I have been feeling the need to share about this for quite some time, I just haven’t been committed to sharing it until today. Maybe it’s because it took me a while to feel comfortable talking about it without it reminding me of the trauma I went through. Enough time has passed in order for me to be able to look back on it and see how I can help others. I’m no longer coming from a place of pain, fear or “what the hell is happening”. I am ready to share my experience with my Histamine Intolerance (referred to as HIT). Not only because I feel called to, but because I have ran into too many people recently who are brand new diagnosed or have finally figured out what has been going on with them. Here is my story.....
Back in November of 2014 we finally figured out what was happening to me, for years before this I suffered. All the rashes, heart palpitations, upset stomachs, light headed feeling, hives, anxiety, were all tied to a Histamine Intolerance. I had been dealing with issues my whole life but they started to show even more ever since I had my daughter Teagan back in 2009 but didn’t think much of it. I had had a C-Section with her and the antibiotics wreaked havoc on my body (and hers), so I figured it was due to that. I would have break outs here and there, but things didn’t get bad until after I had my son Cillian. His birth was different, he was a home birth, in a birthing tub and completely opposite from Teagan. It wasn’t their births that caused it, it was all the hormones. Things subsided for a bit during pregnancy, thank goodness, and about 6-8 months post birth they kicked in again. I would notice feeling like I was going to pass out right before we would eat, I tied it to being hungry, no big deal. Then came the fateful day that we moved into a house. Our lives took a huge turn….
Unbeknownst to us, the house had a major gas leak for a solid 17 months before we figured it out. So this threw my HIT over the edge! And not just, hey lets merrily hop over to the other side, no this was, we are going to go screaming the entire way and take you down with us. The only person not affected by it was my husband Josh. We lovingly consider him our cockroach, he can survive anything (minus the gluten attack now a days). Teagan was constantly sneezing and coughing and Cillian broke out so bad on his body and arms that he would crack and bleed. Back then I was still really clean with what we put on his body, but I even resorted a few times to OTC cortisone. I didn't realize at the time that all steroids did was suppress the immune system and not actually do anything to TREAT what is going on with the body. We have since had a chance to completely recover his body from the steroids. I did what I had to do, I no longer carry any guilt. In the midst of not knowing what was going on, I did what I could to survive. What happened to me was a different story.
My body finally hit a breaking point, and my skin was the first thing to go. Our skin is not only our largest organ, but it’s our first way to detox, especially when our liver is full to the brim. First, my finger broke out really bad, my middle finger on my right hand (yes, my body was saying a big fat F YOU to me). It was swollen, painful and ugly. I would get these little blisters all over and they would end up popping and crusting over (yes, it was an painful and gross as it sounds). It hurt, I would cover it to teach and wouldn’t touch people, not only did my personal practice suffer, but so did my students. My skin would hurt, while it would weep, so did I. I began to question what was wrong with me. I had already removed SO many things, I was “Paleo”, ate organic 95% of the time (because lets be honest, no one can 100%), and thinking of taking anything else out of my diet made me sad. My ND at the time said the next thing I would be eating was just air, she knew a low histamine diet was in order. Due to it being rather restrictive, she was hesitant. By this time, we had ZERO idea about the gas leak, we waited to go down the diet route, so I continued on. Come my son Cillian’s 2nd Birthday party in July of 2012, it was on a Sunday, and that Friday night after teaching, I started breaking out in cluster hives. The next day, while teaching 2 more classes, they spread. By the next morning they were so bad that I had to cancel my class. I woke up with my ears so swollen that they hurt, my body and skin just felt angry. I had NO idea why, so I continued on with the party. By the next morning, I made our usual waffles (cashews and like 6 eggs), and it got even worse. All of a sudden my face began to swell. I called my ND freaking out and she said it was time to go to the ER or Urgent Care and get some steroids. I was soooooooo uncomfortable I agreed and off we went.
(This was me at my worst with it, before my second trip to Urgent Care for a second steroid shot)
They gave me a cortisone shot, and by that night, I finally had some relief, but it wasn’t completely gone. I woke up the next morning and just didn’t feel good, things still felt off. As soon as that 24 hour shot wore off, BAM! They came back with a vengeance, I was mortified, terrified and felt as though my body was completely turning against me. It was one of the worst feelings I have ever felt. To be in my body, yet not feel safe to put anything in it, on it or even around it messed with my mind. Was it something I was eating, breathing, drinking? I had no idea. Back to Urgent Care I went, and they were dumbfounded. Could it be the sun? They had 2 different doctors come in to look at me. No answer, no clue, just “Here’s a cortisone shot that will last a week”. But of course, I had to sit and wait to make sure nothing happened to me with it, talk about stress! It worked, stronger than the first, and I left with a prescription for prednisone in hand too. I was so desperate that I took them, not knowing what was coming my way after. I finally had relief, my body wasn’t so angry, it had calmed. The prednisone did a number on me, I was emotional and just not myself. So I tapered off of that before the 2 weeks, I couldn’t handle it anymore. Turns out that things like Benedryl, Zyrtec or any other “anti-histamine” things I was taking actually deplete our DAO which is required to be able to process histamines. So the whole time I was doing things that I thought worked, I was depleting what my body needed most! Things seemed to be a bit more settled, meaning my face wasn’t swelling and my skin wasn't seeping anymore. I still had bumps and this sunburn feeling almost, and my skin was scaly, I felt like a lizard. I continued on, it’s life, we can’t just stop because something is going on right?
Off to vacation we went, and wouldn’t you know it, things subsided a bit. Not enough to claim recovery, or even making it to the other side, but enough to feel better. Then, we came back home, and it came back, not bad like it did before. But each time I began to itch, I couldn’t help but see myself as I was when I was at my worst. It was post traumatic stress each time something popped up on my body. It was instant, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to have to go back to Urgent Care now!”. It took my breath away, thinking things would get terrible in an instant.
A few months passed of just dealing with it, until finally my ND advised me it was time to follow a Low Histamine Diet. I didn’t care if I had to eat freaking rice ALL DAY everyday and nothing else! I was determined to feel better! This is not what I ate, I’m being dramatic, but you get the point. I was willing to do what it took. I was used to cutting things out, how hard would it be to cut out other things? I had to cut out: Chocolate (but not cacao), nuts (all), avocados, ground meat, anything prepared, wine, oh lord, I could go on. I was basically on a low fat diet, but the amazing thing was, that during this time, I was able to eat grains again without feeling terrible. I think my body knew it needed to adapt so it did. I prepared all of my food and ate it immediately, including fresh ground breakfast sausage that I would grind myself every morning. The tricky thing with a low HIT diet is that it’s different for everyone, what I could handle, maybe you can’t and vice versa. I found the Low Histamine Chef, her blog helped me a TON! I made a few of her recipes, but not many, because I had to have meat and most of her stuff was vegetarian and has some eggs (which I could not, and still can not do). But her writings were what changed me, to see that I wasn’t alone in all of this. To learn that there were other ways to deal with HIT besides just medication, which she was not on. I followed the low HIT diet for exactly 2 months. I began before Christmas, because I knew, that I couldn’t “wait for the holidays” to be over, I had to do it now. So I did. It started out rocky, because our body has to have time to release all of our histamine overload, but mostly because our body has to reprogram NOT to react to everything. I felt better, but not 100% after I went back to eating normally, but that wasn’t because of the HIT diet not working. It was because I was inhaling gas.
When we discovered the gas leak, it turns out it was a really big one! It stemmed from above the attic in the kitchen all over the house, even back to our bedroom (a solid 100 feet from the furnace). When the gas company came out, they thought it was a line under the house leaking it was so bad. Turns out, there was no shut off valve to the furnace, so for the entire time we lived there, we had been inhaling natural gas, poisoning our bodies. Our liver’s never had a chance to balance, to reset or to be cleared because every single day we were living, sleeping and breathing natural gas. The gas guy was floored, he said that we were lucky that every day we didn’t blow the house up. He couldn’t even fit into the bathroom where the entry way to the attic was because it wasn’t to code, but he was able to reach the furnace and turn it off. He knew he could get in trouble for doing that (because they aren’t supposed to do things that aren’t safe, like going into a space that wasn’t code), but he didn’t care, he knew he had to turn it off for our sake!
When I called my ND to tell her about the leak, she straight up dropped the F bomb. Yep. She was pissed, and so were we at the time, but as I look back on it, I am grateful. For had there not been a gas leak, my histamines wouldn’t have been thrown so badly out of whack and I wouldn’t have done the diet. I may have just continued on the road of “surviving” rather than finding a way to THRIVE. We were all suffering from natural gas poisoning and didn’t even know it. My HIT went from being on a scale of 3-4 to 1,000 because of it and it was terrible. When the gas got turned off, we all started to feel a little bit better. We ended up moving a month later, (this happened in February of 2015), but my histamine meter was still totally out of whack. Our bodies had been through so much that we needed time to detox. Not just a day, a week, but a solid 4-6 months to come back to normal. In that time, we had purchased our first home, and settled. Yet we would still get rashes here and there, our bodies just didn’t know how to reset. Hormones always threw me over the edge, but the fear of swelling up like I did was becoming a thing of the past, thank goodness. Our son and daughter would still react with hives here and there, but luckily Cillian’s elbow creases stopped bleeding. I had accepted my fate with my HIT intolerance by now, I understood what was going on. It was not my body turning against me, it was my body being sensitive to everything around me. Histamines are in ALL foods, higher in meat and fermented things, lower in some fruit (but as they ripen they contain more). I was able to live knowing what I could, should and shouldn’t have, and I found I wasn’t alone. Turns out quite a few people actually experience HIT and don’t even know it, and those that do, are able to manage it with diet. HIT is also more likely in women, thanks to our hormones (like they don’t already offer us a whole host of stuff lol). HIT is also linked to many other things, one big culprit is having a leaky gut (https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-10908/9-signs-you-have-a-leaky-gut.html).
I’m not a doctor, I’m not trying to diagnose anyone or try to help people cure anything, I am simply here to share my story of how I discovered I had it. Does any of this sound familiar to you? Have you experienced any of this? Check out this link here to read further what it’s all about and what can be done http://www.amymyersmd.com/2016/02/everything-you-need-to-know-about-histamine-intolerance/). For me, it was following a low histamine diet for 2 months solid, retraining my mind to not freak out about what I was going to eat, and at then end of it all, my essential oils. But not just any essential oils, I had tried a few during with out any success. When I researched about them, I learned why using properly distilled oils matter. I learned that it begins with the seeds that are planted. I learned that it is important to know where the oils are coming from, and to even know the farmer. This is exactly why I choose to use the oils that I do. Quality first and foremost are what matter, integrity and intention are tied for second. We saw immediate support the second we used them. And it turns out, they have been the missing key to supporting the kids and I on so many levels. Had I had them in the midst of all the terrible chaos that was surrounding me, my journey could have been completely different. But that’s not how it was meant to go, I was meant to experience it so that I could in turn help others. I’ve been there, deep in the throws of my body turning on me, feeling completely lost and scared sh*tless, but I made it. I made it to the other side that is the freedom of no longer living with HIT, I no longer suffer like I used to, and if I do feel anything coming on, I reach for my oils and I find support and most of all, peace of mind. Life doesn’t need to feel bad, we don’t need to feel bad. Even though I struggled for a lifetime with my histamines, they are now becoming a very distant memory for me. A happy liver, a happy immune system, a happy nervous system and my body is one happy camper.
If this sounds familiar to you, please check out the links that I have posted. I am here to offer you support as well, I have lived through the worst, and each time, I make it through to the other side. If you need a hand, a rope, a boat or just a friend to help you through to life after histamines, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
From the bottom of my heart and hO’Me to yours,
Mary O'Meara -