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Archive for October, 2011

Making it to the Other Side

I’m writing today, in my jammies, bra-less  and slightly puffy in the face  as I find myself in the trenches of allergy overload.  It’s interesting being in this place, discovering I can answer business phone calls, enter in a Pampered Chef show, watch way too many episodes of Torchwood back to back for my own good and still be in a somewhat incapacitated state.  It makes me think of my father – a brilliant man stuck in an insanely imperfect body who was able to be present for so many people, but not so much in his own mind.

Being in a state where your body is heating up and cooling down, inflaming here and attacking there, all while you do your best to take the seemingly right steps toward better health is, well, a lesson on many planes.  It is a lesson in patience – both with yourself and the people around you (“but you can’t have that!” ‘Yes I can.’ “No you can’t – it has gluten in it!” ‘I can have gluten.  I’m perfectly fine with wheat.’  “No, you aren’t.” ‘Yes, I am.’ “But….but….but….” Sigh).  It’s a lesson in tolerance, like my post before where I humorously and sarcastically ranted about mislabeling in the food industry and how a close call can become the saving grace between your mouth and the emergency room.  It’s a lesson in waiting – waiting for the symptoms to go down, waiting to be ready to take appointments and work again, ready for the doctor to call you back with the right treatment and prescription for your sudden-onset attack, waiting for your system to be ready to eat mac & cheese in moderation again.

It’s also a lesson in learning lessons – like coming to the conclusion that you really do have to research every tidbit of information out there about an ingredient or food product that you’re just not sure about (damn miso).  That you have a say in how many reactions you have in one week and that it’s okay to say to the nurse with needle in hand, “I just can’t handle that 2 1/2 hour skin test today where you will poke me 50 flippin’ times and make me look like a lab experiment gone horribly awry.”  There’s a lesson in realizing that it’s okay to take care of oneself and then jump on the computer in your prednisone-jilted state and write about it for goodness sakes – not because it’s necessarily profound but because it’s correct. Right. And right for you today.

I can’t tell you how much publicity my being sick with reactions these last ten days (and posting about it all over Facebook) has gotten for this page – and I honestly wasn’t even trying.  I’ve run away from things before.  Actually, that tends to be my fight or flight impulse of choice.  I’ve run away from jobs and opportunities, from home projects and the weeds in my garden and even from the chance to write in a local publication ’cause I was scared.  Scared, scared, scared.  But I never seem to run away from food.  I seem, on the contrary, to run right toward it (though, lately, I’ve been so scared of toadstools that I feel a little bit like a schizo having a very bad day every time I see one in the garden).  I think that’s the reason why I’m finally starting to shoot off with this whole writing about my food life thing – because there is nothing like witnessing a person be totally human, completely vulnerable and honest in the face of their weaknesses and make it to the other side.

Hello other side.  Nice to meet you.  So you’re the side that has the cookies.  I knew it.  I just knew it.

Dunk,

Cellina – The Hopeful Foodie

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Oh, Shittake – The Low Down on Close Calls

I know your esophegus and it is mine

I’ve been writing lately about the bare bones of life with food allergies – like last week, when I posted some really simple guidelines on how to eliminate a suspected trigger from one’s diet. I wanted to keep it simple (sweetness), ’cause I know what it’s like to be totally overwhelmed by this stuff.  It got me thinking about those incidents when the little buggers of intestinal strife get in, anyway, and how it happens to even the most thorough of us. You know, like when you bite into your Mexican fish taco only to find out later that the sucker was breaded (who breads a fish taco?), or when you grab that last energy bar on your way out the door and don’t find out until you’re  starving to death that it’s coated in the one thing in the world that you’re totally allergic to (that happened to my poor brother-in-law: the only man I know who can’t have flax).

Or  like yesterday, when I was like a kid in a candy store in one of my favorite places (it used to be the mall, now it’s a free-standing building  decorated with  pictures of waving grain.  Oh, how the times change).  I didn’t realize that the package of little white beads in a bag of liquid was basically floating fungus, since the package called it ‘The New Alternative to Traditional Rice’ derived from the roots of an Asian plant.  I like new things, and I like plants so I thought, “What the heck?” The only red flag was the name of the product, which started with an SH and looked similar to the word ‘shittake’ but longer. With different vowels.  But of course, it couldn’t have been ’cause the back of the package said it was a plant, and of course mushrooms, like all toadstools (which I am highly allergic to) are part of the fungus kingdom which aren’t plants at all!  Surely, a well-written label would include that little tidbit of information and not completely falsify scientific fact!  Yeeeah.

Thankfully, I mentioned this new ‘miracle rice’ to the checkout girl who basically informed me that it was a big hulking mushroom with an identity crisis, thus saving me from what surely would have been a gleeful trip to the emergency room.  I haven’t always been this lucky, though, so I’m glad my mouth got me out of impending danger (which is irony at its best). It beats spitting fungi-mush into a dinner napkin at an upstanding establishment, or being so angry that I badmouth-blog family members for not disclosing key ingredients two hours later.

It’s detective work at its best – this food allergy thing – and I’m first in line to say that it’s sometimes frustrating.  It’s what makes introverts extroverts – forced to ask the weirdest questions at restaurants, engage innocent cashiers in strange conversation and berate family members to disclose “just what do you put in the secret ingredient spinach dip?”  Believe me, fellow foodies, you are not alone.

May the fungus (or whatever else ails you) be very far away from your lovely intestines,

Cellina – The Hopeful Foodie.

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