Friday, February 29, 2008


I went last weekend to a well-known theme park and spent much of the day eating junk food. This included a bag of beautifully light but unexpectedly large doughnuts that we picked at the end of the day for a few pounds.

By Sunday I was stiff and acheing all over my back and shoulders and stayed that way for most of the week. You may think it was the rides - and I expect they played a part along with the long drive to the venue. But the truth is I stayed off the real back-breakers. The worst ride we went on was a pirate ship type swing and, despite his bravado, my young companion started getting a tumbling tummy before I did. Being a little taller than him I realised I could prevent sickness by bracing my legs on the down-swing - worked very well.

Actually I've had a bad week and it's largely because the Singulair ran out early last week. So it's not been just the backache, the rash on my abdomen started to return and my left eye got sore again as it was in 2006.

So I managed to organise myself to see a GP. That involves taking a morning out to call and make an appointment and then having a free morning 48 hours later. The total time involved is much less than this but you certainly need two free mornings. I saw a registrar and, having asked after my asthma, he agreed to re-prescribe the drug. I explained that asthma is the one thing I don't have. He then took my blood pressure, which turned out to be remarkably healthy - and that's good news because it suggests the inflammation caused by this problem isn't getting to the arteries.

The thing about doughnuts is I don't normally get to eat them. When the family get them, they invariably have jam inside so I abstain. So presented with two bags with ten largish doughnuts between them, I wolfed down four. The problem, as with much fast food, is you don't know what they are cooked in. Doughnuts use quite a lot of oil I believe and it may well have been sunflower oil, which is no good to me.

I should record I took the boys to a McDonalds later and, as is quite common, they failed to produce the grilled chicken salad I asked for and I had to combine a side salad with chicken nuggets. As I said, junk food all day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Invisible on the NHS

Oh dear! The sub-title of this blog refers to the British National Health Service. Let's be fair - after a long delay in getting my first appointment with a consultant I was treated pretty well. Being prescribed a drug - Montelukast - by letter is a little unusual but it works.

Yet it seems salicylate hypersensitivity is invisible on the NHS.

The NHS Choice has just launched an on-line food allergy testing tool. The idea is to distinguish between allergy and intolerance.

I've checked it out and it tells me I possibly have a food allergy. The problem is it's not quite true. Salicylate hypersensitivity is something a little different. I'm telling people now I have a metabolic disorder - there's something wrong with the metabolism - and that seems a better description. I double-checked by typing salicylate into the NHS Choice search engine and absolutely nothing relevant came up.

It's not as though it's uncommon. My dietician has other cases. My research has shown there's some scientific understanding of the condition if you look in the right places. There's even a drug.

Now after mentioning possible food allergy, the NHS Choice site suggests that nuts, fish, milk, eggs and wheat are the most likely foods to cause a problem. Tell that to the experts, who do not like the idea of wheat allergy.

Now I thought I had wheat allergy and my GP didn't contradict me when I told him my suspicions. I reacted to pasta and pizza and I ate a lot of pasta - still do. I was tested for it and the results were negative. That did not surprise the consultant as wheat allergy is actually pretty rare. And let me tell you - wheat allergy is miserable. Avoiding wheat and gluten for six months was far tougher than the way I live now. The gluten free food is expensive and insubstantial, cooking with it is impossible. It's true that catering departments know about it - but their menus tend to be unpalatable. I lost half a stone in six months and lived in permanent hunger.

And in fact, it seems, I was reacting to everything else - herbs, concentrated tomatoes, spices, peppers etc. So which is more common salicylate hypersensitivity or wheat allergy? I have a feeling nobody knows and I also think that suggesting wheat is a common allergen is misleading, as it's also a common food.