marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
For me, total soy avoidance (I have soy allergy plus intolerance, whee) was impossible until I lined up a set of convenience foods, packaged foods, snacky wags, treats, and sandwichy things so that I can continue to eat like crap while respecting my allergy.  For those who may be looking, here's stuff you can buy that is soy-free.  I'm not talking about cooking here, just buying stuff and possibly assembling it

Salad dressing:  Brianna's - every flavor I've looked at is Soy-free, and they taste good

Mayonnaise: Hellman's Canola Oil Mayonnaise

Tuna Fish: Starkist Yellow Fin Tuna in Olive Oil  (note: "vegetable broth" means soy, usually, so most leading-brand Tuna has soy. Also, broth-free tuna packed in plain water is flavorless, and tuna in regular oil is gross and that's probably soy oil anyway.  So tuna in olive oil is the way to go.)

Peanut Butter: JIF Natural

Bread:  Panera Country White Miche.  You have to go to a Panera to get this, so this might just be a midwestern thing.  I get a loaf and put subsets into ziploc pairs and freeze them, then defrost them in the microwave and toast them to make sandwiches. (I don't get sandwiches made at Panera because they would use normal mayo, alas).

Chocolate: Equal Exchange milk chocolate with hazelnut from Whole Foods.  This is the only milk chocolate in the entire united states that is soy-free, I think.   

Chips: Garden of Eatin Blue Corn Tortilla Chips

Crunchies:  Pirate's booty white chedder puffs

French Fries:  Five Guys fries (the awesomest fries in the world) or fries from anywhere else that makes 'em in peanut oil.

Microwave Mac & Cheese:  Velveeta  Shells & Cheese cup

Microwave Pasta: Barilla Pasta Thingies, they just started distributing these so I don't remember the name but they're not bad.

I am still on the lookout for soy-free packaged cookies, pizza (frozen or fresh) , and any kind of frozen dinner.
 




marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
So I've been tinkering with my various chemical intakes to try to resolve my fatigue problem. I'm off of HCTZ (diuretic) and my blood pressure is holding steady thanks to the other BP drug I'm still taking. I haven't had an antihistamine in 3 weeks. I tried to stop taking Zantac as well, but that's been declared a failure so I'm back on it as of last night.

Last Tuesday I stopped drinking Diet Coke*, which was my main caffeine vector. Thank God for Advil. All of the changes helped to take the fatigue down to a manageable level, but I still haven't felt what I would call energetic - haven't had a day where I managed to do all three of 1. work at my job 2. feed and bathe the boy and 3. cook for myself. With the idea that removing spare neurotransmitters seems to be helping, I haven't had any chocolate since Thursday. Recently I've been having some every day, since I've tested as no-longer-allergic to it and since soy lecithin isn't reactive for people with soy allergies, per various studies.

Saturday I took Charlie to the doctor, and then to the zoo, and then to lunch at McDonalds. Sunday I took him on some errands, and I did laundry and cooked. Both days I got a crapload of work done on my current graphics project.

So. I just can't have chocolate any more. I don't know what mechanism it's using to fuck with my brain, but it clearly is, because the fatigue seems to have just up and left. And I definitely felt better than I have recently, during the years when I didn't eat chocolate because of allergy.

On the one hand, I feel physically pretty good right now. On the other hand, I am in such a bad mood.

*Deja Vu: I did this last winter as well, and whined about it here, but had to get back on caffeine again as my tiredness started to interfere with driving. Going off the antihistamines seems to have fixed that enough that I can manage sans caffeine again.
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
After months of unhappiness and out-of-control temper events, I believe we have an allergy-skin-stomach-temper management regimen that kinda-sorta works for Charlie. I'm writing up the whole situation here partly to share for those who are interested, and partly to record it for Mary-in-six-months when I need to try yet another new regimen and can't remember what does & doesn't work.
Much information about managing of allergy & eczema )

Bonus photo unrelated to all of this stuff: The banana train
IMG_9537
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
We had a very nice turkey day, followed by Charlie having a big old allergy flareup on Friday afternoon & evening, persisting through Sunday morning. Rash, cough, vomiting, wheezing. Not a lot of fun. We think he may be allergic to dogs, since he spent most of Thursday playing with, hugging, and kissing my brother's dog and otherwise didn't have any unusual exposures.

Fortunately he was good about taking his Albuterol via nebulizer--we have an inhaler but he won't use the staging chamber thing that helps him to inhale it properly, and the neb just works better because it doesn't require him to be able to breathe well to use it. So we got through the weekend without an ER visit, yay! However the Albuterol made him hyper like whoah. Sunday night he was feeling fine, as evidenced by his getting up at 1:30 am and playing until 3 am.

Monday I dropped him off at school and took the day off from work--I only have a few days left for the fiscal year (which doesn't end until March 31) but I was at the end of my rope, so heck with it. I lay on the couch pretty much all day and it was AWESOME. I haven't taken a day off where I didn't have to do anything in, jeez, months I guess.

This morning I'm feeling pretty good--I woke up at 5:30, 30 minutes before my alarm, and was rested enough that I got up and puttered around instead of going back to sleep. And I got to take my shower without a little helper pushing me into the shower and shutting the door for me, unlike most mornings. So today it's back to the grind but it feels much less grindy.
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
I thought the company cafe would be open today, so I came to work without packing a lunch, figuring to get a salad and use my soy-free salad dressing on it. DOH. Cafe is closed. Many places near work are closed. Chances of obtaining allergen-free lunch are basically nil. So, if I'm going to have the sniffles all evening, I may as well enjoy myself first, right? Yes. So I got fish & chips from O'Callaghan's, which is a pub-type place in the neighborhood. Without me asking, they included all of the following along with the meal: tartar sauce, ketchup, vinegar, lemon, salt, pepper, and a fortune cookie.

I virtuously threw away the lemon but am having everything else. Fish & chips FTW! Um, and benadryl even more FTW.
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (spock-beer)
The problem with lemon is that it's delicious and makes many many things taste better; also citrus fruits are full of vitamins, so lemons are totally yay in every way.  This makes avoiding them for allergy reasons a HUGE PAIN IN THE ASS.  

I stopped drinking Diet Coke, because of the cinnamon and the - of course - lemon.  Also no sprite, none of basically any soda that is normal.  The soda I have been drinking every couple of days so that I don't die of sadness over the lack of soda is Goose Island Concord Grape soda.  It is delicious and is made with cane sugar and the always-mysterious "natural flavors."  I foolishly assumed that it was flavored with grape, but no matter where I look all I can get is "natural flavors."   Which, 90% of the time, appears to mean they threw some lemon in there at some point just for good measure, because LEMON IS DELICIOUS.  Stupid delicious lemons.

It's still just a theory, but since I seem to get incredibly congested, sneezy, and heartburnny 20 minutes after I drink one of these, I'm thinking there's something to it. I initially thought it was something in the food I was eating (since I drink a soda with a meal, it can be hard to pin down) but at this point I think I have it isolated, which means I have to stop drinking the yummiest grape pop ever.  DRAT.

Every other soda type thing I look at has the same "natural flavors" bullshit on it, unless it comes right out and says lemon/lime or orange or grapefruit.  STUPID UNIVERSALLY YUMMY CITRUS FRUITS.
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
I went out to the grocery on my lunch break and found some happy-making soy-free stuff. Packaged food FTW!

Plum sauce [YAY STIR FRY]
Oyster sauce [YAY MORE STIR FRY]
Duck sauce (aka apricot-type sweet & sour) [YAY MORE...you get the idea]
Rice vinegar [YAY SUSHI]
Almond biscotti [YAY COOKIES]
Organic blue corn chips [corn chips do not rate a yay, but these are good]
Weetabix cereal [YAY NOSTALGIA as this was what I ate in England when I was a wee expat for a couple of years]

I also found that Hellman's makes a canola-oil mayo, but it has lemon juice in it, so that's out because of the citrus allergy. Dang. Fortunately guacamole makes a lovely substitute for mayo on sandwiches.
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
Unfortunately, soy turns out to be one of those foods that some people find inherently evil, which makes it difficult to glean useful information from the internet about soy allergy management.

I quote from a comment on a discussion of soy lecithin (a derivative of soybean oil):

"If it was supposedly extracted from a natural substance and converted into an artificial substance then I can gurantee it is harmful. Why do you think they use so little of it at a time. They use it in small candy bars, lolipops, gummy bears and mainly small things so when you start feeling these random aches and twitches in your body, you won’t think it was from the small candy bar..."


Those damn sneaky gummy bears, giving me arthritis in my sleep!


 
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (spock-beer)
I've been craving a jumbo chili cheese dog for a while, so I asked the folks at Portillo's on Clark to make me one with no bun--just stick it in a bowl and put chili and cheese on it  (Eating cheese is cheating but some foods I can cheat with and it all turns out ok as long as the histamine cops don't find out).   I got a few weird looks and one high-five from the folks behind the counter, and I sat down with my fork & knife and had a wheatless chili cheese dog with fries and a diet coke, and it was AWESOME.
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
A week without wheat or oats has done good things for my various immune responses, such that I am reasonably sure that I'm allergic to them (the proteins are very similar so generally if you're allergic to one you're also allergic to the other).  I'll probably follow up with a skin test but for now I'm doing 100% avoidance.  In about 3 weeks I'll try 80% avoidance and see how that goes...that's my normal mode for most of my no-fly-foods list.  The only things I have to avoid 100% are mango, because it appears to give me anaphlaxys, and chocolate, because when I have a piece of chocolate it is a lot like that scene in Trainspotting where Ewan MacGregor, fresh and clean from rehab, takes heroin again.  I cannot only have chocolate 20% of the time, basically, so I have it never.

Anyway, I haven't had any real trouble finding good things to eat this week, since I already have to (80%) avoid cheese, milk, and eggs, which means I don't eat a lot of sandwiches or pasta or whatever anyway.  Chicken, guacamole, corn, and a lot of tortilla chips have kept me happy most evenings, alternating with Chinese takeout.  And soup or salad are fine for lunch...mostly.  However, I am from a culture and tradition that values heavy, stick-to-your-ribs meals, and it appears that if I don't have one of those occasionally--once a week, at a minimum, apparently--I become cranky.  Very cranky.  (Particularly given the lack of good breakfast-in-the-car options--I've been eating freeze-dried apple chips, cashews, that sort of thing, in the mornings.  Adequate but not carb-y. )

So today for lunch I will seek out the traditional foodways of my people, and hie me to the Irish pub up the street and have me some goddamn Shepherd's pie, goddamn it.  Thank God I can still eat potatoes. Why isn't it lunchtime yet!?

-----------
Post lunch, ETA:  I am SO much happier after a nice Shepherd's pie, ahhh.  Hooray for Fado!
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (collage1)

So I have chronic esophagitis, probably this version, although since I'm not in the mood for a biopsy I don't know for sure; maybe it's just garden-variety allergic esophagitis.  medical stuff )


 

marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (charlie-laugh2)
We took Charlie to the allergist this morning for skin testing.  We've been doing a bit of challenge testing* with some of the foods he'd reacted to when he was 8-12 months old, and getting good results, so we decided it was time for some repeat tests at the doctor.  The experience was horrible--after the stuff was applied to his arm, we had to hold his arm and try to keep him still for 10 minutes while it got itchier and itchier. 10 minutes of screaming and crying later, though, we got a very pleasing result.

Over the course of our intial testing (both at the doctor and at home), we determined that he was allergic to eggs, wheat, oats, strawberries, cherries, plums, peaches, apples, pears, peas, green beans, onions, and possibly white beans and possibly cats (in the non-food sense).

Today's test shows that he is strongly allergic to cats, eggs, and peas; a tiny bit allergic to wheat and plums, and in the clear for the rest.  YAY!  The doc said he can have wheat, just not piles of it, and to bring him back in 4 months for a checkup.  This is so great, I can't even tell you how great, seriously.  For one thing, it means he can eat most of the menu at day care, instead of me having to prep all of his food and snacks etc.  SO GREAT.

Afterr slathering steriods on his arm and giving him a dose of benadryl (they can't have any antihisthamine for 48 hours before the test...a long, cranky 48 hours in his case), we celebrated by going out to brunch.  He had some of his usual hash browns and little-bits-o-steak, but completely turned his nose up at his special new treats--applesauce and toast with strawberry jam.  Toddlers.





*feed small amount to kid & watch carefully, basically
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
1. drinking electrolyte beverages and eating salted cashews is not the best way to deal with the weird cravings brought on by your blood pressure medicine.  The idea is to remove the salt from your body, not to move more of it through faster and thereby break your kidneys.
star trek salt vampire

2. freeze-drying does not magically make foods less allergenic. Just because a bag of freeze-dried banana snacks doesn't smell much like banana doesn't mean you should eat two of them, no matter how much you're craving potassium. *achoo*  *ACHOO*
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
Charlie's doc says we need to feed him more green veggies, because most of what he eats is yellow/orange, which apparently causes something or other to build up in his skin and make him extra-prone to bruising and suchlike. The things you learn when you have to keep your kid on an extremely limited diet....

Anyway, I'd love some suggestions of what to give him.  He eats Avacados now (which are fruits, and partly yellow, come to think of it) but I think that's it for green foods.  I'll test Asparagus on him next (all foods go through a testing phase to determine if he's allergic before they become a regular part of his diet).  So, we're looking for green veggies that are:

1. not beans or other legumes
2. not stringy or having an extreme texture (eg celery)

If they can be cut into cubes and boiled half to death so they're soft, that's a plus but not essential.   Any ideas? 
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (charlie-chair)
As I've often mentioned, Charlie has food allergies.  He also has some motor skill delays.  This makes feeding him a bit of an adventure.  Our goal for a long time was just to identify his allergies and identify foods he could eat safely.  Of particular importance to me as chief food-preparer was to find some commercial baby foods he could eat so I wasn't cooking all the time.  We're finally in a bit of a routine with all of that, which means of course that it's time to change everything around again!  He is still in the infant room at his day care, because in order to move to the toddler room he needs to be able to walk and to feed himself.  So, we're working on the walking in PT (at 15 months it is ok for him not to be walking yet, but before PT he wasn't doing any of the predecessors either--I'll save that for another entry) and now I need to work on transitioning him from purees to finger foods.  He can eat a couple of crunchy snacks unassisted but he'll need to be able to have a whole meal's worth of finger foods by himself every day before he can move up.  So far he reacts to anything mushy by playing with it, but he doesn't try eating it.  He understands the concept of a spoon and can get a couple of bites in his mouth, but he gets frustrated by the complexities and generally moves onto the "throw it on the floor" stage after a few tries.
 
I'm sort of formulating a plan and I'll be running it by a peds dietician soonish, but first I'm soliciting suggestions and commentary from y'all.  Specifics behind the cut. )
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
1. cook up a batch of Minute Maid instant rice
2. spread on mat in sun; leave until dry.
3. dry some more
4. grind up now-dry rice in mill of some sort
5. mix together rice flour and an equal amount of sawdust
6. maybe throw in some instant potato flakes while you're at it
7. stir in just enough water to make a paste
8. coat a bread-shaped mold with a little PAM spray
9. press paste into mold
10. leave in sun to dry
11. dry some more
12. maybe run the dehumidifier next to it for a while
13. form into "slices" with chisel and mallet
14. freeze and sell for $4.95 per loaf

At least, I assume that's how they make this crap.
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (charlie-book)
Charlie had another round of skin testing with allergist #1 today, and despite what allergist #2 says, the tests seem to be pretty accurate, in that they match up with various observations.  Allergy testing, particularly in children--boy, this is like the transubstantiation/consubstantiation debate when you talk to Allergy docs about it. I have never met an allergist who used both skin tests and RAST/blood tests to identify food allergies. It's always one or the other, and the other is always WRONG WRONG WRONG.  My experience as a longtime allergic person & patient is that RAST testing is better at finding some things, particularly dairy allergy, and skin testing is better at finding some things, particularly inhalants like mold & grass. So this is where having PPO health insurance is helpful - fuck it, let's go to all the doctors on the planet and have every kind of test.  Not that insurance will necessarily cover all of these tests, ultimately, but it'll cover the majority and we are budgeting for pretty high medical expenses until the end of time, so whatever.   The key thing is that the doctors will see us.

So - results: 

Allergist 1, skin tests, back in the fall:  allergic to peas, wheat, and eggs, despite never having had wheat and eggs.   Allergist 2, blood tests, January: just eggs.  Says that this probably means the test isn't picking up enough, but by the time Charlie is 5 these tests are 100% accurate.  Allergist 1, further skin tests, today: allergic to oats.  But!  This was a test in which I selected things that I was particularly concerned about, and he came up not allergic to: green beans, corn, banana, and a couple of other things.  This is great because it means his pea allergy is not an all-legumes allergy, so I can start him on green beans and maybe chick peas.  And I can continue giving him banana, and can start him on corn--thus far I've tried a bit of corn-containing-food-stuff but no whole kernel puree.

Other stuff - he had to go 48 hours without benadryl before the test, so we've had a long couple of days and he's been itchy and rashy.  The doc looked at the rash on his face and said she thinks some parts are eczema, but some parts are a contact allergy.  So we're re-evaluating his skin cream again, sigh. Fortunately I have more alternatives now because he seems to tolerate fragrance; it's some other ingredient that sets him off (leading contender: citric acid).   I told the doc that he'd been diagnosed with reactive airway, which is like a pre-athsma condition, and she said "with bad eczema like this, he's going to develop chronic athsma. It's not going to stay just reactive airway."  So that sucks.  She's not an oracle but she really knows her business, so I think she's probably right.  (She was my allergy doctor back when I needed one; after 4 years of shots my problems were so much less I haven't needed to see a specialist in 5 years or so).

Charlie is usually great about medical stuff--he puts up with owies really very well--but he hates itching.  When they stick you with the test lancet thingies, you have to sit for 20 minutes or so to let the spots ripen, and there's a control spot that blows up like a mosquito bite because of something they stick in it.  So I got to hold a very very itchy, sqirmy and angry fit-throwing boy for 20 minutes, keeping his arm pinned so he wouldn't muss up the test spots.  He appears to have mostly forgiven me...at least when we got home I was able to give him a dose of benadryl at last.

Tomorrow morning I'm taking him to his dermatologist for a check-up and course adjustment if needed.  Mike took him to see her last time so this will be my first time meeting her.  She's my hero, though, for fixing the majority of his rash, so I'm looking forward to the visit.  Except for the having to drive all the way up to U of C for it, of course.
marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
I'm celebrating my birthday by declaring an allergy holiday, in which I eat *almost* whateverthehell I want for lunch.

So I'm having a pasta dish called Mezzaluna Cipriani (or something like that, but spelled correctly), which contains cheese (bad), cream (bad), maybe eggs in the pasta? (verboten), more cheese (bad) and tomato. With bread, which is allowed. For dessert, I got a brownie (eggs+chocolate, both deeply verboten) which I shall eat if my esophagus is still functioning after the yummy, yummy pasta.

In other allergy news, we finally found a laundry detergent that is safe for Charlie (he gets a rash from, like, everything)--Seventh Generation free/clear Baby laundry detergent. We believe Charlie's allergies are really just his way of forcing us to buy green, the little tree-hugger.

Anyway, unlike Tide or All Free & Clear, which also have no fragrance or dye (they say), this also has no "optical brighteners," which are particles that stay on your clothes to fool the eye into thinking they're brigher than they are. Since we have to wash our clothes in the same stuff as his (since he touches our clothes), we expect to be looking very grey in a month or so.

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