• -Natalie

My 1st Starbucks in 3 YEARS!

About three years ago, I had to stop drinking Starbucks. That is because although I used to drink Starbucks on a weekly basis, the day I decided to switch my order from a vanilla latte to a soy milk latte, I went into anaphylaxis. My throat closed and I couldn't breathe. That's because I had become allergic to soy and was not aware that it had happened.

I kept drinking coffee out, just avoided soy milk, until a few months later I went into anaphylaxis from a cross contaminated cappuccino. The order before mine was a soy cappuccino, and since they made mine directly after and used the same steamer for the milk, a few drops of soy milk got into my coffee. And I went into anaphylaxis once again.

I got test finally and was officially declared allergic to soy. I was also declared allergic to almonds and hazelnuts. With all the new health crazes going on today, places like Starbucks were impossible. The chance of cross contamination from soy milk or almond milk was high, and with how sensitive my soy allergy was, I couldn't risk. So that was the end of my beloved Starbucks days.

Until I went to see Dr. R at SoCal Allergy on April 18th 2017 two years later. We discussed the amazing and advanced treatment that he does at his clinic and assured me that he could get me back to drinking soy. At the time, I was allergic to literally EVERYTHING, so soy was the last thing on my mind. But he promised me that I would be able to eat everything again within a couple of years or so with his treatment program.

Here I am, exactly one year later, on April 18th 2018, the exact same date as my first appointment, and I drank 8oz of soy milk. And then I ran for 5 minutes to try to induce anaphylaxis. And then I had my first cup of coffee from Starbucks in three years because I was cleared for soy. (I was cleared for Almonds about 9 weeks ago already).

I really believed that I would never get to experience Starbucks again. I love coffee and I love drinking it out. About six months ago I was SO happy that I could finally tolerate coffee again (it was one of the many foods I started reacting to). One of the happiest moments of my life was making my favorite coffee at home once a day and being able to wake up and drink coffee. But being able to drink coffee out again and not even have to declare allergies?! That's a dream come true.

I still can't eat out at all because my allergy list is still long, but it's slowly shrinking. And being able to drink coffee at Starbucks or anywhere I want? That's more than good enough for me.

My food allergy journey has taught me to never take anything for grant it. You never know what could be taken away from you. Eating out at restaurants, drinking coffee out, experimenting with new recipes - these were some of my favorite things. And within one year it was suddenly all taken away. And I thought I would never be able to experience it again.

In college when the initial Starbucks incident happened, I was so mad at myself - saying that I shouldn't have been "cheap" and only gotten Starbucks once a week because it's expensive. I should have taken the opportunity to drink Starbucks every single day just because I could. This was always in the back of my mind because I truly thought I would never be able to drink Starbucks again. Now that I can, you can be sure I will go every single day and enjoy it to the fullest.

In order to maintain this tolerance to soy, I will now have continue drinking 6oz of soy milk daily. Eventually, it will be reduced to weekly and then monthly. It's a large amount and I actually hate the taste, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I can now freely eat soy. I can drink Starbucks without worrying about cross contamination. I bought a new snack from Trader Joe's that CONTAINS SOY and I don't care. I ate the whole thing. And then I ate rice with chicken and soy sauce for dinner.

This weekend, I will be celebrating this milestone in Vegas, along with my birthday, beside all my close friends. And on Tuesday, I will start treatment dosing for Hazelnut.

Allergy-free. here I come.

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