Season to be jolly Not for the mother who”s allergic to Christmas trees, tinsel, mince pies and turkey
The festive season would not be complete without Christmas trees, tinsel, mince pies and turkey.
But for Donna Hindley, these seemingly innocuous Yuletide items are a source great of dread.
For the mother-of-two has such an extreme array of allergies that she is left suffering from severe hay fever-type symptoms for most of December.
Season of unwell: Donna Hindley is allergic to almost anything to do with Christmas
Such is the extent of Mrs Hindley”s condition, that prolonged exposure to a real Christmas tree could ultimately prove fatal.
Mrs Hindley, 48, an accountant from Stowmarket, Suffolk, is allergic to grasses, pollens and mould which lurk on pine trees, meaning she and her family have to have a fake tree every year.
But she also has to check the fake tree does not contain latex – because she is allergic to that too.
Also off the list are most festive decorations including tinsel, as well as chocolates, balloons, dairy products, Christmas pudding, stuffing, wreaths, nuts and cheeses.
Taking her children to a Santa”s grotto when they were young was also banned as she is unable to go anywhere near animals.
She said: “From the moment the first Christmas trees go up in the shops, I”ll plunge into what feels like a constant flu.
“It basically feels like hay fever 24/7, I have it every day of the year because I have so many allergies.
“But at Christmas it”s even worse because everywhere you go there are Christmas trees up and flowers and decorations all over the place.
“Even going to the supermarket or trying to do my Christmas shopping can be like dicing with death. I have to do a lot online.
Watch out! Donna is allergic to mince pies, as well as tinsel, Christmas trees and even turkey
“If I go anywhere near a tree my eyes will start to stream, my nose will block, then I start to feel wheezy.
“If I was to stay near to it my chest would begin to feel tight and it becomes hard to breathe. It feels like it”s swelling up.
“I”d end up in hospital and on a nebuliser. It could even kill me.
“We have a fake tree at home now but we”re limited with what we can put on it, because I”m allergic to the dust on most decorations so it”s pretty plain.”
Strangely, when she was young her only allergy was a mild one to nuts, meaning she could enjoy Christmas with all the trimmings.
But she was left with a string of debilitating allergies after she had a severe reaction to latex at a children”s party 13 years ago.
She added: “It just seemed to come from no-where, the doctors think the reaction to latex sparked something in me.
“All of a sudden I was allergic to pretty much everything, I tested positive to 53 out of 54 of the possible allergens you can have.”
Mrs Hindley has been hospitalised on several occasions due to her conditions, on one occasion she has even spent Christmas in a hospital bed.
She added: “Three years ago I was at a family party on boxing day. My family are normally very good about my allergies but someone got the plates muddled up and offered me a cheese roll instead of a sausage one.
“Within seconds I was on the floor and going into anaphylactic shock in front of all the guests.
“I started swelling up from the inside, first my lungs went and then my mouth and lips. Someone had to stab me with adrenaline.
“Then the ambulance turned up and rushed me to hospital and I was there for two days. It was pretty scary.”
Mrs Hindley now has to largely avoid going to parties and work-do”s at Christmas.
She added: “Christmas is particularly difficult because it”s such a sociable time of year. Firstly I don”t want to put myself at added risk and secondly I don”t want to make my hosts uncomfortable by having them worry about me.
“Most people have a pet, or a tree, flowers or dust and any of them could set me off.
“If someone is having a party I will generally pop in and say hi and then leave pretty much straight away because there”s bound to be something that I”m allergic too.
“It”s generally easier and safer to stay in.”
Even Christmas lunch has to be kept as bland as possible because of Mrs Hindley”s dairy intolerance.
She added: “We have a traditional lunch but it”s all rather bland. I have to keep the turkey plain because I”m allergic to butter.
“We have to boil all the vegetables and can”t have anything on them and there”s no stuffing or Christmas pudding or mince pies.
“I used to have to have Christmas lunch dry because I was allergic to gravy but they have brought out some allergy proof ones now.
“I do still try to enjoy Christmas, especially for my children and husbands sake but I”ll sneeze, cough and blow my nose throughout dinner and opening presents.”
According to statistics more than one in seven people suffer allergic reactions at Christmas.
For more information contact www.allergyuk.org or call our national helpline on 01322 619898.