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How I was Diagnosed with Sudden-Onset Food Allergies

Having one food allergy can be devastating – but having multiples from sudden-onset food allergies as an adult…let’s just say, “challenge accepted”.

Idon’t remember a time growing up when I was just…healthy. I was one of those kids that was always in and out of the doctors’ office, the hospital, and I remember a lot of mornings where getting out of bed was downright painful. Fast forward a few years when I was in the middle of college and arguable feeling better until June 2014: my first and one of the most severe allergic reactions I’ve ever had.

I had just started a new internship and we went out to lunch to celebrate my first day. I remember ordering a turkey sandwich on rye bread with truffle fries – harmless, right? Wrong. About 15 minutes into the meal, I lost all ability to speak. My tongue and gums were so swollen I couldn’t open my mouth. Then I could feel the glands under my ears start to swell and pulse. Although I had never had an allergic reaction before in my life, I knew exactly what was happening. Thankfully, the building had a small store where I purchased a packet of Claritin and waited in the bathroom until I could at least speak again.

To say this was terrifying was an understatement. I had no idea what had caused it and so I brushed it off as a fluke and moved on. Until I ordered the same meal at a different restaurant on my last day of work there and the exact same thing happened – only worse.

Now it’s in my nature to “tough things out”. After spending 10 years of my life staring at the dinosaur walls at the doctors, I’ve trained myself to be a female warrior and live through the pain. But that was stupid. I should have gone to an allergist the very next day and gotten a test.

It wasn’t until another 3 years later that I finally went to the doctor and gotten a patch test, which was brutal. I also discovered that I have pretty bad PTSD when it comes to needles and I honestly don’t remember a lot of what went down. I was tested on my forearms for 15-30 substances, of which 4 came back positive. Barley and rye were the strongest, followed by soybeans and peanuts. Since then I’ve also had bad reactions to pineapple and kiwi.

I’m not going to lie, being diagnosed with multiple food allergies as a adult freaking sucks. It’s tough. I get judged every time I order a meal and have to rattle off everything that I’m allergic to. To make matters worse, the doctor also advised that I stop eating gluten immediately. Not only was gluten causing my fatigue and malnutrition, but it was too dangerous to have in my diet when I am severely allergic to barley and rye.

I’m now three years post diagnosis and while there have been successes, there has also been failures. A few months ago I had a severe reaction to antibiotics and one day later I had what I’m suspecting was an anaphylactic reaction to some store-bought pasta sauce that caused me to nearly lose consciousness at work.

Being diagnosed with multiple food allergies doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. But it does mean the world and I take each other one day at a time. I can’t eat hot dogs at the ball park or popcorn at the movie theater any more. But, my weekly grocery bill at Aldi is under $50 and I’ve pushed food to limits I’ve never thought possible.

Being diagnosed with multiple food allergies doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. But it does mean the world and I take each other one day at a time.

My life isn’t a normal one, that’s for sure. All of the gluten free mixes in my pantry spell that one out! But part of the reason why I started this blog is to share my story with sudden-onset food allergies and some of the delicious foods I cook in my kitchen every day because I know that I would have really loved to read a blog like this when I was first experiencing my reactions, so this wouldn’t have seemed like such a scary thing. Like I said, the world and I have just gotten used to taking each other one day – and one bite! – at a time.

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