We all know about what happens to the body during an allergic reaction, but we don’t talk much about the emotions of an allergic reaction. How and what you are feeling during and after the reaction. I was, unfortunately, reminded of this last week when I ended up at the hospital.
The Allergic reaction
We went to eat out at a restaurant I felt 100% sure about. The two times we had eaten there, the kitchen was super attentive and made me feel extremely secure.
Halfway through the main course something was not right, my lips felt super itchy, and my tongue and mouth felt swollen. I asked the waiter about the dish and explained what I was feeling. He double checked with the chefs and confirmed it was allergen free, that everything was made on clean surfaces and with new utensils. The symptoms did not seem to change, so I took Benadryl.
There was something in the dish that I had never had before, mixed wild greens. I have no problems with lettuces so thought it would be ok. The waiter was quite worried about what was going on, and he added that one of the lettuces was poison ivy, which may be the problem. (Whattttt! Poison ivy! Why would you serve that?) My hubby gave it a try and said that it made his mouth feel a little funny. I guessed I was just having a stronger reaction, maybe related to pollen since it’s spring.
As we were heading home, I began to feel really nauseous, cold and didn’t want to move. My stomach was in knots, and all I wanted to do was vomit (which I ended up doing all over the street… nightmare situation). I just wanted to get home. As we were driving, I started to feel worse and flustered. Since my hubby has seen this before, he asked if we should go to the hospital and I said yes. Luckily it was only a couple of minutes away. Once at the hospital I got an IV and everything deescalated from there.
The emotions of an allergic reaction
There is nothing worse than the feeling of not knowing what is happening with your body. The symptoms I experienced all point to an allergic reaction: swelling of the mouth, tongue and lips, itchy lips and mouth, stomach pains, vomiting, itchy ears (came later), and sore throat. I did not experience any of the symptoms I had during my last anaphylactic episode, but then again not every reaction will play out the same way. I also have no clue whether it was a trace of an allergen or the poison ivy. The unknown of what caused the reaction is incredibly frustrating, especially when the kitchen is sure everything was safe.
When we got to the hospital, I had an overwhelming need to cry. This is the situation I am avoiding every day of my life. At that moment, you realize how precious everything is and how quick allergies can escalate. Going to the hospital always sends me on an emotional rollercoaster.
After the allergic reaction
After the reaction, I couldn’t stop analyzing how it could have happened.
➡ Did I take all the necessary precautions? I gave the restaurant my allergy card. I double checked before the food came out. They even asked me if I could eat balsamic vinegar, which is a good sign because it means they are paying attention.
➡ Should I have used my EpiPen? Why am I so scared of using it?
➡ Was it worth going to the hospital? What would have happened if I didn’t? It wasn’t that bad was it?
➡ Guilt also sets in. I feel sorry for ruining our night and for having to spend 4 hours at the hospital. I feel bad for making it all about me.
But then I remember that I did do everything right at the restaurant and that going to the hospital was the smart choice. Better to be safe because you don’t want to know what would have happened if. And I have a wonderfully supportive husband who knows what it is like to live with someone with food allergies, guilt should not be in the equation.
How do I feel a week later?
I had an allergic reaction. The way I handled it was the best I could. This won’t set me back to zero. In fact, I ate out last night, with a little more diligence than before.
The last thing you want is your food allergies to control you. It is important to do things and to go out, as long as you have a plan. It is also important to surround yourself with a supportive group of friends and family, who know food allergies are no joking matter and who will spend a couple of hours at the hospital, no questions asked.
Food allergies come with lots of emotions. Sometimes they get you down, sometimes they frustrate you, and sometimes you want to cry. That’s ok. Just remember that at the end of the day, it is about how you choose to move through life with them. I say stick to the positive path. What about you? 😀
Kortney is your typical atopic triad! She manages asthma, eczema, environmental and food allergies. Kortney is a co-creator of the online community Allergy Travels and co-host of The Itch Podcast. She wants to spread joy in a community that can easily see the hard side of life with atopic disease and believes that you can have a full life with food allergies, it may just be lived a little differently!