Saturday, September 28, 2013

I Know It's Been A While...

...And there's lots to tell. But the most recent events come first.

The most recent is that I've officially had Enough of dealing with metformin side effects and I'm back to dreaming about insulin. My blood sugars may be happier with the increased dose of met, but my GI system is NOT. I have an endocrinologist appt in just under three weeks. I'm not looking forward to the conversation I'm going to have with him.

The next most recent is that I had TWO (or three) airborne allergic reactions to nuts over the three day holiday we just had (actually, it was an eight-day holiday and only two of the three days I'm referring to were actually part of that holiday...the last was just plain old normal shabbos...and here is where things get too complicated to explain unless you're a religious Jew and know exactly what I'm talking about).

The first was on Thursday night. We went to shul (synagogue) for a holiday called Simchas Torah. Basically, in this holiday the men get to make utter fools of themselves and the women get to watch and talk to each-other.

A very important aspect (if you're a kid) of this holiday is getting small packages with candies and other treats inside. For years one of my neighbors made them, then we did for quite a while, followed by this year, when we said that enough was too much and my neighbor went back to doing it.

She used to just put in pretzels and a water bottle and some small things. This year she put TONS of things in, including a candy called nutty chews, which are the Jewish equivalent of Snicker's bars.

I'm airborne allergic to peanut...if it's being cooked. But that night, I started having trouble breathing within minutes of her having handed out the packages. My sister and I left, and we ended up going to a neighbor's house to have somewhere to go and something to do. (She and her son are both airborne allergic to nuts, so they left as soon as the packages were handed out.) I didn't take Benadryl (too stubborn) until about 12:30 that night, when my cough and shortness of breath disappeared within ten minutes.

The next night we went to the same neighbor's house (the one who made the packages, not the one allergic to nuts). She had made a bunch of salads, and they had nuts in them. I literally walked into her kitchen and couldn't breathe--that was all it took. I sat in her living room, took a Benadryl, and didn't say a word.

My sister thinks I'm out of my mind. Since when am I airborne to pecans and peanuts and hazelnuts and everything else? Therefore, in her mind, I must be making it up. It makes me terribly angry that I'm the only one around here who gets it. But it also scares me--because if my sister, who lives with me and knows I never leave the house within an epi-pen, won't believe me, then why should the server in a restaurant or the people I go to for meals?

I hate having a food allergy. I hate being neurotic and interrogating the people who give me food. I hate being that nutcase (no pun intended) who comes over sometimes and freaks out when there are nuts around. It seems so innocuous to everyone else--to me, it's literally deadly.

On Thursday, we went to the N's. We go to the N's every, single week--almost without fail. During holidays like this, we're often there a few times in the same week.

They threw a birthday party for my father. There was a cake, some fruit, and lots of little things like chocolate covered pretzels and trail mix.

If you don't have a nut allergy, you probably just skipped over "trail mix" the same way you did over "fruit" and "chocolate covered pretzels". My heart skipped a beat reading it over.

I couldn't believe that they had put out trail mix (with walnuts! my archenemy!) along with everything else. Like the chocolate covered pretzels coated in nuts aren't bad enough.

I sat at the other side of the table. When it was passed my way, I pushed my chair all the way to the wall. Thankfully, we were outside. I had a mild, mild reaction (enough to pretend that it wasn't a reaction) and I moved on.

These people don't remember--almost ever. I have to interrogate them every, single time I go over there. We eat there every week. How hard is it to remember that I could die if someone ate that stuff in front of me?

I had a bad experience in my favorite restaurant a few weeks ago. I ordered an eggplant rolatini, which I've had about a thousand times before. I cut it open, and there were little, green flecks inside the ricotta cheese, which I've never seen before in this restaurant.

I got up and asked the manager (who makes it his business to not only be nice to me but also go crazy over trace amounts because he has a strict "no dying in my restaurant" policy) about the green flecks. As I'd suspected, they were pesto. Pesto has nuts in it--usually pine nuts, but I've heard of walnuts being used. This time it was almonds.

He literally turned dead-white. This energetic, wonderful man nearly fainted just because I had green flecks in my food. This is someone who gets it.

I ended up getting a new order without pesto, no problems, no questions asked. The event chilled me for a day and then I moved on. This happens All. The. Time. I almost eat something I shouldn't, I don't, then I move on.

(For the record, he hadn't known there was pesto in the eggplant rolatini until he asked the chef. They changed chefs a few weeks ago and he still hasn't figured out what has been changed. He said that he was going to speak to the chef to go over what has which allergens in it. He will NOT let this happen again, as he has assured me. I trust him, so I believe him. It will not happen again. I can continue eating safely in his restaurant.)

But this is my reality. I live in constant fear of having a reaction. I keep epi-pens with me for a reason, after all. I read food labels. I'm careful.

But the people around me aren't. Many of the people around me have no regard for food allergies, no response to "you could have killed me", no second thought that maybe what they're doing isn't safe.

It's a ridiculous notion to them. I've even met some doctors who tell me it's no big deal. Like hell it isn't. It's the single scariest thing that could happen to me in a split second.

The scariest part is that this allergy keeps getting worse. I used to only be allergic to walnuts, and mildly so at that. It quickly progressed to peanuts and almonds, followed by, well, everything. Then I was airborne allergic to walnuts. Then hazelnuts. Then everything. What's next? Anaphylaxis from seeing a Snicker's bar?

There's a new (supposedly) miraculous allergy drug called Xolair. I might just go back to seeing an allergist to see if it's worth a try. To think that I might not have to constantly have my ears primed for hearing "nut" at the end of every word might be wonderful. It wouldn't be a cure--there's no such thing yet and I don't expect one in my lifetime--but it would be something.

And that's everything I'm putting in this post.

"If you're lost and alone/ Know you're sinkin' like a stone/ Carry On" ~Fun.