Raising Beef, Living on Chicken — Alpha Gal Syndrome

It was late September 2020 when after mowing a tall patch of grass on the farm my torso became covered in chigger bites. A couple of weeks later, I realized I couldn’t stop scratching all over my body.

I attributed the constant scratching to the reason the bug bites on my stomach would not seem to heal. The itching was so intense I would wake up in the middle of the night trying to claw my skin off.

And then the migraines started.

I’ve always dealt with pretty intense heachaches, typically hormonal based once a month, but suddenly my once a month migraine turned into once a week. I chalked it off to busy season stress and carried on.

Late November, probably celebrating the end of deer season, but more accurately because that is when the second round of clomid said it was go time, is when I became pregnant.

Within a couple weeks of that I was lethargic more than not, my headaches were becoming more frequent, I was dizzy, short of breath, my entire body was covered in hives and I lived nauseous.

I told myself to toughen up this was part of pregnancy.

With each milestone week of pregnancy progression my symptoms became worse, my never ending nausea turned into a struggle to keep anything down. My hives changed the texture of my skin to what was described as thick leather and my couple of migraines a week became daily. I struggled to get out of bed at all due to dizziness and kept trying to make myself calm down because my struggle to be just HAD to be anxiety.

It was not. And none of the symptoms I was dealing with had to do with the sweet baby my body was trying to grow.

Meanwhile, I had just launched a new year long coaching program was (am) so proud of, was trying to ramp up plenty of business to before my due date to have a nice maternity leave and we launched our beef-by-the cut business.

It looked like I was doing great, but I was not. Months of emails piled up, I couldn’t focus long enough to answer. I did the bare minimum to keep my businesses a float each day.

My OBGYN saw my skin at my first appointment and sent me packing to an allergist, who tested me for everything and found out I had Alpha Gal Syndrome. A “tick” disease (or in my case, chigger) that causes your body to have an anaphylactic response to any product that comes from something with “hooves or hide”

Read as: Beef, dairy, pork, goat, sheep, buffalo, deer, etc…

Suddenly I was a lady with a newly launched beef business carrying around an epi-pen in the event I was exposed to beef and other things.

I had to watch every single label to see if it contained milk, couldn’t be in the same room or if outdoors, same smoke, as red meat cooking, had to watch out for non-food related products that contained animal byproducts such as medications and cosemtics.

In lamemens terms, it’s a shit show.

I recently talked about my experience with Alpha Gal in more detail on Jason Meadow’s Ag State of Mind Podcast, if you’re interested, and I do feel like it’s a disease people should be more aware of, then you can check out my episode here: https://open.spotify.com/episode/1zw7IAEkrducczgQQlC239?si=Kh615ucXQDyVYZZGAeUkWA&dl_branch=1

Maternity photos by Darling Photo

If you listen to that episode I touch on a couple of things, one, how terrified I was to be pregnant and newly diagnosed. I prayed literally every night for my baby to be okay, that he was growing properly despite me not being able to keep down food and struggling to source enough protein.

Then my Laramie arrived with his 98 percentile head and his advanced newborn neck and arm/leg strength and now my prayers are those of thankfulness.

And that two, I couldn’t have done it without Dan. Who made food fun again and constantly checked on me during the early stages of diagnosis when I was struggling so hard with food anxiety.

Not only did he hold down the fort doing 100% of the cooking for months while I was sick and processing and figuring everything out, but he advocated for me at family functions and restaurants and even weddings we photographed making sure the food I ate was clear for me.

Maternity photos by Darling Photography

This guy has cooked chicken approximately 1,001 ways making sure food was still fun, makes the best vegan pancakes this side of the Mississippi and has never complained ONCE about the inconvenience, the lack of beef in our diet or the massive workload on top of his already massive workload he took on when I had to lay down my baton for a little while.

What I’m saying is, he is quite literally the best.

Also, wear bug spray.

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