Remember when I wrote about my allergies? No, I guess not; it was kind of boring. Well, if you’re into reading about allergies at all, this part of the tale might be remotely interesting.
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Two weeks after my initial round of allergy testing, I marched back in front of the firing squad and willingly underwent a second round, this time for food allergens. While my list of bad foods is not as long as my list of bad airborne allergens, and I knew I’d have something show up during this round of testing, I was still disappointed when my life ended 18 welts formed on my arms.
My initial reaction: WTF?!?! Who ever heard of being allergic to rice, garlic, onions, and green peas? Believe it or not, at that time green peas were my favorite vegetable.
My second reaction: Mix some of these into my allergy shots, doc, because there’s no way I’m going to be able to avoid them! I asked, and my allergist kindly explained to me that the only cure for food allergies is avoidance. Bummer.
While my reactions to foods have never involved swelling of the air passages, or skin rashes, they do involve a rather embarrassing tendency toward stomach upset of every variety. After memorizing my chart and modifying my eating habits, I began to wonder how I’d ever spent 18 years thinking my condition was normal. Had I known this several years earlier, my dating life would have been a lot more pleasant, with less worrying about where the closest bathroom would be and how I could excuse myself again without being weird.
My old favorite, Dr. P, had previously passed my upset stomach off as IBS. When I told him about my near-constant upset stomach, he had informed me that I was “too uptight about farting and the like, since I am a girl.” (IBS is, in my opinion, a great catch-all for every expression of a ticked-off digestive tract, but not in itself a diagnosis. In this case, my doctor used the term to dismiss a set of symptoms and to ignore the possibility of a controllable underlying cause.) So I’d just suffered through life, removing one food from my diet one week and another food the next, trying in vain to notice any sort of pattern.
No, I’m not allergic to peanuts. Just to crazy people.
For a while, I eliminated dairy products from my diet in order to determine if they were the cause of my stomach. . .disquiet. While the other trial-and-error food item eliminations now blur together in my memory, this one stands out because it happened while B and I were dating. B had bought a small tub of dark chocolate ice cream at the grocery store, and I had made the mistake of believing him when he’d promised to share it. Instead, he used my dairy elimination challenge against me, and we wound up chasing each other around the house, fighting over the ice cream. His family enjoyed the spectacle (especially since I’d only recently met them), but I was so upset that I immediately decided I couldn’t possibly be lactose intolerant. Here’s why:
MY LOVE OF ICE CREAM > MY FEAR OF HAVING AN UPSET STOMACH
When my allergist finally gave me a legit list of foods to avoid, I set to work avoiding them as well as I was able. For a passionate lover of all foods Mexican, Italian, and otherwise full of peppers and garlic, this wasn’t such an easy task. While I can cut foods like hazelnuts, salmon, and green peas out of my diet altogether, items such as garlic and onions have become “eat in moderation” foods that I limit to occasional meals. Sometimes I get backed into a corner by things like the evil soy-rice-almond allergen triumvirate, which has effectively limited my freedom to replace cow’s milk in my diet. See my problem? For someone who loves food as I do, food allergies are a curse!
Not all is lost, though. So when I start thinking of all the bad things I must have done in a previous life to earn my long list of present-day allergies, I focus on a single bright spot: At least I’m not lactose intolerant. Now, the only reason B will ever have a good reason to chase me around the house shouting at me to “Put the ice cream down!” will be because my love affair with it has begun contributing in an unhealthy way to the size of my arse. Here’s why:
MY LOVE OF ICE CREAM > MY FEAR OF HAVING AN UPSET STOMACH OR A BROAD BACKSIDE