Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas cold

It arrived suddenly on Sunday - a torrent of cold. It's my second bad cold in two years so maybe my immune system's getting better!

I've had the pleasure of drinking redbush tea all week to give the immune system a kick. It's not obviously worked. The cold has simply gone through the phases of a bad cold - a nose that doesn't stop running, a lost voice and attempts to get a cough going. Tonight it seems to be trying to get a cough and a fever going.

The tea must have been well past it's sell-by date. I soon finished the half-a-dozen sachets in the box and went out to get another one.

So has the redbush tea made things better or worse? It could have aggravated the runny nose and sore throat for all I know, like a combined cold and hay fever.

If you remember my theory from last autumn, the allergic reactions seem to give a broad response which see off most viral attacks early. If the virus gets past this, it may cause problems. You could call it a salicylate-resistant virus. Because the fine-tuned parts of the immune system don't have to deal with many viruses, they are less prepared.

I haven't helped myself by not getting enough sleep. Pre-Christmas stress. I've no plans to drink wine to see it off - as I have in the past. That's a medicine with side-effects and usually leaves me with stiff joints for weeks.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012


It arrived at the weekend. Actually the real problem is with the digestive system but I don't like to talk about that. That may be why I have not posted much in the last few weeks.

The rule of thumb is that raw food hits the mouth and throat and you can tell almost instantly if there is a problem. Big offenders are onions and pepper and they tend to crop up in plain English cooking, such as shepherd or cottage pies, or in coleslaw. Somebody served me a delicious shepherd's pie the other day, no pepper, but stuffed with onions and as a result my throat seized up and my nose ran - but it lasted no more than a few hours.

My skin is generally fine, clear as a bell. The Splodge has stayed away, even in spite of the occasional indulgence with Stilton and other blue cheeses. And there have been no rashes. That's because essentially I stick to a low-salicylate diet and mostly to a zero salicylate diet.

But if the food is processed or highly prepared it slips past the throat into the digestive system. That's happening all the time. I may take a pill if I'm having somebody else's food and I may think I get away with it. But the truth is that in spite of keeping pretty fit I've got serious inflammation around the abdomen - I'm pussy-footing around descriptions - and all that goes with it.

Well that caught up with me at the weekend when a muscle at the back of the abdomen pulled. It's taking a while to heal. There were all sorts of reasons but you cannot kid me that the state of my digestive system is not part of it


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Holiday disaster

It was two years ago that a good dose of holiday sunshine burnt the original Splodge from my chest.

So my hopes were high as we set off for holiday climes this year. Surely the resurgent branding on my chest would also burn off rapidly, I thought.

It's a little too early to say - but maybe I did not help myself. A holiday's a break. I took a montelukast every day and let myself indulge in wine and olives. The pill, the sunshine and plenty of fresh air and activity should do the trick, I thought. I try to use sensitive skin or clear sun creams or oils - there seems to be no reaction.

And indeed, while on holiday, it was terrific. No problems - except that the new Splodge faded but did not go away.

Back home? I've had to take a paracetamol tonight. I have sporadic shooting pains all over my limbs, up my left leg and arm and down my right arm. This has happened before: I get it into my head that I can drink a little wine on holiday - and I spend weeks paying for it afterwards.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I think I have an explanation for the return and growth of the splodge on my chest. Over the last few weeks I've spent some time in the company of a vegetarian. I have nothing against vegetarians. But meals tend to get produced  which appear to be chicken but are in fact made with the Qorn meat substitute.

What is Qorn? It's a fungus, like mushroom. So this tends to confirm the theory that I am reacting to fungi. Originally the dietitian said mushrooms were problematic and it depended where they were grown. I assumed this meant that if they were grown in salicylate rich compost - as most commercial mushrooms would be - they were off limits. On this basis Qorn should be okay as, according to Wikipedia, it's grown in vats, not in compost, and fed merely with glucose, vitamins and minerals. But it's obviously not okay.

Thanks to a small amount of sunshine over the weekend the splodge is fading a little and is less red and itchy. Let's hope this continues. Meanwhile I have told everyone, sorry, I won't be eating Qorn again.


Monday, July 02, 2012

Vinegar and mayonnaise

The returned Splodge is now about the size of a 2p piece. I have been trying to work out what I am doing wrong as my diet has been pretty well controlled for the last few weeks.

Two theories. One is that I have become rather casual about vinegar as though it is okay. As vinegar is merely a kind of wine, of course it is not ok. In particular I've been downing the mayonnaise liberally. You can't have coleslaw without mayonnaise and we're making our own now. I even made tuna mayo with sweetcorn the other night. I decided that mayo must be okay because it's mainly egg - but it's also got vinegar. And certainly at one point last week the speckled rash was back on my tummy.

But there's a second idea. The original Splodge was triggered by penicillin and stilton cheese (the green mould in stilton contains penicillin). So this report about fungus allergy was interesting. Is penicillin allergy actually a fungus allergy? Now our kitchen fridge doesn't seem very cold and there's been quite a bit of mould appearing. I had a slice of cheddar cheese a couple of days ago which tasted quite like stilton. Could it be mould?

Roll on the summer holidays when I might be able to burn off the Splodge. No chance in this wet, wet English weather!


Saturday, June 02, 2012


The splodge is on the way back and it looks as though I've been branded. There are two neat markings on my chest, one a half moon and the other slightly larger than a penny. The truth is they itch a little - and the itching makes me scratch. They are clearly growing.

I've not been taking penicillin or eating stilton cheese so it's a bit of a mystery.

However after several weeks of indulgence - could this possibly be the reason? - I've resolved to carry a stock of montelukast with me at all times and to take it daily. There have been weddings and banquets and business meals and all sorts of events. And frankly I've nearly given up  trying to get my special diet recognised. When I have a choice I choose fish - but the chances are it's cooked in a rich broth of herbs. And at weddings and set piece meals, you don't get a choice. The best you can do is to get the waiter to take it away and scrape off the gravy. Might as well do it myself.

At the wedding I toasted the bride and groom with champagne and nearly choked on it. I'm not convinced about shallots either - we keep a stock for cooking but I really don't like them, nor does my throat.

All this needs a pill beforehand and a pill afterwards

When we had a brief bout of hot sunshine in the UK I exposed myself  to it - but it was not enough. We are planning our summer holiday in a hot location so I'm hoping it will scorch the splodge away before it covers my whole chest again.

I hope so because I really cannot imagine going to my GP and explaining how I got an enormous rash over my chest.


Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Craving for things I can't have

I'm watching a TV programme and they've having a bit of a party with pizza and bottles of beer. I walk down the road and I smell curry in the air. I go to a meal with friends and it's at one of those places where they specialise in spicy food from around the world. We go to a medium-priced restaurant and I know the best food is served with savoury sauces or in pies. I choose battered fish. We go to a carvery and I choose beef and gammon. It may be salicylate-low but it's rich in omega-6 and triggers reactions over the next few days.

In truth if I taste something I haven't tasted for years - like orange or mango - it just tastes weird. But I am beginning to feel the chronic sensory deprivation. Smell can't make it up. Even worse I'm worried that I'm starting to substitute sweet and chocolaty food to try to appease my deprived taste-buds. I can't seem to get my weight down. It's not enormous and I'm not obviously fat - I try to keep fit - but it's creeping up.

Perhaps I should invest in more cheese and whisky - hardly the normal stuff of a weight-loss diet.


Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Melon and wine

I found myself at a meal with a set menu and no chance to give instructions to the caterers. Quite a posh meal actually.

Even worse I've run out of montelukast and haven't got round to ordering any more. There wasn't even any fish to counteract the salicylates.

And I was hungry.

So I ate some melon from the starter. Now, checking, I can't find melon on my list - I would guess moderate?

And I drank some wine, maybe about two glasses. I know it's "very high" - and you'll know I drink it occasionally and push the limits. After about two glasses, my tongue started to swell so I stopped.

The meal ended up being quite unbalanced. I ate the meat from the main course but no vegetables or potato (which was garnished0. And for dessert I had just custard.

Today my left eye is a little sore but I can't report any other long-term effects - although I'm not sure my eyesight is working properly. I guess if I tried drinking wine nightly, I'd soon start to creak again. But I'm wondering whether melon is really okay. However the truth is once you've got a taste for,  papaya melon - and mango - are rather tasteless.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Apple trees and honey bees

This is our new Golden Delicious apple tree, purchased at minimum cost from Asda.

Blossoms are already emerging and it's currently getting a reasonable amount of sunshine. I've found a slot on the lawn for it and dug it in well. We'll get a picket fence for it - but there will be no more football on the lawn.

Now I have to find a space for a second apple tree, which will be a Downton Pippin or some equally rare yellow apple. Apparently they cross-pollinate. The neighbour has a thriving apple tree so I hope they will help each other along. Must also ensure no one goes round swotting honey bees.

The aim is to cultivate the other, rare kinds of yellow apple. You need Golden Delicious to pollinate them, it seems - so we are starting here. And this way we will find if an apple tree can grow in our garden.


Friday, March 16, 2012


I dug out the last list the dietician gave me - a mere five years ago. It was meant to be more subtly graded than the earlier ones - but resulted in supposedly safe zero salicylate items such as cauliflower, papaya and golden delicious apple being ranked as "low" with items such as mango, pineapple juice, tomato, hazelnuts, peanut butter and horseradish.

I tried pineapple juice a few years ago but gave up rapidly because of the effects.

Somebody gave us a mango so I tried that today. There wasn't much substance to it. it was mainly stone. It had a tangy but insubstantial taste and an unpleasant after-taste. I definitely prefer papaya. I used to like mango juice but I think it would be a bad idea. Also pure mango juice is hard to come by.

Now to see if there are any after-effects.

I went to fetch the list off the kitchen noticeboard to write this - and found it had already come off and was starting to drift around the kitchen. Time I scanned it in - although, regrettably, in spite of the care that went into compiling it I still prefer the original lists which had a greater range of "negligible" items.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Soup update

Thanks to everyone who supplied tips for making soup.

I've had:
thick soup
thin soup
salty soup
saltless soup
fish soup
vegetable soup

Sadly the cold weather seems to have gone and I have no more appetite for soup. It's a shame because it proved to a good hunger killer.

Best soups:
an onion type soup made with leek and shallot. It made my breath bad for days but was quite tasty.
vegetable soup into which I popped a piece of frozen white fish. Not only was it tasty but it was also incredibly filling.

I liked the idea of putting a bit of pasta or rice into soup. It gave it a nice minestrone feel. But, as I suggest above, the time-honoured problem of how much salt to put in remains - especially when I tried to get others to eat it. It was always too much or too little.

Most of my soup ended up with quite a lot of soy sauce. As always, it was a challenge to make it tasty - especially when I tried to make it out of cabbage and potato.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012


It's a freezing day in the British mid-winter and I've been outside in the freeze for most of the morning. What I could really, really do with is a mug of warm soup. Of course instant soup is out of the question - it's always laden with pepper.

Does anyone have any ideas for making a quick soup? Leek and potato seems the obvious combination. Perhaps we should make it in the autumn and freeze it.

This little problem pushed me quite a long way from instant food to preparing most meals from basic ingredients. But preparing months in advance, traditional style, now that's another big leap.


Saturday, January 14, 2012


I've been meaning for a while to pull together some thoughts about sunshine- arising from the success of my summer holiday in 2010.

We went somewhere a great deal sunnier than usual - that is not in Great Britain (which is currently sunny - but is without exception overcast and wet during the "summer" holiday season). The upshot was the disappearance of the Splodge. Remember the Splodge? It ended up covering my chest with the shape of a mirror imaged Australia - and seems to have been caused by penicillin and the penicillin-like mould in Stilton cheese.

And during that summer holiday it disappeared - "burnt" off by the rays of the sun in spite of my using copious quantities of as hyposensitive sun cream I could find. At the time it felt like hot sun and plenty of fresh salt water made the difference - but maybe there's a simpler explanation.

I was talking to somebody about this - and they said: "Maybe you need to move to somewhere sunny". - like Australia?

Since then there's been plenty of evidence suggesting the benefits of vitamin D - which comes from sunlight. Only this week some European experts called for everyone to get  a daily ration of sunlight:

Here's another one, also from sunny Spain last year:

There is a lot more. I've read other reports suggesting that vitamin D may help reduce inflammation.

It all adds up. So I'm doing my best to get my 15 minutes daily exposure to the sun. Not sure we're moving to Spain yet!


Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Reflections and reactions after Christmas

I seem to be ultra-sensitive to salicylates again - and it's all my own fault. Just a little bit too much self-indulgence over Christmas.

For instance tonight I was picking the purple chocolates out of tin of Cadbury's Roses. These have a nut, surrounded by sweet toffee in a chocolate shell. No I did not eat the nut - it was easy to eat the chocolate and the toffee, remove the nut from my mouth and throw it away and nobody else in my family likes nut chocolates - so nobody would complain.

It didn't work - it was clearly too much exposure as my throat rapidly swelled up. It's been the same for days. Every small breach creates a reaction. On New Year's Eve I was at a party and was offered some mini spring rolls on the grounds they probably contained beansprouts and carrots. I wish. They contained some nasty mushed vegetable goo. On Sunday my other half pointed out I had sprouted a rash on the left side of my face. I also had jaw-ache on the left hand side. I took a montelukast last night and another one tonight.

So what does this say? I had three glasses of wine over Christmas - two on Christmas Day and one on Boxing Day - in spite of resolving not to. Reviewing the experience of previous years, it seems as though the effects of wine are long-lasting. I used up whatever tolerance I have - even with the aid of montelukast.

I wonder whether I can resist in Christmas 2012?