If you know me, you may have heard me talk about my allergy, or whatever it is, to grapes. I used to work in a winery. Now I can't even drink wine made from grapes. While I worked at the winery, I gradually developed general stiffness so severe, I had a hard time getting out of my car or getting up off the toilet. No pain, just stiffness and a kind of weakness. I had other problems at the time I was seeking medical help for, and once I felt better, I realized my life at this time was a haze of misery.
I had a sinus infection that wouldn't go away, sleep problems, stiffness in all my joints and eventually, I injured myself and had to stop working. I had 6 weeks of physiotherapy, yet the inflammation and weakness continued. My doctor kept insisting I was depressed, even though two psychologists and a counsellor said formally that I wasn't.
Long story short, I discovered I was having allergic reactions to a number of things, the most urgent being wine and grapes. I googled "allergy joints," and the first result was an article in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery from 1946. A rare but recorded reaction to certain foods or drugs is joint pain or stiffness, even psychological reactions. It can mimic arthritis and muscle or nerve problems, and can drive patients to see orthopedic surgeons. It's actually the sheaths covering the tendons and ligaments, occasionally even nerves, that swell and cause the pain and stiffness. This is called angioedema. It used to be called angio-neurotic-edema (neurotic referring to nerves), but people thought their doctors were saying they were making this up, so the name was changed. This reaction has been noted as far back as 1895, by no less a light in the medical world than Dr. William Osler. Case Study #1, a woman who was initially dismissed as neurotic, who turned out to be allergic to grapes and grape wine.
Bingo! I have a link to that article on the desktop of my computer and on my iPad. I even printed it off for my doctor. She refused to read it, insisting I was just depressed. Fast forward 4 years, and it turns out I have severe obstructive sleep apnea and assorted food sensitivities. I got a C-PAP machine for the sleep apnea, I watch what I eat, and I have a new doctor. I sleep well, I have no more sinus issues, and I have so little pain and stiffness I never need pain killers, although I do take a natural anti-inflammatory every day.
Yet I still have trouble believing that something as nice and innocuous as grapes can be bad for me. Grapes? Who doesn't love grapes? And grapes are in everything. If it's wholesome and good for you, chances are, it's got grapes in it. "Sweetened with fruit juice" means grapes. Trail mix has raisins in it. Raisins are wholesome and full of iron.
Raisins and grapes are GOOD for you!
Well, not for me, unfortunately.
Yesterday morning, I took a shower and tried a new skin oil from one of my favourite companies. I've used lotions and bath gel from the same line, very nice, very soothing.
On and off yesterday, I worked on cleaning up my front entry, a landing between two floors. I'd been using the front closet as a catch-all spot as I moved in, and things just stayed there for, well, a while. While I was at it, I set up a work table in my basement and unpacked a big box full of Christmas stuff to clear space for the bins of art supplies I brought down from the front hall. Nothing strenuous, and I never lifted anything really heavy.
Later last night, I had a lot of pain and stiffness in my upper thighs and lower back, to the point I could hardly get up from a chair or the couch. I thought, "what the heck? Did I really work that hard? Man, I must be out of shape! This is pathetic!"
I took a shower before bed, and I was shedding an awful lot of skin from a couple of spots. I also felt achey stiffness under my arms as if I was coming down with something. I thought, "wait a second, I haven't been exposed to anything infectious lately, this has to be a toxin my immune system is fighting. What is it?" I mentally ran through everything I'd eaten. Nothing different, except one new jar of olives. But, I mean, olives? Not one of the foods I have trouble with. Not a likely suspect.
Then I remembered that new massage and body oil. Checked the label, and the first ingredient? Grapeseed oil.
I'd never read that label. I ordered it online, just got the product and barely even read the main label, let alone squinted at the fine print. This could not have been power of suggestion.
I love the products from that company. Unfortunately, they don't publish full ingredient lists on their website and the store near me has closed, so now I have to stick to products I've used before, or accept that a new one may be a crapshoot.
This is one of the pitfalls of using products with organic ingredients. They could contain something in its natural form that I react to. But using only synthetic ingredients or highly processed ones isn't a good alternative. Then I'd be thinking, "WHAT am I absorbing into my body NOW?! Sodium glycol? Yum!"
The good thing, in a funny way, is this proved to me, yet again, that grapes and grape seed oil DO cause a reaction in me, and I'm right in avoiding it. It also showed me I feel good enough now, that my baseline is health and feeling good, I was able to pinpoint a reaction the same day.
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I'm easily amused. I try to be positive about things, yet I am also driven to distraction by irrationality. Especially if the purpose is valid, but could be achieved with less drama. You'll see all of this in my writing!