I have had a nut allergy since a very young age. In my teens and twenties it became less severe, but over the past few years it has come back with a vengeance. Unfortunately, I have had a few of these episodes while traveling.
Part 1. Santa Fe, NM.
It was a Sunday morning and we were wandering the Native American art fair in the Santa Fe Plaza.
I needed coffee more than art, so we made plans to meet at a small cafe after Helen had finished browsing. I picked us up some coffee and pastries and found a seat.
Helen joined me a few minutes later and I handed her a plain croissant. She was not pleased. “With all those options, you got me this? Yours looks better, What is it?” “Not really sure, it tastes good, it has something called marzipan in it.”
H practically shouted “Marzipan! But marzipan has almonds in it!”
I gave her a blank look, but stopped chewing; not knowing what almonds taste like, I had no idea. H looked concerned, but with more than a hint of annoyance; “Go to the bathroom NOW and make yourself be sick.”
I felt fine, but it had to be done. Otherwise it was a possibility of anaphylactic shock, Epipen stick in my thigh and a mandatory trip to the hospital.
I hustled to the only bathroom and leaned over the toilet in the small room. I stuffed my hand in my mouth as far as I could, trying to trigger my gag reflex. I retched and coughed and almost fell over; but nothing, nothing came up. I took a few deep breaths, got on my knees over the bowl and repeated the procedure; same outcome. On the fourth attempt, I spat up a minuscule bit of something that resembled food. Obviously not the purge I was looking for and I certainly didn’t get all the poison out. But I was done, staggered by this effort. I realized that, unless you’ve drunk a case of beer, it’s really hard to make yourself sick.
I had been in the bathroom for at least five minutes. I slowly opened the door and a mother and her young son were waiting for the toilet. I lurched out, my face bright red, sweating, eyes watering. I looked and felt like Keith Richards after a drug induced bender. The mother and son waiting for the restroom looked at me wide-eyed. As I stumbled out the door she pushed her son behind her to shield him from me.
Helen greeted me with a worried look. “Did it work?” “Yeah.” Which was true; it worked, just not that well. One positive; out of all kinds of nuts, I’m apparently the least allergic to almonds. I had my fingers crossed for the next hour that the tell-tale signs of an allergic reaction didn’t come on.
The rest of the day I had some strange noises and aches coming from my belly, but thankfully, no anaphylactic shock, no Epipen, and no trip to the hospital.