I might leave this entry public just in case anyone out there who doesn't know me might want to read it as well.
How it started:
My mom's side of the family has a history of allergies. As I grew up I developed asthma, hayfever and eczema, all of which are allergy-triggered and basically permanent; no cures exist, only drugs to control the symptoms. So I still suffer from all of these. (An allergy specialist has even said to me: "Wow, you're a really allergic person, aren't you?")
So my sister was watching TV one day and she saw a news feature on Billie Goat Soap, a brand of goat's milk soap that was supposedly clearing up people's eczema regardless of the severity. The testimonials for this product all over the Internet were glowing. So for my birthday she bought me a Billie Goat gift set with several bars of soap, moisturizers etc.
The first few times I used one of the bars of soap, it didn't really yield any visible results, but I thought that it might be because it took time and I needed to be patient. And then I used the moisturizer, and I broke out in hives that were extremely, EXTREMELY itchy like you can't imagine, but it subsided fairly quickly (in maybe about an hour). It was my first experience ever with hives in 20+ years - I'd never had them before.
I didn't know it was the moisturizer that caused it at the time, so I used it again on my back, and hives instantly broke out all over my back, hence making it pretty clear as the cause. I went straight to the hospital, where they gave me Phenergan (an antihistamine / anti-allergy tablets) to take right there. I decided not to use Billie Goat products anymore, and thought that was the end of that.
But I ended up developing a cheese allergy.
I wasn't previously allergic to cheese at all. I also found it to be really strange because what brought this on was a goat's milk-based skin product, and I don't eat goat's milk cheese, only cow's milk cheese. Also note that I was only allergic to cheese, not dairy products - I was still able to drink milk and eat yogurt & ice cream just fine. Numerous people have suggested that my body was reacting to the germ in the cheese, and I suppose they must be right.
The development of incidents, starting with an all-wonderful anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction that can end in death):
- I was eating pizza with friends in a shopping mall when I suddenly got a severe allergic reaction out of the blue. It started with my whole body breaking out in hives, but then my heart was beating really fast, my entire face went swollen and numb, and I lost most of my vision and hearing. My friends called an ambulance for me right away. The paramedics gave me more Phenergan which alleviated the symptoms (I started getting my vision and hearing back while on the ambulance), but I stayed at the hospital for half the night nonetheless.
- I was eating out with friends at a shopping mall again and I ordered a Caesar Salad. After the above incident, my mind didn't connect the dots because I've never heard of anyone being allergic to cheese before, so I was stupid and thought it was the chicken on the pizza (to my memory there was nothing else on the pizza but the chicken and cheese) that caused the anaphylaxis. So I asked for no chicken on the salad, but it still came with shredded cheese. I broke out in hives right there in the food court and had to run to the nearest pharmacy to buy more Phenergan.
- Suspecting it was cheese that was causing my allergic reactions, I got a referral for an appointment with a specialist. Blood samples were taken and several tests confirmed that I was indeed allergic to cheese.
- Eating out with friends again and avoiding all cheese products at any cost, I ordered an iced chocolate. Once again, I broke out in hives (I kept Phenergan ready in my wallet at all times at this stage though) and had to go home right away. This was an isolated case because, as I mentioned before, I was fine drinking milk and eating other dairy products like yogurt and ice cream during the time of all these incidents, so I suspected there might have been some traces of the cheese germ(?) in the milk or ice cream used.
Once again I have to state that before these incidents I wasn't allergic to cheese. I just somehow developed it.
"Allergy training": how I dealt with it
(PLEASE NOTE THAT TRYING ANY OF THESE WITHOUT MEDICAL ADVICE IS DANGEROUS. ONE SMALL MISTAKE CAN EASILY END IN DEATH. PLEASE CONSULT A DOCTOR OR SPECIALIST FIRST)
For a good 1-2 years I just avoided all cheese products altogether. And then one day I came across this interesting article about a form of "training" where an allergic person would be injected with the allergen in controlled doses by a doctor or specialist, with a slow and gradual increase in dosage, until the person in question built up a resistance to the allergen.
Additionally, I also heard an interesting story from someone (it might've been Silver actually) about a friend of hers who was allergic to prawns. He went out to an all-you-can-eat and basically stuffed his face with lots and lots and LOTS of prawns, despite being allergic. He got incredibly sick from it, but apparently after he recovered he wasn't allergic to prawns anymore - the allergy was gone.
These two stories together made me realize that exposure to the allergen could potentially "cure" you of the allergy. I obviously wasn't going to try the second one because of the dangers involved, but I did speak to my doctor about trying the first one at home - I didn't need to be injected with cheese since, you know, I could just eat it.
So I started with a very tiny piece of cheese, a square block 0.5cm x 0.5cm x 0.5cm. I ate one of these blocks every day for about a week. After that I went with a slightly bigger block - about 1cm x 1cm x 1cm in size. Each week, I increased the size of the blocks by just a tiny bit, not too much. And I always had Phenergan ready in case anything went awry (but thankfully I never had to use it while I underwent the "training").
And a few months later, I'm back to eating cheese, although I do keep a cap on it and always try to limit myself from eating too much of it at any one time. Thankfully, no hives or other allergic symptoms from what I can see.
This whole thing has been kind of strange - again, allergies suddenly developing in adults (that you didn't have while growing up) is apparently not so common, and to add to it I was able to get over said allergy too - but the cheese allergy might have suddenly developed because I'm a really allergic person to begin with. Still doesn't explain the connection to the goat's milk soap though, although I know there must be one (cheese must have something in common to either something in the goat milk or whatever is used to cure the soap / develop the moisturizer).
Anyway, I'm just glad I've gone back to being able to eat cheese now since I love it so much haha. Pizzas, lasagnas, you name it, I can go back to enjoying it. And I'm pretty grateful for my life right now.
If you have any relevant stories, experiences of your own or any thoughts/comments please feel free to comment here as I would love for you to share them with me. Thanks for reading.