For the past two months I have been having problems with food allergy symptoms; tingling and numbness, swelling, rash, problems swallowing, problems breathing. What a nightmare!
At first it was a reaction to taro root. For those of you who do not know what taro is, it is a tuber and is the primary ingredient in poi, the Hawaiian starch paste. It is also commonly used in vegetable chips. The irony of being allergic to an essentially tasteless food product was not lost on me. Happily it is easy to avoid taro, except taro is used frequently at a lot of Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. I was prepared to mourn the loss of crispy spring rolls at certain places, got my Epi Pen and put it in my handbag and thought the drama was over.
A month later I had enjoyed a lovely quiche Lorraine and a fruit salad at a work breakfast and experienced allergy symptoms. What could it be? The fruit? The eggs? Surely not the bacon?
My mind recoiled in horror. Not. Bacon. Please, let it not be bacon.
After questioning my family about any history of food allergies it came out that my grandmother, the one who had everything you could think of wrong with her, might have had a pork allergy. But she was a hypochondriac so I automatically have discounted anything hereditary from her side. Well except for breast cancer and diabetes type 2, those are real issues that worry me.
A week later, after many phone calls to the doctor, I had started avoiding all ingredients in quiche and fruit salad and was recovering pretty well. Pretty well, that is, until I ate a lemon cupcake. This stupid lemon cupcake made me so ill that I ended up in the emergency room that night. So not fun, let me tell you. Also, the staff and UCSF are awesome, just in case you need to visit an ER theirs is the place to go.
The immunologist’s office is a very busy place, and my testing and consultation will not be completed until mid December. You do realize what this means, right? What is between now and mid-December? Thanksgiving.
The horror. What on earth can I eat that won’t make me sick and/or die between now and then?
So I have been prudent. And I have been taking lots of antihistamines, some of which I have discovered have the effect of drinking 10 cups of coffee an hour. Some are like taking a quaalude, zonk, out like a light, which can be fine but not at 11 am in the morning.
This past week I was very excited because I made pear custard tarts and bacon blue cornmeal waffles. It felt great to be cooking again, being able to make food and not be in pain from my shoulder, and most importantly to be able to clean up the kitchen after cooking something.
I did not plan on feeling severe allergy symptoms after eating my own cooking. The pear tart made me feel like a rabid dog. I took more antihistamines and tried to ignore the shaking hands and extreme anxiety it gave me. I went home and threw away the mostly uneaten tart I had made for myself.
Saturday I had a great fun day out with L___ and we had tater tots, a baby slider and salted caramel shakes. Delicious! However I started getting numb and tingly and sore after a few bites. Was it the ketchup? The mayo? The bun? I really don’t know. Yesterday I made my beautiful bacon blue cornmeal waffles and tried to ignore the numb and swollen tongue and closing throat feelings I was getting. Harder to ignore was the itchy face and puffy lips, but I consoled myself with more Benadryl and lip gloss thinking the Hollywood types pay all kinds of money for lips like mine.
I ate a left over waffle at work and just threw it away after 3 bites. What the hell.
Happily I am not alone. On Twitter and elsewhere I know many, many people who have food allergies, and found out one or more of them have the same type of allergy I might have, which is called Oral Allergy Syndrome. Basically severe hay fever can manifest itself into oral allergy symptoms because certain foods have proteins in common with the pollens that cause allergies. There are also non-oral symptoms which I can’t discuss. Maybe I have food allergies too, or maybe it’s something else, I really won’t know for months.
What I do know is that not knowing really bites. I am not really sure exactly what foods I can and cannot eat safely. I know I can have meat, and cheese and bread and chocolate and coffee and feel okay. But waffles are made of flour so what does that mean about eating bread? Fruits are still on my avoid list, and I think I am also going to abstain from eggs for a while.
Begrudgedly I am starting a food journal and am squintingly reading food labels and not eating out very much. I am taking a few bites and waiting before I can proceed. I am taking way too many pills and am tired of feeling sick.
It is going to be a sad Thanksgiving. A gal cannot just live on bacon and turkey. Or can I?
The irony of being a food blogger and not being able to eat food is keeping me chuckling, but life is not fun right now.
Fingers crossed this gets sorted soon.