Food Challenge Round 46: Cindy vs Lettuce

So I may have skipped the recaps of a few challenges. Not for any particular reason, probably. Just life, and a bunch were repeats. So here’s a quick recap before we get to the shining star moment that has changed my life and one of my ice breaker “fun facts” hopefully forever!

Since Xolair, and post spinach and lox, I’ve challenged sesame, hummus, pickles (cucumbers + dill), and cooked blueberries to great success. I also challenged raw broccoli to a lack of success, but I didn’t get sick, either — just had that feeling where my body said “stop” and my doctor looked at the way I was contorting my face and said “stop” so I stopped and went home sad because I’d been literally dreaming about eating broccoli. But all’s well, because I can still challenge it cooked at some point.

So then, today. We’re about a year into Xolair, which is crazy! I decided to challenge romaine lettuce, because Passover is coming, and it’s been really painful for me to not be able to participate in the ritual in which romaine lettuce (known as maror) is consumed in memory of the Hebrew slaves’ bitter lives in Egypt. Fine, so it’s not the most fun ritual in all of Judaism, but there’s something about being excluded from a religious practice that’s hurtful. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t felt it before. It’s not that I will “get in trouble with God” if I don’t eat maror — quite the opposite — but it feels strange to watch other people do this thing, this important thing designed to build on a connected tradition, and know that doing so can kill you. That this avenue is not an avenue you can take to connect. So I wanted to at least give romaine a try before Passover in the hopes that this year, I can partake in the ritual for the first time in years, and for the first time ever without getting sick.

And, drumroll…I can! And to quote the amazing Gina Rodriguez of Jane the Virgin fame, I can and I will!

Much like with spinach, I began the challenge by turning over a lettuce leaf in my fingers. Feeling its curves. Experiencing its texture. Finally, after singing comforting songs to myself to eradicate my fear of lettuce, I ate it. Six leaves worth. It was delicious! I could literally feel the nutrients I have been deprived of for so long coursing through my body. If that sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is. And I don’t much care, because it’s how I felt. I feel healthy and vibrant and peppy and I cannot wait to eat more lettuce.

I’m limited to six leaves at a time, three times a week, because Xolair is a miracle drug but not a cure. But that’s fine. Six leaves of lettuce, five leaves of spinach, and some tomatoes, peppers, and dressing? That’s a side salad if I ever heard of one.

I’m going to eat salad. Salad that isn’t driven by corn.

WHAT?

I am in complete disbelief, still. But a thrilled disbelief.

For so long, I’ve been introduced to people as Cindy, the girl who can’t eat lettuce. We can leave the emotional baggage of that for another time, but for now…I’m excited to see which random identifying factor people choose now.

Cindy, the girl who lived (after eating lettuce, not after a curse from Voldemort #spoileralert #sorrynotsorry).

POST-XOLAIR FOOD CHALLENGE TALLY

Cindy: 7

Allergens: 2 (but it was more of a draw)

Up Next: Cottonseed oil

There is lettuce in my hand. And no hives on my chest. This, my friends, is the magic of Xolair.

There is lettuce in my hand. And no hives on my chest. This, my friends, is the magic of Xolair.

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Food Challenge Round 40: Cindy vs. Lox

When I was a child, one of the things I wanted most in the world was to grow up and eat chocolate covered lox. Now, before you gag, understand: my friends/peers would only make me feel bad about being allergic to two foods — chocolate, because what kids don’t like chocolate; and lox, because it’s a staple of the American Jewish diet. I hadn’t ever tasted either, so I assumed if everyone loved both, eating them together would be stupendous. I’d tell my family and my doctor that when I grew up, I’d eat chocolate covered lox.

Today, I learned that dreams do come true — just not how you’d expect.

I challenged lox today in my second post-Xolair challenge. It started off like spinach — touched it, rubbed it on my fingers, freaked out about my lack of hives. Did ya’ll know fish is super slimy? Gross.

Then it stopped being like spinach.

I took a bit of the lox — like a sliver the size of my thumb — and put it in my mouth. Spit it out on the doctor’s desk almost immediately and shouted “WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?” Fish, it seems, is an acquired taste.

I didn’t want to eat more. It was vile. And slimy. And gross. But I want to be able to eat fish. So, after whining overdramatically and having the nurse come in to soothe me, I took a bite. I swallowed. I SWALLOWED FISH. LIKE A SEA LION. I haven’t swallowed fish in years — maybe since I was a toddler. Never swallowed lox. It never got that far.

I then asked the nurse if I could take a bite of chocolate to fulfill my dream. She said sure. With the taste of lox fresh on my tongue, I ate a piece of chocolate. And you know what I have to say to all you naysayers out there who gagged in the beginning of this post? The tastes sort of blended. Like chocolate covered pretzels. Bittersweet chocolate with a salty smoky edge. If Gwyneth Paltrow “Goop’ed” it the whole world would be on that like it was a kale chip.

My dream of opening a lox and chocolate factory was soon dismantled. I got extremely nauseous. The doctor tossed me his trash bin. I didn’t use it. But I started feeling off. Ear burning, throat scratchy (though that was solved with water). My vision was intact and there was no sign of hives — both the typical symptoms I’ve gotten from touching fish — but I was lethargic, cranky, and groggy. Also typical symptoms of close encounters with the sea kind.

I stayed for monitoring and just kept getting more nauseous. The doctor gave me Claritin, which helped. We assessed that I can’t eat lox, though if I want to, I can challenge other fish and other cooked salmons (I may not want to). We also assessed that my threshold had significantly changed — I could now swallow fish without a severe reaction. A reaction not even worthy of Benedryl! This means I can touch it, I can be near it, and most importantly — I can now go to restaurants, not just in LA, but anywhere careful.

Am I disappointed that I can’t eat fish? Sort of. Am I cranky because I still don’t feel great? Sure am. But, I’m also really happy, and here’s why:

1. I grew up to eat chocolate and lox, and even though I’d given up on that dream long ago, it still feels great to have achieved it, even for a moment. The world is never how we expect it to be, but it sometimes surprises you and lets you have a taste of something you really really really wanted. I’m feeling very empowered.

2. I can now get closer to fish than ever before. I can feed a sea lion. I can go to the New York Aquarium and touch the starfish. As a kid, when we’d go there on class trips, I’d sit in the hallway by this fountain thing and wait until my whole class had touched the fish and soaped their hands. No chaperone ever stayed with me (seriously, the 90s were cool) and while my friends joined me once they were done, I was alone for most of the time and bored to tears — and also sad. Like, really left out sad. But now, I can touch the fish like the rest of them. Also, zoos and aquariums aside, I can be around fish eaters. Cooking just got so much easier for large family gatherings. I can clear off a plate that had lox on it and help my dad out after he’s done eating. That’s big.

3. It’s confirmed that the food challenges I’m set to do to keep assessing the Xolair aren’t for naught — each allergen will have a different threshold, and it’s important to find out what they are. But they’ll all be better. BETTER. That’s pretty damn good.

A keeper at my old stomping ground, the Prospect Park Zoo. I could be her!

A keeper at my old stomping ground, the Prospect Park Zoo. I could be her!

FOOD CHALLENGE TALLY

Cindy: 28

Allergens: 5

Next Up: Vote?

Food Challenge 39: Cindy vs. Spinach (aka THE PLAYOFF GAME)

This was the big one. Spinach. A food I hadn’t eaten in years, and never successfully. 27 years of spinach being poison, and today, I willingly consumed it.

In case you’re just finding this blog or don’t remember or just like recaps (have you read Vulture’s recaps of Pretty Little Liars? You have to.), I’ve been taking this medicine called Xolair that has been known to mitigate allergies. I say mitigate, not cure, because 1. it’s an ongoing treatment and if you stop doing it, the allergies come back and 2. it’s doesn’t make the allergies completely go away, it just makes them lessened and builds up a tolerance.

So anyway, after four months of injections, I was ready to see if it was all worth it — if the Xolair made any changes to my IGE levels and body chemistry.

AND IT DID!

I was super nervous in the days running up to the challenge, mildly calmer this morning thanks to certain dream cousins, and nervous/excited/adrenaline-y when I got to the doctor’s office.

I started out by touching the leaves. Previously, being in the same room as too much spinach made me dizzy. Touching it was worse, and involved hives. I ran my fingers, then my palms, over each leaf. It felt like basil. I looked at my hands. They were fine. My arms — fine. My chest — fine. My eyesight was good.

“Do I just like, eat it now? Like straight up put it in my mouth and eat it like it’s food?” I asked my doctor.

“That’s the plan.”

I hesitated, but took a deep breath and ate a leaf.

It didn’t taste like anger, darkness, or sadness, like the previous spinach I’d eaten in my life had. It tasted like a slightly more bitter basil and leafy. I finally get what people mean when they say “leafy greens taste leafy.” They’ve always tasted like the world stopping. The fact that I could now taste “leafiness” and not “sadness” meant I was maybe going to be okay.

Another half a leaf.

I paused.

“Are you going to eat a leaf every hour?” my doctor asked. “Just eat five leaves, and we’ll see what happens. You will be fine.”

“This is a moment! I’m scared!”

The nurse came in, and I started to cry from excitement. From the fact that my allergic reactions are always immediate — a minute, maybe two after consumption — and I had a leaf and a half of spinach swirling somewhere in my body and it had been five minutes or so, and I was FINE.

I downed the other three leaves while I was still brave enough to.

And then I waited…and waited…and waited…

And nothing!

Nothing!

It was like I had just eaten food. And that was all. Not like I lost my coherence, eyesight, breath, what have you. Spinach was like any other food.

My poison had become food.

The Xolair worked.

IT WORKED.

It worked?!

I’m euphoric, as my mom says. I feel surreal. I don’t know what to do with this new paradigm. I took a class in college called “Paradigms of Biological Investigation” about how scientific paradigms shift throughout time (the world once thought science said the world was flat, etc.) I feel like I just did a biological investigation that shifted my paradigm. Spinach was once thought to be poison, but instead it’s food.

***

So next time on Cindy’s allergies…

1. Now that it’s proven the Xolair works, I can eat things I was previously not allergic to before I became allergic to them in 2012 and then unallergic to again after testing. Specifically, wheat. More specifically, beer that isn’t Heineken. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a fave, but grabbing a craft German beer at lunch today in celebration was JOYFUL. Also, COOKIES. Without traces of nuts of course, but COOKIES.

2. I am now going to challenge the other forbidden foods on my list. Weekly, if it all keeps going well. Paradigm will keep shifting.

3. I keep getting the Xolair once a month.

4. At some point, I’ll have proved Xolair is working enough to cross contaminate sort of at restaurants. Maybe eat pizza? Maybe just EAT AT A RESTAURANT.

It was a shock to me to go into full hyperallergic mode. Now I’m coming out of it more than I ever thought I would. Eating out again was on the table, but eating SPINACH? Who am I, Popeye?

May as well be. I’m definitely not Super Allergic Cindy.

 

The spinach -- thanks F & K for dropping it off!

The spinach — thanks F & K for dropping it off!

The first leaf. Scared and excited. #spinachselfie

The first leaf. Scared and excited. #spinachselfie

My fifth leaf! I'm alive! #spinachselfie

My fifth leaf! I’m alive! #spinachselfie

FOOD CHALLENGE TALLY (note: I barely blogged about challenge 38, the 4th tsp of peanut butter because it was boring and I passed)

Cindy: 28

Allergens: 4

Next up: LOX (maybe covered in chocolate…story to come another time).

Xolair Round One: Complete (And the Story of How I Was Once Spider-Man)

Four months ago, I started this treatment called Xolair, that in theory will help mitigate my allergies. You can catch up on the first time here. But the short version is, I get an injection once a month and after four months, I challenge something I know I’m allergic to and see if I survive. Since one of the risks of Xolair is anaphylaxis, my doctor also has me taking steroids for a week out of the month to prevent anaphylaxis on the day of.

If you’ve noticed that this blog hasn’t been updated much in the last few months, it’s because I haven’t really known what to say. This treatment has put my normal food challenges on semi-hold (finding time between steroids and travel to challenge a food properly has been interesting, and yielded only one challenge: a fourth tsp of peanut butter which went perfectly well). It’s also put my feelings about food allergies into this weird state of confusion. Like, this might be the end of them. THIS MIGHT BE THE END OF THEM. What does that even mean? What does that even look like?  I can’t fathom it, and every time I think too much about it, I get scared that THIS MIGHT NOT BE THE END OF THEM. And I know what that looks like, and I can handle what that looks like, but damn, what a let down that’d be.

However, on this, the day of my last shot before the big challenge, I feel compelled to write. If only to organize my thoughts. Though, with the steroids fucking with me the way they are, I’m not promising much organization.

1. I LOVE how many movies I’ve seen in the doctor’s office. Good Will Hunting, Stand By Me, Mystic River, Dazed and Confused, and Pulp Fiction. I saw Pulp Fiction today and I just never want to do anything else. Movies are good! I want the Xolair to work so that I’m forced to see the rest of the amazing movies I’ve somehow missed (somehow = being too much of a “too cool for school” indie kid who preferred TV and things no one ever heard of, with a soft spot for romcoms).

2. Steroids are fucking weird. My reactions to them are wholly inconsistent. Sometimes I’m awake for days. Sometimes I fall asleep crazy early and wake up every hour exhausted. Sometimes I sleep just fine but have so many thoughts I don’t know which are real and which aren’t. Sometimes my legs hurt so badly I can’t sit normally. Sometimes (today) I giggle so hard I cry at literally nothing. Sometimes I yell at everyone around me about things that are irrelevant. Sometimes, all of the above. Sometimes, none of the above. Every day is different, and especially every month is different. Imagine PMS but more unpredictable. So maybe pregnancy? But the end result isn’t a baby, it’s just sobriety. Anyway, I’m extremely grateful to my family and friends who put up with all of the yoyo-ing, and especially who tell me which of my reactions are me and which are Steroid Cindy. Steroid Cindy is fun in doses (ha, doses!) but she isn’t real Cindy, and thanks to everyone who gets that and helps me get that.

3. I’m eating spinach on July 9. SPINACH. Here’s my relationship with spinach thus far in my life:

As a child, I knew spinach was something Popeye ate but I didn’t.

I would often pick up spinach calzones for my sisters from the local pizza store. Sometimes, they’d give us broccoli ones instead and those were not good. I was never particularly good at picking up the calzones because I couldn’t tell the difference between spinach and broccoli. Both were green things I didn’t eat that smelled funny.

I tried spinach at some point in my preteen years. I ate it cooked, but never raw. I HATED it. I hated it because it would make everything dark and angry, and I’d always feel the need to fall asleep, sometimes clutching my stomach. I assumed that this was a perfectly normal reaction to spinach so I never said anything. I’d read in books that spinach was a food kids didn’t like, so I assumed the reason was because it was dark, angry, narcolepsy-inducing, and hurtful to stomachs. Why should I have been different from all other kids? So I ate my spinach like I was told, and secretly took naps, and that was that. Until one day I threw a temper tantrum about not wanting to fall asleep, and my mother, who knew that spinach isn’t supposed to just knock you out, told me I was describing allergic reactions and that I should not eat it again.

I started experiencing airborne symptoms to all leafy greens around the time I was 15. I believe (and there’s some research on this) that the stench of 9/11 and the pollution that followed increased my allergic symptoms. I am grateful that of all the losses I could have experienced that day, I only lost the ability to be in the same room as salad.

During my sophomore year of college (so 2006 I think?) I had a doctor’s appointment to check out a sprained ankle. I took the train into Boston, got an aircast at the doctor, ate lunch at this great little restaurant downtown while reading a book — god I miss dining out alone sometimes — and noticed that my eggplant sandwich had a spinach leaf in it. Having not had spinach for years, I figured, no time like the present for an impromptu food challenge! (Though I didn’t know the term then). Anyway, after a few minutes, I realized I was getting sick. I was naive and didn’t carry Benedryl on me, so I did what anyone would do — I left the restaurant and got on the train heading to my next destination. The Park Street station never seemed so big. I remember stumbling through the station, gasping for air, and finally making it on the train, completely exhausted from walking and breathing simultaneously. I hopped out of the train at Copley, and called my best friend T from a CVS. I figured she should know I was sick, because you know, calling the person who’s in Ithaca and not Boston is totally logical in an emergency. But really, T is super smart, and encouraged me to buy the Benedryl even though I had to take an escalator up to the second floor of the CVS to buy it, and to buy a bottle of water, too. She told me to take the pill in line before I paid, and not think about stealing. The line was SO LONG. She said that no one wanted me to die in line and that it’s not like I wasn’t eventually going to pay when it was my turn. So, anyway, I took the pills and went to the commuter rail station, where I found the train pulling away as I approached the platform. With a sprained ankle and high on the Benedryl — not to mention woozy from the reaction — I grabbed hold of the conductor’s outstretched arm and jumped onto a moving train. I WAS SPIDER-MAN! Then, I slept on the train. That was the last time I ate spinach. So you can see why I’m scared to eat some now…

The good news is (okay, I’m starting to think I needed to have blogged in these interim months!) is that I’ve noticed a change. I was thisclose to horseradish while grocery shopping after round two and NOTHING happened. In fact, the reason I was so close was because I was able to get close to horseradish without noticing, whereas I usually get dizzy as soon as it’s nearby and then locate it to confirm the dizziness. I wasn’t dizzy, looked for the horseradish and it wasn’t in my eyeline, and wound up leaning over the bin like a regular person while picking out a suitable eggplant. I also was around salad and fish numerous times — sometimes even while eating — and was fine. So this drug might be worth it’s salt. (Literally. The steroids make me crave salt like the opposite of an open wound [A closed wound? This metaphor makes no sense..]).

As a closing thought: the song of the day, per my coworker who heard I’d finished my first round of shots:

 

Food Challenge Round 36 & 37: Cindy vs. Balsamic Vinegar & Tequila

I promise, I don’t drink that much. Even though 5 of my 37 challenges have involved alcoholic beverages, I promise I don’t drink that much.

I just…I know I’m not really allergic to alcohol, and I’m too scared to try food. The almonds were so painful, and then I followed that up two weeks later with a restaurant experience gone wrong (will try to share when I feel fully emotionally healed), and I needed to just try things that felt safe so my body could continue to heal while I also increase my diet.

So I tried balsamic vinegar first. I had intended to eat it on peppers, but on the insistence of the nurse, I ate it plain. Dipped my pinky finger in it and licked it plain. Like it was Passover and I was dipping my finger in the wine for the plagues. 1. It was gross. 2. It was seriously gross. 3. My doctor was cracking up and finally realized why people like instagram (no, he didn’t instagram me, but he thought it would make a good moment. Further no, I still don’t get instagram). 4. I passed!

I asked if that meant I could have sulfites. I mean, seriously. Beer, rum, two kinds of wine, and vinegar — who are we kidding, I can have sulfites. Just because once some grape juice kicked my ass doesn’t mean I’m reactive to sulfites. So the doctor said I could try one more alcohol and be cleared for all sulfite beverages…meaning all wines…yes!

Hence, the tequila.

I had never done a tequila shot before. My tequila was strictly reserved for margaritas and on screen via Meredith Grey. But, apparently, challenging a margarita could yield incorrect results as who knows if the margarita ingredients were the issue, so, a shot it was. And not a shot with salt and lime. Just plain ol’ tequila.

At 7:30am.

Which I thought would be horrifying.

Turns out it was perfectly pleasant.

Please note again, I don’t drink that much.

But damn. Tequila is way better than vodka. It hits you hard. It’s lighter than I expected. I could drink it again. And I will. Because I passed. So now…all wines!

I’ll still favor cabernet sauvignon. It’s been a good friend and it’s delicious. But not having to worry every Shabbat that I’ll miss out on kiddush, the blessing over wine, because I’m at a dinner where the wine served isn’t cab sav — that’s a weight lifted off my shoulders. It’s hard to explain how happy I am, how relieved, how normal I feel now.

Who knew a tequila shot could be so strong?

Food Challenge Tally

Cindy: 27

Allergens: 4

Food Challenges Round 31- 35: Cindy vs. Peanut Butter and Pretzels, Sauteed Onions, Special K, White Wine, and Almonds

Lots of food challenges to catch up on. Things have been hectic with a ton of weddings, switching jobs, and holidays. But here’s the deal:

Most of the challenges went swimmingly. I can now have 3 tsps of peanut butter, Utz Halloween pretzels (in case the factory processes the regular pretzels differently), ALL ONIONS (the third challenge of onions opened all those doors up — and shallots and leeks, too!), Special K cereal (and cereals with similarly low trace amounts of wheat, though I should still avoid them if I can), and sauvignon blanc.

I can’t have almonds, as I learned today. Today, I bit into the top of an almond, chewed it, paused, and put the rest on the allergist’s desk. “No more. I want medicine.”

My lip was tingling and my ears were starting to burn. I’ve gotten really good at sensing the beginning of a reaction. The other foods just felt like foods when I tried them, but this almond tip felt like poison and anger. But now I know: I avoid traces of nuts for a reason.

Thank God I didn’t need epi – just benedryl, steroids, and sleep (why is it that steroid injections don’t make me as weird as the pills?). My throat is aching, my face is mildly swollen (I can feel it and I can tell, but unless someone’s used to my face, they wouldn’t know that my right cheek is over-puffing and throbbing). But I’m ok. I caught myself before I got too far. Now I know — no nuts.

Maybe when I’m off the meds I’ll console myself with a nice bottle of wine, because I CAN.

Sidenote: tonight is the Jewish New Year for trees, and it’s traditional to try new fruits and to eat almonds. Good timing, right, Cind? Guess I’ll just find a bonsai tree or something to celebrate.

The tip of one of these had me sleeping all day.

The tip of one of these had me sleeping all day.

Food Challenge Round 30: Cindy vs. Pasta – The Rematch

Thirty food challenges. Wow. That’s an insane number, and I wonder if I’ve broken a world record.

But more important than the number of food challenges is the result of this one — I tried barilla pasta and WON! I tried Ronzoni about a year ago and basically everything went dark and I drove to work to grab my laptop to come home and vomited on my way there and then got home and passed out. This time, I ate a bowl of pasta, and went on with my day as though nothing had happened, BECAUSE NOTHING HAD HAPPENED.

Now, I don’t know if it’s the time of healing, or the brand of pasta, but I do know that I don’t have to rely on corn quinoa pasta anymore. I have to control my impulse to eat pasta twice a day every day, but I feel like I might be ok at that now that cooking is second nature.

When I made pasta for dinner tonight, I’d forgotten how to cook it. With corn quinoa pasta, you boil the noodles in the water. Regular pasta, notsomuch. The timing is different. I have to relearn the most basic cooking skill. But hey. I’ll figure it out. I make handmade gnocchi like it’s no big deal!

Cannot express how much joy I feel now that this is back in my life:

photo (11)

Food Challenge Tally:

Cindy: 22

Allergens: 4

Up Next: 3rd teaspoon of peanut butter

Food Challenge Round 29: Cindy vs. Onion Powder – The Rematch

Onion powder.

That pesky little food that you don’t think much about until you can’t have it anymore and you realize it’s everywhere.

In people’s cooking. In sauces. In processed foods. In restaurants. In “spices.” Everywhere.

Last time I challenged onion powder, I barely passed. The doctor’s instructions were basically, “If it happens by accident, don’t panic, you won’t die, you’ll just need to take Claritin and lie down for a while.” So in the interest of not wasting time lying down, I avoided onion powder. Until this morning, when I decided it was time. The olive oil gave me courage to re-challenge, and hurrah! I passed! Like, for reals.

I don’t think I’ve felt this good since I retook the SAT and my score jumped 130 points (though I’m ashamed to say I needed to use a calculator to figure that out. Ugh.)

These totally uneventful challenges are super fun. They don’t make for great blog fodder, but I love waking up early, eating breakfast with the doctor (or, you know, a piece of chicken with onion powder and nothing else), and getting on with my day after some friendly chitchat. Way better than the eventful sickness-y ones.

I’m taking a break from challenges for Sukkot, but I’ll resume in October with pasta: the rematch. The thing is, whichever brand of pasta I try, I have to ONLY eat that one. So, dear readers, which pasta brand would you try if you could only ever have that one?

Food Challenge Tally

Cindy: 21

Allergens: 5

Up Next: Pasta

Food Challenge 28: Cindy vs. Maple Syrup

The food challenge was the least interesting part of my appointment this morning. First of all, I apparently cancelled my appointment on Friday when I called the doctor with emergency throat swelling, but I was not 100% on my game during that call and may not have actually said, “I want to not challenge food but I want to keep the appointment.” In any event, I brought food to challenge anyway, because when I woke up this morning, it seemed silly to go there just to say hi. So I settled on maple syrup, since I was pretty sure I could eat it (spoiler alert: I can) and just hadn’t been because a) I like pancakes better with sugar and b)trees have scared me since the pollen shots.

Anyway.

The reason this challenge is interesting, is because the doctor tried to set me up with another patient who was in for skin testing. It was like something out of a sitcom. Suddenly, the whole office turned into a bunch of yentas – “you’d be such a good match, both allergic to fish!” and “tell him what happens when you’re near horseradish at a bar mitzvah!” Allergist, allergist, make me a match…find me a find…

I rolled with the punches, of course. My suggested beau was way more tolerant of the skin test pain than I’d ever been, barely flinching. My fish test made me cry. Of course, I awkwardly told him that. And when his accompanying mother (apparently, she’s the usual patient) asked me if I could have lox (no) I decided to tell them how as a kid, all I wanted was chocolate covered lox, since I didn’t know what either tasted like but my friends all liked both. We got a good laugh. Which was nice, since the story was preceded by, “Did Cindy tell you she writes comedy videos? Come on, tell them about the videos! They’re funny!” So I guess I proved that?

There’s no wedding date set, but hey. They say it’s best to meet men by sharing a hobby/common interest; maybe an allergist and a shared fish allergy is the same thing?

“What do you do for fun?”

“I build model airplanes. And you?”

“I’m allergic to fish.”

Plus, I bet we can both have maple syrup.

Oh, and ps. I had no reason to be scared of maple syrup. It doesn’t have pollen in it. Neither does honey. Just an FYI. I love how much I learn every time I do a challenge. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look forward to these appointments. If you’re going to risk your life challenging a food, it may as well be with one of the best doctors around who also happens to be super fun.

FOOD CHALLENGE TALLY

Cindy: 20

Allergens: 6

Up Next: Onion powder

Food Challenge Round 27: Cindy vs. Olive Oil — The Rematch

First of all, yes, the punctuation in the title of my blog post is stolen from Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol. No, I didn’t seem Tom Cruise at the allergist.

But I DID successfully eat olive oil.

As you may recall, on July 31, 2012, I posted about my first challenge with olive oil. It was a horrible experience. Not anaphylaxis bad, but not fun. I remember how lethargic I was after eating those rye crackers, how everything hurt when I moved. Not today, though! Today, I ate potatoes with olive oil and was totally fine. I ate like a normal person eating potatoes. It’s so strange how I can so easily recall feeling my whole body start to shut down just a year ago, and today, I ate food and just felt like I’d eaten. Not like a bulldozer had dragged me halfway across Prague. (Not sure why I picked Prague).

It's Chanukah in August!

It’s Chanukah in August!

So yay! I can now eat olive oil! This is a serious life change. It’ll be easier for other people to cook for me, I can probably go to more restaurants, and I there’s one invisible food that’s off my list. And more importantly:

I’M GETTING BETTER.

The hypersensitivity that started two years ago (isn’t it just dandy that the X-Games are a reminder of my first hospital visit?) is on it’s way out. I’ll always have allergies, but some of the ones that went all wackadoodle on me are waning. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. My body is recovering. It’s relenting in its war on food. Just call it Robert E. Lee. Proclaim me emancipated, or something.

I have to be careful about how much olive oil I eat so as not to overdose again — twice a week, in limited amounts (basically one dish per meal, twice a week, preferably not in back to back meals), but it’s still a game changer. It’s on the table…literally.

FOOD CHALLENGE TALLY

Cindy: 19

Allergens: 6 (yayyy this number is going down!)

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