This past Friday, I went to an allergist appointment for skin testing and asthma control advice. I had put off this appointment for a very long time. One was reason was because we didn’t have health insurance. Well, our health insurance finally kicked in and I was going to take full advantage of it. It wasn’t an awful appointment, I just wasn’t mentally prepared for what was about to happen.
Growing up, I’d always dealt with my allergies in a cautious manner. I asked a lot of questions, if something didn’t feel right when I ate it, I’d cut it out of my diet, I always took my antihistamines, always took my vitamins, always avoided going outside (a lot of times because I was just being lazy and using my allergies as an excuse)… The thing is, I took care of myself.
I adjusted to what I could and could not eat with ease because a lot of the things I was allergic to were actually things I didn’t enjoy consuming.
Allergic to nuts?
“Ugh, thank God. That shit doesn’t belong in anything I eat anyways.”
Allergic to bananas?
“FINALLY! Banana bread sucks.”
Allergic to life?
“Good! I didn’t ask to be born!”
Asthma attack from overexertion?
“Time to not move from this couch!”
Life was good and well controlled from my end. I only worried about my allergies when I went out to eat at new restaurants, but once they’d been dubbed safe for consumption, I had no problem eating there.
Yes, things were easy.
I had noticed I was getting nauseous from eating my usual amount of wheat breads and if I ever ate more than 2 pieces, I would instantly regret it. Every time I ate at Zaxby’s, I would feel out of breath. I was so confused. Zaxby’s was delicious! and I never got sick and tired of eating there. That Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich is the bomb. I could eat there everyday and not feel a lick of guilt… Rice started causing the same feelings of regret, and since I was having a lot of these negative, non-delicious reactions to these foods, I held off eating any more of them until my doctor’s appointment.
I didn’t think it was anything serious… Just my body being like, “Hey, you eat quite a bit of grains. Cool it.”
I thought that after my appointment and my doctor said everything was “A-Okay!” I’d go straight to Moe’s and get myself the burrito and queso I had been craving for the last week.
I’d never been so wrong in my life.
After the skin test, not only did I test positive for allergies caused by various trees, weeds, and grasses (which I already knew about, hence me never going outside), but I also tested positive for wheat.
My heart stopped.
I didn’t know what to do.
I almost started crying because after building up my wall of denial for the last 2-3 weeks, it finally came crashing down thanks to science. I couldn’t believe it. I had gone just over 27 years of being gluten-tolerant to suddenly being allergic to the delicious bastard! I mentally waved good bye to all of my favorite food items that had gluten in them. I said a farewell prayer to the restaurants I could no longer frequent. I quickly thought of all my snacks I currently had in the kitchen cabinets that were loaded with gluten. I shed a tear for my Wheat Thins, which was my favorite snack in the whole world. I’d kill a box of those tiny delicious squares within an hour of opening it. I said good bye to it all.
Luckily, since I was already well versed in the gluten-free/ paleo worlds of eats, my depressive state didn’t last that long. I still had oats, rice, corn, and every other grain under the sun! Wheat was just a convenience, not a necessity. I knew I could make this work. I could still eat sushi, pizza, bread, and what not! Nothing was THAT different.
But there was something still tickling the back of my mind. After my initial testing and going over the results with my doctor, I mentioned my other food allergies and my recent development in feeling bad when I ate rice.
Now my palms started to sweat and my thoughts started racing.
I don’t know what I was going to do if the tests came back positive for rice. That literally made everything at least 10x harder because rice was the next best thing, behind nuts, when it came to the gluten-free lifestyle. In almost every single gluten-free baking mix, rice flour is the main ingredient, followed by potato and tapioca starch. Sushi was literally 1/2 delicious rice, 1/2 other delicious stuff! I couldn’t even eat at a Chinese/ Japanese inspired restaurant because everything either had noodles, rice, or a combination of both!
Hello! Ever heard of rice wine vinegar?! They go through bottles of that stuff!
I’m married to a Spanish/ Puerto Rican! Rice is a staple at almost every meal.
If I somehow became intolerant to rice, I was stumped.
I was sure I would be divorced within the year.
RICE IS LIFE!
So, as I sat there, staring at my arm where the nurse pricked the skin, I prayed. But it was all for naught. I saw the area around the site start to redden and swell, and with each passing moment, I tried harder and harder to keep my composure. I refused to scream. I refused to cry. I refused to acknowledge that Moe’s was no longer a viable stop on my way home. I just had to keep it together until I got home.
I could do that, right?
And I did!
I got home, and went straight to bed. I was exhausted. Mentally, emotionally, physically… No one without allergies understands how tiring allergies actually are. In fact, a common symptom of an allergy attack is fatigue, and with the skin testing triggering every single allergic response my body has besides anaphylaxis (it dealt with 50+ pricks), my body just felt like it unnecessarily fought off a mob of angry bees (which I am NOT allergic to).
The physical breakdown didn’t come until I woke up and my husband came home with a giant bottle of wine. It was the officially the only alcohol I could actually drink now (outside of gluten-free/ rice-free beers and alcohol, but who has time for that?). He knew about it because throughout my entire doctor’s appointment, I was texting him, telling him everything I could no longer eat/ drink and why. I told him this appointment clarified why I was having such a negative reaction to the Bailey’s I was trying to drink the night before. It explained why I felt sick after the last time I ate Zaxby’s. It revealed why I couldn’t take more than 2 bites of my homemade chocolate chip cookies without the regrettable feeling of suffocation. IT EXPLAINED EVERYTHING!!!
AND I WAS FUCKING MISERABLE!!!
I cried on and off until the next day. My husband, not knowing what to do, stayed by my side most of the night. He tried comforting me, but failed miserably. He didn’t understand. He didn’t see it as much of an issue because I hardly ate gluten and rice as it is. He didn’t realize that my metaphorical wall finally fell and after all this time, I was having a hard time coming to terms with my predicament. I was becoming afflicted. I was getting sentimental with my future plans with gluten and rice.
I had purchased a V.I.P. ticket to Atlanta’s Brunch Festival in hopes of indulging myself in bottomless mimosas and French toast, which is my all-time favorite breakfast food.
I was sad at the thought that I couldn’t eat any of our wedding cake on our one year anniversary (which was super delicious!).
I had to reconsider any future plans I had at any food and drink festival.
I had to come to terms with the fact that I could no longer eat at Cheesecake Factory or Carrabba’s just for the bread and desserts.
I couldn’t eat at Zaxby’s anymore.
I really don’t think you understand how much I love Zaxby’s…
I had to give up sushi (not that there’s really any good places here in Atlanta. My sushi heart is still in Tampa, and it refuses to move).
If I ever went out, I’d have to be that person who gets a burger without a bun, or ask what items on the menu are gluten-/ rice-free. Now, usually I don’t mind asking about things without nuts, because no one claims to be allergic to nuts just for the heck of it, but I’ve seen and experienced how waiters react to people who claim they’re gluten-intolerant. It’s not a comfortable environment, and with so many people realizing that they feel better without gluten in their diets, claiming that they’re gluten-intolerant, the people who are actually allergic/ celiac often get lumped together with those who are just omitting it from their diets. Humans were never meant to consume wheat. That’s why so many people feel better when they remove it from their diets. It’s the same thing with dairy. The problem comes with so many people claiming something they are medically, when it really is just a self-diagnosis. It desensitizes those in the service industry to the people who really will have a severe, negative reaction to gluten. I’ve seen the behind-the-scenes heavy sighs, dramatic eye-rolls, and shaking of the heads, and with this newfound allergy to the one thing more and more people are claiming to be allergic to, it’s hard for me to feel comfortable eating outside of my home.
So, I finally broke Friday night.
It felt like 27 years of allergies were catching up to me, and the wheat/ rice allergy combo was the double cherry on top.
I felt like I had done all I could to be better, only to have my own body reverse every step I made to move forward.
I always said that, “I shouldn’t be alive. Evolution and survival of the fittest would’ve taken me out years ago.”
It was a joke before Friday, but now, I finally felt my words dripping with the truth.
It was just another thing that separated me from the rest of society. I’ve literally been cut off from almost every edible institution I used to enjoy. Whereas before, it was just Thai and specific Southern restaurants, now it’s almost every, single one.
It’s Sunday night now.
I have work tomorrow.
Thankfully, I think I’ve only cried 3 times today, and I did it while I was in the bathroom. Typing this makes it hard not to break down again, but I’m holding it together. I’m trying super hard to stay positive. I’ve been doing research to make myself feel better. I’ve found gluten-free, grain-free, and nut-free flours that I can start experimenting with. I’ve started editing my recipes to try to fully eliminate any use of wheat/ rice ingredients. In fact, I’m trying to go even further just in case any other allergies pop up. I know I can’t handle the building up and the breaking down of another wall. I’ve also started to accept the fact that I’m going to have to work at least 10x as hard to not die now. Nuts were easier to avoid compared to wheat and rice. I’m already building a new list of safe places to eat. Right now, I’ve only got 3 restaurants.
- Wing Stop
- Boston Market
- Chili’s (bunless burgers FTW!)
I’m also working on a new list of questions to ask people when I go out to eat. It’s just so much extra work that I’m already tempted on being a hermit forever.
But I can’t.
My husband won’t let me.