We Interrupt This Trip for a Newsflash! Allergy Attack!

food allergies - prescription and over-the-counter histamines and steroid medicines
Why, you may be asking, is there a plate of prescription medication with a side of over-the-counter drugs en blister-pack papillote? Why?

That is my breakfast every day for the next five days, that’s why. The pills are to be washed down not with a morning cup of coffee, and certainly not with any juice from a fruit. No, no, plain water only, for I may be allergic…to anything. Yes, last night, I had to go to the hospital after being mercilessly attacked by my own immune system, dropping histamine hand-grenades all over my body and leaving every inch of my skin completely covered with itchy, scratchy, hateful little hives. They’re a nuisance, no need to go to the hospital except that my throat was starting to swell, and you know what they say about oxygen.

I have no idea what caused such a severe allergic reaction. Most likely it is food-related, but reactions to food usually occur fairly soon after consuming it. This creeped up on me out of nowhere.

Having spent the better part of the last few days trying to catch my blog up to my life by sifting through hundreds of digital pictures of my trip to Chicago and Milwaukee, shuffling through my travel notes that were hand-written on pages of my travel journal, hastily scribbled on the backs of menus, and carved as hieroglyphics on the inside of matchbook covers, I decided to take a break. You know, to take care of myself. Food blogging does weird things to you – like, you will go for days without plucking your eyebrows because you just don’t have time between baking a souffle, and doing its photo shoot and reassuring it that it’s absolutely not fat when it sees a little bit of puff roll over the edge of its ramekin. Besides, you don’t see anyone except your laptop, and he’s as grimy as you are.

I tore myself away from The Delicious Life, from email, and from IM to sit down at the vanity. I started to pluck. It was easy. When you pluck on a regular basis, tweezing requires a close eye to find those little specks of black pepper and a manual dexterity that could sweep the finals in the Operation championship. However, when you haven’t plucked in a week, it’s as easy as finding…hay in a haystack.

Pluck pluck pluck, and as I moved from my right eyebrow to the left, I noticed a little bit of swelling on the bottom outside corner of my left eye. Weird. I pulled away from the mirror to see my whole face and…What the?! My eye looked like a very small cranberry had sprouted, just under the first layer of skin.

I thought it might have been an overgrown zit of some sort, but it didn’t hurt. I tried to ignore it, but I couldn’t because it was itchy. I kept plucking, with an occasional gentle tap with the back of my tweezers to scratch to the cranberry.

Well, no need for the details of every subsequent bump that appeared on my body, but suffice it to say that I basically went from zero to nine bajillion over the course of two hours. I went to the hospital, they gave me a very painful shot in “the hip” and some drugs like benadryl but not benadryl because that makes me hallucinate. I recounted every single thing that I ate up until that moment, and was sent home with an order to see an allergist because obviously, glutton that I am, I had eaten way too many things to narrow it down to even a few suspects.

So this is what I get to eat for breakfast. And I just can’t get that one line from that stupid song by Spandau Ballet out of my head.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tall Medstudent November 19, 2005 at 4:56 am

Yow, take care of yourself there, eh? But, I wouldn’t jump straight to a food allergy. I don’t know your exact symptoms, plus I’m no expert on the subject, but in my notes here, I see that food allergy is only found to be the cause of acute urticaria in 1% of cases. (50%: cause never identified, 40%: preceding upper respiratory tract infection, 9%: drug reactions (aspirin, other antiinflamatories, codeine, or other meds), and 1% food allergies). If you had a chest or throat infection or something similar in the last few weeks, and took some antiinflamatory meds recently, that could have created a situation where your skin mast cells just went a bit imbalanced. If you had GI symptoms along with the skin hives, then I’d start thinking more seriously about food allergies… but, don’t quote me on that.

Anyways, yeah, you should follow up with a doc.

Basically, we readers don’t want you to have to control your eating whatsoever due to some stupid food allergy!


2 Catherine November 19, 2005 at 5:37 am

You ain’t gonna eat when you die. Might as well live it up now! ;-D In all seriousness, I enjoy reading your blog so it goes without saying that I hope you feel much better. Now, let’s talk more about the list of foods you ate, and where you ate them, before you broke-out like a cranberry bush…


3 paul November 19, 2005 at 3:22 pm

After your body got a taste of Midwestern food, it must have reacted to all that evil food in LA. You’ll have to return immediately and let our bracing cold air clear your skin.

In any case, get well soon!


4 Monkey Gland November 19, 2005 at 5:16 pm

Ooohh, that’s not nice. Here’s hoping you have swift recovery. Be well.

Your probably allergic to the tweezers…


5 Eve November 19, 2005 at 5:49 pm

i’m so sorry you have to go through this, sweetie. i am here if you need anything…you only have to ask…


6 Kirk November 19, 2005 at 11:51 pm

Oh Sarah – Take it easy, hope you get some Medical attention and figure out what is causing this.


7 sarah November 20, 2005 at 2:34 am

wow! thanks for all the well wishes, guys! i actually don’t mind taking all the medicine, as it sure as hell beats the itch/scratch. however, what i DO mind is the fact that until the allergist determines what i am allergic to, i pretty much can’t eat anything that i ate the day that i had the reaction, just in case. that’s a LOT of stuff, including bread, soy sauce…

soy sauce?!?! how can an asian person be allergic to soy sauce?!?! oh well. *sigh*


8 Mathilde November 20, 2005 at 9:20 pm

PLUCK? Chickens pluck. Ladies tweeze.

Feel better soon, and lets hope it isnt gluten.


9 sarah November 21, 2005 at 4:23 pm

mathilde! you just made me laugh out loud! thank you :)

wow, i never thought it might be gluten. but doesn’t a gluten allergy result in stomach/GI problems, rather than an allergic skin reaction? hm, i might have to check that out.


10 plau November 22, 2005 at 8:07 pm


Oatmeal’s good for more than just eating.. and actually it would be Steel Cut Oats at that.. from John O’Groats.. or from home.. oh, sorry, I digress.

Yeah, I’m allergic to everything too, but for a lot of things, you can build up a tolerance, except for bad food.. or Thai food that’s actually chinese food, it’s just that people got tired of eating chinese food, so they decided to make it hip (in the 80’s) and start eating Thai… but I digress again.. :)

So yeah, oatmeal soaps and baths are supposed to help with the itchy parts, but I’m sorry you’re feeling allergic.. can’t be fun…

Hopefully it’s not food..

Something’s been happening with me too, but that’s TMI I’m sure… maybe it’s in the air..


11 sarah November 23, 2005 at 1:10 am

yeah, i know ALL about oatmeal now. LOL!


12 Melissa CookingDiva November 26, 2005 at 11:49 pm

Allergies are bad :( …Ask me!


13 Anonymous February 6, 2009 at 2:30 am

It could also be latex, ibuprofen, msg, food colorings, etc. You say Benedryl makes you hallucinate, which means you’ve taken it before. Why? My little son has many allergies, including food (first reaction 1.5 hours after ingestion), and our state of the art doc says to me, “you know, we don’t know much about allergy.” Were you given an Epipen prescription? Did you fill it? Do you know how and when to use it? Are there people close to you who spend time with you who have learned how to use it? Will you go to hospital if you ever do use an Epi (secondary reaction much later)? Can you keep the Epi’s from too much cold or hot, and keep them with you at ALL times? Will you read every label every time no matter what?

It stinks to get used to all that, but it’s doable, and it’s necessary.

As for Asian people and soy allergy, the things I read are that eastern people have higher percentages of soy and rice allergies, western people wheat and nut allergies. I know a Korean-born Korean baby who is anaphylactically allergic to rice. His adoptive parents are both physicians…

Check out foodallergy.com (the Food Allergy and Anaphylactic Network). Exceptional resource. Join and get their monthly newsletter – very helpful (and scary). Help improve their recipes section (good on baked treats, awful on real food).

Best wishes.


14 tfareed@tds.net February 6, 2009 at 10:53 pm

As for being allergic to the tweezers, don’t laugh right away…you may have developed a nickel allergy. My husband works with a Chinese man who suddenly developed a serious nickel allergy.


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