So, as I mentioned before, growing up my only allergies were mild. I avoided them when I could, but the consequences for forgetfulness weren’t all that extreme.
And then I broke my back, and within the year I was given my very own Epipen to carry around.
I won’t get into what happened my back, but sufficed to say my allergist thinks the trauma *may* have caused my body to start suddenly identifying normal foods as allergens. That, or my metabolism changed and I developed Oral Allergy Syndrome like the rest of my family.
To those of you reading along because you know me, but have no idea what I’m talking about… OAS happens when foods related to certain environmental pollens cause the body to release histamines. In most cases, it’s a mild reaction, itchy mouth, throat, tongue, occasionally facial hives. Usually peeling or cooking the fruit/veg prevents it. In 4% of cases, it triggers an anaphylactic reaction to even minute amounts of the cooked fruit. Anaphylaxis means that my body is trying so hard to get rid of the allergen that it could actually kill me. I’m part of that 4%. Lucky me!?!
Anyways, the first time I figured out that I had multiple food allergies was Canada Day, 2010. We were celebrating my sister’s birthday, and my tongue suddenly went numb. We suspected either some apple juice, or the raw cherries I’d savoured. I downed some liquid Benadryl, watched the fireworks in a bit of a stupor, and life went on.
By September we decided it was time to test our theory, and see if it was the cherry. I ate a very small amount, and sure enough, my tongue and lips swelled a little and got numb again. More Benadryl, but no real concern.
And then I totally forgot about it. Oooops. The next spring I went to a party, and drank some fancy fruit juice. Oooops. Pretty much immediately I realized my mistake, as my mouth started disassociating itself with the rest of my body. I read the label- and in an instant remembered that cherries were a known enemy.
[Insert swear word here]. As I hunted down the hostess to find Benadryl, I tried not to panic. I started wheezing, took my ventolin, and tried to find ways to hurry up the search without being rude. We eventually found some pink blister pills under a sink, but there was no box. £^€#! By this point my hands were swelling, my tongue felt thick, and I couldn’t quash the feeling that something was very very wrong. We ended up looking up the DIN number on the blister pack, and a quick google search revealed it to be “nadryl”. Close enough, I thought, took 25mg, and beat a hasty retreat.
I probably should have made my boyfriend drive the rental car, but thankfully I made it home safely before noticing that my hands had swollen again. Oooops. More Benadryl, and sleep fixed the problem.
I’m not sure where I was in relating that story to the doc when she started writing out the epi prescription for me. I’d been trained in first aid for about a decade by then, but I still cried in the parking lot for a half hour once I’d walked downstairs and filled it.
Little did I know that was only the beginning…