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Overcoming the Struggles of Allergies


Michelle Diana Lowe 

About the author


Michelle Diana Lowe is a receptionist /administrator in a London children's centre. Born in the heart of East London to a West Indian mother and South American father in the early 80s, Michelle remains in the town where she grew up. She studied English Literature with Philosophy at Roehampton University and graduated in 2005. In the same year, she became a published author signed by American Publisher UrbanEdge. Lowe released her debut novel UnShatter Me through this publisher. A year later, Finnish Publisher Creativia published her second novel Broken Roots. Both novels discuss issues around young mental health, which is an important subject matter to Michelle. In 2017, Michelle created her own publishing imprint, Michelle Diana Lowe Press UK, and publishes advice books to support allergic children and their families. 


As a published author, Michelle has appeared on the Chrissy B Show, and has been featured in several publications. These include the Newham Recorder, The Voice, and The Autism Parenting Magazine. 


Her Personal Allergic Journey


The early days


Since adolescence, Michelle has had a mild milk allergy. She could not have fresh milk, cream or cheese, but could tolerate milk when it was cooked in food. But in 2016, her dairy allergy worsened, almost overnight. Eating a donut one afternoon, she felt nauseous and later threw up. The same thing happened when she had a cake make with dairy. Understanding that something had changed within her, Michelle monitored her own condition and recorded the symptoms in a diary.


Roughly one week later, Michelle ate an apple, and to her surprise, her throat started to thud and click. These strange symptoms subsided by the end of that day. Twenty-four hours after that, she ate a handful of peanuts and experienced a small lump in the back of her throat, which soon disappeared.  Worried about all these peculiar symptoms, Michelle visited her GP. A referral was made to the Ear, Nose and Throat clinic and then the allergy clinic. In September 2016, she was officially diagnosed with a dairy allergy and a condition called Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS), which is a type 2 food allergy. Her allergy doctor prescribed auto-injector pens and nasal spray. She was told to get over-the-counter antihistamines, if and when they were needed. As part of her new syndrome, Michelle found, overtime, that she could no longer tolerate raw fruit, raw vegetables, nuts, and seeds. 



All change


Over the next twelve months, Michelle managed her allergies effectively and avoided her trigger foods - dairy, raw fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds. But her life changed forever in December 2017, when she had a severe viral infection and an allergic reaction to lilies, concurrently. Michelle experienced the severe allergic reaction at home on Boxing Day and misplaced her adrenadline auto-injector pens at the time. It was due to her mother's quick thinking that saved her life. Scanning round the living room, thinking on her feet, Michelle's mother realised that the lilies were causing the reaction and threw them out the window. Michelle's mother then called the ambulance, but due to the paramedics not knowing about or understanding her condition of Oral Allergy Syndrome, she was not admitted to hospital. Instead, they advised her to recuperate at home and visit the GP.



Recuperation 


Recovering at home with low blood pressure, Michelle noticed that she had difficulty swallowing. The only food she could swallow was porridge. Her body rejected all other foods. She just could not swallow them. This became very distressing for Michelle. The swallowing problems persisted for six weeks. Even after this six week period, there were only around five foods that she could eat without any difficulties.  Furthermore, her pollen allergy had worsened almost overnight and she reacted to pollen when venturing outside. Concerned, Michelle went back to her GP, who referred her back to the allergy clinic. 


Whilst being monitored closely by the allergy clinic for a period of ten months, Michelle found that she could not eat any fruit, even when cooked. Her Oral Allergy Syndrome had got much worse. But the one positive thing was that the allergy clinic finally gave her prescribed antihistamines, which were stronger and more effective than over the counter versions of the medication. 



Acceptance and staying positive 


Following a discussion between the most senior consultants at the allergic clinic, an allergy clinic specialist referred Michelle to Gastroenterology.  Michelle's gastroenterologist booked her in for an endoscopy to investigate her medical complaints further. In the summer of 2019, this procedure was performed. Chronic inflammation of the oesophagus presented itself in the results. Receiving the diagnosis was hard, but Michelle slowly worked through her feelings about these conditions and developed an optimistic outlook. 


Although her condition is somewhat stabilised now, Michelle has had to accept that her oesophagus will never be the same as what it used to be. At a recent appointment with her Gastroenterologist, Michelle has been advised that her atopic allergies may always be triggers for her esophageal condition. Things which irritate her throat and may trigger symptoms include: lily pollen, birch trees and its pollen and foods such as beans, chickpeas, lentils, wheat, rye, oats, tofu, and many seasonings.


In spite of everything, Michelle remains positive and has turned to her family and friends for support. She has grown resilient overtime, and developed a number of strategies to cope from day to day. Each and every day, she finds little ways to inject happiness into her world and improve allergic living.




The Birth Of A New Imprint


Whilst developing multiple strategies to cope with the emotional, psychological, and physical impact of her allergies, Michelle founded her own publishing imprint – Michelle Diana Lowe Press UK in 2017. Creating child-friendly books and resources, she supports allergic children 4 to 16 and their families. Her first book, Dairy Free and Happy, was published in 2017, with the second edition being released on 2019. This is an advice book for children and families that supports all aspects of young allergic life, including children's mental wellness. The follow-up book is Nut Free and Happy, which will be released in April 2020. All books are designed by talented design companies Najla Qamber Designs and Qamber Kids.


Michelle continues to raise awareness of allergies with her fun, educational and informative books and wants to help people see allergies in a more holistic way. There's more to allergies than food. Michelle aims to spread her important and positive messages to the masses. She wants her strategies to reach a worldwide audience to help many young allergy sufferers.


In her spare time, Michelle loves to go bowling, watch comedy movies, and relax with period dramas. She continues to write allergy advice books for children and families.

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