Maxx and Glutie are my new buddies that will be with me the rest of my life. I came up with Maxx when I was diagnosed with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome or MCAS. It has taken months of weird allergy symptoms, no response to antihistamines like Zyrtec or Claritin, and several rounds of steroids to reach this diagnosis. I’ve had seasonal allergies for years but they have always been controlled by antihistamines, so my family doctor was at a loss as to what was causing my body to go into overdrive.
What sort of symptoms warrant this diagnosis? The symptoms vary with each individual which makes this rather challenging. Some of the similar symptoms can include: skin flushing, rashes/hives, itching, sweating, itchy and watery eyes, nasal congestion and sneezing, wheezing and at times trouble breathing. Sound familiar?
In my case, I have eye problems (itchy, watery and blurriness in both eyes) and rashes that won’t go away. I also have stomach problems and extreme fatigue. It was embarrassing going to the doctor so many times for the never-ending rash. I was put on several different creams and ointments and nothing made the rash stay away. Every time it came back it was in a different place and just as irritating.
I was introduced to Maxx (MCAS) when I went to the allergist. He took my laundry list of symptoms, asked about my allergy history, noted all the things I had tried to mitigate the symptoms. He did a quick scratch test, ordered blood tests and put me on two different antihistamines. He changed my Zyrtec to an H1 antihistamine called Xyzal. This type of medication has sedative properties so I have to take it at night. He also put me on an H2 antihistamine called Famotidine. The funny thing about the Famotidine is that it is actually a medication used for GERD aka acid reflux. It took a couple of weeks but the combination of the antihistamines cleared my rash and made the eye problems disappear.
My allergist ran a slew of blood work to see if there was a determining factor to the MCAS and the gastric problems. The blood work resulted in my tryptase levels being elevated and having inflammation markers present. He also ran a Celiac panel and come to find out that I have the antibodies present for Celiac disease.
The next visit to my allergist was more productive as I was responding well to the antihistamine combination. He gave me the blood test results, thus introducing me to Glutie. Glutie is near and dear to me because of my love for baking. I have never worried about what type of ingredients to bake with prior to now. There are still more tests I will have to endure to see how far the Celiac disease has progressed, but until then I am on a gluten-free diet.
So why the silly names for MCAS and Celiac disease? Honestly, they make the symptoms easier to cope with and the lifestyle change a bit easier to make. Any type of long-term diagnosis carries with it the possibility for mental health issues. Depression and anxiety are common with those that have Celiac Disease or MCAS. What can and can’t be eaten, how to avoid a gluten-filled society, and when is the best time to go outdoors because of allergen triggers, are all valid and overwhelming concerns. Glutie and Maxx help me keep my spirits up, especially on those days that I just want a big pink-frosted cookie.
Edit: I’m linking this up to #MindfulMoments meme as I truly believe a positive attitude can get you through just about everything.