Mindset & Changes

The past two days I felt great – allergies were minimal, not really much pain except when my Yeti cup fell on my foot and I thought I broke it (it’s fine now), slept pretty good even though still a little tired. I managed to go kayaking for the first time since last summer, got too much sun. Yesterday I managed to do a lot of other house cleaning that most of us tend to ignore. Been eating fairly healthy, took a walk on the beach… and today I feel like total shit again. I’m achy, allergies are horrible, my head aches to the point it’s difficult to concentrate – like I have bands wrapped around my head, squeezing it… and when I feel this way, I’m not in a good mood at all. It’s extremely difficult feeling like total shit and trying to be happy or even content. To only feel good two or three days a week just plain sucks, and I don’t know what else to do anymore. It is terribly difficult to function and feel hopeful like this.

This is what happens to me all the time. I start to finally get on a roll of doing better, than bam… I’m brought back down again. It’s extremely discouraging to have a good outlook on life when you cannot even predict any given day of the week. There are many things I need and want to write about, but my head can’t focus on much of anything. I just applied for a new job that was referred to me by someone else that is doing very well during this pandemic, so I’m hoping that will at least bring some financial relief.

I’ve been working on a lot of things mentally. About two weeks ago, something within me kind of snapped, and I decided that I have absolutely outgrown this town I’ve lived in for 14 years. It was like I woke up one day and said nope, this isn’t for me. I’m over it for sure now. The changes that are happening here aren’t what I want in my life. The majority of people are too small-minded and uneducated for my interest, and it’s either time for me to find somewhere else to call home or travel enough so that I don’t notice it as much. I have struggled here for too long to continue trying to make it happen, because I’ve done nothing but waste my time. The money I make to keep a roof over my head has nothing to do with living here (it’s remote), and the other jobs here I can do pretty much anywhere.

But I don’t want just a job. I want something that I enjoy and look forward to going to every day. I love project based jobs, which is what I’m good at, and what I’ve been doing for several years. Although they can be inconsistent at times, they are flexible, which is how I like things to be. Sitting in an office or a classroom from 9-5 doesn’t suit me whatsoever. Being indoors constantly causes me so much anxiety I literally get ill. I don’t know exactly what it is I will be doing in the future, but it will be something that is meant for me. I have been meditating, and I feel something is out there for me, and it will come up unexpectedly – an offer I can’t refuse that I will absolutely love. I don’t know why I feel this, but maybe I think it’s time for the universe to finally present to me what I’ve been searching for the last 20 years and place me around legitimate work with legitimate people that will appreciate what I have to offer.

With that being said, either this job will require me to travel and allow me to keep my current apartment and lifestyle – OR it will bring me to a new place that will either be better or similar to where I am now. I don’t know when this will happen, but my mind has set it in motion. I’m ready for a better life.

No Coronavirus, but Still in Quarantine

Today is the first day I’ve felt mostly normal in two weeks. I’ve been cooped up in my house with a head cold and back injury all at once. The head cold is pretty much gone, but allergies are really bad right now, so sometimes it’s hard to tell what is what. One thing definitely caused by allergies when I go outside is my throat closing up to the point that I nearly lost my voice. I’m just trying to determine what is actually going to kill me in the long run.

Two weeks ago I hurt my back from picking up a bag of soil and twisting at the same time. It became progressively worse to the point that I could barely walk, could hardly bend, and doing daily tasks have been extremely difficult. Today I managed to do very little of an online yoga class, because spasms took over. Not only am I frustrated, because I cannot physically do what I need to, but the head cold and medication cause mental blockage to the point I can’t concentrate. Now I am two weeks behind in getting anything done, which exacerbates anxiety.

The only time I’ve been in this much pain is right after a major surgery – and yes, it hurt that bad. I guess I’m used to healing quickly and getting back to normal life, except this time it ain’t happening on my terms. It hasn’t even been a year yet since I had the first surgery and not even 6 months since the last one, so my body’s healing ability has been in overdrive, and I’m sure getting older has a lot to do with that. This is another reason I’ve chosen to socially distance myself, because I’m more prone to catching something, and I’ll be damned if some batshit virus is going to take me out.

With all of that going on, insomnia kicks in when I’m in pain. I literally had to roll over to get myself out of bed, because sitting up was not an option. I’ve been taking 600 mg of ibuprofen, but I don’t think it works well. Muscle relaxers help a little to sleep, but otherwise they make my head feel loopy.

The pain was the exact same way I felt right after surgery, when the CO2 gas was working its way upwards out of my body. I cannot imagine living like that for long, because it’s pretty excruciating. I am not rested well, which of course isn’t helping the healing process, and having a head cold on top of it makes it slower to heal. I’ve been going to bed at a reasonable hour and waking up around midnight or other early a.m. hours, unable to get back to sleep for a few hours at a time. Sometimes I don’t get to sleep until the sun is coming up, so my entire morning is screwed up.

I know I’ve been dreaming a lot, and I should be writing them down. Last night I finally slept decently and dreamt. But now for the life of me, I cannot remember what the dreams were about. Right now I wish I had someone to rub my feet, feed me, and tell me I’m pretty. HA! Wishful thinking.

Pain, Allergies, & Being Alone

I’ve been having those feelings again. Slightly depressed, but perhaps it’s because I haven’t been sleeping as well, and I’ve been in a lot of pain lately. I did something to my back somehow, attempted yoga to stretch it out, but it made it worse. Went to the chiropractor, which helped, then I picked up a bag of potting soil the wrong way and screwed up my back again, so that has been an issue.

Some of the pain is caused from allergies. Besides the typical allergy issues of runny nose and itchy eyes, it affects my entire body as if every muscle or my blood is inflamed and poisoned. The only way I can describe it is like a burning sensation throughout my entire body, as if I drank bleach or something caustic – similar to that achiness the body gets having the flu. The only thing does seem to help is alcohol, believe it or not. So I’ve reverted to binge drinking on those days, which of course doesn’t help other issues. I feel like it’s a no-win situation.

Unfortunately, my only option to treat allergies with the VA is to take Claritin, which only solves some of the issues. Allergy shots would require me to drive 70 miles one way 3x a week for several months, which is just not going to happen. I’ve looked into alternative measures that sound promising, and at this point, I’m willing to try ANYTHING to resolve this miserable issue, but the affordability is another problem, just like everything else in this country’s shitty healthcare system.

When I sleep well and I’m not in pain, I feel like I can conquer the world, and it seems like I’ve been dealing with this my entire life. I vaguely remember “always” feeling good for days at a time, a very brief amount of time, and that’s a pretty shitty way to live. Stress has a lot to do with it, I’m certain. Feeling like this gives me no self-confidence in anything I do or anything I am striving towards or anything about life in general. I feel like if I died tomorrow, who cares? I don’t. It would probably be a relief rather than feel this way. (That is NOT a statement that I plan to hurt myself, so back off!)

This whole coronavirus thing is out of control, but since I’m already alone 99% of the time and avoid crowds most of the time, it doesn’t seem to affect me much. What it does affect, however, is the next job I’m waiting to start, because now everything is on hold.

I definitely haven’t been wanting to be around people anyway due to the anxious energy in the air, because it gives me anxiety, too. I feel everyone’s energy, and I don’t like it, because most of it doesn’t feel very good to me. I need to be around calming or creative energies – or just be alone. I feel like all of the good energy has been sucked out of me from the shitty people I’ve allowed in my life.

The only invitations I’ve had since the beginning of the year involve drinking. I went out a few times, but other than that, I’m bored with that lifestyle and end up hating the fake people I meet from it. While it’s fun to interact at times, I get burned out extremely fast, not to mention it’s unhealthy overall.

I haven’t been on an actual date in about a year (**when I say “date” it means with the intention of something beyond friendship**), and that last experience has left me not wanting to put any effort into dating. That was the last straw of dating for me, because I can’t stand another second of wasting my time on liars and people that add absolutely nothing but bullshit to my life. I don’t trust anyone, and I have no desire to make new friends or meet anyone new. I feel that saying hello and being cordial is enough for me right now.

The person I thought was one of my best friends has pretty much ghosted me, but I shouldn’t have been surprised at all after I had surgery and she couldn’t bother to ask how I was doing. I see clearly now that she was a terrible friend and only around when she needed someone. She’s also part of a group of women that act like middle schoolers, which I want no part of. And after my friendship with my male friend that hasn’t spoken to me since the end of January, why bother putting effort in getting to know anyone if they’re just going to ditch me without any closure, without anything but hurt feelings and lies – with nothing more than reminders of the abandonment issues I can’t seem to shake?

I realize I have always felt this way. I have always felt extremely alone in the world, and no matter how many people may surround me, I still feel alone. I feel like an outcast. I feel unloved. I feel like nothing I do matters, so I just go along trudging through each day until my time is up on this planet. I have always felt like there is no one out there for me, and even though I’ve had long-term relationships and marriages, I have always settled for something less than what I really wanted, because there was absolutely nothing that even resembled what I wanted. I am thinking that maybe I’m just a dreamer and nothing that I want exists on earth.

Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatique Syndrome – Eating Habits – Part 3

In my first blog on this topic, I discussed how I had been diagnosed with these strange illnesses and how massage helped many of the problems. In my second blog entry, I discussed the food allergies I discovered and took control of.

Now I will discuss more about my eating habits. I grew up eating and loving Chef Boy Ardee and Spaghettio’s. In fact, I would have eaten it every day if I was allowed to – or anything with tomato sauce for that matter. Vegetables were nothing I would touch, unless it was a tomato or maybe a cucumber. Even as an adult, my eating habits didn’t change much until about a year or so ago when I was sick of feeling sick five or six out of seven days a week. So I began educating myself.

First, I started by finding out what may be the cause of aches, pains, and general feelings of discomfort. I began visiting health food stores and talking with others just like me who made some suggestions. One of them happened to mention the link between the pH in the body and the growth of disease. It reminded me of taking those little litmus test papers in school science class, but I was now beginning to understand what that was all about.

Balancing the acidity vs alkalinity in my body took on a whole new meaning of eating properly. I started to take notice of how my body felt when I craved and ate too much pasta. Without knowing how to fully describe it, I would say heavy, like a wet rag, and slightly achy – whatever it was wasn’t normal. I had no idea that pasta is considered acidic. Also, my love of tomatoes hasn’t died… add those to the pasta and what do you get? More acid in the body. My beloved morning coffee = more acid. So you get the picture. I was a walking body of acid. One conversation started to change that, however.

Having no idea what foods or drinks I had been consuming were acidic in nature, someone had informed me of taking an all-natural drink powder made with all organic green vegetables. Apparently, the powder is supposed to balance the acidity in the body and make it more alkaline. It wasn’t cheap, but it was well worth it when I discovered that this powder worked. The name of what I take is called Green Superfood, and it’s made by a company called Amazing Grass, runs for about $28 in the health food store for a 30-serving supply. One tiny scoop mixed with water looks pretty gross but the flavor really isn’t bad. I drink that if I tend to be consuming too much acidic food or drink and have noticed a huge difference in the aches.

Beating Fibromyalgia and CFS, Allergy Tests – Part 2

Sometime around 2002 someone finally convinced me to get tested for allergies. Thankfully, I had insurance so the visits and tests were covered. I discovered through an allergist that I was allergic to grass, ragweed, pine, and milk. The pine allergy would definitely explain much of the misery I felt in 1997-1999 because I lived in northern Florida in the middle of a pine forest! As I had stated in my last blog, this is when the joint popping and cracking issues began.

Basically, I could do nothing about the environmental pollens because they surrounded me. I was given various allergy medications, such as Claritin D, which helped relieve stuffiness and post nasal drip, but did not fix my issues with the aches. Being sensitive to medications, I noticed I started feeling “loopy” (although some people might agree that is just my natural state, lol) after taking it. I felt as if I had the flu about 5 days out of each week. I was completely and totally miserable and hopeless. Exercise seemed to do nothing to help with any of the symptoms either, however, I also noticed a huge correlation between the allergies, the amount of sunlight I received, and the fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms.

Being a Florida girl, I grew up on the beach and the times when I did not get enough sunlight I noticed a difference in the way I felt. There were certain times when I would go for days without going out into the sun for at least 20 minutes, and I noticed if I did not go out at least every other day, by the third day I started feeling ill again. Anytime it rained, which is inevitable in a hurricane-fixated state, I could feel a huge amount of pressure in my joints.

I was eating better than before, but still not that well. Cutting milk out of my diet helped with phlegm and digestion issues, but I had a habit of eating bagels and cream cheese for breakfast or donuts because it was easy to make and I had a 45-minute drive to work every day. My diet consisted of that of the average working American, and we all know what that means.

Eventually, I decided to move to a more tropical area that wasn’t laden with trees and grass, which was a huge help on the environmental allergies. It really did make a difference, and I also started chiropractic care. The combination helped, but I was unaware that I had developed more food allergies over the years. In 2007, I had another series of tests and found out I was still allergic to all of the prior tested things, in addition to cedar and (of all things!) corn! (See blog about corn allergy here.) Corn was just about in everything in my diet, which meant having to completely change the way I was eating. That meant no more fast food, and it also meant that most things packaged in a box, can, or bag were also off the list. Even the things I thought were healthful contained corn ingredients of some form or another. I started feeling relief as soon as I cut those things out of my diet, and I could tell immediately when I ate or drank something that had a corn ingredient in it.

Unfortunately, I had to move away from the tropical area and back to the grass and trees. At least I knew what made me feel yucky and I am still learning to control it.

About two years after the corn allergy was discovered, I started to feel as if I were eating something else that wasn’t being nice to my system. I went back to an allergist and discovered through more tests that I now had an egg allergy. I had been eating eggs for breakfast almost daily! It was disappointing, to say the least, but cutting eggs out of my diet really has made a difference with the digestive issues and muscle aches I’d been having. Substitutions for eggs were a challenge as well.

Since all of these food allergy discoveries, I would say that it piqued a newfound interest in learning how to eat right. In my next blog, I will discuss in what ways I am educating myself on proper eating habits.

Beating Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – Part I

Shortly after my twenty-first birthday, I started noticing that I wasn’t feeling well most of the time. After visiting the doctor and coming back with normal blood work results, I was relieved that nothing “bad” showed up, but at the same time I was also disappointed that there was no explanation for my symptoms. The doctor I was seeing at the time diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a disorder that I hadn’t ever heard until then and knew nothing about. At the time, there was no internet access or much written information on the topic, but I did manage to find others that had the same problem. The more I learned about this incurable, debilitating disease, the more convinced I was that the doctor was wrong in his diagnosis. Since there was no exact way to test for this ailment, I convinced myself I didn’t have it. In my mind, I told myself there is no way in hell I’m going to give my life to this horrific disease.

Some time during some earlier college years I visited the doctor that had known me since I was born. (His office visits were only $30!) I kept having throat problems with swelling and chronic bronchitis. He shot me up with some sort of steroid, and I found immediate relief with the swelling issues. He suggested that I probably had allergies and suggested that I quit smoking (yes, I used to have that nasty habit!). At the time I had no health insurance so I wasn’t able to get the necessary testing done, but I did quit smoking for good. Shortly afterwards, I moved away to attend a university; in the meantime, my old doctor retired.

Fast forward about five years later. I was a full-time college student and single mom, and I regularly worked out at either the school’s gym or at home. One day at home I was lifting light weights with my arms. As I lifted one arm, I heard a snap that sounded much like my shoulder came out of its socket. It hurt but not bad enough to see a doctor, so I figured I’d just pulled a muscle. But the unexplained snapping and popping continued with each and every joint in my body, along with flu-like muscle aches and hasn’t stopped since 1997. Several doctor’s visits over a few years without any results, I finally had somewhat of an answer three years later.

Another highly controversial syndrome among the field of medicine, fibromyalgia was my next diagnosis. The only problem that I found was that even though the known “pressure points” of fibromyalgia were supposed to be painful to touch on the person, for me it brought relief. Again, I was not sure that I was properly diagnosed, but it was something that I could work with as far as the treatment went. By then, the internet was becoming popular and it was easy for me to find information on the topic.

Massage was a huge relief for the muscle aches. I’d been seeing an excellent but pricey massage therapist who later told me she took insurance. When I learned she accepted my insurance and to find out more about it, I immediately contacted my insurance company and was told that massage is covered if written by a physician as a prescription. I was thrilled! I immediately went to my doctor (who had been trying to put me on pills that I refused to take) and told him of the great news about massage therapy with my insurance company. But he refused to write the prescription! He wanted to shoot me up with cortisone shots and give me more prescriptions. He told me that massage is only a temporary relief, that it may last only about a week and was a waste of time. I was furious with him because we obviously did not see eye to eye when it came to holistic healing vs meds that harm the body (not to mention that they are also a temporary relief and not a cure-all). So I marched out of his office and found a new doctor that believed in massage therapy.

That was just the beginning of beating fibromyalgia.

Today I still have the same muscle aches and joint popping and cracking without any explanation for it whatsoever. I have found ways that relieve these issues, however, and I have noticed what makes them worse. I am also convinced that all of these symptoms are related to allergies and stress.

Backtrack to around my twenty-first birthday. Stress was an understatement of how to describe my life at the time. I was a new mom, going through a divorce, and working full time. My body was still adjusting to the birth of my daughter and my diet consisted of mostly microwavable foods – many with starches and sugars that I now know contributed to many of the health-related problems I was facing. To top it off, I was a smoker.

Less Allergies in Hawaii? Not.

OrangeBloss_wbI don’t understand why people think that when you move to certain areas you have less allergy problems. It depends on what you’re allergic to. I just had more tests completed and a new list has arisen, in addition to my old ones:

*oranges
*mustard
*brewer’s yeast (goodbye, beer!)
*molds
*dust mites
*weeds
*mesquite
*eucalyptus (tree, not sure if it’s the same as the plant)
*cats & dogs (no, I will not be giving up my babies)

On a scale of 1 to 5, each of these rated as a 1, the lowest. So it’s more like a 20% allergic reaction. A combination of these things increases it.

The orange allergy explains why my face keeps breaking out. I recently purchased a new line of skin care from Avalon Organics – all include orange. I loved the way it made my face feel at the beginning, but after a week or so my face was breaking out big time. When I applied lotion to my neck I itched until I wiped it off.

Dust mites is something that never showed up on other allergy tests, either. However, I’ve always had a suspicion, because when I’m in a dusty area my face and nose itch. Of course it doesn’t help that Idiot Neighbor is creating more dust.

As far as the cat and dog allergy, the doctor said that frequent vacuuming and laundering will help that.

So between the noise pollution, the new allergies, and the stress of moving in general, I’ve been pretty miserable the entire time here. This is not what I consider paradise.

$2400/mo for Rent in Hawaii + Bad Neighbor = Insanity

I’ve been putting off blogging a lot, because I’ve been sick since we arrived in Hawaii. The fibromyalgia that I finally had under control is back in full force. I believe part of the reason I’ve been sick is due to the noise pollution we’ve been dealing with, thanks to our neighbor.

First, let me fill you in on trying to rent a place in Hawaii. It’s nearly impossible to get anyone to return phone calls or accept pets, so when we found this place we thought we got lucky. We weren’t expecting to spend $2400/mo on a place, but that’s the going rent here if you don’t want to live in a dump or a 2×4’ room. The house is located within a homeowner’s association, which has typical rules. One is that dog’s can’t bark for more than 10 minutes at a time. So we were really surprised that our neighbor has gotten away with this racket. (*I have to note here that homes are extremely close together – as close as 8 feet apart.)

For the first few days after we moved in, things seemed quiet. Our neighbor supposedly has a “hobby” of fixing up old cars. We didn’t realize until we saw multiple vehicles in and out of the place that this “hobby” has become a 5 to 7 day-a-week ordeal, starting around 7am and ending at dinnertime. It has gone on for months, even after our first complaint (remember when I said no one is in a hurry here?). Grinding, sanding, cutting metal, and whatever else auto body people do is all we hear all day. I have been unable to study, read, write, or listen to Coursera videos for the courses I am taking. When my husband was home sick from work and could not hear the television, that is when he knew I wasn’t making things up or exaggerating. When I sent my friends this video, I think they finally understood why I was about to lose my mind.

We’ve seen this neighbor in confrontations, so we did not want to go directly to him with our complaint. Besides, I didn’t think it would help us if we said something to him and then went to someone in charge – he’d know for sure who turned him in. So I told our property manager what was going on, and when I showed her the video, she couldn’t believe it. I’m sure it was obvious who reported him, because we are the new people on the block. The HOA sent him a letter threatening to fine him, but the noise continues.

The worst day was when I awoke to paint fumes in the house. Not only are they incredibly toxic to us, but to the environment. (No wonder there are hardly any birds around!) The paint fumes have gotten better, but the sanding dust is in our house, and we did not realize that until we did a deep cleaning. I realized then that all of that dust (we keep our windows open) was gathering on my pillow. I’d noticed that every time I washed the sheets I could breathe better, but within a day or so, I had issues again. The sanding dust is caked against my walls and window ledges to the point that it has stained the paint. The only hope we have is for this guy to stop being so inconsiderate, or we’re going to have to move.

Turbinate Coblation Option for Allergy Sufferers

A few years ago I was sent to an ENT (ear, nose, throat doctor) for allergies and was considering getting my tonsils out. However, I also had a lifetime of trouble breathing out of my nose. My first appointment was with a doctor I refused to see again because he was such an ass. He called me a wimp because I passed out when he inserted a tube up my nose. (While it’s true I am a wimp, he left the room when I passed out and had the nurse attend to me.) He also suggested an invasive procedure in which part of my bone would be shaved. As he described the procedure and I was still at half-mast, I told him he didn’t need to explain the gory details or he’d be cleaning up my lunch off of his shoes. His bedside manner probably wasn’t too far off from House.

My intuition nudged me to get a second opinion, so I did. The next ENT I visited said that the first doctor’s recommendation wasn’t necessary – that it wasn’t my nasal bone that was the problem – it was due to hypertrophied (enlarged) turbinates, located inside the nose and often cause problems with allergy sufferers. I was scheduled for a turbinate coblation the following week, prescribed a valium, and told it’s very simple and would not hurt.

(One thing I suggest is that if you are planning to have a turbinate coblation and you have a weak stomach, do not view videos beforehand! My first mistake was looking up this procedure online and finding a video on Youtube that almost made me puke.)

Not wanting the valium to wear off too quickly, I took half of the valium before I left the house, then the other half on my way to the doctor’s office (yes, I had a designated driver). But my nerves seemed to overtake the valium’s effects. I probably should have left coffee of the breakfast menu, too (oops!).

The first part of the procedure included shoving a tissue filled with a numbing spray up my nose and leaving it there for a good 10-15 minutes. Next thing I know, this big wand thing is being shoved up my nose. It didn’t hurt. Much. Yes it did. It stung like a bee. I squirmed. My eyes bugged out. I thought to myself, You S.O.B., you said it wouldn’t hurt! I saw blood. I passed out. Thankfully, it was all over within 10 minutes, even though it seemed three times that.

To help with the healing, I started doing a saline sinus rinse after a few days. (I prefer the NeilMed brand, and it’s different from a neti pot.) Once the scabs healed, I could breathe again!

I hadn’t realized how badly I needed this procedure and wished I had it sooner. I started sleeping better because I could breathe better. When allergy season picks up, I continue to use the NeilMed sinus rinse as needed and it seems to help do the job. It’s been a few years, and I’m wondering if I may have to do it again. One of the ways that I determine if my turbinates are enlarged is by lightly pulling/pressing my cheeks near my nostrils as if to separate them. If I can breathe better while doing that, then I know something in there is swollen.

Living With Corn Allergy is a Pain in the Maize – Ingredients and Solutions

I wanted to reblog this, since it seemed to have gotten lost when I transferred everything from my other blog.

Most people don’t understand the impact that allergies can wreak on someone’s life. A few years ago I was diagnosed with a corn allergy. On one hand, knowing why I was having the health issues that were occurring was a huge relief because it gave me the choice and the power to change and control it, and I have adjusted well. On the other hand, it has made going out to eat and being a guest at places much more difficult for others because choices are limited. My biggest problem has been other people who don’t have food allergies or understand the effects they can have on a person.

How did I find out I was allergic to corn?
Everyday I brought my lunch to work – usually a turkey sandwich, carrots and dip, a snack, and Gatorade – and everyday after lunch I started to feel like I was coming down with the flu. Many other times I would eat or drink something and have an overall feeling of not feeling well. I was sick of being sick, and all of my blood tests had come back normal. There was no reason for me to be feeling so badly. I had a gut feeling that it was something I was consuming. I was given a series of allergy tests, and when the doctor said corn was a culprit, I was shocked.

Who is allergic to corn? I thought to myself. After much research, I found many others just like me.

Mixed drinks? Fuggedaboutit. Almost all drink mixes contain corn syrup.

Ingredients 

Being aware of the allergy, I knew to avoid… well uh… corn, popcorn, corn starch, corn syrup… all of which seemed to be listed on every food and/or drink label in our kitchen. A change of diet was necessary, and the next shopping trip for groceries took about twice as long as usual due to having to read every label. But that didn’t seem to solve the problem.

There were those “other” ingredients that I’d never taken a second consideration to because, like most people, I was simply uninformed. I found out the turkey in my sandwiches contained corn, and the bread I was eating contained corn. Since I couldn’t continue drinking my beloved Gatorade, my husband purchased some Crystal Lite powered packets that I could add to my water bottle at work. I enjoyed about half of my first bottle, and all of a sudden I began to cough and choke and wheeze. I knew that it was something in the drink, but we didn’t see any ingredients labeled as “corn”. That’s when Google came to the rescue.

I began Googling every single ingredient listed on the packet, and there it was – maltodextrin. I had never even heard of it before. It was corn derived. Then I learned more – dextrose is corn derived and so is just about anything with “dex” in it. It wasn’t until I had a “sugar free” Coke Zero and about choked to death that I learned the caramel in the soda is made from corn. I started doing some heavy research and found some wonderfully informative websites about the lists of ingredients to avoid, which unfortunately, seem to be in almost everything made in America.

Not only did I learn what ingredients I had to avoid, I also learned quickly how each of them affected me. Not everything with corn caused me to choke or cough or wheeze – that was mainly the maltodextrin or “dex” based products. When I accidentally drank something containing corn syrup (including the high fructose version), I found a sudden change in my overall body – almost the same feeling people get when they’re coming down with the flu, but slightly different and with a rapid heartbeat. I also noticed a sudden change in my personality – irritable, withdrawn, and I was even told my entire face changed. Even after only three sips, my body tells me something is wrong. Regular corn and popcorn made my throat itch. And worst of all, most of the allergy meds I was taking contained… you guess it – corn. No wonder I was so miserable!

How has this affected my life?
Going out to eat is almost impossible. Basically, if it’s a chain restaurant, I have to avoid it. Other people do not understand and insist there isn’t corn in the food because steak and mashed potatoes don’t contain corn, right? At my own house they don’t – that is partly correct – but the preservatives that are used are usually corn based. And you aren’t getting the best meat at chain restaurants, so what do you think they are feeding the cows before they become steak. You got it: corn. Unless the food is made with basic scratch ingredients, most restaurant food contains some derivative of corn. You know that California roll in your favorite sushi restaurant? The krab (not real crab) contains corn.

Fast food is out of the question. At first I thought I was safe with eating at Panera, especially when I specifically asked someone if their bean soup contained corn and was told no. When I started the coughing/choking after a few bites, I asked to see the ingredients. Surprisingly, contained corn oil.  Although I was never a big fan of it, I do sometimes miss a nice hot burger from BK or a Taco Bell taco… and I really, really miss Doritos and Coke. The only corn-free soda I can drink is soda water and Sprite Zero, which no restaurants bother to carry. With most breads, ketchup, and BBQ sauce containing corn syrup, eating at BBQ’s is a challenge. Since most people do not cook from scratch and are not aware of corn issues, eating at other homes is an issue for them. And don’t get me started about the movie theater – I am only safe drinking their water, as long as it’s not Dasani!

Just say no to corn chips.

Solution
How do I handle all of this? Simple. I eat the way people used to eat 100 years ago. I eat fresh foods, and I eliminate products containing corn. I cook everything from scratch. There are very few packaged products that I enjoy AND can tolerate. Amy’s Lentil Soup is one of them. I found organic ketchup that tastes exactly the same as regular ketchup but without the corn, and I use it to make my own BBQ sauce – which I take with me to BBQ’s now.

At first, I didn’t think I could live without “regular” food, but once I became used to not having all of the junk ingredients in my body, I started to feel like a new person. I am now completely aware and sensitive to anything that seems foreign to my body.

Unfortunately, corn isn’t the only food allergy I have, but it has become the most problematic because of it’s many derivatives. Hopefully food manufacturers in the U.S. will take notice of the many corn allergy sufferers in this country and find new alternatives to use. One day I dream of safe fast food to eat!

Alternative Foods for Corn and Egg Allergies

Having food allergies can put a real cramp in making dinner plans with friends because most people don’t understand the seriousness of food allergies. Sometimes planning an outing is difficult, so I must be sure to bring some of my own bread, ketchup, or Vegenaise. It took some getting used to at first, but now I am used to it. It’s the other people around me that have the problems. 🙂

I often get asked what I do when going shopping or out to places that serve food that I can’t eat. It’s taken some time, but luckily, there are some great products out there I have found.


Ketchup – Most ketchups contain corn syrup. I found an organic store brand (Publix) that does not. There are many others becoming available, mostly in the organic food sections.

Mayonnaise – Since mayo is made with eggs, there is no way around it. Most mayo also contains corn syrup. I found Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise – it’s lighter but pretty much the same consistency of regular mayo, and it’s made with grapeseed oil. It’s not as flavorful as regular mayo, but it does the job.

Bread – Most store bought breads contain corn syrup or another form of corn, so I try to stay away from them. However, fresh bread does not last long without preservatives, and I don’t eat it every day. Pepperidge Farm Whole Wheat Deli Flats are excellent, as is Toufayan Whole Wheat Pita Bread.

Sports Drinks – I used to love Gatorade before I found out about the corn allergy, but I had to give that up, too. Living in Florida, it’s important to keep hydrated, and sports drinks are a great way to do so. So far, Powerade Zero is the only sports drink I can find that does not contain corn ingredients.

Chips – Obviously, corn chips are out of the question, and many regular potato chips contain corn oil. Two great brands are Stacy’s Pita Chips and Kangaroo Pita Chips. I also enjoy the salted Genisoy Soy Chips.


Cheese – I also have a milk allergy, so ordering pizza is a crisis. I have found, however, that some of the more expensive deli cheeses (not the name brand packaged kinds) are okay. Someone also suggested that I try raw cheese or organic cheese, which I did both, and was able to enjoy them in small amounts.

Tacos – Since tacos are generally served on tortillas and other corn-related foods, I either substitute a taco shell by wrapping up the ingredients in a large piece of lettuce or take a whole wheat tortilla and lightly singe it in oil for about 30 seconds (enough to slightly harden it) and use that as the shell. It’s healthier both ways and still tastes just as good.


Pre-packaged foods – I’m generally out of luck with anything pre-packaged, even when it comes to canned soups. However, one of my favorite canned soups is Amy’s Lentil. Many of the Amy’s brand foods are safe, as long as I read the ingredients.

If your grocery store doesn’t carry these products, ask them to. All you have to do is go to the customer service desk and put in a request. Most of the time they listen.