photo by Bobcat North
Wake up on the floor, come to, shivering. She picks me up, and I tell her to go away, though I rather do need her around. It starts, as it always does, at a restaurant. Always want to order something new, and do, and then that twinge, that slight distaste. Chicken Hot Pot, couldn’t be. Eat anyways, cause I’m hungry, but the distaste grows as hunger dissipates. Go quiet, raise my hand to the bump on my lips. There’s a purgatory of about 30 minutes before something happens, enough time to ask the clueless waiters and chef, pay the bill, drive home, grab a plastic bag, lay down, itch, sweat and curse until the blood pressure drops and things get transcendant.
If I ingest peanut my immune system flips the fuck out and releases all the body’s defenses pretty much all at once.The peanut allergy is an inflammatory response which can actually close windpipes and kill people. For me it just makes my barf and curl up in the fetal position for about four hours. It’s very unpleasant and I do it at least once a year.
I’m eating, and I feel uncomfortable. Lips tingle, then swell, and I know I’m in for a doozy. I ask the waiter and chef what’s in the thing, but they of course don’t know. From now I’ve got about 30 minutes of coherence where I can drive or get meds and prepare water and stuff. If I walk or exert myself physically my functional time is down to about 15. At some point I am going to pass out and I need to get home.
Get home. She heads out to get me some anti-histamines and cough syrup. The girl’s freaking out but I’ve done this before and it kinda doesn’t bother me. I’m a grumpy bitch though, feel disgusting and grunt at her to wait outside the room. Just drink water and try to make myself puke into a siri siri bag. Look up into the mirror and notice something new. My left eye has swollen almost shut and they’re both bloodshot. I look like Baby Ruth from The Goonies. Or Gollum. This is new and disturbing. This point in the process is possibly the worst because I know that horribleness is coming and there’s nothing I can do to speed or dissipate it. If I take meds now I’ll throw them up in 15 minutes, but I take some anti-histamines anyways. In about 15 minutes I throw them up.
The worst thing about throwing up is that I have to taste the damn nut again, and smell it. Godawful, but it has to be done. The longer the stuff stays in my body the worse it is for the other symptoms. Lie down, and then the itching comes. I think the technical term is ‘exacerbation of atopic eczema’. It’s basically the worst fucking itching of my life. It’s an itch that only grows with each scratch. Eventually the sensation is just an enveloping tumult of writhing nerve endings. At this point I just want to take my skin off and sit in my innards. Especially my scalp.
The worst (and dangerous) part, however, is when the inflammation reaches the throat. It’s like bad asthma for me, but for some people the windpipe can just swell shut. I just sip on some sizzurp (just kidding, Benadryl) as more of a mental palliative than anything else. And then, on the way back from the bathroom, I feel my blood pressure drop pretty dramatically and it becomes a bit of an altered state, very dark around the edges. Then I wake up on the floor will the girl standing over me. She’s called my parents which, while wholly unnecessary, is nice. They cover me with a sheet but I’m freezing the fuck out and need a blanket. Thus ensconced – and because I took way too much meds – I mumble a few things and drift into a drugged and feverish sleep. My parents sleep in my bed and I wake up in the floor feeling rather uncomfortable, but relatively awesome I guess. My mother accidentally takes my car keys home and my eyeball is still swollen. I still can’t stop itching. Show up late for work and can barely do anything I’m so tired. It’s not a good day.