Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Warning: This Post Is Different From My Others...

Ok. Here we go... (what a weird way to start a post, huh?) Anyway... I'm about to dive into a part of my life that has become HUGE in the last couple of years... Allergies!

I decided to add this conversation to the Firefly because if the Firefly is about me I think I should feel like I can include all sorts of things in my life, not necessarily just the crafty, fabric part.

I've always had some issues with allergies. You know the kind... hay fever and the like. Maybe cats and dogs have bothered me some too in the past. However... the allergies I (and the rest of my family because of me) deal with now have nothing on hay fever and the rest of what I thought were a hassle.

When I started college two years ago I started having topical reactions to who the heck knew what... My eyes were always red and I felt like I looked like a raccoon on a three day bender to be honest. I dealt with it as best I could for a little while and then we started pursuing answers. Boy, did we end up with some answers too!!

I started with a local doctor's office and from there went and met one of the best dermatologists in the area. I had some skin testing done and found that the first really BIG allergy we had to tackle was fragrances. Fragrances are everywhere!! And, in everything!

I also discovered during this testing that it wasn't just the latex in adhesive bandages that I have trouble with it's actually the adhesives.

Once I finished all the testing with this office I was told there wasn't anything else that she could do for me. She highly recommended that I see a specialist. A specialist? I thought a dermatologist was a specialist? Well, they are but come to find out there are some that are even more specialized. I had my choice.. I could either drive to Little Rock (a three to three and a half hour drive) or I could head to Louisville ( about a ten hour drive). Now, if you know me you'd know that I REALLY don't like driving in a city... not even a little city. However; I took a deep breath, loaded the girls and myself into the truck, turned on the GPS and headed northwest.

This new doctor was great. The first thing I had to do was a more detailed allergy test. So, after this visit I went back to the first dermatologist's office for the initial reading, and then two days after that the girls and I headed back up the highway to Little Rock.

The biggest reaction I had with this set of tests was "cinnamic aldehyde". Basically I'm allergic to cinnamon. You might be thinking, "ok... cinnamon's not that hard to avoid" Right. Cinnamic aldehyde is everywhere! It's a fragrance, a flavoring, and it's also used as a colorant in a ton of things. So I started avoiding things that have cinnamon.

 At the next visit, we were talking about other things I'd noticed a reaction to. It turns out that I'm allergic to everything included in the "Balsam of Peru" list. Things like: citrus, tomatoes, chocolate, candy, gum. Oh yeah, alcohol and coffee are also on this list! These are the things I can think of right off the top of my head.

Well now. Overwhelmed is an apt description of how I left feeling that day. I found out that I am the only person she had met that reacts to things that I touch, things that I eat or drink, AND I react to things in the air around me.

So, I started cutting tons of things out of my diet. I started dropping things that smelled good like nobody's business. And, I'm still working on finding things that are safe for me to eat, drink, and be around.

Now, I haven't shared all of this (and I'll be honest, some days I still feel overwhelmed by all of this) so you feel bad for me, or so that you'll say "oh, poor Leigh-Ann", because I SO don't want that!! I shared because the Firefly truly is a place for me to express myself and things that are going on in my life and these issues ARE a part of my life.

I'd like to be able to share the things that I'm finding that are working(right now, at this moment 'cause it keeps changing) for me and my family. Maybe, just maybe, I deal with these issues so that what I'm finding works will help someone else.

The good news in all of this is that I'm getting healthier all the time now that I have cut out a TON (and I'm pretty sure it really is a ton) of things I never knew were really bad for me. My family has got to be the most supportive family in dealing with all of this too because it's really a pain at times. I am truly thankful for all four of them!

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