Friday, October 31, 2008

Cheerful news

Cheerful news today suggesting that there is a point to all this.

Apparently allergies may indicate a metabolism that is geared up to preventing cancer. Does this apply to salicylate hypersensitivity, which is not a "pure" allergy? I don't see why not. The outcome is the same - an overactive immune system.

 It's not a perfect shield against these awful diseases. But it's interesting to note that there is no experience of cancer amongst any of my blood relatives.

The researchers hint at the possibility that suppressing allergy with anti-histamines and singulair may not always be a good thing. I think everyone's experience is that it's a matter of balance - you don't want to be dependent on pills if you can manage it another way, such as by diet. But you've also got to maintain a healthy diet.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Smells and savours

I was walking through town and the smell of baked potato drifted past me. Then a smell of freshly cooking pie. Wonderful!

I began thinking. I sometimes react badly to a strong smell of food, of curry or something I can no longer eat. Maybe the thing is to learn to savour the smell for itself. Maybe I could train myself to enjoy the smell without missing the food. Perhaps at meals we could encourage people to produce strongly smelling food so we can enjoy its scent whilst tucking into our bland, salicylate-free food.

It would need to be strongly smelling because half the time I cannot smell it anyway through the old nlocked blose.


Friday, October 24, 2008

At the doctor's

 I went to the GP and started telling him about the Chinese meal that kicked off the recent problems. I said I thought it was an allergic reaction.
"What did you eat that you were allergic to?"
"Most of it probably, it's hard to tell with a catered meal, with salicylates."
"What makes you think it was salicylates? How do you know?"
"That was what Dr ... said, the consultant at the hospital you sent me to."
Up come the electronic records and he finds the letter from the consultant, setting out the problem and the prescription.
"Well you'd better avoid salicylates in that case."
It is the same every visit to the GP and they are starting to stack up. They only want to give you a few minutes - yet their notes do not tell them the first thing they need to know when you walk into the room. Last time he asked how my asthma was.
I am wondering whether there is some private specialist somewhere I should go to who can provide genuine care and advice.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In praise of fish...and stilton

 I was chatting to somebody the other day and they were talking about the difference between meat markets and fish markets. The one rowdy and high adrenaline, the other calm peaceful and rational. I don't know if it's true, I've never hung around city centre meat markets, but I am feeling an advantage in eating a lot of fish. Giving up coffee left me feeling demented, the loss of that edge that helps you remember an unexpected fact. I've gone from being good at quizzes to lousy. I'm told that nicotine gives the same sort of buzz. Fish isn't quite the same - it's more a feeling of the brain working at full efficiency, to the limit of its abilities. It's bizarre but I swear there's a difference. Tonight we had lamb chop so iy maay noy ne so ....

As for stilton cheese, I knew somebody who died unexpectedly. He was incredibly fit and did not smoke. The only vice anybody could think of was a fondness for cheese. Part of the problem with plain Cheddar cheese is that you want to eat lots of it to get the taste. It may not be very healthy in large quantities. Stilton is full of taste. You can have a small slice and your mouth and your palate are sated. Much better!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Those side-effects

I've booked an appointment with the GP using the wonders of e-booking. I was surprised how few appointments were available over a seven day period. Maybe they ration them. But it meant I could book several days ahead - quite neat.

I took my first montelukast today for several days. My innards had stabilised after several days of eating fish and almost zero-salicylate food. But my skin was getting quite itchy, with clusters of red spots in several places. One of the side-effects of the pill is supposed to be gastro-intestinal problems. That surprised me because at first it seemed to help prevent these problems. Now everything seems out of kilter - take the pill and my tummy gets upset. Don't take the pill and the skin flares up. And dietary management doesn't seem enough.

The general belief is that you're supposed to desensitise against allergy. Avoid the trouble for a while and the immune reactions go away. Well this is not a proper allergy. Sometimes I tell people I have a metabolic syndrome - that's what it is, a malfunction of the metabolism.

Even worse is when you discover diseases in which the allergy gets progressively worse - and they seem too close to home. Samter's Triad is one. Then there's Churg-Strauss Syndrome. I came across it as a rare side-effect of montelukast. Except it may not be a side-effect. Equally possible is that the pill has been given to people who go on to get this disease. It starts with sinusitis and other allergies and then develops to asthma followed by various kinds of organ failure. Except that some people, such as musician Ben Watts, never actually develop asthma.

I was reading about this the other day and got quite depressed. Maybe I'll go back to anti-histamines.


Friday, October 17, 2008

The flavour of food

Woke up dreaming of the flavour of food. I've started buying stilton cheese as it is the most highly and strongly flavoured producted I seem to be able to eat. It's probably not very good for me.

I took no pills yesterday, apart from a multivitamin with iron, and had a simple diet of fish and vegetables and fruit such as cabbage, carrots, green grapes and bananas. It should be a near zero salicylate diet and a low in omega 6. There's also little flavour, not in white fish or cabbage. Bananas are sweet and flavoursome but not rich in taste.

Today my skin is not much better - perhaps it's the dark chocolate I eat, perhaps it's the after effects of drinking that strong machine "decaf" earlier in the week. I could eliminate chocolate and even decaf coffee in the drive to eliminate salicylates. The choices are not very palatable.

Tonight I fancy pasta with a sauce of tinned mackerel. That's not bad for flavour.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Unsuitable eating

 Well the Singulair (montelukast) kicked in overnight at the weekend and my skin cleared up. But the truth is I've continued to abuse my body by eating all sorts of unsuitable foods - and there's been quite a lot of eating out. There was a steak one night. When I tried to switch back to fish it came with all sorts of herbs and peppers - and frankly was still pretty tasteless. Then I went somewhere and was served a fish pie. Not too bad but quite clearly sprinkled with all sorts of stuff.

I've been taking singulair daily to try to fend off the consequences. It does protect the skin. There's a bit of toothache today which is alarming. Toothache still frightens me because it is no longer easy to get subsidised dentistry in England. A wisdom tooth removal would mean big bills. More serious are the internal consequences and singulair doesn't seem to help to stabilise this much at all. In fact my partner is insisting I go to see the doctor again - which I do not want to do. The list of singulair's side-effects, which I promised to discuss some time ago, suggests it might even aggravate these symptoms. I took an anti-histamine last night. It helped me get a deep night's sleep if nothing else.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Cashew nuts

This week I was getting bored with fish and upped my intake of omega 6. Last weekend I had a lasagne with mince and then roast lamb. Then during the week I bought a couple of packets of cashew nuts. These are theoretically the only nuts I can eat as they are zero-salicylate. I desperately fancied a change of taste. However they are rich in omega 6 which reacts with any traces of salicylate. And that must have been  the problem.

For although I think I've been eating a low-salicylate diet maybe it is not zero salicylate. Things like chocolate, decaf coffee and maybe hot chocolate probably contain traces. So by today my arms and torso are quite blistered with red spots. I took my first Singulair for ages today but it seemed to have little effect. I was travelling so I bought a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch. It was Ginsters and seemed to have quite a lot of pepper which did not help.

So back to a low omega 6 diet I think - plenty of fish and not much meat. Combining it with a low-salicylate diet seems to work best.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Train the caterers - backed

 Thanks to those who took part in my poll on catering facilities. The good news was that 90 per cent of respondents agreed that caterers need better training in providing salicylate free meals. The bad news was that only ten people took part so the numbers are not exactly overwhelming. I think we need to show more evidence of how many people are affected before taking the campaign any further. My impression from monitoring visits to this blog is that there are a lot more of you out there. If you're visiting the site, you can indicate support by clicking the stars on this posting or posting a comment.


Friday, October 03, 2008


I woke up today with eczema on my arms and my eyes failing. No obvious suspects but I hadn't taken a pill for days so I took a tablet of singulair.

Thinking it through, the prime suspect is the decaffeinated coffee that is found in some of the machines. It is very strong and comes out of sachets. In fact I had a cup this morning and my eyes blurred even more. I put on my glasses, which I very rarely use, and still could not read the small print. And the ache in my left eye that was there a couple of years ago has returned.

As for the rest, my left side is nearly better almost three weeks after the Chinese meal. There's still a slight stiffness in the hip - but I hardly notice it. I think it's the hip rather than the gut. If it's still there in a few weeks time I suppose I will have to go to the doctor.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Chocolate cake and coffee

I love chocolate cake and it's the only cake I can eat with any taste. The other day a friend made a cake which was delicious - or so I'm told. I didn't eat it because she revealed it had been made with real coffee. So we've borrowed the recipe and plan to make the same cake with decaf coffee.

Then yesterday I went to a coffee shop with some business acquaintances and ordered a slice of chocolate cake. it was dark and tasty. The meeting went well. In fact I was astonished at my retention of detail - I was almost  hyper in fact.

So that set me thinking. How many commercial chocolate cake and gateau preparations use coffee? Of course a good rule is always not to eat commercial preparations - but life is not like that. I cannot live in a bubble. Perhaps I should stick to home-made chocolate cake however.

It also sparked a second though. How much I miss caffeine. Yes, I over-indulged in it before realising the harm it caused. But it's a good brain drug and there are occasions when the brain just does not spark, those blank moments when obvious facts and phrases can't be summoned up. In fact I'm worryingly and increasingly absent-minded. I went away for a few days recently and came back without half my luggage - a coat on the train, a towel in a bathroom, that sort of thing.

I wonder whether if everything else was salicylate free and if my diet was low in omega 6, ie fish rather than meat, I could occasionally have a dose of caffeine just when I need my brain to spark...