Parlick Fell Sheep’s Milk Cheese – a Cautionary Tale.

Last night, around 02.45, having gone to bed hungry, I woke up ravenous, so got up for a snack. All I had that wasn’t in the freezer were eggs and cheese, so as I had no intention of cooking at that hour, I had a 150g portion of Parlick Fell, about a third of which went back in the fridge – just as well, as I might not, otherwise, be here to tell the tale.

At around 04.00 my breathing began to shut down, pitching me into the most cataclysmic asthma attack I have ever had – and I’ve been having the buggers for over 65 years. I seriously thought – insofar as I was still capable of rational thought – that this time I really was actually going to die.

I know I’ve felt that way before, but this time was different – I was terrified in a way that I hadn’t been before. And yes, I should have been in hospital,** but that place terrifies me even more (and please, don’t give me a hard time – right now I don’t need it).

**Apart from my aversion to hospital, I know from past experience that it’d take the better part of 2 hours for an ambulance to turn up, by which time I’d either be recovering or past worrying. One thing is becoming increasingly clear, though – I need oxygen.

Anyway, I got up, retrieved my Salbutamol and steroid inhalers, and my spacer, from the living room and took them back to bed, turned on all the lights – it always seems harder to breathe in the dark, even though I know it’s not – cranked up my clockwork bed to support me in a sitting position, and just hoovered up as much Salbutamol and steroids as I could – and brought forward my 06.00 meds to around 05.30.

Somehow, I’m still here, even though every breath feels as if I’ve cracked a couple of ribs – coughing so violently for so long, I might well have torn the intercostal muscles, at least.

But why did I react so violently to a cheese I’ve eaten many times before? I have no idea, other than that sheep are just one of the many things I’m apparently allergic to that have never produced a real-world reaction – until now.

The cheese, previously independently-produced, has been under the Sainsbury’s banner for some time now, which has seen a deterioration in its quality, and this current batch was like eating thinly-sliced polystyrene – it even made my teeth squeak! So maybe Sainsbury’s have been meddling with it. I have no idea.

So, folks, if any of you reading this have asthma, or COPD, and are partial to cheese from animals other than cows, you might want to treat this one with caution – as, indeed, will I since this, coming at the end of the worst week I’ve had in many years, health-wise, did, I firmly believe, come close to seeing me off, and what I have left of it – an unopened portion plus what’s left from last night – has been binned.

Though there is a possibility that the culprit was something else, I can’t think what, as the only other food I ate was some 10 hours previously and, if that had been going to cause problems I think it would have done so earlier.

Finally, the fact that my adrenal glands are failing/have failed (what do I know, I’m just the patient, no bugger talks to me about Addison’s Disease!), so I am deficient in naturally-produced steroids (cortisol). I take a maintenance hydrocortisone supplement (20mg at 06.00, 10mg around midday), but, occasionally, the midday dose gets missed (hey, I take over 60 tablets and capsules a day – it’s VERY easy to miss one!). Could this be provoking/exacerbating asthma attacks?