To lend more depth, personal background and honesty to my blog, I’m including some journal entries dating back to 2010 (there are some pretty big gaps in there because this writer got sick of writing about her food allergies/health…but now that this website is up and running, and I’m doing my best to share my full story in an effort to help others and increase my own personal accountability. So…I’ll be posting with regularity. Lucky you (wink)!

September 28, 2015

I’ve been feeling pretty darn good lately because I immediately got back to my normal eating routine after the trips to Chicago. Started going for regular brisk walks again and even brought my GAPS stock back into my dietary rotation (I always feel good when I do). Work’s been stressful, so I’ve been extra careful with my diet (my symptoms always worsen with stress). Today was a 12-hour day filled with seemingly endless deadlines and I’m hoping to sleep like a baby when my head hits the pillow.

August 25, 2015

Back in Chicago – this time flying solo for a four-day work trip. It’s always a struggle because long workdays typically end with group dinners at pre-determined hot spots. My colleagues are pretty aware of my dietary restrictions and are always understanding when I have to opt out of certain restaurants, but it’s always uncomfortable to be ‘THAT GIRL’ who needs to customize her order or nibble dressing-free salads while everyone else eats tempting appetizers, hearty dinners and sinful desserts.

Luckily, they’ve been ordering lunch in at the office, which allows me to toss some home-packed safe foods into my bag (organic apples, raw almonds, avocado and pre-grilled chicken breast that I keep refrigerated in my room) and recharge my batteries without fear of spending the rest of the day in the restroom or worse, in my hotel bed.

Tonight, we went to a gourmet Mexican restaurant. I ordered the chicken tortilla soup (the least dangerous item on the menu) and had hives and horrible cramps before I was even halfway through the shallow bowl. I was forced to leave the restaurant early and walked back to the hotel alone, embarrassed and feeling like Captain Allergic Loser. After all these years, it can still sometimes feel like allergies define me.

August 17, 2015

Last night, we met a friend for pizza at a famous restaurant. I fully intended to order a salad, but caved. It had been four years since I’d had regular pizza and I thought it wouldn’t kill me to have at least a personal size (thin crust, naturally, to limit the wheat) and see if I was able to tolerate it better these days. I dumped red pepper flakes on each piece and savored Every. Single. Bite. No notable reactions to speak of: no immediate headache or stabbing stomach pains. No canker sores or hives erupting, either…until about three hours later.

I spent the rest of the evening sicker than a dog in the bathroom, with my poor, patient hubby succumbing to the terribly limiting hotel room tv lineup. I guess I answered my question: traditional pizza is still a big, fat NO!

August 15, 2015

We’re on vacation in Chicago – the first place we lived as a couple many moons ago. It’s always fun to go back, but I’m not going to lie: going back to a city so known for its food is disappointing and frustrating for someone with awful food allergies. We ventured out into the sweltering muggy afternoon, underneath the deafening hum of air show jets overhead, in search of a lunch spot that wouldn’t leave me sick. Block after block, nothing. Then we found it: Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen, a hip little joint that happily happens to be just steps from our hotel, in the opposite direction from where we’d previously searched. I ordered the turkey burger, subbing the bun and tortilla strip topping with fresh avocado and raw onion). It was delicious and filling…and I had no noticeable reaction. Hooray!

Hit up Walgreen’s from there to grab some huge bottles of Fuji water to take back to the room, along with some fresh fruit served in the little market section (not organic, but beggars can’t be choosers) and a few mini organic dark chocolate bars in case we get hungry later.

It’s now 10 p.m. and I’m feeling pretty good…even after eating that chocolate. Vacation Day One: SUCCESS!

July 25, 2015

Got an early start to my day – music on the playlist and a nice 6 a.m. summer breeze to keep me company while I pruned overgrown vines spilling over the backyard wall of my parents’ winter home. I climbed two steps on my little ladder and snipped twice before realizing, through the low rumble of insect buzzes and multiple painful stings, that I had some other unwelcomed company. Little did I know I’d encroached on a hidden nest that sat directly below the very spot I started trimming. I screamed bloody murder, swore like a sailor (still hoping the neighbors aren’t judging me) and danced a crazy jig in the yard trying to wrap my head around the searing hot pain shooting down my left forearm, up the back of my right arm and on the top of my right shoulder. I darted in the house and peeled off my shirt to assess the damage. Five stings, all swelling like red-hot rocks and sending deep jolts of pain into surrounding areas. I’d been stung by bees (quite recently) and as miserable as those were, these were far worse. I suspected wasps or hornets, but all I really cared about that moment was how I needed to get home soon. Stupidly, my EpiPen wasn’t with me and I was at least 12 minutes of freeway driving from home. I stayed as calm as possible, not wanting to awaken those pesky histamines, and was relieved when I pulled into our driveway without having to make a trip to the hospital.

Two of the five stings stayed relatively small, but the other three blew up like a misshapen balloon. In keeping with my past experiences with stings, the swelling and discomfort increased for the next several days (and the swelling didn’t go away entirely for more than 10 days). A beekeeper confirmed that I’d been stung by yellow jackets. I watched from the safety of my parents’ family room as he yanked back the cat’s claw vine and dozens of those seriously angry little suckers charged out of the hive and dive-bombed him with furious vengeance. He reminded me how lucky I was to have only been stung five times. Small blessings, I suppose. But I won’t be doing any more yard work without my Epi-pen (and my new $9 beekeeper getup I scored from Ebay).

July 17, 2015

The party was a huge hit! That place was filled with faces we hadn’t seen for many years and we danced, laughed and reminisced until well past 11 p.m. How I had the energy was beyond me. In the mad rush of last-minute preparations and primping, I’d forgotten to eat (and our old home town offered no quick-and-easy food choices for allergic me). By the time I made it into the buffet line last night, my options had dwindled to just fresh fruit (and the glass of cabernet in my hand). On a positive note, I went to bed feeling healthy and happily exhausted. Even better – I woke up today to a flat stomach and a surprising level of energy. It wasn’t my goal, but I’ll be leaving Ohio with fantastic memories – and maybe a couple less pounds on my bod.