No more Banana Bread…

One of my favorite treats is eating some delicious banana bread at a country café.  My favorite type is oozing with ripe bananas, some walnuts and cinnamon.  This is now a beloved memory after I finally went for allergy testing.  I thought, like my mum, I might have a protein allergy.  Chocolate, eggs and cream gave her fantastic welts on her forehead – often spelling Mars Bar.  She would swear blind that she hadn’t had chocolate but I always knew.  Finally, she would break down after my interrogation, laughing hysterically.  One little cousin had allergies to almost everything but has grown out of some of them.  Over two years ago, on the advice of a good medical friend, I stopped eating gluten.  It was difficult but I now have a very healthy diet full of walnuts (allergic), bananas (allergic), cinnamon (allergic).  My friend was correct and I am also allergic to wheat, yeast, peaches, cashews, almond and mustard.  Who the heck is allergic to bananas??  I can’t bear the smell or texture of seafood but am allergic to nothing (unless it has a mustard sauce…)

My diet is mostly vegetarian but I have no allergy to milk or meats.  On a side note, I received a note from Ancestry DNA to say my profile had changed again.  To my surprise, I am 3% Basque, which might explain my lack of Spanish DNA.  The Basque people are ethnically unique from their neighbors, France and Spain.  They come from a very ancient group of Europeans and have more Neanderthal DNA than most (as do I).  Many years ago, on a trip to Madrid, I looked with trepidation at all the Basque terrorists on the “Most Wanted” posters, hoping that the customs officer wouldn’t notice they looked like my siblings. Perhaps I should embrace my hunter/gatherer origins and just eat the squirrels in the garden?  Luckily, I am not Epi-pen allergic but should avoid certain foods or start the allergy shots.

I was quite overwhelmed by the lovely comments on my post The Biopsy, and I am happy to say that my tardy results finally came through.  Nora, the thyroid nodule, is not malignant.   Dear reader, you may wonder why I am having so many health issues right now.  My recent Covid infection provoked some of the doctor visits but I am also trying to catch up on yearly tests that I avoided during the pandemic and before our ‘good’ insurance stops soon.  My husband retired two years before he could claim Medicare (next May) so we have taken advantage of his last work insurance.  COBRA is a US scheme that allows you to continue your last work insurance for 18 months, at your own cost. 

Recently, I saw a new doctor at our practice, and it was just to ask for a referral to physiotherapy.  She thought that perhaps my incessant coughing during Covid triggered my cervical pain and numbness again.  She said, “I see you have spinal stenosis”.  “I do?” responded Kerry, having completely forgotten about that diagnosis.  When we lived in Scotland, I became a minor celebrity at our local orthopedic hospital because of my strange spinal problems.  It’s likely congenital and what a gift my relatives have given me!  Mental illness, high cholesterol, dodgy spine, allergies and Lord knows what else.  They also gifted me great skin, good legs and an amazing sense of humor.  You take the good with the bad…  That doctor suggested allergy testing after I expressed some frustration that I ate more fiber than a heifer but still have digestive issues.

My Glorious Live Oak

When I was being poked by the allergy nurse, she asked if I would like environmental testing also.  “Why not?” said I.  This one was less fun – I could feel one prick throbbing almost immediately.  Bottom line; I should not live in a humid forest.  I am most allergic to OAK – you can see the beautiful live oak outside our house, above.  Then there are three water oaks behind my house.  Few of our neighbors have oaks.  When I came home, I pointed at Miss Live Oak and whispered, “YOU!!!”  Don’t worry I will cuddle her next week, perhaps with a mask on.  Almost all the molds were ticked – who knew there were that many??

Teddy and I were talking about getting a horse and wagon, given the gas prices, but we will have to switch to an Ox.  I am allergic to horses but not cattle.  I don’t think the neighbors would mind a lovely Ox on our shared pasture…  On a creepy note, I am allergic to COCKROACHES (and dust mites)!!  Our trusty bug guy came out last week because the cockroaches were getting out of control.  As soon as he left, dying cockroaches were crawling up walls and making me ALLERGIC!!!  There is very little dust in my house because I have OCD – et Voila, another silver lining.  I will now take bareback horse riding off my bucket list.

Walnut, Sycamore, Sweet Gum, Cottonwood and Cedar trees are on the list.  Ragweed, Russian Thistle (Que?), Sagebrush and Marsh Elder also make me itch.  Maybe Greenland might be a good place for me to live or just stay in the house as I currently do.  I am seriously considering the allergy shots because I would like to enjoy my beautiful environment more.  On a funny final note, Teddy and I were herding ducks across the four-lane road at the end of our cul-de-sac.  Our beloved Muscovy ducks at the pond have decided to visit all their friends in our street.  I stood in the middle stopping the traffic and Teddy hopelessly tried to herd them across to the pond.  At a street birthday party this week, I discovered that other neighbors have also been herding ducks/halting traffic.  So far, there are no dead bodies (human or duck) on the road and I am not allergic to either!

My Eye Doctor is a Hero

kerry's eyes

I think the word ‘hero’ is over-used today but my eye doctor really is one. Like many medical professionals, he started his career in the military – let’s say it was the Army. In the years, that I have been torturing him with my neuroses about my eyes, I only recently noticed either a certificate or medal of valor on his wall. When I queried this, he told me that he had noticed something was calibrated wrongly affecting the effectiveness of the sharp-shooters sights. This made a huge difference to their shooting ability. He shared that not everyone was happy about his discovery because a predecessor must have calibrated it incorrectly. Not every hero, in the military for example, has to be parachuting into enemy territory and carrying wounded comrades on their shoulders. Think of the importance of the work of the female covert operative who doggedly pursued the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden from a desk.

I see this eye doctor very regularly because I don’t follow any of his advice (using saline and anti-histamine drops on a regular basis), wear the wrong kind of make-up and then sleep in it… I also develop little blocked cysts along the eye rim if I wear oily make-up. On this occasion, I had flown for two days from my regular trip to an Alzheimer’s Unit in Scotland. In a vain effort to be upgraded (it has worked before), I had worn make-up, a revealing top, drank too much and fell asleep. I woke up looking like a panda and my eyes were gritty. So, two days later my eye is bright red and nothing is bringing the inflammation down. He looked in my eyes and said ‘there is something sparkly on your cornea…” I don’t wear sparkly eyeshadow much anymore. In case you think it is all neuroses, I do have a Pinguecula, which sounds kind of cute – maybe black and white? This is what it really is – Recently, he found tiny, baby cataracts – not quite so cute.

Once he was comforting me about how uncomfortable one of my many eye problems was but I heard him say quietly to the assistant, “it’s just some inflammation”. He is a sweetie-pie for taking into account my anxiety. Then he prescribed a specific treatment that he wanted in ointment form to soothe my poor big blue eyes. When I went to the pharmacy, the assistant said to me, “I don’t know whether this is in liquid or ointment formulation?” I pointed out that it was definitely ointment because he had written ‘ung’ an abbreviation for unguent. She looked at me as though I was speaking Korean and I told her that it was a Latin word meaning ointment. Finally, the pharmacist came along and said, “Yes, it is an old-timey word for ointment”. I was flabbergasted and didn’t know who I was more annoyed at. The pharmacist (who I like) should have used it for a gentle training session. I would have explained that some pharmacy terminology is based on Latin and we would learn some more later. Look in the dictionary – unguent is still there in both US and UK versions.

Now I am sounding like an old-timey crabby lady who learned Latin at school… So, on a much lighter note, you might see that I have downward sloping eyes and a slight epicanthal fold from my Native ancestors. For years I struggled to find mascara that wouldn’t smudge the second I put it on. Some of the waterproof ones work but I am allergic to the heavy duty removers. Finally, it struck me that other people with epicanthic folds might have figured it out and found my first fabulous Japanese tubular mascara that never smudges and comes off with hot water and friction. They were quite expensive though I have recently found a fab inexpensive range made in Korea which is sold in most pharmacies and large supermarkets – Now I hope they sent me a free box of stuff. 🙂