I have never really had to worry about food allergies before. If I eat a kiwi my tongue gets swollen and sore but it’s really easy to avoid kiwi (even though it’s delicious) so I have always been able to galavant through restaurants and grocery stores and buy whatever the hell I wanted to buy without taking any precautions. I’m a huge lover of cheap chocolate and every box or bag of cheap chocolate I’ve ever eaten says “may contain traces of nuts.” And my response to that is “who gives a damn?” and then I eat the whole box in one sitting.
So I didn’t think anything of it when a professor came into my office one day upon return from a conference in Europe and offered me a fine Belgian chocolate. Of course I wanted to eat a fine belgian chocolate at 9 a.m. Who wouldn’t? So I bit into it and noticed a pistachio in the middle of it. I looked down at it and thought “oh, a pistachio! Not my favourite but oh well, still delicious enough!” and I finished off the chocolate. I thanked the professor and went back to work. A couple minutes later I realized I was scratching my arms like I had just taken a bath in a tub full of fleas. That’s when I realized I was covered in a rash. And that’s when my tongue got really itchy and then so did my throat and my ears. And that’s when my chest got really tight and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. And that’s when my boss realized I was going into anaphylactic shock and gave me Reactine and drove me to the hospital.
So I arrived at the hospital and told the nurse what was happening. “Oh, you have a nut allergy!?” she asked. “Umm…not to my knowledge,” I replied. “I guess I have been allergic to nuts for about 10 minutes now.”
They rushed me in to the emergency room where they made me put on a gown so they could put a bunch of stickers on my stomach and boobs to monitor me. Then I got an epi pen jabbed into my stomach. I didn’t feel any different so I kind of figured the epi pen wasn’t working because maybe I wasn’t actually having an allergic reaction. Then the nurse told me I had to get an IV in my arm. I immediately texted Boyfriend and told him his presence was needed at the hospital. I loathe IVs because once a nurse had to mop up a puddle of my blood from an IV error. So of course this was the factor that made Boyfriend a necessary addition to this hospital trip. This particular “I’m at hospital” text probably never comes as a shock to Boyfriend, even though I usually only end up in the hospital when he is at his friend’s house for game night because apparently my body doesn’t want him to hang out with his friends. He was surprised, however, to find out that the reason his presence was requested at the nearest emergency department was because I was having an allergic reaction to nuts.
I got my IV which was hooked up to some benadryl and prednisone and then I was told to lay back and relax while they monitored me. “This isn’t that bad,” I thought. And then the adrenaline kicked in. My heart started beating faster than it would if I had been in the same room as Dean Winchester and I felt like maybe, just maybe, I was also having an allergic reaction to adrenaline because now my body might be allergic to everything in the world, and that maybe, just maybe, I was going to die. I yelled out to the nurse and asked her if I was dying. She assured me that I was not. She said what I was feeling was normal. I’m not sure what she thinks the word “normal” means but I can guarantee it was not that. I was certain I was going to die before Boyfriend showed up.
Sure enough I didn’t die because normal means something way different when you’re sick and Boyfriend showed up to hold my hand and make fun of me the appropriate amount when your girlfriend is in the hospital and needs to smile but also needs to feel like her boyfriend cares about the fact that she almost died. I told him that I had to get an IV and I recall telling him that “I had been very brave throughout it.” I was highly drugged but I’m pretty sure he rolled his eyes at this.
I began shaking a lot and kept telling Boyfriend that I was shaking a lot, as if he couldn’t notice for himself. And then my drugged up mind got it in my head that I needed to play the game Smash Up so I demanded that Boyfriend text our friend Ian and bring Smash Up to the hospital. He refused to oblige because he was afraid that Ian would actually show up in the emergency room with a game for us to play.
There was a blood pressure cuff left on my arm that automatically checked my blood pressure and heart rate every fifteen minutes. Boyfriend kept looking at it and then started saying things to see how my blood pressure or heart rate would react. He turned to me and said “you just flat-lined.” That made my heart rate go up very high. Then he said I might not be able to eat Rose Bud chocolates anymore. I’m sure that made it go up even higher than being told I had flat-lined. Cheap rose bud chocolates that I get for 89 cents a box at Shoppers Drug Mart are my favourite snack ever. A life without rose buds is a life I’m not sure I would enjoy. Sure I have a caring boyfriend, great friends, a lovely job, and lots of other great things – but no rose buds? No thanks. (I’m exaggerating a tad by the way)
After an hour of being hooked up to the IV the doctor said it was safe for me to go home and told me that I have to get an allergy test and 2 epi pens. So Boyfriend took me to the pharmacy where I paid 230 dollars for 2 epi pens and tried to bribe him into telling me it was okay to just have one because it was cheaper. But he was pretty adamant about me not dying so he insisted I get the second one as well. Pfffft.
So I huffed and puffed on the way home about how much money I just spent on medication that can keep me alive and how I couldn’t afford that oversized red reading chair I found on kijiji because of this set back. And then I played Smash Up with Ian.
When I returned to work the next day one of my coworkers told me that people actually go to the hospital to fake the symptoms of an allergic reaction just to get an epi pen and benadryl because of the rush it gives you. And my response to that is “are you fucking insane?” I don’t understand why anyone would want to feel like they are going to die from Acute Heart Explosion Syndrome.
So now I can’t eat anything that “may contain nuts” until I get an allergy test. Which means goodbye sweet inexpensive chocolate. I will miss you so much. Hopefully we will be reunited soon.
Ps. That was directed at the chocolate, not you. No offense.