Tag Archives: trial and error

Allergies, not just sneezing.

After having spoken with many people about my allergy journey, I’ve decided that it is important for me to share the stories in a more tangible way to help others that may be struggling to figure their symptoms out. My story is one of listening to signs and ques and decoding the information to find relief. Simple as that, but in that simplicity is a huge array of complex and time consuming actions. So in my story you will see the information I gleaned, and how I went about testing theories, and ultimately the discoveries about my myriad of symptoms based upon the allergen. I hope it helps you.

My journey started very young. By the age of 3 I had received allergy shots to help with symptoms such as congestion, red watery eyes, and sneezing. By kindergarten I was being given Benadryl regularly for the same symptoms. By 2nd grade I’d seen an allergist who did the very expensive skin prick testing. His results were mold spores, certain tree pollens, and certain grass pollens and even dandelion and ragweed pollen. I was told stay indoors when pollen counts were high and that I would probably have to take allergy medicine my whole life unless I was lucky enough to outgrow some of my allergies.

By the time I was 11, I was no better. I was given my vaccine boosters a little late, but the doctors assured my mom I’d be fine because I had had all of my vaccines on time prior to that booster. That year my allergies swelled. I could not go outside if ours or any of our neighbors’ yards had been mowed. Otherwise I would end up in a congested, red-eyed wheezing fit. That year I got a horrible case of pneumonia, which the doctor noted as being unseasonably early, and had to do regular breathing treatments and large doses of antibiotics to get over the pneumonia. The following summer my allergies were just as bad and my mom took me back to the doctor. He diagnosed me as having asthma and medicated accordingly. That year was the same year that I gained massive amounts of weight, almost 80 pounds, and began my battle with Depression.

I have now seen the documentary Vaxxed, and even though they only discussed one particular complication of the vaccine, I am now certain that all of my health problems could be plausibly linked to that vaccine booster or a particular set of circumstances of which the vaccine was merely the tipping point. And for all I know, with the lack of reliable truthfully studied and relinquished/disclosed information,  it is plausible that my entire allergy journey is intrinsically linked to my full exposure to the myriad of childhood vaccines I received. See my previous post- especially the part about 3 things I know.

Regardless, that year included a vaccine and the beginning of major lifelong health problems including significant health altering allergies and severe depression.

I continued on following Wetern Medicine’s half-assed fix. Take allergy medicine, if you have trouble breathing- use your inhaler, if the breathing trouble persists use a breathing machine, if that fails to control the breathing come back in and get a script for antibiotics.They didn’t deal with the depression chalking it up to being a pre-teen in middle school. They didn’t deal with the weight gain because my thyroid “was low side of normal”.

By the time I graduated high school I was using my inhaler regularly because one of my class-mates died from an asthma attack and I was petrified that it could have been me. I was probably over medicating at the slightest wheeze out of fear.

I graduated and went to college. As part of my research for a science class I came across a website discussing allergies. That website went over different types of allergies, covered lists of allergens and even discussed the intrinsic link between food allergies and environmental allergies. I’m sorry I don’t have the link anymore- it was over a decade ago I read it. Anyway, the site explained that if food allergies are present, environmental allergies will manifest more severely because your immune system is already on overload and hyper-reactive. I took that information and marinated on it because I didn’t know how to proceed. How did you figure out if you had food allergies? I just couldn’t conceptualize the process of eliminating foods to try and figure that out.

Within about 2 or 3 months of that, I met someone that had a Red40 allergy and she told me about her reactions. She explained that she was also allergic to other things and blue food-coloring. I was amazed at her story and how she figured it all out. Again I marinated on that information. I’m providing these anecdotes because I have noticed that along my journey the information always presented itself through outside sources first, and followed in first hand experience later.

So my first hand experience was during my 2nd year of college. I had a small apartment and was trying to make a go of it on my own. Like any poor college student I cut corners on food to allow for spending money for weekend fun. One meal led to my first allergen discovery. I ate a king sized package of twizzelers and a can of green beans. Up to that point I’d only ever had a few twizzelers at a time, and I’d had green beans from a can thousands of times in my life. As I sat in my tiny living room wheezing and puffing on my inhaler every 15 min, I recalled the conversation with the friend that had all the allergies. By the end of 4 hours I could finally breathe mostly normally, but my heart was racing from the excessive inhaler use. I was petrified, but knew I had to test my Red40 theory.

Over the next couple of  weeks I had green beans several times and twizzelers several times (in smaller quantities). Sure enough the green beans were harmless, but the twizzelers left me wheezing every time. Ok, so now I know I do have a food allergy. I thought just one.

Fast forward several years. Anya was about 3 and her biological mom was harping on us to keep her on a gluten free diet. I was doing my best to make gluten free bread and failing. I read an article about Rye being similar to wheat, but that the glutinous protein was slightly different and thus some Gluten Intolerant people could eat rye. I was excited because I’d watched my mom make rye many times over and I knew I could duplicate the bread with a good recipe. I bought a bag of rye flower and the complimentary ingredients and proceeded to make 2 loaves. They turned out perfectly and as soon as the first was cool enough to eat, I sliced away and Nathan and I enjoyed almost a whole loaf that day. By dinner time (roughly 2 hours later) I was so bloated I was in pain and didn’t want to move. I had the most horrible gas, and felt like puking. I curled up in a ball on the sofa and sipped on hot  tea hoping it would calm my stomach. My stomach stayed tied up in knots for 2 days after that. Of course now I have another theory: was it the rye? Test, test again. I bought store loaves of rye from 3 or 4  different sources. trying one or 2 slices at a time.  Every time I ended up severely bloated and miserable for hours. So, ok, now I have 2 food allergies- right?!

Fast forward another couple of years and I was trading with a massage therapist that was having her knees replaced because her nightshade allergy had produced (Rheumatoid?) arthritis enough years that her knees were permanently damaged. Logged and noted.

Fast forward another couple of years. I got pregnant with Ian. I knew that gestational diabetes was a thing in my family. I also knew my mom’s version was atypical in some respects but couldn’t remember how. So I started logging everything. What I ate, how much of it, when, and what my glucose numbers were afterward. I noticed a pattern that took switching practitioners 3 times to acknowledge. I noticed that only certain foods were causing glucose spikes, and if I avoided those I was fine. The person that finally acknowledged the pattern explained that any stress on the body will raise glucose, and that an allergic response could definitely stress the body. It was suggested to eliminate the offending foods and see if I still have any glucose problems. I did so, and voila- the glucose issues disappeared. Anytime I misbehaved and ate a “bad” food my numbers would spike astronomically high. I would get 300’s off of 2 TBSP of mashed potatoes, but I could eat a full serving of wild rice and still be relatively normal. I got through the pregnancy just fine and had a beautiful healthy 7 pound baby boy with just diet control.

My theory is that in my body’s efforts to protect the baby, it flared my allergies to an extreme response so that I would notice more quickly and quit doing the offending behavior. Now, I know my list of foods that this process revealed, but since I’ve given birth the allergies have not backed off. I had sincerely hoped they would have, but it seems they are as bad as ever. I now take 2 different allergy medicines: Singulair and Zyrtec, and still have to do breathing treatments regularly or use my inhaler when I’m away from home. It’s so severe now that I am contemplating seeking a compounding pharmacist to eliminate the corn and potato products in my medicines.

I’ll go over my pregnancy defined list (in addition to the Red40 and Rye) and their symptoms now. It may be TOO MUCH INFORMATION for some, but if you are on a healing journey, you may find all the gross details helpful.

  1. Nightshade Family: Tomatoes, Peppers (any except peppercorns), Eggplant, Potatoes, and Gogi Berries.- This family skyrockets my blood sugars, causes my asthma to flare instantaneously, and at least tomatoes and potatoes leave me swollen and with joint pain. The inundation also causes my seasonal allergies to go off the charts so that I end up with runny nose, sneezing, and itchy watery red eyes. Symptoms will back off within hours, but if exposure was severe, remnants last for 2 weeks.
  2. Corn- loose stools, flatulence, bloating, my body refuses to fully digest food at the meal it was involved in, and thus I miss out on helpful nutrients, and the worst symptom by far is the severe joint pain. When I’ve consumed corn I end up with joint pain so severe I have trouble walking, even standing, and it has lasted 2 to 4 days each time. I now refuse to eat corn knowingly due to this. In the last 6 months I’ve had corn twice accidentally because of eating food made by friends, in which I didn’t ask the ingredients. Needless to say that doesn’t really happen too often, I can’t stand the consequences.
  3. Wheat- This is one of my lesser allergies, too bad even the lesser one is significant enough to want to avoid it. I get mild bloating, sometimes accompanied by stomach discomfort. Usually some constipation, and occasionally bloody stool.
  4. Soy- very similar reaction to wheat, but usually more severe bloating.
  5.  Lactose/dairy- bloating, massive flatulence, stomach cramps, intestinal cramps, hiccups, and IBS type stool responses.
    1. Lactose, Soy, and Wheat I’ve learned are still cause for great concern because of their relation to the thyroid. Being hypothyroid with allergies means that if I could afford the testing I’d probably be diagnosed with auto-immune hypothyroidism. Simply meaning my allergies cause the immune system to attack the thyroid. Essentially, there are molecules in those 3 foods that are very close in structure to molecules found naturally in your thyroid. If your body reacts to one, it attacks both. It is felt by having a thyroid dip even while taking thyroid medicine.
    2. Thyroid dips include: severe fatigue, depression, anger, mood swings, cold hands/feet, heart palpitations/chest pain, blood pressure swings, swelling in the extremities, and many more that I don’t always get- these are my common symptoms. For more info, please see StopTheThyroidMaddness and HypothyroidMom.

I’ve read recently the link between leaky gut, thyroid problems, and food allergies. On top of that the doctor in Vaxxed  was noting that a large number of the kids affected had been ill prior to vaccination and had taken antibiotics for the illness. His theory as I understand it, is that the killing of good gut bacteria made them more susceptible to things passing beyond the gut lining, and whatever passed through made it to the brain and did permanent irreparable damage, such as has been seen in people with advanced stage Whipple Disease. If this is the case then there is a very strong likelihood that the vaccinations not only triggered the allergies, but also may have caused brain damaged that led to my chronic battle with severe depression. The upside is that what I’ve been reading about leaky gut suggests that once the gut is healed the body can begin to heal and restore itself to pre-injury functioning. It’s a very very slow process, but one that is completely attainable through avoiding allergens and taking proactive steps such as bone broth and probiotics. I am hopeful. I’m working on getting myself back into avoiding the allergens like the plague, and from there I’ll add in the broth and probiotics.

And hell, I’ve come a long way already. I’ve figured all of this out: mostly on my own, and done all the hard work this far. I’ve lost 60 pounds and kept it off (had lost almost 100, but gained 40 back after birth), and I look damn good for someone that struggles through every day. I think I’m going to congratulate myself, so that I at least have myself on my side!

Poverty Loop

Society in the United States is full of perceptions that those that are poor, choose to be, or  that they have metaphorically or otherwise earned their poverty.  I argue that neither of these perceptions is accurate.

I’m a  intelligent adult,  with a college education,  residing  & working in the USA. I have mad skills,  an excellent ability to work through most any problem,  examine possible solutions,  and make an educated  decision  based upon researching the many facets of said problem. I cannot speak as to the situation in  other countries,  only to my own experience.

That being said,  the poverty situation in the United States is not just mine, nor is it easy to break free from.  Nay, to the contrary: it is a  loop that is nearly  impossible to break free from. In my following discussion,  some might call rant,  I will outline my discoveries on this matter because I feel it is every citizen’s social duty to understand this matter.  Ultimately it will only change if we all come together and make it change,  and that will  require resources that those in poverty do not, and will  never have access to, until there is real lasting  change.

Let’s  start by examining basic legal requirements just to live in the United States.

First you must  now carry health insurance by law.  Our family brings  in less than $24,000 per year, despite my best attempts to create more, which puts  us within current recognised poverty limits. Many argue  that current limits are still far below actual poverty when based upon cost of living averages. We are a family of 4. Our insurance for last  year ended up costing  me almost $400 after government subsidies. That insurance covered about 1/4 of our actual medical costs,  leaving me to pay an additional $800 out of pocket at offices and pharmacies, and that’s not including Nathan’s heart meds that run a thousand dollars a month.  We jumped through all of the hoops to get assistance from the drug  company for  that one. However,  if I had not carried that insurance I’d have been fined $1400+ through my tax return.

Our family qualifies for food stamps.  How is an additional $1200 to $1400 per year okay? Prior to that law I could go to a local public health office for $10 and only pay for prescription refills,  which I always asked for scripts to be written for the cheapest possible medication.  The list of generic price medicines used to be twice as long as it is now. In fact my thyroid medicine is supposed to be the generic yet I now pay $100/month. I see a problem here.

Next vehicle requirements: A vast  portion of the United States is rural. Additionally, most of the metro areas lack adequate public transportation. Further more,   zoning rules and regulations in the United States have created a split,  so that businesses with good paying jobs  are rarely located near homes or apartment complexes.  Thus,  if you wish to work,  it is very likely that you will  need at least one vehicle per  family so that working  bodies can even get to their place of  employment.
So to solve that need you must either buy a new or used vehicle.
  New vehicles are very costly,  and most American families would need a loan  to even purchase a new vehicle.  However,  you must have credit to get any loan,  & cannot get credit unless you have made payments on something that reports to credit agencies- keep in mind rent rarely does unless you have failed to pay and been evicted, & then it will report negatively.  If you have limited or  no credit, as for example someone that may have only paid an electric bill as far as reporting is concerned,  you may be able to get a loan that is very high interest. If you have bad credit from anything having defaulted due to lack of payment for  more than one month (regardless  of  reason),  you might welcome that high interest loan,  but  good luck acquiring it.
In that situation, you will likely end up purchasing used,  and usually by cash transaction,  which can take up to $6,000 possibly more. The used car market has skyrocketed in pricing since  our  wonderful government destroyed older model cars through the cash for clunkers program.
It’s been  awhile ago, so apologies on the lack of source,  but I have read an article that was examining pros and cons of purchasing used.  It discussed that used cars often actually cost on average more per month than new cars, due in part to poorer fuel economy,  but also because of the greatly increased costs of much more frequent repairs, many of which can run into the thousands of dollars.
I am no stranger to this concept having gone through 4 clunkers that I could barely keep running,  finally relinquishing to scrapping them when the cost of a repair outweighed the value of the vehicle. One year I spent literally every spare penny I had trying to keep the one van running $400 and $600 at a time. If I’d  been able to get a loan with that payment structure I’d been driving a new BMW.
That’s just the cost of the vehicle.  Once you own a vehicle you are required by law to pay for tags & taxes yearly,  & insurance monthly,  regardless of the vehicle’s age. Supposedly each of  those categories is based upon the model and year of the vehicle.  However,  now  having had an ’89 Toyota pickup, ’90 Pontiac Sunbird, ’93 Plymouth Voyager, ’03 Chrysler T&C, and an ’05 Chrysler T&C. I can tell you for certain there isn’t much difference in costs. Used is used.  New cars do have  higher costs in all 3 categories,  but  once a car  is no longer considered new, you’ll be paying about the same amount regardless.
Heaven forbid that times get too tough to pay for those things,  because if they do,  the penalties will damn you for what seems like forever. On  only one occaison I wasn’t making enough to pay for EVERYTHING when it came due (because  as is often the case all 3 came due at the same time). I failed to pay tags and insurance.  I hit a deer the following  week damaging my head  light.  I was pulled over.  I received a $125 ticket for tags being expired (my tags at the time were $86 for the year),  & a $700 ticket for failing to renew insurance, and a fix-it ticket for the light.  Then when I went to make everything right (which I  had to borrow money for) I was also forced to pay late fees on both tags and insurance.  It ended up costing over $1000 when all was said and done. News flash: if you can’t afford the bills,  you can’t afford those massive penalties.

Now in our country,  there are assistance programs for utilities and rent,  there are assistance programs for food.  However,  all programs require diligent paperwork, and none of them account for costs as mentioned above.  If you have a car they only account for a flat amount as determine by the government,  which amounts  to tags,  taxes,  & liability insurance cheaper than I’ve ever been able to find. I would love to know what insurance company gives them  the insurance estimates. If you know,  please let me know! I’d switch in a heart beat.
Beyond that,  I’ve yet to find any assistance program that will help you pay for the tags,  or taxes,  or insurance,  let alone any car repair.  You are simply on your own.
Now the United States is very concerned about communication.  To be able to apply for assistance,  rent an apartment, purchase a vehicle,  get a job, or any variety of other things,  you must have a phone.  Even the cheapest phones in the US will  run you $25 per month plus  taxes.  By the time you add 4 categories of taxes you are talking at least $5 per month,  so really your phone bills start at $30 and go up from there. You also have to have  an  address for those same  things. Having come close to, but never actually have been homeless,  my heart goes out to anyone that is. They are in a veritable catch 22 of the worst kind of  Murphy’s law in that they need an address to get a job,  but need the job to get an address!

Next: Drivers License – mine costs $55, not all do, but all cost something.

Need not forget about taxes. What’s the old saying? “Only 2 things are guaranteed in life: death and taxes.” Yep, that’s right! There’s phone taxes,  utility taxes,  property taxes (especially on vehicles),  sales taxes,  income taxes,  city taxes,  county taxes, self- employment taxes,  educational taxes (post- secondary), school taxes (k-12),  vehicle tags,  farm taxes,  fuel taxes, cigarette taxes if you smoke,  alcohol taxes if you drink,  healthcare taxes,  and professional taxes masquerading as licenses on the city and county and state level, which doubles through the same business licenses. I have paid every tax on this list (except cigarette) at some point in my life;  many- several times over.

Now on the less legal,  but no less required by society.

Bank accounts are necessary to be able to pay many of these things,  as fewer and fewer bill sources accept cash. Banks have always,  but especially these days, often charge fees for transactions even when nothing is wrong.  They also charge you for your check book. Yet they can deny you an account for bad credit, even if you are not seeking a loan. This can  happen even if your bad credit is linked to a medical situation. If you can’t get a bank account they’ll charge you for every check you cash,  and then turn around and charge you for every money order you request.

The United States is far from being a clothing optional country, and  beyond that most employers have very specific regulations as to what you wear,  even if you spend 8 hours a day,  5 days a week,  52 weeks a year sitting at a computer in a cubical. There are some charities that will help with clothing,  but none that I’ve come in contract with consider  that. There only 2 in Kansas City that I’ve found, & one limits the number of pieces you can get and the needy get the joy of shopping from the dregs of cloths that couldn’t be sold via thrift to regular customers. The other gives you a 2 hour window (based  upon the first letter of your last name) to dig through unsorted piles & racks of clothing searching for something that will  fit- they at least made sure that the clothes were work and interview friendly. Fortunately, I’ve graduated away from needing  clothing assistance,  because if I hadn’t we wouldn’t have a stitch of underwear or socks in our family, except for  the 2 packs of socks the kids got from a church one Christmas season.

Now, we’ve discussed the many varied causes of the poverty loop, but I haven’t really discussed why it’s so impossible to climb out of.

First,  if you penalize a poor person for not paying  something like noted  above,  you are contributing.  I realize that everyone has their hand out demanding payment for something they believe they deserve,  but when legal requirements cause the payment in the first place,  & then penalties are often 3 to 5 times the original cost- you are creating a problem, not solving it. It should be common sense that if someone is driving a 20 year old vehicle and failed to pay tags and insurance,  they might be in poverty.  I don’t  know,  MAYBE we should offer to help,  even if it’s just connecting them with hidden resources. INSTEAD of massive outlandish penalties.

Another cause for the loop is how our society decided it should be corrected 40 years ago,  and the resulting train wreck that ensued.
40 years -or so- ago, there was growing industry in a variety of fields. It was decided: educate the young populations so that there can be something to help determine those more qualified for those new expanding fields. For years it did actually help  and produced more jobs of higher pay and greater skill for  more people.
However,  once those new industries fleshed out, as with anything,  they eventually began to level out and expansion slowed. Though CNN & other media outlets would like you to believe that no such thing happened, there are many books written on the subject from the academic views of our economy.

Regardless,  industry slowed, but the push  for college educations never did.  In fact by the 2000’s more kids were enrolled in college than ever,  & marketing for collegiate systems was precious with it’s income projections of educated people  vs non-educated people. Of course, hind sight being 20-20: I suspect those figures we’re either inflated or  projections based upon old data- especially since they never cited their information.  Imagine that: marketing posters and pamphlets for colleges- not citing  sources!

So you now have  more  students enrolled for educations for jobs that are either diminishing or at least holding steady. Where are all those graduates going to go? I doubt anyone even thought of that,  the colleges just wanted to keep making  money.
AND OOOH THEY DID!  I attended the University of Iowa,  a Big 10 school.  They made millions off of football,  AND basketball. Less of of other sports perhaps,  but no sport at the U lost  money. The U was also great at earning money through research grants and fellowships.  In fact the minimal staff of bonofied professors were spending more time working  at research and publishing papers than teaching students.  No us students were taught by associate professors and TA’s, mostly grad students- which really meant they might have been making slightly better than minimum wage and would turn around & give back half in tuition. The reasoning: budget cuts.
I found that hard to believe.  With all the money they made on sports,  they rebuilt the stadium & put Megatrons in, and still had much left over.  They were pulling in millions in grant money and government funding.  Yet, they increased Tuition twice while I attended with 13% increase one time and 18% the second.  Yet the same time span only saw 4% increase in cost of living.  So they were making money at every turn,  how is it they couldn’t afford to pay professors to teach?

Yet the drive was to get students in.  At any cost.  In comes student loans. Unsecured debt,  supposedly.  I was under the impression that for unsecured credit you had have spectacular credit scores & history.  I would argue students- freshly adulted- getting a degree,  rarely meet that requirement. Especially when the loans aren’t even checking credit.  There was no  balancing of loan amount vs projected income from the degree. But loans have been handed out by the millions for 10’s to 100’s of thousands of dollars each.

So to summarize the train wreck that has already ensued. Millions of  overly & expensively educated fools, up to their eyeballs in debt,  with few underpaid  jobs in their field of qualifications to fight over. More students graduating every year. Now those already underpaid jobs are looking for something to set you apart from  all the rest- experience.  How does one simply gain  experience if they never landed the job they went to school for in the first place. You don’t!

So now there are quite literally millions of us fools- I’m included- working for jobs that require no or little education,  not being able to pay their loans back,  and barely paying their costs of living. I call us fools because we were all naive enough to fall for the gag,  believing that the system must have our interests at heart, because it wouldn’t willingingly cause so many of its citizen’s pain and suffering would it? What good does  it do the nation to have a mass of over educated under paid poor? I honestly think they just didn’t have the foresight,  and simply wanted  the profits. However,  I wonder if the man I met with the PhD driving taxi would feel the same?!

Pile on top of all of that,  the growing amounts of unhealthy chemical laden junk food  the FDA allows to be called food,  causing all manner of illnesses. We now NEED healthcare just to stay alive.  So, why on earth wouldn’t the government look at one of  a dozen countries that have  successfully instituted government healthcare in the last 3 decades? Why wouldn’t they say “hey, they did it with a minimum of painful transitions, let’s do what they did”? I sincerely have no idea,  because the butchered piece of crap that finally went thorough is not only worthless, it contributes to the poverty situation in the United States.

So now do you understand the poverty loop- nearly impossible to break free from?

I sincerely hope that my current efforts will eventually break me free from the cycle.  I’m against all odds, with bad credit, a husband with a bad heart, 2 kids,  a trashed thyroid,  & too often not enough money to just make it through,  but I’m going to be living in the empty shell of a mobile home building a new reality one piece at a time as I can managed to pay for supplies. What I don’t  already know,  I will learn,  on my own – without professors and costly student loans, and I’m going to teach my children that they can do the same.  You don’t need an expensive degree,  essentially it’s just a paper saying you know how to learn something well enough to do it. So do that on your own,  & then do the things you chose to learn,  & you’ll have  just as  good of pay  without debt that you’ll never be able to pay back. And the next time you are in a thrift store looking at a garment that you know is priced almost as much as it sold for new, give the manager a piece of education that many people in this country can’t afford to pay new prices for used items, and that thrift stores should be more considerate of  that, than making a buck because shopping thrift is trendy for some.
NAMASTE!