Last night when I got home from my trip, my adult son was eating some carryout Chinese food. There were several open, still-warm boxes sitting on the kitchen counter and my other son started dishing it up for himself. There was plenty, and it smelled so, so good! But I'd already eaten. All I had left to eat for the day was a Medifast meal. That Chinese food was not on my plan for the day. I looked into the open boxes: sweet and sour chicken, pork with noodles, and a mostly-vegetable dish with small pieces of beef in it. "Well," I rationalized, "that veggie dish looks very low carb. I can just have *one bite.* I just want to taste it. That won't hurt anything." And I picked out a little piece of beef as small as a quarter. I put it in my mouth and ate it. It tasted really good. And then, my mouth started to tingle. I wondered if I was imagining things. The back of my throat started to tingle, too. I turned to my son who walked into the kitchen. "What is this?" I asked. "Beef with oyster sauce. You're not allergic to oysters, are you?"
Apparently I am. We already knew I am severely allergic to shellfish including mollusks; the skin prick test at the allergist's office made my whole arm swell up when testing for shrimp, lobster, crab, and clams. Within minutes of swallowing that bite of beef, my tongue was swelling and it was hard to swallow. I broke out the liquid Benedryl, drank 60 mg worth, pulled out the Epi-pens and my son and I headed to the hospital just minutes away. They hooked me up right away, gave me a hefty dose of steroids, and monitored my airway which thankfully did not close. Thank goodness for keeping liquid Benedryl handy. A few hours later they sent me home with a 5-day script of steroids and instructions to continue the Benedryl until all symptoms subside.
Well. I can't tell you just how scared I was. I have had severe reactions before and they can be life-threatening. I laid there thinking, "Am I going to die because I tasted ONE BITE of that stupid Chinese food? I did this to myself because I didn't say NO to that stupid off-plan bite!" My blood pressure was 175/100, my heart was racing, I wasn't sure what was going to happen to me. It was very scary. And while this is an extreme example of the possibility of losing one's life from one off-plan bite, it is a GOOD example. Because that one bite of brownie COULD damage your health. That one mini candy bar COULD spiral you out of control into a binge. That one Dorito COULD be the thing that derails you from weight loss and sends you into regain mode.
Granted, I'd never have taken that bite if I had *known* it contained an allergen. But that's the thing. You just never know what big effect something might have on you. We never bring shrimp of crab or anything like that into the house, but this was off everyone's radar. But I *had* been warned. The allergy doctor had told me, "I'd stay away from Chinese restaurants. There's a lot of cross contamination. The majority of my patients who have severe allergic reactions to a food have them from eating at Chinese restaurants. It's too big a risk." But I didn't listen. I was *careful.* But he was right. And I risked my life for that bite. If I had gone all-out and dished up a whole plate of that stuff and eaten it quickly, I could have died. I am never going to put my life on the line for ANY food again.
I feel like someone beat me up today. I am exhausted and have a flu-ish, sore feeling. They said that would happen and is normal for the reaction I had. I do have more to say about my trip, my eating, and a weigh in but this post is long enough. Will come back later and write again.