Navigating Changes in Allergies
Last updated: April 2023
In 2014, my life changed completely and turned upside down. I began what is known as TSW (topical steroid withdrawal). This is a syndrome that happens when the body gets addicted to topical steroid creams used for skin conditions such as eczema, and we then have to go through the process of a gruesome withdrawal process from them.
The impact of topical steroid withdrawal on allergies
TSW caused me to be bedridden for 6 years and completely reliant on others for my care. Most of that time, I couldn't walk, eat, or dress independently. I was in pain 24/7; honestly, I didn't know if I'd survive it.
Seasonal allergies improved
While dealing with the plethora of different TSW symptoms, my immune system continued to change throughout the process. During this time, my allergies were constantly in flux, making them more difficult to manage.
In some cases, such as with my seasonal allergies, they actually got better over the years. While healing my skin and body from the inside out, the symptoms of seasonal allergies also got less severe and more manageable. This was, thankfully, one of the silver linings of this whole ordeal.
New allergies developed
On the other hand, I also gained some new allergies I had never experienced before. When I decided to start my first job while going through TSW, I picked up a part-time job working as a server at a local pub. During my shift, I got exposed to a new allergen: hazelnuts.
Determining the cause of anaphylaxis
I had my first anaphylactic reaction during my shift at work and found myself in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. After reviewing what I had eaten and consumed before the severe allergic reaction, hazelnut seemed to be the culprit.
Allergic to nuts
Of course, then, I was advised by the doctor to avoid all nuts. And just like that, I had a new allergy to worry about and now had to carry an EpiPen too.
Having such a serious allergy is something I had never experienced or had to deal with prior, so it shocked me. I had to learn to navigate a world of avoiding all nuts and ensure I always had an EpiPen on me in case of accidental exposure.
This brought on more food anxiety for me and, well, anxiety in general. I had to learn to become better at reading food labels and ingredients and deciphering them.
Navigating my "new normal" and other changes
I felt like I was navigating a minefield. While I adjusted to my "new normal" reasonably quickly, it's still a struggle today.
As I am still in topical steroid withdrawal and dealing with eczema, I often wonder if I have developed or will develop another new allergy. This is a source of significant anxiety for me daily. And while I'm grateful there have been some silver linings on this journey, there's undoubtedly been some hurdles.
Our bodies constantly change, and I've learned it's important to always listen to them and keep up with our self-care, including monitoring for any new triggers. As I've learned on this journey, you can never be too careful. And you never know what life might throw your way next.
How often do you connect with others who have food allergies?