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PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2005 5:50 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:02 am
Posts: 116
Location: Gatineau
Hi everyone,

This is my first post! I am sure this topic has been discussed elsewhere, but I haven't been able to locate it.

I'm a 20 year old female from Canada, currently at school on exchange in the UK. My whole life I have been severely allergic to all nuts, eggs, shellfish and bananas, with a less serious allergy to beef. I know a lot of people on this forum are parents, but for those of you who have allergies - how have you learned to deal with the anxiety?

I think I am really starting to feel it for a couple reasons, the first being that I am in such a new environment with new brands all the time. I have also been travelling, and I remember being in Amsterdam just terrified because no ingredients were in English, everything was in Dutch... I know some people rely on word cards, etc. but that is a bit scary for me. What if something were to happen to me here, where I have no family?

The second reason is I had my most severe reaction in January of last year, to a shot of tequila. I still don't know if it was the lemon or the glass that was contaminated (I've had tequila many times before, and even earlier that night) but I was hospitalized and my blood pressure was extremely low. That incident was so hard for me because I had done everything right - wasn't taking chances, having something familiar... I had my Epi and took it ASAP, but it taught me that even playing by the rules doesn't guarantee safety with my allergies.

I am otherwise healthy, in a year long relationship with a fantastic man, I love my family and friends, doing graduate work next year, travelling - I don't want to let my allergies get me down but I find it so hard sometimes not to be constantly terrified.

I'm sorry if this post is a downer :( but I would love to hear suggestions/comments. Thanks.

L


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 10:22 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 9:47 am
Posts: 305
Location: Montreal, Canada
Hi!

I am a lot more paranoid and careful than I was 10 years ago. I am allergic to nuts and peanuts. I am 31 and I have not eaten out of travelled for the past 10 years now. I had too many close calls and I can't cope with this stress. There is enough stress in my life without adding that one. So all I eat is either cooked by myself, my girlfriend (we live together and she does not eat or buy anything with nuts or peanuts) or my mother (I had this allergy all my life so my parents are well aware of it). That's it. I don't eat out at friends, I don't eat out in restaurant, I don't go to office parties, I don't travel. With the exeception of renting a room with a kitchen and an oven and bringing all my food from home that I only have to reheat (which I did only a couple of times when I met my gf (she's from Toronto, me from Montreal).)

So to make a long story short, how doI deal with my allergy and anxiety? I make sure I have 100% control on what I eat. So no eating out, no travelling. It might be tough at first, but you get used to it.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 12:53 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 1643
Location: Toronto
I didn't find your post to be a *downer*. On the contrary - I love reading about people that still *get on with their lives*.

I have adult on-set allergies. For a long time I was to terrified to go anywhere. Now, I guess I'm back where I was. I still don't like travelling (I get car sick) and I hate being away from home. But, when I really want to be somewhere else - I go.

I rent a place with a kitchen so that I can prepare all my own meals. And the first day of vacation is spent cleaning everything in the kitchen.

Being in the UK you have the advantage of speaking the same language. Also, they are one of the most progressive countries as far as allergy awareness.

As for dealing with the anxiety - it sounds like you are. I mean, you flew to the other side of the world. It's normal to have periods where you feel more anxious then other times.

How long have you been in the UK? and how long are you staying? Are you living with other people, that know about your allergies and what to do in an emergency? Making sure others around you know what to do might help.

Welcome to the board. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 1:46 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:02 am
Posts: 116
Location: Gatineau
Thanks for the replies.

Young Vader - don't you find that so depressing? I guess that's the thing, I love going out to dinner, and I want to travel, I want the parties and the visits to friends homes... I want all that. I guess that is what is hitting home with me... and I know I will be able to work around it somehow, like bringing my own food or always hosting dinner parties... I just hate the idea of my social life and opportunities being limited by allergies.

AnnaMarie - thanks for the encouragement. I have found the UK to be absolutely fantastic in terms of allergy labelling - very thorough, and nearly every package I've seen will have a "contains" list that highlights common allergens in bright colours.

I've been in the UK for 2 months and will be here until the end of January. Next month my boyfriend is coming to London and we're going to Paris and Venice for two weeks. As expensive as it already is, we have reserved accomodations only in places that have kitchens available. I will feel better when he is here because he has seen me react and knows what to do. I am living with 20 other people, sharing a kitchen with 10...and some know what to do, some don't... people just don't get it, you know? I keep my food separate and use separate utensils, and have trained a few people on how to use the Epi. Another thing - I hate the pity - I hate people watching me as I eat to see if I am going to explode or something! The more people who know the more the spotlight is on me and I don't want that kind of attention, it's hard enough being foreign :)

Anyway, I think just being able to discuss things like this with people who understand will be really helpful to me. Thanks again for the replies.

L


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 3:49 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 23, 2005 9:47 am
Posts: 305
Location: Montreal, Canada
When I as your age (and don't call me grandpa :p) I use to go out to parties, eat in restaurant and at friends or relatives. But like I said, I have lived to many close calls where I could have eaten something with peanuts or nuts but didn't because I asked a last minute questions for the tenth time, or I bugged somebody until I got my answer, or I decided not too just cause and it turned out I made a correct call. In my experience, but that's 10 years ago, hopefully, things have evolved, I found that some restaurant would not give you the proper information or would hide the info from you because (I can only assume that this is the reason) they would not want to lose a customer. If it's not that, then it's because they are dumb, which is worst. My safety and me not beeing stressed all the time is worth my social life sucking. Besides, I don't want to travel or eat out. Eating for me is a chore, not a pleasure. Like I said before to on this board, if I could take a pill to get all I need to function, I would never eat again. But that's me.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2005 10:47 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 936
Location: Oakville, Ontario
lin101, I also did not find your post a downer - I really admire your strength in living, what sounds like, a very full life. And I found it gave me real hope for my 3 year old son's future. You're right, a lot of people on this chat group are parents, but I really appreciate hearing from the adult / teen allergic community. It helps us to see into our child's future. Your post has actually given me some "food for thought", and it's something I've considered for some time - that it is possible, to live a full life, despite having complicated food allergies. Of course, we cannot be foolish about it, and we must make adjustments, but it is all worth it, right?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 1:14 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
I think anxiety comes with the territory :) My anxiety levels fluctuate. And I tend change my allergy policies slightly depending on how stressed I am about allergies at any given time. I would find it really hard to share the kitchen with so many people as you are doing but I guess it would be workable for the short term--but I'm not surprised that this would cause some stress! I tried living with roommates for a time when I lived in res. I found living with 3 other people really stressful. I would wipe down the sink, counters, table, but still I didn't put my utensils on the table or on the counter. I had my own cupboard (which was a hazard to open--I had my dishes really piled up because of limited space!) and only used my own dishes, but still I was always aware that the fridge handle, lightswitches, etc. could have trace amounts of allergens. My roommates would tend *not* to empty the drainboard until they absolutely had to, but I didn't want my dishes touching theirs (I did find bits of egg for example stuck on plates that were in the drainboard). It really bothered me to watch people eat eggy cookies over the floor or table without using a plate. We had gone through the whole allergy talk, and they tried to be understanding--for the most part--but not all of them 'got it'. I was really glad that they imposed a voluntary nut ban in the kitchen---they stored and consumed nut-containing foods in their rooms. But when I would go away I sometimes found nuts on the floor or on the counter. (They figured it was a good time to cook with nuts when I was away.) So coming back after vacation was always anxiety-producing. The first thing I would do upon returning was to vacuum the place and clean the kitchen thoroughly. Getting a new roommate was also majorly stressful. I'm much less anxious now that I have my own apartment.

I never did have a reaction there that wasn't entirely self-inflicted. I can't say I regret living in res. because I met two of my closest friends there. And it is a great way to meet other people who aren't in the same discipline. I don't know if I could do it again, though. It is really important for me to feel like I'm living in a safe space--I can cope better with stress in general if I live in an allergy-free zone.


Last edited by Helen on Sun Nov 05, 2006 12:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 7:34 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6506
Location: Ottawa
Lisa, you might do we with a crockpot and a small chest freezer. Both come in varying sizes. It is so great to have several portions frozen in the freezer on those days that you simply don't have time to cook.
I'm not remembering what exacty your allergies are but I find that a pasta and vegetable salad with a citris dressing travels easily and in our case we can add canned meat when we sit down to eat. (you could slice and freeze meat if you chose and it would thaw by meal time.)
I only did the many people using in the kitchen thing once at a family reunion. STRESS!! I pre-chopped (didn't trust their cutting boards what might be in the groves) all veggies for a couscous dish and had frozen roast and gravy for dinner so I didn't have to spend a lot if time in there. I pre-mixed pancake dry ingredients and basicay ony had to add oil and soy milk. I did pan fry bacon but only after washing all of the dishes and counter tops. I spent a lot of time cleaning!


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 9:46 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:02 am
Posts: 116
Location: Gatineau
It's true, I do spend a lot of time cleaning!

And Julie - thanks so much for saying that, about your son... I think what would be worse than allergies for me at 20 years old, finishing my B.A. would be the thought of never doing all the things I'm doing. It sounds like you're a really caring parent, and must be, to be on this forum - your son will do great. And thankfully there is SO much more awareness than when I was a little one, and I imagine things will only get better.

Lisa - I love cooking too! I love shopping, finding new recipes, discovering new things I can eat - and I also have to commute to get groceries... but isn't it worth it? The excitement of finding a new recipe that actually tastes GOOD is just the best feeling, or cooking and having someone say "man that smells good!!"

I guess it's worth the anxiety.... not saying that I don't have to be careful, that there won't be frustrations, times when I am more anxious than others... and even times, like the tequila shot, when things might go wrong. I guess another way of looking at that experience is to say - damn right! Even though I HATE carrying a purse to the bar for my Epis, I've been strict about it, and it paid off. I AM prepared, to the best of my ability. I guess in the end, what more can you ask for?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 6:57 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 6:48 pm
Posts: 614
Location: Ontario, Canada / Cambridge, UK
lin101,

Thanks for posting. I agree about the UK. I'm also a Canadian in the UK and labelling here is great. I had no problems when my peanut/nut-allergic son came last summer.

Last year I ordered a booklet from Sainsbury's (for those who don't know, it's a large chain of supermarkets in the UK) titled "Nut Free" which is a product guide for all of Sainsbury's own label foods. They even mailed me their Xmas Nut Free List.

Tesco (another large supermarket in the UK) also has clear labelling on their own label foods. I need to check out their website and see if they have similar literature to Sainsbury's. But I did notice that they are very specific about their labelling. Some of their tomato sauces and fresh pastas are manufactured in a plant that processes nuts and peanuts and they mark this clearly on their labels.

The Sainsbury's allergy information page is here:

http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/food/specia ... rances.htm

Have fun in London. It's a great city!

Cheers!


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2005 7:34 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:02 am
Posts: 116
Location: Gatineau
Hi Storm

Thanks for the reply! Yeah, Tesco's is fantastic, and you can order online for a small fee and they deliver!

I also find Morrison's very good, and there is a Sainsbury's near me so I will definitely look into that... I love the small touch of the xmas nut free list... thanks again!

L


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 16, 2005 1:05 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
Susan--thanks for the suggestions. I didn't realize that you could get freezers in smaller sizes---I'll want to look into that for the next place I move. A crockpot would be a good idea too. I have made do with canned meat on the few occasions when I travel although I can't say that I like canned meat (except for canned salmon--I do like salmon). But in a pinch I'll eat just about anything. My version of a pasta salad with vegetables would be stir-fried vegetables added to rice pasta. I actually tried a citrus dressing of sorts for the first time this week----I stir-fried kale with olive oil and an onion and added orange pieces and orange zest + salt + pepper. I was surprised at how good it was (although the texture of stir-fried kale might not be to everyone's taste.)

lin101--- Yes, taking the extra time for cooking is worth it. Actually, my diet is probably healthier because of the allergies---I've been concerned about nutrition because of all the foods I can't eat so I know a lot more about nutrition than I would othewise. Because I have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen I'm trying to look at cooking as a 'hobby', and I'm also more attuned to the politics of food. My diet has become more limited over the past several years---wheat, corn, potatoes have been added to my forbidden foods list so cooking now calls for more creativity! I feel it is a triumph of sorts when I make something that wheat-eating people actually like (I sometimes test my creations on friends and family.)


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2006 5:57 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2006 8:23 pm
Posts: 190
Daily (or twice daily) meditation is a really great way to help your autonomic nervous system stay at a lower level of vigilance.

That said, I firmly believe that some anxiety is protective. It keeps us safe, and there is, in my opinion, no way to avoid a certain level of hypervigilance when you or a family member has the potential for anaphylaxis. It may not be the societal norm to be so vigilant and concerned, but then again, most members of the general public don't have to worry about simple food, medication, insect stings, or latex exposure being deadly.

It's when the anxiety turns into a disorder that it's a problem, and my sense after 30+ years with anaphylaxis is that you have to find your own sense of balance: Viglance and minimal protective anxiety vs. as much 'normalcy' as possible.

But given the context of anaphylaxis and allergy, I would never allow a professional to mislabel the our normal (for us), protective vigilance as anxiety. It's a primal fight or flight mechanism hard-wired into us hundreds of thousands of years ago. If the sabretooth tiger is on your heels, is the anxiety dysfunctional or adaptive? ;)

Disclaimer: I'm a layperson, and your mileage may vary (YMMV). :D


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 7:52 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 31, 2006 7:08 pm
Posts: 8
Location: Everett, WA USA
I'm new to the sight and just stumbled across this thread. It was exactly what I was looking for. What I read reflected my own anxieties. Thanks to all of you who contributed.

_________________
Allergic to Tree-nuts


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 12:12 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
Welcome to the site! I find that I deal with food-related anxiety a lot better now that I realize that it is "normal" for people with anaphylaxis. Before I think I was kind of anxious about being anxious!


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