Friday, July 19, 2013

Testing, Testing, 1-2-3

I had yesterday off from work for a few tests and then my weekly DCP treatment in the afternoon. It was kind of fun having a day off work, except for the fact that I still had to get up at the same time and didn't even get home that much earlier than usual!

My first stop was allergy testing. I have been experiencing stinging and swelling of the lips when I eat shrimp, so I was worried I was allergic. They gave me the pinprick test for a whole bunch of common allergens (to compare), and then applied the shellfish test.

Turns out I am not only allergic to shellfish (sad face), I am also allergic to:
- All trees
- All grasses
- All weeds
- All molds
- Cats
- Dogs
- Rabbits
- Cockroaches (ew?)
- Feathers
- Dust (majorly; that's all the giant swelling and redness you see)

Most of this I knew from my allergy test as a kid and generally the pollen allergies don't bother me (I knew about cats and dogs, but it turns out I actually scored quite high for cats! Which sucks, cause I love cats). The really shocking part was the milk allergy. I have never had a reaction to milk, but the doctor said it can get worse if I keep exposing myself to food allergens so I guess I need to give up milk. This is HORRIBLE. I don't know if I can live without my greek yogurt :( AND CHEESE! Oh god, I loved cheese!!

So yes, I AM allergic to shrimp. But also to lobster, crab, scallops, and prawns. That totally sucks too. I was hoping it was just shrimp, but he said it was just a matter of time before the rest started to effect me as well. And it can get worse if I keep eating it, so I guess all that deliciousness is off the menu. It really sucks because I was super picky as a kid and would never eat shellfish, so I only had about 3-4 years of enjoying these foods. Sigh

After the allergy test, I had a hearing test! I decided to get tested because I often found myself having trouble hearing people clearly, even when I ask them to repeat themselves and actively listen. It wasn't a volume issue- I just couldn't make out their words. The hearing test is pretty cool. They seat you in a soundproof room and give you earphones to listen to. For the first test, they play beeps at various octaves in each ear and you have to click a button if you hear it. Then they play words that you have to repeat back. Finally it instructs you to say words (I think this is more because a full sentence might throw you off?).

The good news of the day is that my hearing is perfectly normal! The doctor thinks my problem is more with processing what I hear. I guess that means the problem is in my brain and how it retains and processing what it hears. She asked if I had trouble learning by only vocal instructions and often forget what I am told and I was like "Yup! That's me to a T!". She also said it is probably background noise causing me to have issues concentrating on what I am hearing- which is also very true; I have to mute the TV if I am on the phone and I have trouble talking on the phone at the office if others are talking. She said people who have this problem can have trouble in school (I didn't in my schoolwork, but I did get my hearing tested as a kid because I wouldn't listen!), or they can be highly intelligent (I'm going with that one).

So diagnosis: I am a bad listener :). But I am glad there is nothing physically wrong with me and it is just the way I process what I hear. She said I could get some testing done on that too, but it isn't covered by OHIP and I don't think my health insurance would cover it so it probably isn't worth it. I just need to actively work on my listening skills. I already do this by writing down all instructions at work and waiting to make my phone calls when it is quiet!

Any tips from my readers on dairy substitutes? I am not a big milk-drinker, but I do like creams, ice cream, cheese, and yogurt :\

Do you have trouble with listening?


  1. Do you know if it's just cow's milk you can't have? My SIL can't eat cow's dairy, but she can have goat, so she eats goat cheese, goat ice cream, etc. if you can't have any of it, there are lots of dairy free ice creams that are actually pretty good. I bet if you go to the Big Carrot or Whole Foods or something they will have numerous options! That sucks though, I couldn't give up cats or cheese.

    1. ya they only tested me for cow's milk, so I assume I can have goat's milk? I wish they would test me for ALL foods, now that it's come out that I have food allergies.

      I hope i like goats milk! :S

  2. Do you know if it's just a lactose intolerance? If so, there's lactose free milk, which you really can't tell the difference from regular milk (or so I'm told by my boyfriend)

    There's also Lactaid pills (which are my lifesaver) you can get that will substitute the lactose you're lacking and allow you to eat all the yummy cheeses and chocolates and ice creams you want :)

    1. no, im pretty sure it is an allergy to milk protein. Usually problems with lactose come from missing the enzyme to break down lactose. Not the same as an allergy, unfortunately! at least, that is my understanding

  3. I would look into going in for a second allergy test, this time focusing on food sensitivity rather than the general spectrum. I know I had to request a special test when I became reactive to nickel, as it generally isn't included in the "basic allergies of doom" prick test.

    There are tons of dairy/lactose replacement options on the market ranging fom goat products(mentioned above) to rice and almond "milks" so I'm confident you'll be able to find something that works for you. Hop on google, hit the forums (there are a TON of allergy forums on the web full of info) and start thinking about what your options are.

    I wonder if your food allergies are in any way tied to/affected by alopecia being an autoimmune disorder? Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that has links/affects food sensitivity & digestion (Celiac disease too!) which makes me wonder if there is the possibility of similar complications here or with other autoimmune disorders as well. This makes me think thoughts.

    1. ya I think I have researched that before it seems iffy at best. there is a link between certain autoimmune disorders (Alopecia is liked to RA and lupus I think), so it doesnt seem far fetched

    2. OMG you're allergic to shrimp/shellfish & milk/cheese!?!? You poor thing!!!! That would eliminate about half (ok maybe 1/3 of) my diet.

      I wondered the same thing as Martina regarding alopecia! I feel like asthma (I think I remember you mentioning that a few posts ago?) is linked to some other things, too, at least as far as allergies. Or I could just be making that up. I have asthma and am allergic to cats, dust and most pollen, and probably other things. I also have a sulfite allergy/sensitivity (my lips swell, and once when I sipped champagne my throat got tight), so I try to avoid anything with sulphites like that plague. And apparently I'm also sensitive to aspirin.

      If I ever develop and allergy to dogs I will cry. I THINK they were on my allergy test as a kid, then we had one for a few years growing up, and R & I have two now. I still sometimes get The Sads about not being able to have cats, because I think I'm more of a cat person than a dog person.

      Seconding the almond "milk" recommendation, and seconding (thirding?) the recommendation to have a broader food allergy test so that you have a better understanding of what to avoid. We use the unsweetened vanilla for smoothies/some recipes, and I have heard a lot of good things about coconut milk products (milks, yogurts, coffee creamers, etc) and Earth Balance. I'm a little wary to suggest that as I feel like that is another common food allergy... Also my (very brief) Googling makes it look like "greek-style yogurt" and "greek yogurt" are different. The former being made with cow's milk and the latter being goat's milk. (Although honestly WebMD makes it look like you should avoid ANY animal milk.) There is also the soy option, but I don't really like recommending soy to women because of the compounds that mimic estrogen. I guess moderation is key? Maybe soy for somethings, almond/coconut for others?

      Luckily (I guess?) there are a lot more options these days, what with the prevalent vegan options, etc. Jenn has good advice, and another Jenn (at Peas & Crayons) cooks with So Delicious coconut products a lot, so check out some of her recipes.

      As for hearing, I TOTALLY have the same issue with processing what I hear! I haven't had a hearing test since I was 18, but I feel like I have VERY sensitive hearing, and it's the actual processing I'm not so good with. I choose to look at it the way you do (re: highly intelligent) AND I choose to use it to my advantage and "turn off" my brain when my coworkers are being annoying. Also my brain gets "overloaded" when there is too much sound, and since the Photo studio at work is constantly playing music, and my coworkers are noisy I tend to use my headphones (these) as earmuffs to muffle some of the noise so that I can concentrate.

      Verbal instructions are THE WORST, I prefer written instructions. In high school my mom helped me figure out that I am somewhat of a kinesthetic learner, and do better if I am actively doing something while listening. Whether that is taking notes, squeezing/bouncing a tennis ball (which is hard to do in a classroom/office setting) or even chewing gum.

      Good luck with everything, and keep us updated!! Maybe this is an opportunity for you to add some more sections to the blog and help increase allergy awareness?

      Ok, ending my Longest Comment Ever now.

    3. wow!! Thanks for the novel :)

      I am definitely going to look into some milk substitutes, but I dont want to 100% eliminate it because I have heard some scary things about totally removing a food and then losing the ability to digest it and I dont want to get sick because some little bit of milk was in something.

      Your champagne allergic reaction is very similar to my reaction to shrimp, so it probably is an allergy.

      I am the exact same as you with hearing. glad im not alone!

    4. You're welcome, I hope it was at least a semi-helpful novel!

      That makes sense, as a lot of things have milk products and it may be tough to totally avoid. I think I have a slight lactose intolerance, discovered that in college and forgot to mention that above. My sister is apparently the same way, so I'm not sure if it's from having less dairy in college and reintroducing it later, or what. Mildly annoying. I don't seem to have an issue with cheeses, though, which is weird. Or maybe I do have issues and am so used to it I don't notice anymore?

      Does the doctor think that all your reactions will get worse and worse over time, or just the shellfish one?

      I felt the same way when I read about your hearing! SO glad I'm not alone!!

    5. He was mostly talking about the shellfish one. He didnt actually talk much about the milk one?? I guess because I havent reacted to milk before it is less serious than a food group I am already reacting to

  4. First of all, I too am allergic to cockroaches. I wanted to know if it was if I came in contact with them or if I ate them. Either way, what a weird allergy to have.

    As for milk, take some deep breaths. It is not the end of the world. You can totally do this. If it's just dairy and you aren't intolerant to gluten or soy, it will be easier. Personally, I really like almond milk for a milk substitute. I buy the Silk True Almond Unsweetened and I have become quite accustomed to it. For butter, I use Earth Balance and it works really well. I have yet to find good substitutes for yogurt, ice cream and cheese but that being said, if you like coconut you will have an easier time. Almond yogurt has a nasty consistency but coconut yogurt is better in that regards. You can get different flavours as well. I have heard really good things about the So Delicious chocolate ice cream but have yet to try it, since I hate coconut and am afraid it will taste coconutty. Cheese, now this is a hard one. I have yet to play around with it that much. I've heard Daiya isn't too bad but you might just have to try some different kinds and see what works for you.

    I'm sorry you didn't get awesome news about the allergies but I'm glad you're hearing is alright. If you have any more questions about dairy, feel free to email me. I'm no expert but I have been doing this for a while now.

    1. oh yes I forgot you gave up dairy when you gave up gluten. Im not sure I am going to go entirely dairy-free (like I feel I will still eat my buttah), but I definitely am going to substitute the major dairy products in my diet. sigh!!!!

  5. check out that Mama Earth organics delivery site. From what i remember they have tons of dairy free products that they deliver

  6. Chocolate almond milk is tasty, but I only use it as a treat because it's expensive! Earth Balance is pretty okay. Good luck - I myself am avoiding the allergist because I know I have allergies, I just don't want to admit it yet :(

  7. Uuuhg...! I feel for you. I would never be able to give up milk. In fact... maybe this is totally irresponsible of me, but I think if I found out such a thing, but hadn't been experiencing any nasty side affects or symptoms, I would just keep consuming dairy until I did! Then again, that could be life threatening and stupid?

    I'm sure you'll figure everything out and you may not even miss it once you've found some decent substitutes! Good luck!

    1. I dont think it is life threatening, but the doc said it could get worse as time goes on so im just going to cut back

  8. I have a shellfish allergy but I just pop a benadryl and everything is all good except that it makes me fall asleep if I stop being active. I am lactose intolerant and love almond milk and Daiya vegan cheese!

  9. Casey - hate this to you - but the hearing/processing/output stuff runs in the family: Laura, and Austin. Austin has had ALL the testing and I'd be happy to review it with you. Also, re the allergies, you should also get tested for INTOLERANCES! Neil, Austin AND Nicole have had this done. Highly informative and tell you HOW intolerant/allergic you are to things, alternatives, how often and how much you can have these foods. Life changing. Closer to you than to us: Around Avenue Road and St. Clair area. I'm happy to discuss all Austin's non-food testing with you. He'll be starting part-time at Arrowsmith School in September part-time to correct some of the disabilities associated with hearing/processing. - FASCINATING stuff. Also life changing. We'll get together soon! Let's plan a date! xo GAS Sheila


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