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My Journey with a Nickel Allergy

My Journey with a Nickel Allergy
My name is Barbara Njuguna a recent college graduate and neurotically nickely challenged. This will be my 4 year being diagnosed with this allergy and 3 1/2 years trying to maintain a nickel free lifestyle. Along the way, I have researched a lot, since this allergy is fairly new.

I got diagnosed because I started developing a rash from the phone my boyfriend at the time gave me. Yes! There is nickel in phones, but most old phones newer phones don’t. I had to go to an allergy specialist the only one in my area, and she said I was chronically allergic to nickel. Soon after within a month or so, I started having blisters on my lips. I soon found out it was the utensils so I had to request for plastic silverware in the cafeteria at my University. This helped with the blisters in my lips but I would get infections. My first infection was an upper respiratory infection that lasted almost 2 months and the second one was mono which was a wake-up call that I needed to do something. Unfortunately, it took me having mono for my parents to take my allergy seriously but this is neither here or there. FYI, I didn’t get mono from anyone, was not kissing or sharing drinks. My lymph nodes swelled like golf balls. I couldn’t eat or drink. The doctors were very shocked on how severe it was. Side note: I believe this was caused by my nickel sensitivity because one of the side effects are upper respiratory infections and throat cancer, which is extreme cases. So after, 2 weeks of pure hell, I went back to school still sick but I needed to finish the semester out. Luckily, I am good under pressure, well academically nothing else though I got a 3.56 GPA which was a plus compared to what I was going through.

After all this, I stopped eating out. When I tell you this was a life saver, Oh! GOD! It was. By the first month, my contact dermatitis (eczema) cleared up. I also, slept a lot, almost 12 hours a day, but it was okay because my body was recuperating. So, I was stuck with making my own foods at the dorms, Oh! And keep in mind my University wouldn’t let me off the meal plan even though my health would have deteriorated. So, I was paying for a meal plan I didn’t use and paying for food that wouldn’t kill me with money I didn’t have. (Sigh) The things we do for health. After my first year, was finished I made a commitment to be truly nickel free. I threw away my jeans, the buckles and buttons that irritated my stomach, or anything that had an exposed zipper and started with this journey. I didn’t really follow up with the doctor since it cost so much to see her even with insurance so I used this website for my nickel free diet. It will illustrate what not to eat which was helpful but not so much. I ended up researching a lot of recipes and understanding substitutes.

To fast-forward, I was on the diet for 1 year and 1/2 before cheating. I felt so good that I wanted to bring normal foods into my diet, but unfortunately my sister was cooking food and poisoned me. Well, not poison poisoned, nickel poisoned, she used tap water instead of bottled water. Tap water and bottled water contain nickel but there is more in tap water. Well, I cannot drink tap water without getting a reaction in as little as day. So, I wish I didn’t cheat but I did. So, here we are 2 years later and I am still trying to reach that infamous 1 year mark. I am still dealing with the nickel allergy, everyday and I know I will have it for the rest of my life. I am now going on five years and I have learned that you just need to deal with it even if other people don't want to.
Having a food allergy is quite hard because you focuse others to deal with it too. You pretty much say, "When you cook my food, you will be my life in your hands. Do you think my life is worth it?" And it really a mind bogglng experience when people put things you are allergic to and don't tell you. It makes you distrust them and the food making experience. That is why I started a blog so I could share my journey with you, which encourages complaining, cause if you can't complain here, where will you complain? To your non allergic friends, I think not.