Monday, November 26, 2007

Not decaf

I went to a couple of meetings last week at a venue with a coffee machine, serving filtered coffee. I was pleased to see it had sachets of decaf.

The first day, somebody got the coffee for me. Later on I was surprised to find myself surprisingly awake and even hyper. There were also odd spasms in my tongue and that tightening of the throat. And my stiff neck got not better. I wondered whether the person who got the coffee had forgotten I asked for decaf.

A couple of days later I was back at the same venue and got my own coffee using a decaf sachet.Within hours big red spots were erupting on my arms, my vision was going and my left eye felt like it was going to pop out of its socket.

So I wonder whether decaf is always decaf. What quality control is there?

I had to go to a party over the weekend so I took Singulair daily for three days and it's almost cleared up.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


...Then I went to a meeting this morning and the only drinks on offer were tea and coffee in flasks. No water and certainly no decaf.

Eventually I put a dribble of coffee in the bottom of a cup, topped up with milk and stirred in some sugar - to make a kind of milk shake. It's the first time I've knowingly consumed caffeine in a year, even if a small amount.

My throat started closing almost immediately. Hours later, after taking Singulair, my throat is still sore so I don't know whether it's the caffeine or flu.

Not so comfortable

I was clearly a little complacent when I reviewed the events of the last year over the weekend. I woke up yesterday with a stiffness around the neck. That's not a new problem - it's been coming and going all year and some people might say "stiff-necked" describes me well! I've been developing upper body exercises to keep me supply around the shoulders. Why it came on this year is a mystery - is it allergic inflammation or a problem caused by something missing from the diet?

My feeling is that taking Singulair has helped to resolve the problem sometimes, suggesting it's an allergic inflammation. I did so yesterday but unfortunately I moved my head sometime during the afternoon and pulled a muscle. It meant all yesterday evening I could barely walk, talk or even move without screaming in pain. I took two paracetamols - that's acetaminophens to Americans - which seemed to help. Today my neck is very stiff and wedged to one side.

I have a second theory today because I'm also quite cold and shivery. We've had a cold spell and a fall of snow but the house is not that cold. Maybe it's a bout of flu. As with the common cold, it may be hard to tell what's happening. For the past couple of months I've mixed with people with colds and not caught them - that's unusual for me and I guess is the result of an over-active immune system. I wonder how Singulair affects this - is it damping the immune system? Unfortunately I seem to have lost the patient information leaflet. Maybe I can find a down-load.

Friday, November 16, 2007

One year on

It's one year and one week since, almost overnight I gave up coffee, wine, beer, fruit juice, oranges, Cox apples, peaches, jam, marmalade and avocado. I'd already given up tomato and had spent six months on a wheat free diet, losing the best part of a stone while doing so.

The discovery the problem is salicylate rather than wheat and other odd fruits meant I could resume eating ordinary bread, pasta and cereals. But almost all sources of vegetable matter in my diet were gone. I've had to live on cabbage, leeks, celery, bananas and Golden Delicious apples - and every day I count to ensure I get my government-prescribed "five a day".

Looking back, I can see how we've adapted our diet. Sunday lunch is now largely salicylate free - and is okay. Gravy no longer comes in powder form or cubes but is made from scratch. Soy sauce is amazingly useful and highly flavoured - combined with cabbage it makes a pasta sauce and I used a similar combination the other night as a substitute chili with baked potatoes.

Montelukast (or Singulair) is a great find by the consultant. It allows occasional indulgences. The other night I went out to a meal and managed to eat two slices of a cheese cake. Eating out is still embarrassing - especially when the wine flows. Iced water's not quite the same.

The diet sheet changed a little in the first few months. I note that the first one mentioned yeast - and that led me to keep away from bread for some time, as well as other products containing yeast. The dietician persuaded me that was wrong so I eat bread normally - but not a lot of it. It was worth losing weight last year.

Recently I tried papaya again. Although it's on sale all year round, it seems to be a seasonal fruit. It was good a year ago and has been great treat this autumn. But by Christmas Day it was hard and unripe and stayed that way for most of this year.

My taste buds have been sensitised. A little while ago I promised some fantasy menus and maybe I will - but in truth I'm quite happy with this diet based on chocolate, bananas, cabbage and soy sauce. I now reckon I can taste the tiniest grain of pepper in food - and that generally means something's wrong.

So those fantasy menus! Where to begin? Pizza, curry, chili, bolognese, Chow Mien.....