Peanuts,Ahoy!

About six months ago,I picked a walnut off a scone and ate it. Five minutes later,my face and tongue swelled up,my throat got tight,and I started having trouble breathing. (I list these symptoms in descending order of likelihood caused by walnut,versus likelihood caused by FREAKING THE @#$&OUT BECAUSE MY FACE WAS SWELLING UP.)

I was under a tremendous amount of stress at the time (stress can do some seriously strange things to your body),and also standing in an area that was partly under construction (fumes,dust,solvents,who knows). But I blamed the walnut.

For the last six months,I’ve avoided all nuts,yea,even unto items that were manufactured in a facility that processes nuts. Even peanuts. I know,peanuts aren’t the same as walnuts. But if your eyes swelled up when you ate a nut,you might tend to overgeneralize,too.

I know that it is common for people with a history of other allergies (20 years,seasonal allergies,plus detergent/perfume sensitivities) to develop a cross-reaction with nuts. This is called Oral Allergy Syndrome. So a person who starts out being allergic to alder pollen may later in life develop an allergy to almonds,apples,celery,and so forth. The key factor being that the shapes of the proteins are kind of similar,according to your body’s immune system.

Most people would have gone straight to an allergist for testing. Most people are not truly phobic about the doctor,in a clinical sense. I am not nervous about going to the doctor. I am not uncomfortable with medical procedures. I am not afraid that something will happen. I am phobic about the doctor,the doctor’s office,and anything that happens there.

This is something that I always have to clarify for people,because they’ll be all like,“Oh,I hate going to the doctor,too!”and I’m like,“Do you CRY when you go to the doctor’s office? Like,just sitting there before the doctor even gets into the little room,do you start bawling? Because I do. I got a flu shot last fall,and I broke down and started sobbing right there in the grocery store. In fact,if we talk about going to the doctor for long enough,I will start crying right now,so shut the hell up about your hating to go to the doctor.

Put simply,for me,going to the doctor is like being on Fear Factor. Like being dumped in a tank full of spiders. We tend to accept that some people get hysterical at the sight of snakes. It’s like that,okay? Do not tire me with your “I get kinda nervous.”It is not the same.

Having said that,there are some of you reading this who are thinking “OMG ME TOO!!!”For you,I have one word:

XANAX.

On Xanax,you will be just like you are right now,minus any scrap of fear or anxiety. IT IS AWESOME. You will be able to drive yourself to the doctor and back. You will be able to go to work afterwards. You will not be impaired in any way. You’ll just be able to go to the doctor without,you know. Crying.

Okay,now,I realize there’s a chicken-and-egg problem,here. One has to go to the doctor to get a prescription for Xanax. However,there are ways around this. I suggest that you,you know,ask around.

I know that this is not a savory thought. I would not recommend it for any other situation. But if you cannot go to the doctor without breaking down,then I’m guessing it’s been a while since you’ve been. Personally,I am 34 years old,and I have had exactly three –3 –PAP smears. Counting the one last week (on Xanax). Under that sort of circumstance,then yes,if that’s what it’s going to take –ask around.

So I made an appointment. They warned me that it might take 2.5 hours,so I brought my knitting. Boy am I glad that I did,because it really was a 2.5 hour ordeal. Gosh,was that fun.

Incidentally,learn from my mistake. If you do obtain Xanax by asking around, and you bring it to the office in case you need more,I suggest that you put it in an empty pill container. Just something to give it a little,you know. Respectability.

But let me tell you,I wish you could have seen the nurse’s face when she was working up my chart,and she asked what kind of dosage I was taking for medical appointments,and I reached into my messenger bag and pulled this out:

…And said “Um…I dunno…they’re blue? I take half of one.”

In my defense,I was just trying to be helpful. Also,I was a little high.

At any rate,I was doing pretty well with all the testing until one of them scooped up a huge handful of hypodermic needles and set them down on the table beside me,and I burst into tears. But the second dose set me aright,and we continued.

What happened is,the nurse drew numbers and dots on my arms in felt-tip pen,and then poked each one with a little ampule,and then stuck in a hypodermic needle,and then set the timer for 15 minutes and left the room. We did this 10 times. Sigh.

As you can see,I was tested for allergy to HB,YJ,WPH,YH,and W,and came through with flying colors. Actually,this is the series of bee venom tests (I won’t bore you with explaining all the acronyms) and you could have knocked me over with a feather. The “allergic to bees”thing is a sort of received wisdom on my part,because I don’t even remember the bee sting which occasioned the trip to the doctor. Turns out,I am not allergic to bees. Who knew?

However,I am quite allergic to grass,as you would be able to see from this picture,if the autofocus had worked properly. The grass test occasioned a huge,silver dollar-sized welt,and it took every ounce of strength I possessed not to scratch the hell out of it. Also pictured:sock in progress.

In hindsight,it seems a little demented to take pictures of yourself in the doctor’s examining room. In my defense,I was bored. Also,I was a little high.

And finally,the results you’ve all been waiting for! Skin tests seem to indicate that I am not allergic to tree nuts,but they took blood samples*,and will let me know the definitive result next week.

However,I have been cleared for peanuts! I ate a Baby Ruth as soon as I got back to the office. Then I went to the grocery store and bought Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups,Nutter Butters,and a big ol’jar of peanut butter. Now I feel ill,but happy.

In case you were wondering,this is how long it takes to get a full allergy workup:

Also pictured:Kidd Valley milkshake. I felt my experience deserved it. Actually,I felt my experience justified like a DOZEN Kidd Valley milkshakes,but I wanted to save room for my dinner of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups,followed by an aperitif of Nutter Butters.

I’m just going to go have a lie-down,now.

* I had warned them that I get a little faint at the sight of blood. Everything was going well,and then she said “Okay,we’re done,”and I glanced over and saw three vials of my own blood and,as promised,got a little faint. I wanted to say,Lady,what part of “I faint at the sight of blood”didn’t you understand?

11 comments to Peanuts,Ahoy!

  • Egads and yikes!! Geesh. Ok,compared to you,I get a little nervous. ;) Well,actually,I have panic attacks at *home*,cancel about 3x,then finally drag myself in there,doped to the gills on yes,Xanax (but I’ve been on it for years),then give squinty-eyed glares after the nurse rips off the pressure cuff and tells me my BP is high. Well duh,Wilbur. I have agoraphobia and panic attacks,and I’m here at the doctor’s,thus having a mild panic attack –of *course* it’s high. 0.5 mg. of Xanax 3x daily doesn’t cut it for a doctor’s appt. If I took enough to make me calm during one,I’d be out like a light. So I up my dosage to 1-1/2 pills and still quiver and babble like an idiot. Fortunately,I have a lovely doctor who understands this. He’s cute,too,which doesn’t hurt. ;)

    So deep sympathies for it all. Hope the blood tests don’t come with back with any real horrids,and congrats on the peanut binge. ;) Also the sock. And another tip for the Xanax,aside from the old pill bottle…Write something on it like,“Emergency traveling backup supply,do not try to refill from this one!”It adds some legitimacy when you’ve gotten them by ‘asking around’. (My stepdaughter’s life is occasionally…uh,fraught.)

  • Melanie

    My husband is allergic to tree nuts (except almonds,which he thinks is due to the vast quantities of Honey-Nut Cheerios he ate as a child),his brother is allergic to peanuts (as in,gets a headache if you so much as open a bag of peanut m&ms in the same room),and his mom is allergic to soy. Good thing we’re not planning to spawn.

    Many congratulations on not being allergic to peanuts! Me,I’m waiting until they figure out how to wipe out seasonal pollen allergies. I really need to go get tested to find out what I’m allergic to,but I’m too much of a wuss to Just Do It.

  • Dani

    Ohhh,I wish I could hug you and hold your hand during appointments! Doctors,I don’t mind in the least. I get a little stressed about hospitals,probably because I’m usually there due to some stupidity on my part that will result in stitches.

    But the dentist…oh good lord,the dentist. I eat enough Ativan to feel pleasent,then one more for good measure. I make pleasent,witty conversation,and then the hygenist tells me that I can relax enough to actually let my shoulders touch the chair (when I am already lying down).

  • Sorry,I laughed all the way through your post. Sympathetic laughter,but guffaws nonetheless.

  • I’m not so freaky about the doctor,but when I was pregnant with our first son,I almost made a phelbotomist (blood drawer) quit on his first day because I cried so much. I kept explaining to him that it wasn’t him,it was the needle and the whole experience,but he remembered me for 2 YEARS after that first day.

  • “Xanax–Ask around.”

    That was their original slogan,until those FDA fatcats complained.

    When I had this,they did a back/arm combo. Always fun.

  • Sara

    YAY,ERIKA!!!!! Congrats on overcoming your phobia. Rock on!

  • Oh Wow! I’m so sorry about the nut thing. I accidently gave myself serious hives once with pinenuts (made pesto). Now I’m not only sensitive to these but hazelnuts too. I can relate to the doctor thing but for me it’s the dentist I think I’ll ask for some of those leetle blue pills from my doc for the dentist visits.

    BTW,you *totally* deserve the milkshake and probably more sock yarn too!

    Anna M
    http://www.princessofpink.typepad.com

  • Nancy

    Wow,those little blue pills look like my Zoloft lol
    I used to work in a hospital,so docs don’t bother me. It was always the seriously weird ppl that came in and sat down next to ya that gave me the freaks lmao
    Happy knitting

  • Sharon

    LOL,My daughter’s doctor gave me a month worth for a plane trip (cause it cost the same to give 30 as it does to give 2 or 3). She didn’t need it,but I used it . Good stuff. It is was like my mind couldn’t wander to the fear. I would think about being in the plane (same panic attack you get at the doctors) and then my thinking would become all fuzzy till I moved onto another thought. Over the last two years we have used it all up. My daughter needed it to get braces on and what not. I have just 1/2 a pill left. I am going to use it this month when I get my tubes tied! Simple out-patient surgery,but I have to get an I.V.,which freaks me out.

    Glad you found out the wonders of anti-anxiety meds. I am hoping my gyn will give me another perscription;)

  • What you described? Yup,that’s me with dentists. To the point that I haven’t been in 10 years. My ex managed a dental practice and it was terrible,I had issues sitting in the parking lot,even knowing I didn’t have to go in. I on’t think he ever understood that.

    I have to go sometime in…oh,I dunno the next 6 months. Whenever I stop putting it off. I should look into that Xanax thing.

    I totally hear you- when people say “I don’t like going to the dentist either”I want to slap them. Not the same.