Nuts are a highly nutritious source of food filled with anti-oxidants, protein, and fiber. Unfortunately, I happen to be DEATHLY allergic to them. So sit back, relax, and let me tell you the story of how I ended up in the ER. And trust me this story is utterly NUTS.
It started out as a beautiful Thursday morning. The birds were chirping, Spring was peeking its rear head in the Northeast and I decided to order a muffin from a cafe. Initially, I wanted a blueberry muffin, but due to its popularity they ran out. So I had the cashier read off the other muffins options to me, as they weren’t labeled behind the glass counter.
Mistake #1 – The muffins were not properly labeled
When the cashier stated banana muffin, I knew that’s the muffin I’d settle on.
Mistake #2 – Cashier stated banana muffin. She did not specify BANANA NUT MUFFIN
So after ordering a latte (I know, I know typical Millennial here) and a banana (cashier never mentioned nut) muffin I was on my way.
Mistake #3 – I should have asked if there were nuts in the banana muffin. Something that I shouldn’t HAVE to do, but understand that it’s my responsibility to take matters into my own hands when I’m deathly allergic to nuts. I let my guard down and it came around to bite me in
After sipping my latte, I actually didn’t eat the muffin right away and decided I’d rather have it when I arrived home.
Fast forward to a few hours later when I arrived home. Ah, home sweet home. It was officially time to dig into that muffin I’d been craving earlier that day. I unwrapped the muffin and examined the muffin top. Now usually when nuts, fruit, or chocolate are added to baked goods, you can see them peeking out a little from the top. On this particular muffin, there were no nuts peeking out at the top. It was just a delicious looking shiny muffin, waiting to be devoured.
Mistake #4 – I didn’t sniff or cut open my muffin. Yes, I’m big on smelling my food. Most nuts have a potent smell, so smelling my food helps me further detect any potentially dangerous situations. In addition, I also have a habit of slicing my food in half, just to make sure there aren’t any nuts.
Well, I took the first bite and just like I thought, the homemade muffin was delicious. I took a second bite and noticed something a little crunchy. Hmmm, I thought to myself. It’s probably just a chunk of banana they added in. Upon further inspection, I realized it wasn’t banana bits that I was crunching under my tongue. It was….walnuts.
That’s when I realized I had made the U L T I M A T E mistake! A fatal mistake. I pulled the muffin to my eye level just to clarify I wasn’t dreaming and this really was my worst nightmare.
OoOoOoOoh boy, I thought to myself. Don’t panic. Don’t panic. It’s just a few silly little walnuts. It can’t do that much damage. You see I’d eaten foods with slight traces of nuts in them before and have always recovered. Granted it’s been uncomfortable, but the symptoms always die down after a few hours. However, I’ve never taken two major bites and ingest the nuts like this before. No worries, I thought to myself. I’m a pro. I’ve lived this long without any major incidents happening. I got this!
I immediately ran to the sink to brush my teeth. Ahh, good old toothpaste. This will make everything better. Just brush my teeth, gargle with mouth wash and I’ll be good to go.
Mistake #5 – Not only did this not work, but now my toothbrush was contaminated with nut particles and I’d have to throw it out.
Well the next thing you know my mouth and throat started to itch. Ok, I thought to myself. Since that didn’t work, I’ll try to gargle with some warm salt water. Yeah, I believe I read that once online about sore throats. And well since my throat was sore, I’ll just use salt water. Duh. As I said, I’m a pro. I got this!
Mistake #6 – Yeahhhh, about that salt water…N O P E!
Ok, this is getting a little tricky. Let me think. Let me think. Ok, I’ve got it! I’ll take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. They say this is the cure-all for everything. Let me just take a tablespoon of this and all will be better.
Mistake #7 – Apple cider vinegar BURNS! Why would I ever think apple cider vinegar was a good idea after brushing my teeth, gargling with mouthwash and salt water?
My throat began to get tighter and nothing was working. My skin was itching all over and because I have eczema, it was a thousand times worse than before.
Grrrrrrrrrr…nothing was working and I was running out of options. But then it hit me…I’d just make myself throw up! Yes, if I throw up the food I ingested, it will be out of my system and I’ll feel much better.
Off to the bathroom, I went.
Mistake #8 – WRONG!!!! And throwing up apple cider vinegar is basically a death wish in and of itself.
AHHHHHHH, ok ok. At this point, I was in full on panic mode. I was scratching, itching, I had difficulty breathing, my face was swelling up, my eyes were half open and the VERY last thing I could think of was the greatest gift known to mankind…I’ll used GOOGLE.
I googled my symptoms. Google practically SCREAMED at me to go to the ER, but I figure I should try one last attempt to see if there was anything else I could do…
That’s when I went to WebMD (yes, I realize this was another dumb decision) and thought I could DIY how to treat anaphylactic shock.
Mistake #9 – Being in denial after my body was shutting down. After all, I watch all the ER shows and google this stuff religiously. I live for this stuff, surely it could never happen to me. I’m always taking notes on what the doctors and alternative medicine people say.
The FINAL FINAL FINAL FINAL FINAL straw that led me to go to the ER was the dizziness. When I stood up, everything became a blur. That’s when I knew, this wasn’t a joke. I’m not the invincible DIY expert I thought I was, and I needed to get to a hospital STAT. It was officially a matter of life and death. Yes death, I could possibly die from this life-threatening allergy.
Mistake #10 – Not having an EpiPen. Granted I’ve had them previously. But they expire every year and I’ve NEVER EVER used one in my life. So why would I start now? Again, a huge mistake in not having one handy.
So off to the hospital I went.
Once I arrived at the ER, there was a family ahead of me. At this point, I was sweating and my face was double in size. My throat was closed and I was trying my hardest to appear normal.
The front desk receptionists asked me a couple of questions and I was literally speaking in tongue. I sounded like a 90-year-old 10 packs a day smoker.
Then a friendly physicians assistant came over and asked if I was having difficulty breathing.
Why yes, yes I was. She realized I was on the verge of passing out – grabbed a wheelchair and chartered me off. I felt like I was in a scene from a movie…except I didn’t remember auditioning for the part.
I was the third patient in a room of two others, clearly, everyone was having issues that day. Right after they wheeled me in, there were about 6 or 7 people all gathered around as they explained what they were going to do. They injected me with an EpiPen, gave me some steroids and an IV drip. Within minutes I felt warm and fuzzy. All was good with the world and in the words of Drake the medicine had me “out like a light.”
Over the next few hours the doctors, nurses, etc. kept check in on me and asking how I was felt. Telling me I looked much better and that they wanted to monitor me for the next few hours just to make sure I was doing ok.
At last, my face swelling went down. My throat was still sore, but I was able to swallow. My heart wasn’t racing, I could actually see. I was a brand new woman.
This was a HUGEEEEEEE wake-up call that let me know I’m not invincible. And if something like this happens again (knocks on wood three times) I will forego my stupidity and DIY medical non-expertise mindset and head straight to the hospital.
- No Googling
- No WebMD
- No DIY
- No this too shall pass
- No waiting it out
- No Trying to remember all the ER shows I watched previously
100% straight away to the hospital. In a nutshell – lesson learned.
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to the hospital staff that worked that particular afternoon/night. They were incredible and I received excellent care! I’ve always had a huge admiration for the medical professionals as I believe this is a true calling. Although I could never repay them, I’ve made thank-you gifts as it’s the least I can do the staff that saved my life.
PS – While recovering, TLC ironically played a marathon of Untold Stories of the ER. One of my favorite shows.
PPS – It’s probably not a good time to mention I’m also 100% allergic to all seafood and shellfish :/ I’ll save that fun story for another time.