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Real Life - I have 1,200 different kinds of allergies

Katie Neale has life-threatening atopic asthma and allergies. Her asthma improved markedly after moving to New Zealand from the UK. But she still struggles with 1,200 different allergies and developed food-related anaphylaxis after having a baby. Katie tells her story in the hope it will help others.

I have had allergies all my life. When I was a baby I had terrible eczema and I had to be moisture-wrapped to stop me scratching until I bled. I was allergic to eggs, milk and cheeses. When I was about fie I had chicken pox, mumps, measles and rubella in one year. I couldn’t have the MMR vaccine because I was allergic to eggs. I am also allergic to penicillin.

Back to School Allergy GuideI have had asthma since I was 18 months old. It was under control as a child – I only had three hospital admissions until I was 15 years old. Then I got terrible flu i 1999 and was in hospital for a week. I had been so active until this time – I rode and danced, I did most kinds of sport. After that the asthma settled down again, and I had maybe three or four admissions per year.

The trouble started when I was in my early twenties and working with event horses. I had been around horses since I was three years old. I was fit and healthy and outside all day. I have had regular skin prick tests for allergies all my life. The tests showed I was allergic to grass, trees, cats, dogs and horses.

The doctors said I had to get rid of my animals and stop working with horses. So I did but my asthma got worse not better. Within five weeks of avoiding horses and starting work in an office, I had had two admissions to hospital.

I realised then my asthma was more than just a reaction to allergens, there was an emotional side to it as well. As they say: ‘You need to be in control of your life to be in control of your asthma’. I moved into a newly-built house with no animals but my asthma was worse when it should have been better. I was on steroids for three years.

I married my wonderful husband David in February 2010. We went to New Zealand for our honeymoon and my asthma was so much better. I didn’t use my Ventolin and I could walk fie kilometres a day. I found out I was pregnant on the honeymoon.

Five days after returning to the UK, I had my biggest asthma attack ever, my lips went blue. I felt like I was drowning. I was admitted unconscious to intensive care. The doctors saved me but we lost the baby. I was in and out of hospital 52 times that year. I tried keeping away from horses another six months but it didn’t work...

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Issue: Autumn 2013