it’s hives, and it has nothing to do with bees

It started maybe in January or February, 2012, with just a little itchiness around my scalp, and then where my scalp ended at the hairline.  Just a little itchiness there.

That progressed to itchy spots all over the place, small ones.  Manageable.  Itch a little, scratch a bit, and — oh, whatever.  Should go away soon, right?  Now we’re into March.

I figured I was in trouble the day my friend B and I went out to a local really-good-hamburger-joint.  You order your double-burger sandwich and tell them what you want on top, and the fries are outrageously wonderful, fried in peanut oil, and one “regular” serving feeds at least two, maybe three.  Or four.  I’d been there before, loved it, and invited B to join me.

We were having a great time eating our burgers and fries, and dipping them in the ketchup.  I had all the “free” toppings — lettuce, mayo, pickle, tomato, ketchup…and noticed…my lower left lip was starting to expand.  Oddly.

B said “oh, it’s a cold sore.”  I said “it’s not a cold sore.  I don’t get cold sores.”  She said “it’s a cold sore.”  We went round and round on that for a while…I said “no, I’ve got some kind of allergy thing going on here.  This is an allergy thing.”

While we kept talking, the right side of my lip started to expand.

We decided to head to Pier One Imports and do some shopping, and while walking around there together I noticed my left upper lip started expanding.

Now, I must say:  I’ve never been allergic to anything before, with a few exceptions.  I sneeze at dust in the spring when farmers are in the field and the dust is blowing around.  When I dust furniture, I sneeze.  I stopped wearing a watch because the metal backing made my wrist itch.  Some jewelry makes me itch.  But food?  Or medicines?  Not allergic.

The lip swelling went down about 24 hours later, and meanwhile big red welts rose up all over my body, some as big as a quarter and about 1/4 inch thick.  Most were smaller — nickel- or dime-sized or smaller spots, but they all itched tremendously.

This was not normal for me.  I got on the internet and learned about the “elimination diet” and decided to start doing that, just to let my body calm down for a while.

I didn’t learn enough about the elimination diet right away, though, because about a week after the ketchup-thing (or gluten? or vinegar? or raw tomato? or what was it?) I went to a Thai restaurant, ordered very carefully, got a nice serving of salad with oil and vinegar dressing, white rice, and coconut fried chicken served with a spicy dipping sauce…loved it all…and while I was eating it, I could feel my lips expand.  Pretty sure that was the spices in the dipping sauce.

Well, that did it.  I had to take this seriously.  The itchy spots were bigger than ever, thicker than ever, redder than ever, and very persistent.  Physically I was miserable.

The rest of the blog posts will address what I did from there — and what I did was find various versions of the Elimination Diet, and I picked one — the one that seemed to resonate best for me — and sorted through my fridge, freezer, and cupboards, rearranging everything so that I could reach ONLY the “hypo-allergenic” foods — the foods that didn’t make me itch — and cook with them.  I mixed up my own version of skin cream.  I researched Neem Oil to see if that would help at all.  I checked into spiritual and metaphysical advice.  I (gasp!) stopped drinking coffee and even most teas.  I tried taking myself out to eat a few times, and have had mixed success with that.   Over the past couple of weeks, the itchiness is subsiding, and I’m just about ready to try the “challenge” phase of the elimination diet, probably in a week or so.  The “challenge” phase is where, after your body has calmed down, you start adding one possible trigger one at a time, for two days.  If you have no reaction, you keep going.  If your body reacts, you stop right away and let your body simmer down again, then try the next item on the list.

And as a side added benefit, I’ve dropped a bit of weight!  Yippee!

So, with that background info, on with the blog.


About Susan Bame

Writer, Mediator, Facilitator, Teacher, fascinated with indigenous forms of conflict resolution. I love watching people become empowered. I have a master's degree in conflict resolution and a personal interest in organic food, detoxing and healing the body, alternative holistic approaches to health, self-empowerment and win-win solutions through mediation, Structured Water™, and energetic healing. I lived on the Omaha Reservation in northeast Nebraska for ten years, worked with Native families in the area, and have a great interest in Native history, culture, practices, traditions, stories, and current affairs. View all posts by Susan Bame

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