Saturday, March 01, 2014

"Crabby," Near Philadelphia

It hadn't happened in a long, long time. But it happened last night.

I was in my early teens when I learned I was allergic to shrimp. I had never really liked shrimp so it wasn't a problem. I loved other shellfish, though: oysters, clams, mussels; liked lobsters and crab and then discovered soft-shell crabs and for a few years was able to bask in their deliciousness. Then, gradually, the allergy spread and now I don't eat shellfish at all. Fortunately fish and calamari are still perfectly fine.

My allergy isn't the hives-breathing-eyes watering-throat closing variety. It is not life-threatening. It has a different manifestation: vomiting, diarrhea, and severe chill. It occurs six hours after I inadvertently consume shellfish. Not at all life-threatening, but an inconvenience and unpleasant way to spend the night.

The waiter can carry a platter of shellfish past me. My dining companion can luxuriate in scallops. No problem. But I cannot sample a sauce if there are shrimps in that sauce. And I never take a taste of anything from Joe's plate if he has something that is even topped with a shrimp. Usually, everything is just fine. But once every couple of years someone in a restaurant kitchen will handle a piece of shellfish and then handle my food. I have no way of knowing. Until six hours later.

Last night we used a gift card to try an upscale restaurant we'd not visited before. The food was impeccable; I had foie gras on parsnip latke and then a glorious lamb shank with creamy, cheesy grits and roasted brussels sprouts. I kept a respectable distance from Joe's meal, both courses of which involved shellfish of some sort. No problem.

Until 2:00 a.m.


stitchinpenny said...

Having a quit breathing allergy to strawberries, I tend to tell people about it and in fine restaurants they tend to set my food apart and have even at some restaurants asked if I would like to see their special allergy prep area. I have only done that at a bed and breakfast, but it has been offered in other places. I take it very seriously and since you have seen your sensitivity grow, please consider a few words to your waiter,

Janet O. said...

Sounds like a very unpleasant way to spend an evening. So sorry! And how maddening to never know when it may occur, no matter how careful YOU are!

Barbara Anne said...

Oh, bummer to the max! I agree with Stitchinpenny that you should always alert your waiter of your allergy when placing your order.

Just so you know, allergic reactions are unpredictable and can change. Over time, you "acquired" an allergy to more kinds of shellfish and that is one way to become allergic to something new. Be aware that at any time, you could experience the swelling/breathing problems type reaction. You might need to keep Benedryl with you and ask your doctor about an Epi-pen injectable to keep in your purse. Any questions? Nancy Nurse over and out!


LizA. said...

I definitely feel your pain -- I am also allergic to shellfish, unfortunately my allergy is the throat closing, breathing stopping kind. And yes, very minimal cross contamination will set me off. So not fun. It's extremely difficult at our camping pot luck dinners.....people get offended when I ask what's in something....sheesh.

Lynda Halliger Otvos (Lynda M O) said...

I am so sorry that you had to go thru that pain and uncomfortableness. And to have no way to know until later must be very fraught. Holding you up !~!

cityquilter grace said...

ewwwwww...a terrible manifestation indeed

Karla said...

Awful. Nancy, I think you need to contact the manager of the restaurant to let them know what happened. Not necessarily for your benefit, but for those who do have a life threatening allergy. Sometimes kitchens need a reminder that these allergies are serious. Hope you are recovered.

Tanya said...

In my family it is avocados. It took awhile to figure out what the culprit was... And it seems to be hereditary... Be careful.

Ida from Central PA said...

I, too, have a shellfish allergy. Thankfully, it is strictly crustaceans (shrimp, crab, lobster), and I can still enjoy mollusks. (I love living on the edge and going to Long John Silver's for their fried clams!)

Mine is the throat-closing type of allergy -- to the point where the doctor won't TEST me for it because he's afraid to kill me. (He takes my word on the severity and reaction.)

If my DH has shrimp, and doesn't thoroughly wash his mouth/lips, and he kisses me, my lips tingle -- and not in the happy, fun way, but instead in the numbing, I can't feel my lips or I feel my lips swelling up to the size of balloons.

I make sure I tell the hospital because of the iodine, even tho they are not typically related.

Something else to avoid is GLUCOSAMINE -- which is made from shellfish shells.