

Food Allergies: Don’t Let Your Guard Down!

I have a habit of doing something a little odd before ordering a meal out. I pick what I might have eaten before my stomach became a sieve and I developed most of the top eight allergies and then some. I have a feeling I’m not the only allergic foodie to do this. 🙂

So For Father’s Day brunch at one of our favorite restaurants I chose Eggs Benedict with crab accompanied by homemade breakfast potatoes pan-fried in butter. Oh, and don’t forget to add one of those freshly baked scones everyone around me is oohing and ahing about. And maybe a dollop of that raspberry jam. Mmmmmmmm……

Then the waitress arrived, and I ordered a salad with salmon, avocado, tomatoes, and Kalamata olives.

And an hour later I became sick. Oh so horribly sick. With stomach cramps and everything else that comes with being allergic to soy. How do I know it was soy when I’m also allergic to corn, eggs, dairy, gluten, and so on? Because when I become that sick, it’s almost always caused by soy.

My first reaction was what it always is. Geesh, if I’m going to get this sick, couldn’t it have been from a big slice of chocolate cake? My second reaction was How could this have happened?

The waitress at this particular restaurant knows me well and has extensive food allergies herself. The chef even keeps a list of my food allergies in the kitchen! They often come back and recheck my order with me. This is the one of the very few restaurants I feel safe eating at.

A few guesses as to what went wrong. It was Father’s Day and busy and contamination occurred. The olives may have been marinated in vegetable/soy oil and they missed it. Or, they changed the brand of oil in the vinaigrette (see my post about soy oil in olive oil). Maybe they used a cooking spray containing soy lecithin in the pan where they cooked the salmon. I plan to talk to the restaurant staff the next time I see them to see if we can identify the illness-causing culprit.

Until then, this was a warning. From now on, even in the restaurants I’ve safely eaten at before, even when ordering the dishes I’ve safely eaten before, I’ll review my allergies and specifically ask how the food is prepared. Ingredients change. Chefs change. Sous chefs change. Staff change. I remember a few months ago my son got “glutened” by a sauce that claimed to be gluten-free. Turned out there was wheat in the canned jalapenos. Sometimes chefs need to be reminded to check the labels.

I have to admit I’m feeling reluctant to eat out anytime soon. I mean if I get that sick from a salmon salad, why don’t I cook my own food that’s much more tasty and interesting. Or even eat a salmon salad with my own ingredients and know for sure that I won’t react. Because my family LOVES to eat out and most of our social life revolves around food.

So I’m sure in a week or two when my autoimmune system is a bit calmer, I’ll venture out to another restaurant.  Rest assured, I’ll be on high alert for possible allergens in my food.

I won’t let my guard down again.

Stop!  Is that soy in my food???

Stop! Is that soy in my food???

The Flu Shot and Egg Allergies

Flu Shot

My mother called last night to make sure we all got our flu shots; she’d been watching the frightening news reports of this season’s widespread and deadly flu. I had to confess to her that only one out of four of us had gotten the flu shot. I’d encouraged Steven, our youngest son in college, to do so because he’d b een sick all semester.  (I swear starting college is like starting preschool when it comes to spreading germs and sharing colds! As for the rest of us . . . well, we just hadn’t gotten around to it.

Also, I have to admit I’m a bit reluctant because my oldest son Daniel and I have egg allergies. The flu vaccine is made using eggs.  Dan and I avoid baked goods and medicines with tiny amounts of egg so why would we forcefully stick egg protein, even miniscule amounts, into our bodies?

What’s worse? Having a severe reaction to the flu shot, or getting the flu?

No eggs!

For the past few years, the flu season passed without me getting vaccinated. Fortunately, I didn’t get the flu. Daniel did get a shot last year and didn’t have a reaction. But that doesn’t mean the next time egg protein enters his body, he won’t react, and his allergies seem to have gotten worse this past year.

But, because this year’s flu season is one of the worst the country has seen in 10 years, reported by my mom as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and because the TV reports of schools being closed, hospitals being inundated with flu patients, and flu-related deaths —one heartbreaking one showing a teen boy dying from complications of the flu—I decide I better learn more about egg allergies and the flu shot.

What I learn is that while it was once suggested that those of us with egg allergies avoid the flu vaccine, this is no longer true (studies show reactions to the tiny bit of egg in the vaccine are quite rare). In fact, reputable organizations, such as the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), encourage those of us who react with only hives after exposure to eggs get the preventative shot (note: this recommendation does not apply to nasal spray flu vaccine).  Precautions should be taken though: the healthcare professional administering the flu shot should be familiar with the potential manifestations of egg allergy and should monitor for at least 30 minutes for signs of a reaction.  Those with severe allergies to egg (i.e., anaphylaxis) should seek an allergy specialist to administer the vaccine.

Some physicians recommend skin testing with the flu vaccine or splitting the vaccine into two dosages (using the first smaller dose as a test), but the 2013 guidelines say this is unnecessary.  If someone reacts to the flu shot previously and are high-risk, there are medications that can be taken within 24 hours of developing symptoms to alleviate or prevent the flu’s progression.

Reprinted from Allergies: A Leickley Story

Reprinted from Allergies: A Leickley Story

Since Dan and my reactions to egg are mild, I now feel comfortable getting our shots from a medical professional familiar with allergic reactions.  However, I’m not so sure I’d risk the flu shot if either of us had ever experienced a severe reaction, or if my son was younger (he’s twenty-two).  Even with the reassurance that reactions are rare, I understand reluctance by parents, like those of the four-year-old boy in New Jersey. You may have read about Jeremy.  He can’t go to school now because New Jersey state law requires all children six months to five years be vaccinated against the flu to be eligible for licensed daycare or Pre-K.  Jeremy has an egg allergy and his parents aren’t willing to take a risk of a severe reaction.

I can’t blame them.

Do you agree or disagree with Jeremy’s parents?  What are your experiences with egg allergies and the flu shot?

Further reading

The 2012-2013 Influenza Season in the August 17 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Algorithm from Dr. Leickly

Kids with  Food Allergies

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