Thursday, November 30, 2006

The dietician

It turns out I am a beneficiary of NHS cuts. The dietician had her study leave cancelled and then, unbeknownst to her, a number of appointments made on her behalf. So two or three people received letters earlier in the week inviting them to the hospital.

This was all very well, but as the dietician didn't know she was meant to be there, she wasn't. She turned up eventually. More details later but in short I need to follow an even more restricted diet for a couple of weeks. Mushrooms, mangoes and onions have gone for a start and maybe even carrots.

Then getting out of the hospital. Easy you might think. Not with NHS car parking charges that increase by the hour. By the time I came out - after the delay - I had inadequate change for the parking machines. They do not take credit cards nor my £20 note. Nor were reception at the hospital centre. So a lengthy search ensued for change. The coffee shop in the hospital would not even sell me a banana as they claimed they could not change my £20 note. Eventually I found someone who had bought parking tickets in bulk and sold me one for a pound.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

An appointment

All praise to the NHS! A letter arrived a couple of days ago giving me an appointment with a dietician this week. A good thing that I happen to be free - and that in fact a previous booking at the time of the appointment had fallen through. Like a cynic, I have been going round telling people it would be about four months, two months for the referral letter to be logged and another two months for the appointment.

I suppose I should be writing down a list of questions about all the foods not on the list.

What about bread? I've been mostly avoiding it because of yeast.

Olive oil is out, what about rapeseed oil, which I am using for a lot of cooking.

Caffeine is banned but decaf coffee seems okay. What about decaf tea and redbush tea? What about chocolate? It seems okay.

I was hoping to turn up full of health if a little slimmer than I was six months ago. I reckon I have lost about a stone and I was not especially overweight. But I had a Mexican tortilla tonight, wrapped around ham. Doesn't seem to have done any good. Nor did the Kentucky Fried Chicken I tried to eat a couple of days ago by removing the batter. My lips are starting to tingle and they haven't done that for a few weeks, not since I was advised to try the salicylate free diet. Then there was the box of chocolates that someone had for their birthday. Of course they are stuffed with nuts and coconut. So altogether it has not been a successful week.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Chunky chicken

We get cheap tins of chunky chicken in a white sauce from the supermarket. It makes a quick meal with rice and peas.

I'd been avoiding it because I was not sure what was in the white sauce.

I've also felt like I was getting there over the last few days, towards an allergy free life. I've been eating bananas, peeled pears and raw carrots and drinking decaffeinated coffee and hot chocolate and water. I've tried decaf tea and also redbush tea (which I adore) but am not sure about those two. I'll have to see what the dietician says. I haven't taken an antihistamine for days. I even find I don't need caffeine to stay awake.

But this chunky chicken meal really caused a reaction tonight. So I went back to look at the ingredients. Wheat? Well I'm okay with that now. It wasn't wheat. Celery, that's okay now. Then, tucked away at the end, yeast extract. Yeast extract, I ask you. That's on the proscribed list.

It's odd that the closer I get to my goal the more severe seem to be the reactions to small breaches of the diet. I was eating quite a lot of this stuff, such as apples and fruit juice, when I thought it was wheat and even when I realised it was also tomato..and then other red fruits..and then celery (which it wasn't).

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Hunger/ Back on the pills

Coffee was a bad idea as was drinking a Welsh cream liqueur on Friday night.

Saturday was wretched and decided me to go back on to the anti-histamines. This has seemed to help.

Found a number of websites about salicylates although many tend to repeat the same information.

This one has a useful and detailed list of the salicylate content of food.
Among its helpful revelations is that decaffeinated coffee is okay. Some of the websites said some rather disturbing things about this condition. Not sure if they can be trusted as sourcing is limited and authoritative information very patchy.

Normally I would kill myself rather than join the Saturday afternoon shopping traffic but I was so desperate and hungry I went to the shops and bought loads of bananas, some lemon and banana yoghurts (all helpfully yellow) and a carton of mango and passionfruit juice. Not sure about the juice. Both mango and passionfruit are okay but the lists also seem to suggest that all fruit juice is dodgy, presumably because it is so concentrated.

I've dropped a collar size so there is some gain from the pain.

The pills seem to mask minor reactions. One of my children grabbed the banana yoghurt. So much for that.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Giving up coffee

It's hard, hard, hard.

I'm trying and tonight was my first coffee for well over 24 hours. I know now I'll pay the price in the morning.

I woke up today with a sore left eye and a painful left leg so resolved to make the effort to give up caffeine. I can't even switch to herbal teas as I've done in the past as most of them are also forbidden. It's water or milk.

Thankfully we had some pears and celery in the house this week. Having broken the wheat-free diet I am encountering all sorts of problems, for instance Kentucky style chicken. I'd been avoiding that but had it tonight. Of course it's stuffed with herbs so remains a problem.

I wonder how long the dietician's appointment will take to come.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Off and on the pills

Spoke to the consultant's secretary to me who relayed the message that I should continue taking antihistamines if I thought they were working. That seems to suggest they are meant to work for this kind of allergy.

I took one last night because I needed a good night's sleep. It worked reasonably well but did not really make any difference because it still leaves those gaps in the brain, in memory. I think I did okay today but I cannot be sure. Tried to wake myself with tea and, later on with coffee, but I am not sure they did any good.

She also asked if a salicylate free diet was working. I said it was early to say as I had only had the information on Friday - but I thought the list of salicylate-rich foods seemed familiar. On that basis they will refer me to their specialist dietician. No idea how long it will take to get an appointment on the NHS.

Monday, November 06, 2006

9pm and still waiting

9pm - no call from the consultant today.

I have decided to stop taking antihistamines on the grounds that they make me sleep incredibly deeply. I've had to use the bleep on my alarm clock to wake me and have needed loads of strong coffee to get me going. As coffee may be part of the problem, this may mean the pills achieve little.

However knowing that the pills aid sleep, there is going to be real temptation to take one occasionally if I need a good night's sleep.

I am also concerned about the long-term effects now. If I were to follow a salicylate-free diet, it might be very unhealthy in terms of heart and circulation. If I decide to tolerate a low level of allergy, what are the long term health effects? There has already been a link suggested to Parkinson's disease, which a member of my family has.

And what do I say to those who may have to cater for me?


A letter came from the consultant at the hospital on Friday - and it makes life complicated.

The blood tests have found nothing. The consultant suggests that the problem may be salicylate hypersensitivity, that is aspirin allergy.

We had excluded that at the beginning because I had taken aspirin without ill-effects. However he has supplied a list drawn up by the British Allergy Foundation of foods that contain high levels of salicylate - and there are an awful lot of them, most of them "healthy" fruits and vegetables.

Much of the list is familiar, some of it is worrying. There is avocado, coconut and almond. There is also yeast, possibly explaining why bread sometimes poses a problem. And there are oranges, peaches and green apples. So wheat and gluten are not problems, almost certainly. I can eat pasta, cake and pastry, but maybe not bread and not fruit cake or macaroons either. Coffee, tea and fruit juice are on the list as are potato skins. It's unmanageable - but I guess small quantities will not kill me and drinks do less harm to the mouth and throat than foods that have to be chewed.

He said to contact him which I tried to do so today but did not get past his secretary. She said they would arrange an appointment with a dietician.

I want to know whether there is any point in taking antihistamines now. She said she would ask him.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Uncooked potato

It may have been the baked potato, which was large and one of the least well cooked potatoes I have had. My wife microwaved it first. That was not enough so I put it on for another five minutes but it still came out with a hard centre. What I tend to do then is to pour the fat from the frying pan onto it but, clearly, even that did not work.

The real nuisance is that I am now back to a double dose of antihistamine having avoided taking any yesterday (Tuesday). Since my prescription of levoceterizine has run out, I am using some one-a-days from Asda. It's not just the driving now that's affected by the pills, I feel a loss of sharpness that even strong coffee cannot shake off, like some brain cells are missing. I need to make an appointment to see my GP and get a prescription but I'm not quite desperate enough to justify the disruption to my life that this involves.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Rice and cabbage

A sudden and unexpected reaction in the mouth tonight after eating what seemed to be a simple meal of omelette, baked potato and bacon followed by peach and apricot yoghurt.

This prompts me to do some more intense research on tomato allergy.

Some people call this 'oral allergy syndrome', suggesting it is probably a little less dangerous than anaphylaxis.

One clinic lists the following: apple, peach, celery, tomato and cherry.

This well-sourced website links a number of substances to tomato allergy.

This list looks familiar: latex, avocado, chestnut, and banana.

This list is especially disturbing: tomato, potato and latex.

I am not aware of any latex allergy. But of these three lists, I had potato and peach tonight. I have eaten both in substantial quantities in the last few months without noticing any problems.

So does this mean I am continuing to pick up new allergies? Or have potato or apple or something similar been responsible for mild symptoms for some time?

This is all very alarming as the one thing I have been able to achieve over the last few months is a healthy diet with loads of fruit and vegetables. The way things are going I will end up living on rice and cabbage.