Saturday, 12 November 2011

What Idiopathic Anaphylaxis Has Taught Me

1. Change

Since I have had this condition, change has been a constant companion. I have had to change my lifestyle, the way I think, my attitude and my beliefs.

With this condition, change is very constant for me. One day I am at the top of the world. And the next three months I can be in the valley of death. And by allowing myself to adapt and in being more open to these sudden changes, I am more prepared and am able to maneuver and go with the flow of this Idiopathic Anaphylaxis river.

2. Endurance

I never knew that I had so much stamina to fight in me. I mean, I did not know that I could endure such a difficult journey and yet still have much endurance to continue on this fight. There were many times during the early months that the fatigue was so great that I felt like Frodo when he finally succumbed to the power of the Ring. Many times I had succumbed to depression and exhaustion to the point of being at the brink of giving up the fight. I felt like throwing in the towel. Times like when every single smell, aroma, fragrance or even food that were salicylate-free seem to set off the anaphylaxis alarm.

3. Patience

In all of my years as a human being, patience was never a part of my personality, what more my vocabulary. And after being struck and having to live with this medical condition, it was a painful journey where patience was concerned. I had to learn patience from scratch. I had to be patient when I wanted to go out so much but could not because I was too drugged up, when I was reacting to every single thing or when I was just too exhausted from bouts of almost-anaphylaxis attacks.

I had to learn to be patient where my appetite was concerned. I had so many picas and SEVERE food cravings that I could chew on my own knuckles. Many times during the night in my ‘odourless’ room, I would smell pizza, curry prawn mee, or even fried kuay teow when there wasn’t even a smell in the room to begin with. And it used to drive me insane having all these cravings like a pregnant woman and yet being unable to satisfy the need. It is a good thing that I was born with the ‘strong will’ character. I don’t think I would have lasted if I did not have an iron will. Iron will and patience have pulled me through many times.

I had to learn patience in the area of wanting to do the things that I felt like doing but could not do so. It is akin to a leopard hiding, and waiting for the right time to strike its victim. Being impatient and striking at the wrong time would cost the leopard its meal. And I am that leopard, waiting patiently for my time to ‘strike’ the Idiopathic Anaphylaxis in its head and to have my hearty meal as a reward!

4.  Perseverance

Perseverance is steadfastness in living my life to its fullest, despite of the difficulty or delay in achieving a breakthrough. And I am still persevering on for a breakthrough. And I am persistent in obtaining a breakthrough where my health is concerned. I have had a long period of remission, and I do not believe that I would not have it again.

5. The Ability to Adapt/Think at the Speed of Lightning

There was a time where I was cooking a pasta bake dish for the guys and I felt an attack coming as a result of the smell of the mozzarella cheese that was baking in the oven. I wore a mask and I could still smell it. I ended up wearing THREE masks on top of each other and when I was done baking, I went into the outer kitchen to eat and then hid in my bedroom until the smell was cleared from the house. If I had not done so, I would have had another attack.

6. Learn to Accept Setbacks and to Make the Best Of It

I have learned that if Plan A does not work, then Plan B will have to take place. There was once where we could finally go for a short trip to the beach. The day before the trip, I had a near anaphylaxis attack which left me drained, terribly sick, so drugged-up that I could not even remember what I did for the last five minutes. And we had to postpone the trip at the last minute and pushed it to the following week and changed all of our plans.

7. Being Grateful and Thankful

I know that I am not the worst case scenario though the doctors I have seen have not come across anyone who are worse off than me. But there are worst case scenarios than me. Though there is nothing to be joyful about the other people who are in a condition that is worse than mine, I am grateful and thankful that I am at this place in my life. I am grateful that at least I can still eat the food that I am able to eat. I can still drive. I can garden. I can make music. And I have my family and friends’ continuous support and encouragement. And I am alive!

8. I Learned New Skills

Because of this medical condition, I have had to learn how to cook and make food in a new way, how to bake (I did not bake a single thing before this!), how to grow and maintain a mini organic garden to feed our tummies (I did not garden before this!), and how to live a chemical-free life though I am constantly facing chemicals in my everyday life (I did not live a chemical-free life before this).

And by learning these new skills, it has improved even my family’s living condition. It has definitely given me a miracle where my hair is concerned. My scalp was very unhealthy. And my hair was so sickly, yellow and dropping in clumps that my hairdresser kept on pestering me to do hair treatments to save it. I think it was after one year after the salicylate-free and chemical-free diet that she asked me whether I had dyed my hair or I had gone for a hair treatment. I myself did not even realize that my hair had turned pitch black. Today it is shiny, my scalp is healthy and there isn’t any white hair!! Thanks to the ‘strict and limited chemical and salicylate free diet’. I guess we win some, we lose some!

9. The Meaning of Life

Life is being contented with what we have. Life is having peace in our hearts. Life is us, being alive on the insides and not just by living with a beating heart, a pair of breathing lungs and a ‘functioning’ brain!

Life is what we can take with us in our hearts wherever we go and whatever we do. Life is about living to our fullest even with our setbacks and imperfect conditions. L.I.F.E is Living In Faith Everyday! L.I.F.E is Living In Fullness Everyday. L.I.F.E is DEFINITELY NOT Living In Fear Everyday.

10. You Will Know Who Your ‘True Friends’ Are


  1. Very well written & how true it is. I'm so very very proud of u. Strong woman, Wonder woman, Superwoman....there is no words that could describe your super duper strength or strong will :)

  2. @Tammie: Thanks Tammie. Not superwoman, or wonder woman. Just a woman trying her best to stay alive and healthy!

  3. Woman Of Steel.......Remember?