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PostPosted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 5:57 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2012 12:14 am
Posts: 17
Location: Vancouver, BC
Hi everyone! I actually joined this board back in August but haven't really logged on since, so I thought I'd give a bit of an introduction.

Growing up I had mysterious food allergies that we couldn't identify because reactions would happen hours after eating. When I was around eight I was diagnosed with asthma after ending up in emergency struggling to breathe, but it's always been very mild since that first attack. My main triggers growing up were exercise, cold air, cigarette smoke, and mint flavour (food/candy/toothpaste); and these days they are exercise, cold air, and allergies. I didn't have environmental allergies as a kid, but my face and eyes used to swell up sometimes, which in hindsight must have been an allergy to something! As a kid I don't know why I was never sent to an allergist (this being the late 80s/early 90s), but my parents were given an Epi Pen for a few years because of my unknown food allergy. I avoided several foods growing up, including potato and nuts.

At age nine I was diagnosed with Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes, which isn't really related but did have a big impact on my life (and obviously my diet).

Around high school we started to figure out for sure that I had an allergic reaction every time I was exposed to potato (which I avoided anyway). My reactions went from mostly being hives on my back to being hives on my face and back, facial and lip swelling, difficulty swallowing, wheezing, and stomach upset. I would also start wheezing if I was around cooking potato. Growing up I had NO idea how severe allergies could be. As a teenager I wasn't very careful, I would avoid obvious potato but had no idea about the concept of cross-contamination, and had a fair number of reactions, some pretty bad. Since I wasn't eating potato, my reactions were all to things like gravy that had been cooked with potato, or soup with potato starch in it, or a burger served on the same dish as fries, and so on.

As a teenager I also went through a period where I was allergic to cold! I thought I was crazy, even after a doctor told me it was a real condition (but didn't actually do anything about it). I would break out in hives wherever coldness (whether solid, water, or air) touched my skin. I had some very severe reactions related to that, including full-body hives after being exposed to swimming in cold water for 30 seconds, and one time where I collapsed in addition to hives after 10 minutes of swimming in a backyard pool. Again, no idea how severe this could have been and I did not carry any kind of Epi Pen at the time. Thankfully, I outgrew that allergy after six or seven years.

During my mid-20s I was in the middle of student teaching when I suddenly developed a slew of seasonal/environmental allergies. I went to an allergist for the first time in my life to get skin tested to find out what I was allergic to (too long to list, see my signature!). He also tested me for potato since I had never been tested before, and not surprisingly the result was positive. He sort of brushed it off and seemed totally unconcerned.

A few years later I happened to be talking to a close friend of mine online when she had a reaction to nuts for the first time in her life (no other allergies). Her reaction resolved without treatment, but I convinced her to go visit her doctor, and she went to an allergist and was told she had a life-threatening allergy and given an Epi Pen. In order to support her, I did some reading up on nut allergies and talked to other people who had them, and in the course of that found out that many people who have life-threatening nut allergies had never had a reaction as bad as my potato reactions. The next time I saw my allergist (to get tested again, as my allergies got worse) I asked him if I should have an Epi Pen. He said I didn't need one, but I asked for one anyway. He gave me one, reluctantly, but acted like I was completely over-reacting.

I went to my GP and told him about my allergy and reactions, and he prescribed two Epi Pens without hesitation. Last year I went to the allergist again (again, allergies got worse) and he seemed to totally forget I even had a food allergy. I wasn't very impressed, and if I ever go to an allergist again I think I'll ask to go to another one.

A few weeks back I got curious that maybe I was sort of over-reacting, and ate a tiny piece of a potato chip, maybe 1 centimetre square (I know, I know, stupid!). My mouth and throat got extremely itchy, and my throat felt weird for about an hour, but otherwise nothing bad happened. (I'm not doing that again; I mostly wondered if I was still allergic and that answered that question!)

So, long story short, my question is mostly involving language. I'm getting a new Medic Alert bracelet (the one I had broke about a year ago), and the lady on the phone asked if I had anaphylaxis or carried an Epi Pen. I wasn't sure what to say. I've never been diagnosed with anaphylaxis, but I also never went to the hospital during a reaction, and haven’t had a severe reaction in about ten years (I'm much more careful these days). On the other hand, I obviously haven't died from a reaction, either. (When I was younger I would take two Benadryl and my inhaler for reactions. It would help a bit but they still lingered for hours.) And the only reason I carry an Epi Pen is because I asked for one. So I wasn't sure what kind of wording to use on the bracelet, not wanting to be over-dramatic or diagnosed myself with something I don't have. Yet, my bracelet is pretty full already, so I also want to be clear without wasting space.

Oh, yeah, I should probably mention that I'm currently 31 years old, to put my long life story into perspective!

Any thoughts or suggestions? Any other similar experiences?

_________________
Allergic to potatoes; eosinophilic esophagitis
Allergic to trees, grasses, weeds, cats and dogs, dust and dust mites, feathers, molds
Outgrew allergy to cold (cold urticaria)
Asthma; mild eczema; Type 1 diabetes


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:05 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6429
Location: Ottawa
From the sounds of it, you have asthma (which places you at an increased risk of anaphylaxis) and several food and environmental sensativities of varying severity.

You are definately at risk for anaphylaxis and carry an epipen. That's really all your bracelet needs to say.

_________________
Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:44 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2005 6:39 pm
Posts: 2928
Location: Toronto
Agree with Susan. You've clearly been getting throat inflammation, so that's getting into the realm of serious respiratory reaction.

As the medical bracelet is there to help alert those helping you if you are incapacitated, you'd want to let them know that anaphylaxis is a risk.

_________________
Allergic to soy, peanut, shellfish, penicillin


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:05 pm 
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Joined: Sun Aug 12, 2012 12:14 am
Posts: 17
Location: Vancouver, BC
Thanks - I guess I'm just second-guessing myself since a specialist said I didn't need to carry an epi pen. I'm slowly learning, though, that doctors don't always know what they are talking about ... Is it very common for people to not be prescribed an epi pen (and not take the initiative to insist on one) when they probably should have one?

Also, does anyone know if food allergies tend to get better or worse over time? I know my seasonal/environmental allergies have definitely gotten steadily worse, both in terms of symptoms and the number of things I'm allergic to.

_________________
Allergic to potatoes; eosinophilic esophagitis
Allergic to trees, grasses, weeds, cats and dogs, dust and dust mites, feathers, molds
Outgrew allergy to cold (cold urticaria)
Asthma; mild eczema; Type 1 diabetes


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 Profile  
 
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