"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Monday, May 09, 2011

Note to Self: Maybe you don't like it for a reason.

I don't like shellfish. I'm really not a fan of seafood in general, but shellfish brings up the rear. I'm kind of the family weirdo in that regard, because Mike and all four kids LOVE it - all of it - and could eat it every day of their lives and never get sick of it. But as much as I'd like to like it (it seems like such a fun and fancy food) the texture grosses me out, the smell puts me off, and truth be told I'm not really keen on even looking at them.... all those little piles of shells and legs and eyeballs and bits on the plate when they're done. Ick.

I do still try it occasionally though. I know tastes change, and palettes mature. And like I said, I would love to be able to enjoy it.

You can imagine then, given my lifetime quest for irony, how thrilled I am to discover at 37 that

I am in fact allergic to shellfish.  My first-ever known allergy.

But I'm getting little ahead of myself. Yesterday was Mother's Day, and we had a really lovely day at home. Mike and the boys cooked me brunch, we had Luna for a few hours, and otherwise just enjoyed a lazy family day with nowhere to be.

My favorite:  chocolate chip pancakes with whipped cream
Towards the end of the day, Everett and I were feeling a little house-bound and stir-crazy.   I suggested Chinese food.  We wanted to find someplace new, so after a little bit of searching, we decided to try a local buffet that came recommended.  Ironically, we almost didn't go.  Tegan was having a rough afternoon (have I mentioned that she's three, and that  being three is hard?) and was having a difficult time transitioning from playing half naked at home to getting dressed and getting in the car.  We did eventually get everyone out of the house, and we headed off - excited - for our nice dinner out.

The food I normally go for was unfortunately very mediocre, but there was a ton of seafood options, so the boys were absolutely thrilled.  They went up to the bar again and again for clams, crab legs, crawdads, cold shrimp, fried shrimp, spicy shrimp, sushi.  They loved it, and seeing them enjoy it was more than enough of a Mother's Day gift for me.

Spencer got an S-shaped shrimp. :)

I tried my once-every-few-years token bite of shrimp, and a whole little clam.   Paxton gave me a small taste of his crab leg too,  so I added that to the mix.  Less than half an hour later, I started itching.  First around my face, then on my stomach, then ALL OVER.  And it was crazy itching... the kind of itching that makes you want to claw your skin off, and the kind of itching that is impolite to address in a public place.   

But the time we were heading out to the car, joking about making a return visit, my lips were tingling and my throat felt weird.  We briefly talked about the Emergency Room,  but decided to try some Benadryl first.  I wasn't having trouble breathing, and despite the insane itching, I barely had a single hive.  We stopped at CVS, Mike ran in for the pills, and we drove the rest of the few minutes home.    A half hour after the Benadryl, none of the symptoms were abating, and an hour later I was starting to feel sick to my stomach as well.    I called our insurance co's 24-hr nurse hot line and told her what was going on.  She was very upbeat and nonchalant as she told me, "Okay, I need you to hang up and call 911.  Since you're not getting any relief from your symptoms, and it's now affecting your stomach, it sounds like it's become systemic.  That could turn  serious very quickly."

Happy Mother's Day to me?

Five minutes later, we heard the siren.  Our little living room was suddenly filled with 4 fire fighters and all their equipment, 2 of our kids, Mike, and myself... pathetically sitting on the couch in my pajamas, uncontrollably shaking and heart beating wildly (later they'd tell me that in addition to the allergic symptoms, I'd probably also gotten "amped up" from the Benadryl.  Most people it makes sleepy, but in others it has the opposite effect.  I'm apparently one of the latter.)   And yes, I was also high on adrenaline, freaked out from the "Hang up and call 911" instruction.  Once they determined that my breathing wasn't compromised, and that my blood pressure wasn't too low - it was actually on the high side - things moved slowly.  They got me set up with an IV, kept reminding me to calm down and breathe, and called an ambulance to get me to the hospital to get checked out fully. 

All told, I spent 4 hours at the hospital.    They pumped me with more antihistamines, anti-nausea meds, steroids, and pepcid.  They hooked me up to the monitor to watch my blood pressure, respiration, and oxygen.  I watched the little screen as everything kicked in and returned to normal.   My throat still felt weird and swollen (and still does a little bit the next morning)  but I was no longer nauseated.  I'd stopped itching, stopped tingling, stopped shaking, and my freaked out heart rate had come back down.   I took an hour long nap, which did not go unappreciated.  I finally came home at 3:00 this morning, with 3 prescriptions in hand, including one for an epi-pen that I hope to never have to use.  I have to take some medication for 5 days just to be on the safe side, and to ward off any potential rebound effects.  After that, I should be as good as new.

Lessons learned:  1) I will hereby officially avoid shellfish (and likely Chinese food in general for awhile)  and I will be unapologetic about it.  2) Life really IS all about the detours, and 3) Sometimes, you just have to laugh. 

All things considered, it truly was a very nice Mother's Day.... and it's definitely not one I'll be forgetting any time soon.



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