Monday, June 14, 2010

How I Almost Died - And Why Your Words Might Need To

I almost died last weekend. Seriously. Like Miracle Max and his chocolate coated miracle pill could have come in handy.

I have a pretty severe allergy to peanuts, which I blame on my mother who used to trade her students hot lunch money for their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while pregnant with me.

I visited friends in Dallas, and on Sunday evening we decided on sushi for dinner. I was starving, so I ordered a salad also, taking a dressing recommendation from the waitress. "The ginger dressing is amazing," she promised.

I do not agree. Let me say that I checked the menu for any allergy warnings, ingredients, etc and found nothing. My lovely salad arrived and I took three bites before the inside of my mouth started itching like nobody's business. I shoved the salad across to my friends and declared, "there's peanuts in that."

By the time our sushi arrived, less than five minutes later, I could hardly swallow through my scratchy, swollen throat. My stomach started to hurt - pain like an army of fire ants stung the inside of my digestive track, not mere nausea. I ran to the bathroom. I'll spare you the details, but let's just say at least one member of their waitstaff thinks I'm bulimic.

We left after apologies and offers to call an ambulance. My friend Brooke drove as fast as she could to our friend Karen's house, where I immediately curled up in a little ball on the couch and tried not to move. Moving made it worse. So did burping. And breathing.

After a while the pain left my guts and settled in my chest and face. Breathing got hard, I wheezed in an out like a lifelong smoker on a hike in the Amazon. My face felt like it was on fire and itched all over. I took two Benedryl. Nothing. Two more and my chest loosened up, though my nose and throat didn't clear up for several hours.

My friends wanted to take me to the ER, but this has happened to me a couple of times before. The ER gives me a shot of Benedryl, so I figured I just needed to get enough of the antihistamine down on my own. It scared me; I'm not going to lie.

While I laid on the couch and concentrated on not expiring, I thought about revisions. The salad is like your pretty words - you and maybe other people think they are amazing. After you nosh on them, though, they irritate. Maybe even make you sick. That's when you revise. Rinse your mouth out, toss your cookies and endure reproving looks from strangers. You curl up in a ball and lament the death of your pretty words, the pain it took to shave them away. Then, if you're strong, you drink some wine (the best medicine in the world), sit at your computer, take deep, wheezing breaths, and work until things get better.

I know, it's a stretch. Go with it.


  1. Holy buckets!! It sounds like that was a really close call! Next time you probably aren't going to be able to skip the ER :-/ don't those kinds of allergic reactions get worse with repetition?

    I'm surprised you had the power to think about revisions in that state! Glad you're okay though!

  2. OMG. Very glad you survived to write again.

    In the interests of you living long enough to get to your future book signings, might it be an idea to carry an epipen and some serious antihistamines?

  3. Thanks everyone, I'm happy to be among the living too!

    Gary - My friends asked the same question, but honestly, as an adult I control what goes in my mouth so (in theory) there should never be peanuts ingested. The entire situation could have been avoided if I were more vigilant. I'm going to try that. :)