Tag Archives: anaphylaxis

To Care Enough.

Because Valentine’s Day without the Valentine part, I took myself over to the Whole Foods Cooperative for a self-care treat. On the way in, a guy was just leaving with that familiar, flat pizza box in hand. “Aha!” said the solitary single girl, ” the GF pizza Binnie Decrease mentioned earlier. Just the ticket!” So, upon entering, instead of heading directly for the reach in I walked to the soup line; serving myself a cup of the navy bean veg, I turned to the cafe counter.
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After dinging the bell, I waited for service. Soon, a girl came around from behind me, expecting to ring up my sale. “Oh, no, I’d like to order a Gluten Free pizza!” She grabbed the pad. “You have the GF pizza crusts?” I said, expectantly. She said: “Cauliflower? Yes; we do.” Then, she asked me what kind I wanted. As quickly as I could, I squinted and chose the Athena from the chalkboard – remembering it by name, from Binnie’s post. While the girl wrote, I asked if it contained soy. She went back to check. No soy – would that be all?
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I said I would continue shopping, so she handed me the due bill. Moving across to the reach in, I spied my macarons, and something new: strawberry salsa. Then, I went to Thad’s cash out and set these selected items on the edge away from the belt, telling him I was waiting for pizza. We got into a pretty intense convo, about how cayenne helps heal the stomach’s replaceable lining and all, related topics. So deeply were we involved I missed hearing that the pizza had been put out, done already. By the time I walked to take it, a woman was entering Thad’s line with a basket full, so I discreetly moved my purchases to Johnny’s line. Thad? or Johnny? asked if I wanted the pizza due bill and, when I said it would all be on the check out slip, he discarded it.
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Arriving home, I dug into my pizza. It was sumptuous, if lukewarm, so I heated the last three pieces in the oven. Somewhere between the first slice and the warmed pieces, the itching started. It was pretty persistent, and I soon realized that, though I hadn’t had one in well over three years, this was a reaction.
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I pulled up my clothing, and found the first of the hives on my bodice; then, more, under each arm. Historically, this would have been when I would panic and grab the Benadryl – and, the carkeys. This, again, I did. Popped the shell of one, and swallowed it; also, this time, I took phone photos of each of the hive sites that I could reach. Then, I called the Co-op.
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HivesBodice2020
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Jess answered. When I asked if the due bill was retrievable, she hastily explained that it had already hit the garbage and that the garbage was likely in recycle.
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“Jess”, I said. “This is a health issue. I’m in a hive outbreak, caused by something I just ate from the cafe.” Immediately, she retrieved the due bill, reading it to me:
“Athena – dairy” was all it said.
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And, I did what everyone who has ever had a near- anaphylactic reaction does. I became emotionally upset. My voice elevated. I said: “That confirms it…….I just consumed gluten or soy, I’m having an allergic outbreak, and will be sick for two weeks because the CO-OP hires stupid people who don’t listen to the customer’s requests!”
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Hanging up the phone, I jumped into the car and headed for ST V ER. En route via the 2 block square around the Erie Cemetery I called the Co-op back, demanding to speak with the manager on duty, as I was “en route to the ER.” “Chet” answered. When I explained what had happened, and what was currently happening, adding that I expected a refund at LEAST, HE began to accuse me of “talking down to everyone”……..!? saying that my behavior was unacceptable/wrong. I responded, in kind and in tone, that it was HE whose behavior was wrong. Then, because I had arrived at the valet pull up, I hung up the phone and got out of the car.
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After explaining to the intake girl what was going on, I sat in the chair nearest the registrar window and waited. The itching and welts were still going strong; fortunately, my heart was already calmed by the instantaneous response to the Benadryl. I texted David, and then found the Co-op executive director’s name in my addressbook. Her daughter had been in my studio, but was allowed to leave. I sent the whole thing, albeit more condensed than this detailed account, in several texts to her.
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40 min later, my head getting heavy with pre-comatose/peaking Benadryl, I got up to check with the registrar. The shift had already changed; a new girl was in her place. She said the previous girl had explained why I was there. I thanked both her and the hospital for letting me use the premises as my Safe Zone, and paid the valet fee, and came home. Though I’d had at least two bouts of it, both in ERs, both nearly 15 years ago before I was diagnosed, all from pizza dough that contained gluten/soy, thankfully, no anaphylaxis. This time.
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The Benadryl affect will last longest. It will put me to sleep for the rest of the night (my eyes are closing as I write this), and cause short term memory deficits which interrupt my retrieval of information as I continue to learn one of the most challenging musical scores my hands have ever encountered. Happy Valentine’s Day to, well, everyone else, I guess; I’ve spent mine in emotionally draining emergent health crisis, reprimanded for reacting as most anyone would under potentially life-breath threatening circumstances. All at the hands, and the mercy, of people who, as David would often intone, just don’t care “e.n.o.u.g.h.”
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© 2/14/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.      “I can’t breathe.”
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