Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Acupuncture and treacle pudding

 Here's an interesting idea - a treatment for hay fever based on acupuncture, in fact a wrist band that operates on acupressure points on the elbow. I have no idea if it works or not. I'm just wondering whether it would work with salicylate-caused hay fever, otherwise known as non-allergenic chronic rhinitis. The sellers claim it would relieve symptoms...I wonder. I also wonder what it would do to the skin symptoms on my elbow. I'm tempted to try.

Meanwhile I'm increasingly bothered by the wart that grew beneath my left eye last year. It itches - I wonder if it's a polyp. I really cannot face the thought of going back to the GP and trying to explain about Samter's Triad. Perhaps a High Street mole clinic? (that's a clinic for skin inspection, not small furry animals).

I took a montelukast yesterday as the weekend skin problems did not disappear. Indeed they may be linked to the irritation on my face. They're still around despite a fairly abstemious diet.

Ah, except I had a pub lunch today and could not face another treacle pudding and custard. So I opted for a chocolate pudding with vanilla ice-cream. It really seems as if my tolerance levels have decreased - when at Christmas they seemed very high. I wonder if it's related to late-winter stress?


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Some rash moves

 Today there are red spider-mite rashes across my arms and my belly. It's not just the pepper in the bread on Friday.

I went out for a meal on Friday night, to a carvery where you can pick and choose. I even abstained from chocolate pudding and instead chose treacle pudding and custard, which is pure carbohydrate and was pretty unpalatable.

Then yesterday I was offered a slice of chocolate gateau, which I consumed with pleasure. Then to round off a lovely spring day I indulged in Scotch whisky in the evening. I keep kidding myself that because the diet sheet says whisky is okay, Scotch is okay. That's a rash move. Sadly the better the Scotch, the more time it has spent in oak caskets and the worse it is. And of course people give me nice whiskies for presents so I have a large stock of 5cl Scotch and Irish malt whisky bottles. Luckily somebody donated a large bottle of Jack Daniels later - but too late to save the weekend.

Just as worrying, my eyesight has gone downhill badly over the last few days. At one point today there was real pain behind the left eye and it is still quite sore. I can barely read with my glasses and am squinting to see some things in the distance. Is this temporary or do I need to see the optician?


Friday, March 27, 2009

Bread and pepper

 A week or two ago I mentioned a problem I had with a regular working lunch I go to where sandwiches are provided. The organisers have gone to great lengths to provide me with salicylate free sandwiches and yet they always seem to cause problems.

Today I think I tracked down  the problem.. They provided me a plate of sandwiches made of plain cheese and lettuce. I cheated a little as I borrowed a smoked salmon sandwich that was not meant to me. It did not seem to be a problem. Yet as I ate the cheese sandwiches it felt like they were laced with pepper. My mouth stang, my throat swelled and my eyes watered. Then I realised where the pepper was - in the bread.

It was granary bread and clearly it had more than grain in it. So I'll have to ask for white bread in future.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Roast chicken

How to roast a chicken:

  • stuff with sliced leek and a little bit of water - as much leek as you can fit
  • wrap in tin foil
  • baste with soy sauce
  • about an hour before finish, drain off the juice, which makes a delicious gravy
  • pull away the tin foil to allow the chicken to brown.
  • cook for a further hour.

You get a delicious, juicy salicylate free roast chicken and a jug of salicylate free gravy. You also have some roast leek amongst your vegetables.


Iced pineapple

I woke up this morning, craving a glass of pineapple juice and ice.

Impossible, of course.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Chocolate and ears

I don't know what happened yesterday. By the afternoon my left ear had gone deaf and sound was echoing painfully in my head through the other ear. I took a singulair in the early afternoon but it failed to calm things down and by the evening there was a rash all over my skin, itching and bright red spots all over. And I was sniffing away. Then it had gone.

It was aggravated when a vanguard of spring ants found their way into my house and started crawling over me. Did one of them bite me? It felt like it but then it could just be hives.

I took an anti-histamine before going to bed and that seems to have calmed things down today. My ears are almost back to normal. My skin is not quite clear.

The odd thing is that I had not consumed anything dodgy yesterday. There was a new batch of bananas, possibly.

However earlier in the week somebody put some bars of cheap, plain chocolate into the shopping. I had given up eating lots of chocolate even though I used to like to munch it to help me work. So I could not resist the tempation. On top of that I had several glasses of white wine as planned at the event on Saturday. So maybe there was a pile-up of salicylate. So now there'll be no wine and no chocolate for a while.


Saturday, March 14, 2009


...and the effects of a major breach linger on.

Last night as I went to bed I realised I had become itchy all over. There were great red blotches on my armpits, the back of my knees was sore and my tummy was also starting to come out in a rash.

Today my arm-pits are still blotchy. I have taken another singulair - especially as I am going to a barbecue. I can see I will be back for a repeat prescription quite soon.

It seems to have been triggered by a very small glass of Irish whisky. Sadly I have stocks of Irish and Scotch whisky that people have given me and I really should not touch.

The arrival of glorious early spring weather and warm conditions may not be helping also.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Coffee "poisoning"

I don't know for sure that the cappucino I had in the airport on Wednesday was caffeinated but I'm assuming it was.

This is what happened:
I stayed wide-awake during the flight- despite being desperately short of sleep. I took some very nice photos.
I had a nap when I got home to catch up - that worked.
By late Wednesday night my head was swimming and I felt like I was about to faint. I took a singulair just in case.
Yesterday, Thursday, I woke up with tooth-ache. The irritation caused by a bit of food stuck between my teeth appeared to have become a raging inflammation of the gums and I spent some time thinking maybe it was time to see a dentist.
My left eye also became sore and I was struggling to read anything.
Although I had a good solid night's sleep, by early Thursday afternoon I was struggling to keep my eyes open.
Then during the evening the toothache subsided. Today my gums are fine and my eyes are fine.

I think that was the effects of caffeine.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Private doctors

I've begun a search for a private GP, using the ubiquitous Google. The results are disappointing, if not disturbing.

There are private GP surgeries that claim to specialise in allergies. However it seems they are mainly interested in offering testing. That's not what I need. For a start there is no simple test for salicylate hypersensitivity (apart from Imperial Leather - but that's not an official test) .

What I need and I suspect many sufferers from allergy is someone to talk to. I want to know what level of symptoms I should put up with. Should I tolerate a chronic stuffy nose or will it inevitably lead to Samter's Triad, nose polyps and asthma? I want to know which minor symptoms are related to the allergy, which are just life and growing older and which are something else entirely.

My NHS GPs acted entirely correctly when symptoms first appeared. They gave me an epipen, advised me to take anti-histamines and referred me to a specialist. The specialist was very busy but made sure I was referred to an expert dietician. That's pretty good for a free service.

The GPs have also been helpful in obtaining Singulair. What they are no good at is linking the condition to those day to day ailments - to the generation of ear wax, to that chronic stuffy nose and occasional sporadic incidents of toothache and sore eye. Now, I know the British government envisages a GP system which may become a little more like other countries, where you have primary care specialists. So you would be able to find primary care allergy specialists on the NHS and the few hospital-based consultants would not be so overloaded. But it's not happening any time soon.

And it seems the private sector is not really much more advanced than the NHS.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Flying and decaf

I took my first flight in nine years today. The plane was tiny and propeller driven - I did not even know propeller planes were still used for commercial flights

There are several reasons why I don't fly much. One is that overseas holidays would be no pleasure as I cannot enjoy local food.

I don't have fear of flying even though I do have fear of heights. No bungee jumping or abseiling for me.

I was strapped into the plane when I realised I should worry about my ears. No problem. I breathed deeply during descent and ascent and suffered few problems.

Then there was the coffee. At the first airport, in the departure lounge, one coffee bar could not offer decaf - but a second could. It was not available on the plane -that's very disappointing. At the second airport a colleague bought me a coffee. I'm not sure if he asked clearly for decaf as I think the cappucino was caffeinated. Difficult to say as I had been unable to get any kind of coffee all day. Certainly there was some swelling of the tongue and hoarseness in my throat. Not a good idea during flying but it probably helped enhance my enjoyment of the flight. Some brilliant views of cloud archipelagoes floating across the mountains of the north.

I'm still trying to formulate that poll about decaf coffee. I don't think you could require airlines to carry it - but it would be good customer service.


Sunday, March 08, 2009

No decaf!

 I was at a motorway service station today and asked at the coffee bar for a decaf coffee. This was about 3pm. I was told they had just used the last sachet. I went to a second bar in the same station owned by the same chain. They too had run out of decaf coffee.


(If you are not British, a motorway service station is government let-contract to provide rest and refreshment facilities on the freeway/autobahn/motorway network. They tend to be spaced about 30 miles apart.)

I feel a poll coming up: should the British government require motorway service stations to provide decaffeinated coffee?


Thursday, March 05, 2009

Scrap charges!

 I'm with the British Medical Association tonight! The BMA wants all charges for NHS prescriptions to be scrapped. Hear, hear! Apparently I'm one of just 11 per cent of English patients who have to pay for their pills - and noone in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland pays. My crime? I have the wrong illness and I work for a living.

My pills this week cost me £7.10, that's £7.10 for 28 Singulairs. I also paid another £4 or so for a packet of one-a-day anti-histamines off the counter.

As it happens I don't pay out too much for medicines at the moment. The Singulairs, I hope, will last several months. But imagine if I was taking one-a-day.

And early on the consultant got the GP to prescribe me an anti-histamine called levocetrizine because we were bothered that the pills were affecting my concentration. I haven't asked for it since - maybe I should as I really have to ration the use of anti-histamines - the one-a-days may be non-drowsy but they sure make me sleep deep.

Sadly the British government seems to have turned a deaf ear to the BMA and has instead slapped an extra 10p on the charges from April 1.


Monday, March 02, 2009


 The itching on my legs was something to worry about. Over the weekend I discovered that the rash was all over my legs. I think I'm going to call it a spider-mite rash. I remember the consultant finding it unusual - clusters of small red spots. This means it's no longer concentrated on my tummy.

Thankfully today I have obtained my repeat prescription of montelukast so I am about to take a pill. They usually clear the skin. Also picked up some more one-a-day antihistamine from the chemist although I shall not be rushing to use them. I feel as if I spent most of the weekend sleeping from the effects of the pill I took on Friday. Perhaps I should not have drunk a glass of whisky on Friday night.