Metal & Grass Allergy

My name is Hillary... I am a 26 year old from Alabama who is allergic to ALL metals (except possibly platinum) and grasses... I’ve lived with this for about 11 years now... I was 15 when I first started breaking out in a rash and having trouble breathing... My parents didn’t know what it was and as the weeks progressed the rashes got worse... It got to the point to where my entire body was covered in rashes and I was miserable physically and emotionally... Over the course of the next year I went to 3 dermatologists, 3 doctors, and 5 specialists until my mom got fed up and we made a trip to UAB Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, AL... There I was diagnosed with SEVERE allergy to metal (mainly nickel and copper) but because nickel and copper is in most metals I’m allergic to it all... Due to my nickel allergy chocolate, green beans, and sweet tea were having to be cut out of my diet because they contained high amounts of nickel... The sweet tea was a struggle because southerners love their sweet tea!... Once I got rid of all my jewelry, belts, foods with nickel, and covered the buttons on my jeans the rashes began to cease... My breathing troubles lingered however... After another visit to the “back scratcher” it was discovered that I was highly allergic to grass as well... So needless to say... Spring and summer aren’t my favorite seasons... The longer I’ve lived with these allergies the better it becomes... I no longer were earrings at all and I rarely wear jewelry unless it’s made of leather and pearls... I do occasionally indulge in chocolate and sweet tea but I make sure I get my medicine first... Lol... I always have at least a little rash due to the little things people don’t think about (like the hooks on your bra, or the tiny button on the side of your Jean pockets) but I’ve learned to cope!... At least now I know how to treat it and can get monthly shots to help... I know it’s frustrated when you have such life altering allergies but it could be worse!... I’m thankfully that this is all I have to deal with when there are other people suffering much worse than I!!
— Hillary, an Allergista reader

It's tough enough being allergic to one type of metal,much less multiple! It sounds like you've figured out some great ways to adjust to your new life, which is great to hear. It can take quite some time to get used to cutting so many things our of your life, but you are proof that it does get better! I wish there were more specialists out there who could test thousands of possible allergens. It's a pricey business, though.

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Hillary! Best wishes in the future - watch out for those peak grass allergy times! I like to use The Weather Channel app for their allergy forecast, btw!

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Propylene Glycol Allergy and Eating at Restaurants

First, thank you so much for this blog. I feel like I’m the only person in my 20’s that has skin this horrible. It’s nice to know I’m not alone and that people have gotten through these same breakouts that I am having. I’ve had eczema since I was born (brother and sister got asthma instead) and I finally think I’m growing out of it, about 18, when itchy oozing red bumps pop up all over... Skin biopsy revealed it is an allergy, so I went through the standard 30 patch tests thinking I would be allergic to multiple things, and turns out they were all negative. Unfortunately they did not have propylene glycol to test with, so I am going back for 75 patches in April. Meanwhile I have eliminated propylene glycol in all the products I use, but I break out every single time I go out to eat. You think I would learn, but it’s just so nice to have someone else cook and clean for you. I was wondering if you know of any safe places to eat? I contacted PF Changs about propylene glycol and they confirmed that all sauces are homemade and do not have propylene glycol. So do you know of any other places like that who make everything in house? Thank you!!
— Anonymous Allergista Reader

You are so welcome! You are definitely not alone :-)

I totally understand about wanting to go out sometimes instead of cooking. I stay on track most of the time, but every now and then, I'll give a new place a chance and cross my fingers. It doesn't always turn out well, though! When my husband and I go out to eat, we tend to stick to more upscale places - they usually cook from scratch more than your run of the mill chain would. In a pinch, I try to find an Asian place that can do something like plain steamed rice and veggies with maybe some grilled chicken or something else that's really basic. You can always order a salad and ask for olive oil and a lemon, which I often do. Since so many salad dressings contain propylene glycol, it's the safest and healthiest way to go! And if I know I'm possibly going to be in a situation like this, I'll stick a snack in my purse before I leave in case I end up eating on the light side.

Best of luck!

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Our Wedding

I am SO excited to show you guys our wedding photos!!

The sky was full of  giant puffy clouds, there was a soft but steady breeze blowing through the trees, and warm sun on our backs. It was a day full of fresh air, new beginnings, love and celebration. It was PERFECT :-)

Now you can finally see why I've been sooo busy  and unable to blog these past 8 months! We did a DIY wedding and went with an outdoor rustic bohemian style. We wanted it to feel relaxed, intimate and heartfelt. Judging by the tears in people's eyes, I think we did just that!

Our wedding was a small standing ceremony in a forest clearing with Matt's brother officiating...

He got ordained online just for us! He was funny :-) And it meant SO much to have his own brother marry us... somebody who we know and love and we will share those memories with him forever!

My bridesmaids and I walked down the aisle to Pachelbel's Canon played on classical guitar by Matt's amazing guitar student... it fit perfectly. It was Matt's idea, actually!

We read our vows which we wrote ourselves...

Exchanged rings...

And made it official!!!!!!

Our rings on top of my bouquet... Mine is white gold coated with rhodium to make extra sure I'm not exposed to any possible nickel. His is made out of black zirconium - very cool!

Then while everybody went to the second location for the reception, we took some photos of just us. This is one of my favorite parts of the day!

After our photo shoot, my handsome husband and I headed to the reception to relax and celebrate with our closest friends and family...

We did a few speeches...

And made sure to get a special dance in before the partying REALLY began ;-)

I'll forever cherish that day!! It was perfect :-)

I'll get into specifics as far as wedding planning in some future posts... like the whole process with the dress and being allergic to polyester... how I dealt with my food allergies during the reception and my hair and makeup! 

I may live with a crazy amount of allergies, eczema, lactose intolerance and vitamin d deficiency, but I was not about to let that stand in the way of having a beautiful and memorable wedding day. It took some creative thinking, but it was worth every second!!

Cheers to FOREVER! :-)


Allergies and Eczema

I have known that I have severe eczema all my life, so I have dealt with eczema flairs. I have had allergies as well. I am used to avoiding certain foods and products and asking if things contain my allergens. I switched to a new school. My new school did not allow open shoes, such as flip flops. So I mostly wore tennis shoes. In my sophomore year of high school my feet started itching really badly, I would get home and just claw my feet. My doctor put me on high doses of prednisone. My feet just would not get better. It got to the point that my feet were so infected and swollen that I could not even put on closed in shoes. My school allowed me to wear flip flops. Doing anything on my feet was unbelievably painful. I went to a dermatologist, and she did a patch test, which showed that I was severely allergic to propylene glycol. All of my makeup, soap, shampoo, lotions, etc. contained it. It had gotten to the point that my primary doctor and dermatologist were afraid I was going to lose my feet to infection. It was my Junior year of high school before my feet were able to completely heal. I am now 24 and I still have the scars on my feet. I still deal with flairs. Now I avoid propylene glycol in as much stuff as I can. I want to educate as many people as I can about the severe eczema and propylene glycol.
— anonymous Allergista reader

For about five minutes, I've been trying to figure out how to begin my response and all I can think is "WOW". You caught it right in time! This is definitely one of, if not THE most severe propylene glycol story I've heard. Bravo to your doctor for doing that patch test. Without it, you probably would have lost your feet! I can't recommend getting extensive patch testing ENOUGH (EVERYBODY, DO IT). It changed my world as well. Without it, it's scary to think what type of shape either of us would be in!

You've come out of this a stronger and more knowledgeable person and let your scars be a reminder of that. Cheers to your future and thank you for sharing your story!


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Posted on September 2, 2015 and filed under Allergies, Eczema, Share Your Story.

Pita Pata Diva: The Cutest Cotton Vintage Suits on Etsy!


Oh my gosh.... I haven't been able to get a blog post up since MARCH! That's pretty much never happened EVER. But when you get married and do a DIY wedding, this glittery smoke comes over you at the very beginning of the wedding planning process...  suddenly you emerge 8 months later, married and completely in shock that 8 months has gone by. It's cuh-razy. And awesome. But, I'll tell you more about that later!

Although summer is coming to a close, it will soon be time to plan for your winter getaways! It's starting to get juuust a little cooler here in Chicagoland... perfect time to start planning for more warm weather ;-) I'm hoping to go to Florida this winter, actually.

And while you're planning for such awesome things, I highly suggest you hop on over to Pita Pata Diva! I've actually posted about this shop before. They make THE most adorable custom vintage suits for the beach / pool. I had a whole bunch of them made for my sailing trip around St. Martin, St. Bart's and Ile Fourche:

I wore my ruffle top as a bandeau one of the days ;-)

I wore my ruffle top as a bandeau one of the days ;-)

I don't know about you, but if you're allergic to polyester like I am, it can be difficult finding suits to lounge around in the sun!

As you can see, these pieces are PERFECT for it! All I had to do was put in a request with the store owner (omg she is SO sweet) and she did 100% cotton linings for me in EVERYTHING.

These are all the pieces I got. I chose tops and bottoms I could mix and match so I have LOTS of options. Pardon the wrinkles!

Look at the adorable heart shaped stitches!

Look at the adorable heart shaped stitches!

I love how the lining is a different print, but still goes along with the colors!

I love how the lining is a different print, but still goes along with the colors!

Aren't they beyond cute? I love 'em. I am definitely going to bring a couple of these down to Florida with me this winter!

So, head on over to Pita Pata Diva's shop now! You can also follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

Tell them I sent ya ;-) And don't be afraid to ask the store owner questions! She has been above and beyond helpful to me.