Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Pineapple

It won. The pineapple that is.

When I was small, I loved pineapple and ate a lot of it. My mom was the queen of the upside-down cake. During Owen's pregnancy, I realized that pineapple made me itch. Over the last four years, my reaction to it has become worse than annoying. I know enough to know that allergies like this can get worse over time.

Pdaddy took the kids to Elephant Bar last night. I called him and asked him to bring me a plate of grilled shrimp. I also told him to ask about the ingredients to make sure there was no pineapple. I knew that they had some dishes where they used pineapple, but the menu said nothing about it for that dish. PDad asked and the waiter went away, came back, and said "no worries". Hubby brings it home, I eat about three shrimp and start on the veggies below. My mouth immediately tingled. Then I felt like it was blistering. Guess what was in the vegetables? Pineapple. Four large chunks and some yellowish juice. I took three Benedryl tabs and waited to see what was going to happen. In five minutes, I had a rash on my face and chest. My throat hurt really bad, too. I chugged children's Benedryl because it's liquid and hits the bloodstream faster (not to mention hitting my mouth directly). It seems to slow the reaction down and I planned to just watch it. I must've fallen asleep. At three, I found that I couldn't breathe at all. My throat was swollen bad. Moving air was getting difficult. I carry an epi pen for a bee allergy and I hate the pen. I stumbled to my purse and found it, jammed it in my leg, and sat on my floor waiting for it to work. It eventually kicked in enough for me to catch my breath and walk to where Mike had fallen asleep. Had to go to the ER to get checked out and they gave me IV meds. That doctor said I need to take my efforts to avoid pineapple farther.

Anyway, I know it's hard to be a waiter, but this isn't funny. Lazy is one thing. Putting a life in jeopardy is another. Elephant Bar is going to compensate us for our ER copay, thank Buddha! The corporate office is going to insist the franchsie go through extra training. That's more than I thought they'd do so I'm giving them a thumbs up for being responsible. The question I have is what's next? I had to be given a sedative last night because all I could think of was how often pineapple is on the menu in this town. If you have a food allergy, what do you do?

27 comments:

Hortan said...

Holy shit! If you didn't have access to drugs to counteract the swelling...

Food allergies suck, I know, I'm allergic to pretty much everything green/fruity, that waiter needs to get fired.

Carlie said...

Oy, I feel for you. My son is allergic to nuts and we're just starting to realize how hard it can be. Last month we were out to eat, and he got a sundae. He found something and (thank goodness) handed it over - we both thought it was an errant M&M that had fallen in, but it turned out to be a Reese's pieces. Aaargh. Even with due diligence things can happen.

The best you can do is be as careful as possible. If you can't restrict to restaurants without pineapple on the menu at all, be sure to always ask a manager, not just the waiter. Managers know they're personally on the hook for things like that, and if you call it a "life-threatening allergy" they should take it seriously.

wh44 said...

May I recommend you look into AAT?

http://www.allergytx.com

I have not tried them and cannot personally vouch for them. They have an odd distribution structure, so I'd be a bit wary. However a long-time online friend of mine who had a really bad corn allergy and couldn't eat most foods (you'd be surprised how much food has some form of corn in it) tried them, and can now eat corn straight with no problem.

CyberLizard said...

Wow, pineapple. Now that is something I would have thought was pretty innocuous. That sucks. Take care of yourself.

S. Brown said...

We have a friend with a similar problem -- she's allergic to capsicum (peppers, bell peppers, etc.), and it's a real pain for her to eat out. She pretty much sticks to a few restaurants and food items that she trusts, especially since the allergy has gotten more severe.

Glad to hear that the restaurant is covering the copay, and just as important, retraining the staff.

**********************
ginotsup -- the captchas are rather odd today.

Dawn said...

Oh, WOW. What a horrible thing to have had happen, Pmomma. Thank goodness you had an epi-pen and knew how to use it. I am SO glad you are OK. Pdaddy did the right thing...asked if it was in the dish...that's unfortunately all you can do unless you cook everything yourself.

We have weird food allergies in our family, too. Husband is allergic to Parmesan cheese (and similar ones), due to mold allergies. Try eating at an Italian restaurant!! We have to read all food labels if cheese is mentioned, because it applies to Romano, Bleu, and others too.

Daughter is newly allergic to strawberries. Do you know HOW many foods use strawberry juice for color, or sweetening? She reacts with vomiting so far, not the airway constriction you encountered. We had a similar situation in a restaurant. She ordered a beverage and we asked specifically if it had strawberry in it. The waiter supposedly checked and returned to say no. 2 sips and Daughter started feeling nauseous. We asked again about the drink (another waiter). Oh yes, it has strawberry juice in it. They replaced her drink and comped her meal but that was all. Fortunately, she wasn't extremely ill.

agfmama said...

That's horrifying. Luckily, neither my husband nor I have any food allergies, and Lil'Miss has yet to display any, and she's ate near about everything. It's always in the back of my mind though...

I'm glad the restaurant is taking responsibility. You can't afford to be lax about food allergies in the food industry.

Hope you continue to feel better!

amber said...

I'm allergic to commercially processed chicken, either the feed that they're given, or something within the processing itself. I get a pre-anaphylactic hives breakout down my spine, though I'm sure it's gotten worse, I've just gotten a little more stringent on what I eat.

In general, I just avoid chicken dishes outside of the full organic places, but it's amazing where some places will use chicken broth (less of a reaction for me, but still a reaction) as a filler, such as some barbeque places in their sauce. Some places are really good on training their staff, while others, not so much.

Perpetual Beginner said...

My food allergies are fortunately much easier to avoid (kiwi fruit and brazil nuts). Bananas are more of a problem to avoid, but I'm not allergic to them - they just wreck my digestion for a couple of days.

I've long since gotten into the habit of checking the ingredients carefully in any fruit dish. I don't eat mixed-fruit dishes unless I have a comprehensive ingredient list (asking if 'x' is in there isn't enough, I need the full list). I've still been caught out a couple of times - once a "strawberry only" fruit tart used the mixed juices of all the fruits, including the kiwi from the mixed tarts, for the glaze. I've learned to avoid "health" muffins because so many use pureed banana for sweetening. Over time I've gotten better at catching that sort of thing, just from the experience, but there's definitely a learning curve, and that can be hell.

Rachel said...

Wow. Glad you're okay! I have this kind of oral allergy to many fresh fruits. It's strange because I only developed it in adulthood and the first time it happened (same symptoms as you. frp, about a dozen fresh black summertime cherries ) I couldn't figure out what was going on. I've never had a severe enough reaction to warrant an ER visit and cooking the fruit seems to remove whatever allergens affect me. I just avoid most fresh fruit now, which is a bummer because I LOVE fresh fruit. Too bad about the Elephant Bar - I LOVE that place, too!

Katie said...

P-momma, do you think there could have been some cross contamination with the vegetables and the pineapple in prep of the food?

My husband has an allergy to lettuce and I have to take extreme precautions to all food and prep at home and if we go out to eat. It means changing gloves or washing hands before and after you handle the lettuce at my home. Sometimes we even ask the waiter to make sure the cook's gloves are changed or hands washed when we actually eat out if we know lettuce is handled because the cross contamination can be hurtful to him as well.

yanub said...

I can't eat wheat, which is rather more ubiquitous than pineapple. My experience is that, unless the wait and kitchen staff has either a direct experience of food allergy or clear management instructions, they will act like most people do about your food allergy. That is, they will think it is all in your head and that if they just don't tell you, you will somehow not notice. With take-out, never, never, never leave the premises without opening the box first and inspecting all the way to the bottom. If they put any offending ingredient in, tell them to start over. Do not let them have the first attempt until they return with the right thing, or they will try to get by with just removing the obvious bits, never caring that you are just as allergic to the crumbs or juices.

Tanya said...

I am so sorry that you had that experience. I just had something similar happen to me at Starbucks. I'm not allergic to milk, but it REALLY doesn't like me. It took me years to figure out that all of my digestive issues was from various sources of dairy. Lactaid seems to only sometimes work for me.

Anyway, I went to Starbucks today because I needed to pick up a couple gift cards. I usually drink coffee at home, but my husband took the first, really strong, cup from the carafe before the entire pot had brewed, so the cup I got was NASTY. So, while picking up the giftcards I figured that I'd get a soy latte, otherwise I'd get a headache from lack of caffeine. Not more than 20 minutes after my first sip - I still had part of the drink left, even - my insides started rebelling. I ended up cutting my errand run short, because I was getting cramps that had be doubled over, that even required me to breathe through them. Obviously, they put real milk in the drink, instead of soy. grrrr

Needless to say, I sent in a polite, but pissed off complaint to their website as soon as I got home. I'm so mad, because my colon is still cramping, and our family is supposed to be getting our picture taken in an hour.

reddhedd said...

Wow..that really sucks big time! I'm so glad you woke up and managed to get to your epi-pen.

Regarding allergies..you just have to be hyper vigilant, and stress that it's not a dislike of a particular food/ingredient, it's a life threatening allergic reaction.
Also, ask to speak with the cook directly; many times the wait staff knows the basic ingredients of a dish, but not the lesser additives. Plus, the cook is usually happy to switch out an ingredient for you.

For instance, I'm allergic to shellfish, and I ordered green beans in a cantonese sauce. Fortunately, I bugged the waiter ("No there's no seafood in those beans!") enough that he went to double check, in an exasperated huff.

Sure enough, the cook adds oyster sauce to the beans....and he was willing and happy to make me some fresh sauce, in a clean pan, for my beans.

I've just been caught too many times to take the risk, so we either eat at home, or I make the staff scared to death of my possible reaction.;o) I'd rather get the rep of "high maintenance bitch" than die, ya know?

Stay healthy, P-momma...

Poodles said...

I am allergic to strawberries. I too ask like you, but luckily strawberry isn't as common as pineapple in cooking. I think asking is all you can hope for and keep an epi pen handy.

That sucks though. I am glad they are paying for it.

Joe said...

I've never heard of pineapple causing such misery before. Wow, makes he happy I don't have to deal with food allergies. OTOH, perfume paint and dust pretty much do me in.

Rean House said...

Sorry to hear about your reaction Pmomma. I didn't even know you COULD be allergic to pineapple. I think it's awful how callous people are with regards to allergies. I go into anaphylaxis with fibreglass (the pink insulation in homes). If I had a nickle for every time someone picked on me for not wanting to see their basement, or accused me of being a drama queen I'd be a millionaire!

Leslie said...

Yikes, I'm glad you are ok. Never thought about pineapple causing that kind of reaction. We do have some food allergies on DH's side of the family - mostly breakouts or mild stomach upset (DH gets a breakout if he has too many tomatoes - my SIL can't have Dill or sour cream or a few other odd things).

Me, I did get a 1 time rash from overindulging in crab one weekend.

Glad the restaurant is taking care of your ER bill though.

arch_incubus said...

Really glad to hear that you came out ok. I have a (thankfully milder) reaction to onions, which more than one waiter has just blown off. Figure you probably already know, but just in case, be really wary about Americanized Chinese cuisine. Pineapple juice is sometimes used as a substitute for apricot in sauces and only the cook will typically have any idea. Unfortunately, way too much time in various food service jobs has taught me that unless someone is a regular, even management will typically tell the server to just tell the customer whatever they want to hear. At one place i had at least 3 disciplinary actions on my record for telling someone with a food sensitivity the truth about an item on the menu. It might sound like typical cynicism, but most supervisors place more concern with profit (and the idea that most customers won't take action unless there's a serious injury) than they do with honesty.
Just be careful, all-right? I didn't find your blog too long ago and look forward to reading a lot more from you.

spajadigit said...

Holy carp, but I'm glad you're all right! This isn't that uncommon. I often ask for food without cheese in it (I'm not allergic, I love cheese, but I am taking great pains to limit my cholesterol) and invariably someone forgets and I get cheese in my food.

This though is something different and the Elephant Bar sounds like it's taking responsibility, but a lot of good that would be had things turned out differently.

I'm real glad you're ok.

Barnetto said...

@wh44

If you read the faq on the AAT website you linked to, it says it doesn't treat
anaphylaxis, which is what it sounds like Pmomma has. In addition, the FAQ also states that "controlled studies have not yet been conducted on the AAT treatment", but then goes on to claim that the method is proven effective. Their methods amount to prodding you in places that acupuncture claims are magical and "The body associates this positive stimulus with the allergen, eliciting a "positive conditioning" effect...the body alters its perception and corrects its own erroneous response. "

They also explain how inexact the "science" is, give lots of convenient ways out for why their treatment might not work but if you keep coming back they'll figure out that they were using the wrong part of the cat hair on you, and it was really this protein on the cat hair that cause the problem so they need to poke a different part of your body.

I'm glad it worked for your friend, but it sounds like nothing more than placebo or he/she made some other lifestyle change and incorrectly attributed his improvement to the treatment. The treatment itself appears pseudo-scientific.

Carla said...

I am allergic to iodine which is the main cause of reactions in seafood,codeine and get this, Benedryl. So I avoid all seafood and if I do have a reaction I have to take adrenaline. I've ordered bloody mary's that come to the table with a prawn hanging off the rim, it goes back.

Amy said...

Yikes, glad to hear that you're doing better! This is going to sound dumb, but I thought only things like soy, peanuts, and shellfish caused such life-threatening reactions :( I can't imagine trying to avoid pineapple in CA, it's everywhere.

wh44 said...

@Barnetto - I wouldn't have bothered in the first place if it hadn't worked for my friend. The theory behind it doesn't sound all that bad: it is basically enhanced desensitization, which is a proven treatment. Acupuncture is also a proven treatment - though we still don't understand it.

Where it is wonky for me, is using some mysterious device to produce frequencies that the body interprets as the allergen - although there is new evidence that smell is actually based on frequencies: there's a fascinating TED video (http://www.ted.com/) called "Luca Turin on the science of scent". Altogether I highly recommend TED - many very interesting, videos.

Yazbec said...

Its been a while, dear lady; You still doing OK?

Mr. Slinky said...

So sorry to hear about your allergies Pmom. Thought the rest of your readers might enjoy a couple of waiter blogs. After reading several waiter blogs for the past several years, I can tell you I would never return anything if it wasn't to my liking - you never know what might be added.

A couple of examples Google: Redlobster boy and then use his link to Insane Waiter

Redlobster boy talks patrons wanting substituted ingredients and often even talking to management is not often enough on a recent post - however, the homeless woman and the chicken story is quite the read.

Interestingly - The Insane Waiter talks about just wiping off the offending sauce (granted it was not an allergy issue) but this same waiter has served caffeine when a patron has specifically asked for decaf. Why? Because they pissed him off.

There's a another blog called "Waiter Rant" - this guy actually has a book out now - he has some interesting stories.

Reading these blogs was truly enlightening for me.

lloyd said...

You were very lucky. I'm glad you're O.K.
My five year old boy had a reaction to parmeson cheese tonight. He's never had any allergies before. It was scary because his throat was burning and he got a bad headache. It was almost instant. It went away after about 15 minutes and some childrens benedrayl. I am going to take food allergies serious from now on. E.B.