Learning to Adapt

Some of us are better at adapting than others. I can adapt to weather changes, changing my furniture around, even moving 1900 miles from where I grew up wasn’t hard. But changing the way I eat? That’s a different story.

It began soon after my brain injury. Within one month, I visited the emergency room twice and urgent care once (or maybe it was the other way around, and maybe it was more – this is where my brain gets confused). It seems I had acquired chemical allergies and a whole host of food allergies, which were revealed to me later by my doctor.

Allergies, along with all kinds of bizarre symptoms, can appear after brain trauma, though it’s hard to say if they are lurking in the system, and the injury causes them to come out, or if they are the direct result of the brain injury. (www.holisticprimarycare.net) In any case, I had a new list of items I could no longer eat.

I’d long been allergic to dairy, and avoided it best I could. When I was given this new list, I listened to my doctor, and stayed away like a good girl. But I am human, and a girl, and I have cravings. Like yeast. And sugar. I wanted French bread, and I wanted the sugary cupcakes at the birthday parties we attended. It wasn’t long before I gave in. Nothing major happened when I ate sugar and yeast, just a few little patches of red skin, and an irritated throat. Warning signals I chose to ignore.

Do you know what happens when you don’t listen to your body? It rebels. Within time, I developed a host of symptoms: hives, dark circles under my eyes (known as allergy ‘shiners’), nasal congestion, joint pain, muscle aches, and wheezing. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? As bad as those symptoms were, it could have been worse. Allergies can also cause fibromyalgia, asthma, headaches, and fatigue, and of course, anaphylactic shock.(www.recipe4wellness.com)

Over a month ago, I went back to the doctor, and I am happy to report, I am the proud owner of a beautiful list of 31 foods I can no longer eat.

It’s hard to say exactly why my list grew. Some professionals say that allergies increase due to malabsorption problems, some claim IBS or leaky gut. But in my research, what I discovered is this, new allergens are sometimes born when we ignore the ones we have.

I didn’t listen to my body. I refused to adapt.

Adapting isn’t always easy, and not always fun. But when it comes to health, it is a true necessity. Our lives depend on our ability, and our willingness, to adapt.

If you think you have allergies, I strongly encourage you to see a doctor. Your body will thank you for it.

Here are a few facts about food allergies:

1. Allergies can get worse, or change, over time. What may appear as a ‘shiner’ one time can turn up as nasal congestion the next time, or worse. Never count on a food allergy reacting the same way twice. http://www.allergy-clinic.co.uk

2. 80% of the immune system surrounds the digestive system. Your body sees food coming in, and says, “Is that safe?” When you are allergic to a food, your body becomes more sensitive, and sometimes more allergic. www.olsonnd.com

3. Getting rid of food allergies could have helped me better fight my environmental allergies. I suffered this winter and early spring with outdoor allergies. They may have been less severe if I’d been eliminating the foods on my ‘don’t eat’ list. www.olsonnd.com

4. Some people are ‘atopic,’ meaning they have a tendency to develop allergies. (I was already allergic to dairy and dust mites before the other allergies occurred.) www.nhs.uk

5. If you are allergic to one food, you may react to other foods with a similar structure. This is known as cross-reactivity. (I was allergic to cranberries, and now I am allergic to blueberries, part of the cranberry family.)

6. There is no scientific evidence, but there are claims that if we don’t rotate our foods often enough, we can become allergic to them. Being a daily chocoholic, and a constant consumer of bell peppers, I can testify there may be some truth to that (as I can no longer eat either).

What it comes down to is this, I should have adapted the first time around. Now I am paying the price. We can adapt to anything, if we want it bad enough. I want my health. This time, I’m determined to follow my allergy list. I really don’t want a longer one.

I guess the good news is this, I learned a few things, and in turn, I hope I can help you.

This is what I’ve learned:

*Health is important. Yeah, I already knew that. But when it’s taken away, you realize how good you had it.

*I’m lucky (most of) my allergies aren’t super-severe. And if I stay away from my allergens, I can’t give them the chance to morph into a life-threatening monster.

*Allergies do affect the body. In one weeks’ time, after eliminating my allergens, my aching, tight muscles are limber, my wheezing has improved, and I have more energy.

A tough way to learn lessons. A tough way to learn to adapt.

**I am not a medical professional. If you have any medical concerns, or think you have allergies, please see a doctor.

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5 thoughts on “Learning to Adapt”

  1. I hadn’t heard of the association between brain injury and food allergies, but it makes sense. Having deliberating digestive problems myself, I can relate your list of 31 foods you can’t eat. My list is much shorter – it’s the food I CAN eat. LOL.

    1. Karen, I guess the brain is capable of anything. It has a mind of it’s own. (ha, ha). Sorry about your food list. I also deal with colitis, so I completely understand what it’s like to eliminate foods due to digestive problems. I’ve read there are ways of eliminating allergies and ridding the body of digestive issues. I’m working on it. We shall see what happens. Best to you! I’d love to hear about your journey.

      1. BTW Vicki, I meant to type “debilitating” digestive problems (Damn autocorrect. lol) Thanks for your interest in my journey! I can be brief with some links: My interest in brain injury is due to my son’s longstanding problems caused by a childhood brain tumor. I have a memoir in progress. http://www.thewellnestedlife.com/blog/as-your-child-is-carted-away-to-be-cut-into-a-scene-from-my-memoir My personal gut stuff includes IBS – not as serious as colitis, but after 40 years, it’s done some damage: https://themighty.com/2017/04/finding-the-humor-in-irritable-bowel-syndrome/ The diet that works for me is The Fast Tract diet – no grains at all! No sugar, no starch! But I still get coffee and wine, so I can’t complain. I’ll have another post on The Mighty soon about one of my rectal defects. I’m getting surgery on May 19, so wish me luck! Best to you as well!

        1. Thank you for sharing this with me, Karen. You have had quite a journey, and I’m anxious to read about all of it. Your son has gone through a lot as well. It’s amazing how much our bodies have to deal with sometimes. From what I’ve read about IBS, it can cause problems down the road, much like colitis. Non-absorption of vitamins and minerals over time – never good. But I agree with you, no grains, sugar, starch, and I have to limit the amount of beans I eat. I guess the good news is this, we eat healthy, whole foods, and maybe we are better off because of that (and maybe we appreciate it more too). And, oh, I still have wine, too (and lots of tea). Best to you! I’ll be thinking of you as your surgery approaches.

Would love to hear your thoughts.