sovay: (Otachi: Pacific Rim)
sovay ([personal profile] sovay) wrote2017-08-23 11:55 pm

Decadently sprawled across a jetty, feasting shellfish and brine

My doctor's appointment this afternoon presented me with unambiguously good news. Whatever almost killed me with anaphylaxis at Readercon, it was not the shellfish for which I blood-tested positive about a week later.

I received the results over e-mail in the third week of July; for various logistical reasons having to do with incomplete bloodwork (the lab's fault, not mine; I gave blood twice and they still managed to lose part of the order) and then with the allergist going on vacation, I couldn't talk to her about them until now. Instead I got an upsetting call from a nurse or receptionist at the practice who simply told me to cut out all foods for which I had gotten positive flags (a list incidentally including tree nuts, some legumes, and a random-looking selection of vegetables) and then tried to commiserate with me about her late-breaking walnut allergy, which did not make me feel better. It was a devastating uncertainty. Eating the sea is part of being close to it. It wouldn't have mattered if I kept kosher, but speaking as someone who as a toddler intercepted two orders of shrimp tempura meant for my mother and was only bought off with a third order all my own, a full month without bivalves or crustaceans was hell, especially in summer, especially in cities by the sea. I carried an epipen and looked longingly at other people's sushi and tried to trust that the allergist had warned me that blood tests were less reliable than scratch tests and this had to be some kind of mistake. I couldn't imagine not ever eating clam chowder again.

I can eat clam chowder. As the allergist explained it, the blood tests that are used for food allergies detect the presence of antibodies, which are caused by exposure to the foods in question. They are not considered diagnostic for allergies in the absence of symptoms. I have no history of rash, swelling, shortness of breath, nausea, any of these things around eating. I do have a history of decades of seafood on a regular basis. That history explained the low positive numbers to the allergist's satisfaction: they were not false positives in the strict sense, but they were false in that they did not point to anything that pertained to my experience at Readercon. Especially since there was a much more obvious culprit in the new medication which I had taken within the classic onset window—and which I have not taken again since that night—she felt comfortable skipping the scratch tests entirely (unnecessary expense of time, money, and itching) and sending me off to eat shellfish. Allergists are cautious by nature and profession, she emphasized. She wouldn't make the recommendation unless she thought it was safe. She was just sorry I'd had to spend a month denied something that was both seasonally tasty and emotionally important to me.

So I walked into Harvard Square and purchased the seasonal lobster bao from Tom's Bao Bao and ate it and it was delicious and I waited half an hour and then an hour and nothing bad happened except that I wanted another one, but by that time I was upstairs in Crema Cafe, drinking an herbal chai latte and writing about weird British TV, so I ate a macaroon instead. Later in the evening I met [personal profile] rushthatspeaks for a return trip to the MIT Science Fiction Society and we opted for dinner afterward at Roxy's Grilled Cheese in Central Square, where we discovered their speakeasy arcade with pinball and skeeball and cabinets of video games. (We're going back when we are not each carrying large bags of books which make it difficult to maneuver between games.) It was a much, much better end to my day than I had feared.

I am still carrying an epipen and may for the rest of my life, because my body has now demonstrated that there exists at least one thing in this world to which it reacts by trying to choke me to death and that is not cool. It was a closer call than I had thought on the night. I did not correctly assess the severity of what was happening to me. God forbid, if there is a next time, I don't try to wait it out with Benadryl: I go to the ER.

But it should not be the sea that sends me there.
spatch: (Default)

[personal profile] spatch 2017-08-24 04:01 am (UTC)(link)
Cleared for lobster, shrimp, clams, oysters, and macaroons! This certainly counts as a victory of the day.
umadoshi: (ocean 01)

[personal profile] umadoshi 2017-08-24 04:15 am (UTC)(link)
Hooray for such good news! *hugs*
rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)

[personal profile] rosefox 2017-08-24 04:44 am (UTC)(link)
Oh goodness, what a relief! I hope there are alternatives to the no good very bad medication.
lilysea: Tree hugger (Tree hugger)

[personal profile] lilysea 2017-08-24 05:50 am (UTC)(link)
I am glad that you got good news! ^_^
cmcmck: (Default)

[personal profile] cmcmck 2017-08-24 06:58 am (UTC)(link)
Glad things have been sorted out.

I have an egg allergy although it's not the most severe form.

What would kill me in jig time is that (for most people) wonder drug, penicillin!
thawrecka: (Default)

[personal profile] thawrecka 2017-08-24 07:58 am (UTC)(link)
That is excellent news. It would be terribly sad to be denied the joys of the sea.
moon_custafer: (Default)

[personal profile] moon_custafer 2017-08-24 05:41 pm (UTC)(link)


(that is meant to be a person swimming)
Edited 2017-08-24 17:41 (UTC)
lost_spook: (cat)

[personal profile] lost_spook 2017-08-24 08:32 am (UTC)(link)
Aw, I'm glad! Avoiding foods is hard, even when it's just something you don't like, let alone something so important to you.

So, now you can eat up anything in the sea and have a weapon to hand in case Other Thing ever reocurrs? That does sound like a good outcome. <3
shewhomust: (bibendum)

[personal profile] shewhomust 2017-08-24 09:41 am (UTC)(link)
Hooray for good news! I was hoping you had celebrated, so I'm glad you did so with lobster and macaroons - though that thought took me to lobster macaroons which - well, I don't know, it might work...
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)

[personal profile] tree_and_leaf 2017-08-24 11:35 am (UTC)(link)
Hooray! I am glad you can eat the tasty seafood!

I have reluctantly given up on clams because they make me projectile vomit, but an actual shellfish allergy would be pretty upsetting.
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)

[personal profile] tree_and_leaf 2017-08-25 09:25 am (UTC)(link)
It's very unfortunate, but it has happened so consistently I have decided discretion is the better part of valour. However, there are still scallops and lobsters and mussels &c....
asakiyume: (far horizon)

[personal profile] asakiyume 2017-08-24 11:57 am (UTC)(link)
I am SO glad to hear it.

I know exactly what you mean about eating the sea: it's a way of being viscerally intimate. It's part of why I love foraging for things. I'm really glad you went right out and joined with the sea, so to speak, by having some lobster.
elaiel: monty the cat (Default)

[personal profile] elaiel 2017-08-24 12:35 pm (UTC)(link)
What a lucky escape! I can't imagine not being able to eat seafood. I'm a happy omnivore who eats practically everything, the idea of food restrictions gives me the shudders.
lauradi7dw: (Default)

Eating the sea is part of being close to it

[personal profile] lauradi7dw 2017-08-24 01:22 pm (UTC)(link)
Just stopping by to mention how gobsmacked I am at this idea, which you have articulated very clearly. It makes more sense than a lot of the "paleo" claims, but maybe because I've been a vegetarian for so long, if I think of participating in ocean-ness, it means walking into it. Or other nearness. My mother feels too out of balance and frail to go to a beach, but she mentioned a desire to be near one. I said "so you can smell it?" and she answered no, so that she could hear it. She then did a precise impersonation of the sound of waves crashing. I should get her to teach me to do that, although maybe it's just a natural talent. She also does a fantastic impersonation of her doctor, who is originally from Hungary and speaks excellent but accented English.

I am grateful to shellfish for cleaning the ocean water, but would have zero interest in eating one. I do occasionally remember the texture of flounder with fondness.
zdenka: Orange carp on a black background. "Oh, tree! Eat the fish!" (ancillary)

[personal profile] zdenka 2017-08-24 01:32 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm very glad to hear it! I hope you won't ever need your epipen, but it sounds like a good precaution.
zdenka: Orange carp on a black background. "Oh, tree! Eat the fish!" (ancillary)

[personal profile] zdenka 2017-08-25 09:37 pm (UTC)(link)
It's not the usual context I use this icon in, but it was intentional!
phi: (Default)

[personal profile] phi 2017-08-24 01:51 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm very glad to hear you aren't allergic to shellfish!
nineweaving: (Default)

[personal profile] nineweaving 2017-08-24 03:30 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, thank Poseidon!

selkie: (Default)

[personal profile] selkie 2017-08-24 04:16 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, that would have been very sad. I am also intensely relieved. (Last year when I sprouted allergies, we discovered that I apparently react to allergic things on the wrong Ig. I don't carry an Epi-Pen because I'd have to chase it with Glucagon in a hospital; I just don't put walnuts and sesame seeds in my face. Which is sad -- BUT NOT AS SAD AS NOT EATING BRINEY THINGS.)
brigdh: (Default)

[personal profile] brigdh 2017-08-24 04:24 pm (UTC)(link)
A life without seafood would be a tragedy indeed! I'm so glad that's not your fate.
pameladean: (Default)

[personal profile] pameladean 2017-08-24 05:31 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, hooray!

My earliest clear memory of eating is of stealing a shrimp off my grandmother's plate on general principles and then devouring her entire appetizer. She was a doting grandmother and thought it was hilarious. My mother has a strong aversion to shellfish, probably not an allergy per se but a long-lasting effect of some bad shrimp she had in her teens; so I'd never had any kind of seafood before.

pameladean: (Default)

[personal profile] pameladean 2017-08-25 08:30 pm (UTC)(link)
I do, at least in this small regard. Your story gave me a kind of jolt -- "But -- but I did that when I was a toddler!" It wasn't tempura; there probably wasn't a Japanese restaurant within a hundred miles, and the sea was thousands of miles away. But shrimp is shrimp. I am glad we both discovered it.

gwynnega: (Basil Rathbone)

[personal profile] gwynnega 2017-08-24 06:05 pm (UTC)(link)
Wonderful news!
ethelmay: (Default)

[personal profile] ethelmay 2017-08-25 08:20 pm (UTC)(link)
There's some very promising work being done on eliminating peanut allergy these days. I hope it turns out to be more generally applicable, because I know a lot of people who would love to be rid of their inconvenient food allergies (or at least get so they don't react to trace amounts of things -- just not having to worry about, say, stray fish sauce or peanut oil would be a major improvement for many).
genarti: Ocean water with text "no borders, no boundaries." ([misc] no boundaries)

[personal profile] genarti 2017-08-26 03:23 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, wonderful news! I am very, very glad you're no longer being denied seafood. I'm sorry that you have an anaphylactic reaction to anything, but at least it sounds pretty easily avoidable.
thistleingrey: (Default)

[personal profile] thistleingrey 2017-08-26 05:00 am (UTC)(link)
oh phew. I'm so glad. Not about the carrying of an epi-pen, though it's nice that they exist to carry, but about the sea.