My Week 195: It’s The Allergies That Are Annoying, Not Me

The other day at work, I was just standing in the kitchen, thinking about nothing in particular, like LITERALLY minding my own business, when the guy who oversees the kitchen things came in and said to me, “Is that your toast in the toaster oven?” And while this may seem like a perfectly innocuous question, like something you would say just to make conversation, there was an insidious undertone to it that you would only recognize if, like me, you work in a place where you are NOT ALLOWED to leave toast unattended in the toaster oven. “Because I came in earlier,” he continued ominously, “and there was no one here.”

I was a little freaked out and didn’t want to be blamed for the toast insurrection, so I immediately said the first thing that came into my mind, which was “No—I don’t eat gluten” to which he replied, “There’s such a thing as gluten-free bread, you know,” and I responded with “Well, I don’t even like bread that much anyway” and it was in that moment that I thought, ‘I’ve become a vegan’. And by that, I don’t mean that I have decided to no longer eat anything vaguely animal-ish, I just mean that, like a vegan, I somehow felt it necessary to unnecessarily announce that I am a ‘gluten-free person’. Although I was under a certain amount of duress. (If you’re not sure what I mean by any of this, I refer you to the well-known joke: Q: How do you know if someone is a vegan? A: Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. No offense, vegans.)

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I had to take gluten out of my diet several years ago because I have arthritis, and gluten makes it worse. Technically, I COULD eat the stuff, and would, if I knew I wouldn’t wake up in the morning with fingers that are too swollen to bend. But this is the least of my worries, and the least of the reasons how I’ve become a total pain in the ass to my coworkers. Two weeks ago, for example, one of the teams decided to throw a party for all the staff who were having birthdays. I came in, and right next to my office was a lovely table set up with cake (no, surprisingly, this is not the problem because I CAN eat other stuff), and several balloon bouquets, which definitely are a problem, since I also have a latex allergy. The smell of balloons makes me stuffy and wheezy, so I kind of looked and said, “Oh, are those latex balloons?” (just to check, because you can get non-latex ones) and the very nice woman who had put them up realized that it was a problem and insisted on taking them down immediately, even though I said I could just stay in my office until the party was over. I felt guilty and a bit like a whiny ass, because she’d obviously gone to a lot of trouble decorating. But then the next day, the same very nice woman was in the kitchen and she was just about to microwave her lunch, which had copious amounts of shrimp in it, and because I’m also deathly allergic to shellfish and the allergy became airborne two years ago, I asked if I could microwave mine first so that I could be out of the kitchen when she cooked hers. Of course, she let me, and apologized for having shrimp, to which I said, “Don’t apologize—you’re allowed to eat whatever you want!” And then I felt even worse, like not only had I ruined her party, but also her lunch.

Then later that afternoon, she came to my office:

Very Nice Lady: I was just wondering if there’s anything else you’re allergic to, so I know not to bring it to work.
Me: (laughing) Unless you’re planning on dosing me with codeine or forcefeeding me avocado and bananas, I think we’re good.
Very Nice Lady: (also laughing) OK, because I was worried that you were going to think I was trying to murder you or something.

And now she totally could, because I just told her what would actually kill me, so I better stay on her good side.

But allergies are the worst for the following reasons:

1) It’s hard to eat at restaurants.

The first question I always have to ask at any restaurant other than McDonald’s is “Do you fry your French fries in the same fryer as your shellfish?” Not because I’m a dick and I’m testing the culinary knowledge of the wait staff, but because even that slight amount of cross-contamination will make me extremely sick. Most of the time, they immediately say No, and I get all happy and excited at the thought of eating something other than McDonalds’s fries, but then they always come back to the table 5 minutes later to say they actually checked and Yes, they do. Well, cancel my damn order then. Sigh.

2) You have to read all the ingredients on all the labels. And not just the food ones.

A couple of months ago, a friend from work gave me this ‘naturopathic’ cream for dry skin. It smelled heavenly, all lavender oil and whatnot, so I slathered it lavishly over my legs and then wiped the excess off my hands onto my chest and arms. Then I went to work. Within a very short time, my skin felt like it was burning, but I thought “Oh, it’s just the cream doing its work” which doesn’t even make any sense because what cream ‘works’ by making you feel all burn-y? But by the time I got home, I was kind of in a lot of pain, and by 7 pm, I had broken out in a violent rash all over my legs, chest, and arms, and it was spreading. So I looked carefully at the cream and realized that one of the main ingredients was PLANTAIN. Plantain is a type of banana. I had just smeared myself with the paste of something I am very allergic to. Who the f*ck makes cream out of bananas?! It took almost two weeks for it to “clear my system” as my doctor put it when I went to him and had to admit that I had done something akin to stuffing calamari up my own nose.

3) People don’t always take you seriously.

Many years ago, I had to have surgery. I told the surgeon that I was allergic to codeine:

Surgeon: No, you’re not.
Me: Yes, I am.
Surgeon: It’s just a sensitivity.
Me: No, I’m pretty sure it’s an allergy.
Surgeon: Whatevs.

After I came out of surgery, I was feeling OK, but after a while, they took me off the IV meds and started giving me pills. Within the half hour, I started feeling short of breath, dizzy, and broke out in a rash. Then I started to throw up, which is NOT something you want to do right after an abdominal surgery. When the nurse came running in, I asked, mid-vomit, “You’re not giving me codeine, are you? Because I’m allergic to codeine,” to which she replied rather hysterically something like “OhMyGodYes, nobody told us!! It’s not in your chart!!”

When I had my last surgery two years ago, Ken was so worried that he kept telling the nurses to remember that I was allergic to codeine. Right before they wheeled me in, the Operating Room nurse handed me a couple of Tylenol, and Ken literally stopped her with his hand and said, “There’s no codeine in that, right?” The nurse just looked at him and said in a kind of salty way, “WE KNOW. It’s in her chart. EVERYWHERE.” But I was superhappy that Ken was so vigilant because there is nothing quite like the hell that is throwing up after abdominal surgery.

In fact, Ken is the only person who’s actually HAPPY about my plethora of allergies for the following reason:

Me: If I go into anaphylaxis, do you know how to give me my epipen?
Ken: Of course. We do training every year at work.
Me: (snort) There’s a huge difference between playing around with a fake epipen and having to stab your own wife in the thigh with a real one.
Ken: Oh, it’ll be OK. Heh, heh, heh. It’ll be fun.
Me: Why are you laughing?! What do you mean ‘fun’?!
Ken: No reason.
Me: Are you looking at this as some kind of weird revenge for the time I buried your slippers in the garden?
Ken: Of course not. Heh heh. I will also happily Heimlich you if the opportunity ever arises. Wait—what was that about my slippers?

Blue to the sky, orange to the thigh.

So now I have a new rhyme to help me remember how the epipen works: Blue to the sky, orange to the thigh, Ken gets his kicks and I don’t die.

So let me summarize what you should take out of this in case you just skipped to the end (but if you did, you might be confused and slightly frightened):

a) People are generally really decent when it comes to protecting me from possible death, although Ken’s enthusiasm is a little disconcerting.
b) It’s not a secret burial if you tell someone about it.
c) I need to grow a spine and stop taking guff from the kitchen guy, like “I don’t have all day to watch TOAST, DAVE!”


46 thoughts on “My Week 195: It’s The Allergies That Are Annoying, Not Me

  1. You make me laugh out loud, every single time!!!!!! Oh, and it sucks about all of your allergies and you should totally sue that fucking surgeon. Thank you, again, for bring laughter into my morning!!!!!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Lynn Blair says:

    I’m sorry to hear of your food allergies. I know they suck something fierce.

    I’m glad I don’t have any but I do have hay fever. That’s bad enough. Out of curiosity do you take allergy shots or anything?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had allergy shots years ago for just regular seasonal allergies, but ironically, I had to stop because I’m also allergic to the preservatives that they use in the shots! Gosh, I’m a pain in the butt! But I have to say, the few I had must have worked because I don’t have anywhere near the trouble that I used to with pollen at least!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So you got to confess to burying Ken’s slippers, Ken got to know what happened to his slippers, and Titus can relax because he knew he was going to be blamed if anyone ever dug up those slippers. Everybody wins!
    And shouldn’t a surgeon who is, you know, a doctor, take allergies seriously? When you’re about to go under the knife you shouldn’t have to worry about saying, “Don’t give me codeine, DAVE!” At least you’ve got nice coworkers who only accidentally try to kill you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • But now I have a husband who will bide his time, waiting for the moment that he can plunge a needle into my leg in retaliation! Although, if he saves my life, then it’s still a win-win! (And Titus will get a cookie just for looking on sympathetically, of course!)

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I am so lucky because I am not allergic to anything. Like, zilch. Your doctor was a dick, and I can’t even process the fact that he dismissed you so easily, then very nearly killed you. Wtf, man? Hopefully, he spends eternity plagued with an itch everywhere, including down there! I am a vegetarian who is considering going vegan, but I SWEAR, if and when I do, I won’t go around announcing it like some big asshole. Thanks for the giggles, as always!! 😂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I just love you. I am NOT celebrating your allergies, but you do have a way with the keystrokes that entertains me a great deal while you’re busy not dying. Now stop not watching bread become toast, would ya?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ironically, I’m sitting here reading your post and sneezing my head off. Don’t worry, I’m not allergic to your blog — it’s the weather. I live in Texas and moisture (which is coming in from the Gulf) and sunshine make plants grow, so there’s pollen — which I’m allergic too — voila! I’m miserable. Happens every time. However, as miserable as I am with my allergies, at least I don’t have the kind that will kill me — at least not right away. I do believe Mother Nature has some kind of vendetta against me, though. As to your co-worker, I think it was HIS toast in the toaster oven, and he’d come to retrieve it. All of a sudden you’re there, and he’s busted — so he went on the offense so it wouldn’t look like he was the one who was doing something wrong. BTW, why is it wrong to toast bread in y’all’s toaster oven, again? Oh, well. Also, I agree with your other readers, you should have sued the hell out of your surgeon! What a jerk! One of these days, he’s going to actually kill someone in a similar situation. Why do people have to be that way?!!!!!! Stay healthy my friend!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. “Heh, heh, heh. It’ll be fun.”
    I like Ken.
    I mean, love you too, obviously, but I think I’m on Ken’s wavelength: come the Zombie Apocalypse (while many around us will be in a state of panic) we’ll be admiring each other’s backhand decapitation technique.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Most people are pretty good about helping others out if they have allergies and doing what they can.

    But I’ve thought about this in regard to peanut allergies. In the last 10 years, there’s been a lot of steps taken to protect folks with peanut allergies. But what did people do before, when everyone wasn’t so aware?

    Maybe: 1. There just weren’t as many people with serious allergies. maybe it’s gotten a lot worse.
    2. Maybe people with serious allergies were locked away in their homes and never came out, so they wouldn’t be exposed.
    3. Maybe they did get exposed and died.

    It’s better now, regardless.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Personally, I don’t think there are fewer people with peanut allergies; I think people with them rarely survived to adulthood until recently when schools and other institutions developed ‘no nut’ policies, and epipens are required in school first aid kits. I remember when I was teaching, a student had an anaphylactic reaction that sent her to the hospital. There were no nuts in the room at the time, but the night before at Night School, that class had a Hallowe’en party. She reacted to something that must have been on the desk or in the air from the night before. Luckily we had a couple of epipens in the first aid kit because she needed two shots before the ambulance came. It was awful seeing her like that, crying and thinking that she might die. Thank goodness that’s not as common anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a fantastic post!! Allergies really are a huge pain in the butt!! I do not have food allergies, but I do suffer with other allergies. I really enjoyed reading your post and look forward to reading many more!! I hope if you have the time you will check out mine, as I do aim to encourage and inspire others through the words I share. I hope you have a nice evening!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Yikes. Allergies are no fun at all. The vigilance required is crazy – but, you know, death.
    Sean has to give me a shot every week, and he claims it hurts him as much as it hurts me, but I see the gleeful glint in his eye. There is truth there: the husbands do enjoy a small amount of stabbing. Very cathartic.


  12. it sucks when DR’s don’t take you seriously.

    But on the topic of allergies. I think the worst I had ever seen was my sister’s friend’s little brother.

    My family knew he was allergic to dairy. But my mom took us to Fresh choice (salad bar buffet with lots of healthy options.)

    Me, being the oldest, my mom said “Take (sister), (friend,) and (friend’s brother)” to the dessert station- try to find something he can eat.

    I got my dessert first and left him alone with the soft serve ice cream machine. He got ice cream ON HIS ARM. He did not ingest anything, it was only on his arm. But the damage to his skin was freaky. We had to get him to the emergency room.

    So later on when I worked as a substitute teacher when someone says “This child has an egg allergy, do not let her share food with anyone.” i take it seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh the poor kid! It reminds me of my cousin who’s allergic to so many things. Even at 16, they just went to a vegan restaurant and he still reacted to something—no one knows what, which is even scarier. Probably better to never eat at restaurants!


  13. I’ve become an obsessive label reader thanks to The Elimination Diet of Sadness and man, I can’t believe some of the random stuff they shoehorn into products. If it doesn’t have corn, it has soy. If it doesn’t have soy it has sunflower oil. If it doesn’t have sunflower oil then it has twenty-nine different pseudonyms for sugar and was processed in a facility that may have exposed it to tree nuts, eggs, dairy, legumes, unsavory smells, restless leg syndrome, and Donald Trump’s hate tweets.

    And that’s without the added worry that a whiff of the wrong thing might potentially kill me.

    Also WTF is with medical personnel who don’t believe patients about their allergies? Of all the people in the world who should take that shit seriously!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Omg! I had an anaphylactic reaction to someone’s shellfish in the home I live in right now last night. I rolled into the kitchen and sushi was out and I was like, “fuck… at least I know I’ll get some sleep tonight, I guess,” because I take Benadryl and Zantac75 at the onset before I even react to keep from needing the epi. I survived but I did look like I had lip injections overnight.

    I love not being normal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh, that’s scary–I think my worst reaction was when I ate squid a few years ago not knowing that squid is considered shellfish! I’d never had it before (It was Crispy Deep-Fried Squid with a Spicy Peanut Sauce) and it was so delicious. I had no idea it would almost kill me!. But at least we save a lot of money on lip filler.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m a New York City native, but having spent the last eighteen years in Los Angeles, everyone back home worries that I’ve gone “Californian.” Rather than allay their anxiety, I exploit it: If someone back home offers me bread, I’ll say something like, “I trust this is gluten-free?” The look of confusion and/or frustration that comes over their faces is priceless!

    Liked by 1 person

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