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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What About Restaurants, Parties, Invites And Public Places?

What About Restaurants, Parties, Invites And Public Places?

What about them?  Well, for me they cause a ton of anxiety.  What used to be fun is now filled with stress. (Visit this blog post on FARE Blog for information on how restaurants are trained to handle allergies.)

I had a long conversation once at BLDs with one of the waitresses.  She has a child with severe allergies.  Allergies can be life threatening, therefore, the stress one has when dealing with allergies is very real.  We discussed the anxiety we feel whenever we must go out in public.

See my article Food And Drinks That Originated In Or Are Associated With New York   I can no longer eat anything that is not made by me.


My daughter's college graduation dinner in a private room at a Portuguese/Italian Restaurant
People who don't suffer with allergies/asthma/autoimmune issues simply choose a restaurant and make a reservation.  Not so with those who suffer.
  • I cannot eat anything at the restaurant, so my first question is, "will you allow me to bring my own food."  No restaurant has ever said no once they heard why.  However, I did have a restaurant make me sign a waiver.  My guess is someone brought their own food but decided to try something served, had a problem and tried to sue.  
  • My second step is to ask if  we can have a private room.  If they say yes, I then ask how close the room is to their kitchen and ask about ventilation. 
  • I also always pick places close to home and close to hospitals that I'm comfortable with. 
It is very difficult to watch everyone order amazing dishes from the menu.  One of my favorite things to do years ago was to sample cuisine from around the world.  I  only go to restaurants when I have to, for people I love, to celebrate special occasions.

Bad experience:  For my last birthday, I went to see a friend play in a band at a local restaurant. We were on their back patio.  Everyone figured since it's outdoors, no problem.  WRONG. Toward the end of the night, they started to make more garlic bread.  The kitchen was in the back of the restaurant and the ventilation came out onto the patio.  I have a severe gluten allergy.

I had no idea they were cooking the bread, however, I started to have a bad reaction.  Because my nose stuffs up, it's difficult to smell.  My throat starts to swell. I get puffy in my face and my neck swells.  If it gets bad enough I cough uncontrollably and gag.  As it started to happen, I looked around and asked, "what's going on?" My sister said, "Oh my God, they are making garlic bread."

II had to immediately leave.  I walked out on all my friends and family. Of course the embarrassment of horrific coughing and gagging is no fun. People stare, people offer to help, some think I'm high or drunk (not that I care what they think) but it's a fiasco.  Luckily it didn't require a hospital visit, but it did require a ton of medication and several hours to get back to normal. 

My mom had a lot of company over the summer.  She had my son make the garlic bread on the barbecue, because if she were to put it in her oven, I wouldn't be able to stay in her house for hours. The wind was blowing towards the downstairs patio.. Luckily, the yard is huge and I was able to sit on the upstairs patio by the pool so it didn't affect me.  I constantly have to watch for when and what they will be cooking.

Here on the East Coast, especially the tri-state area, Holy First Communions are popular.  For as far back as I can remember, little boys and girls were dressed in white for the celebration and after church a big party was held.  Just like foods that are associated with New York, so are many customs.  
I had to turn down many parties.  I didn't go to my cousin's granddaughter's communion.  It's best for me and everyone involved. It's hard to stay home when all the family is going, however, the party was an hour away.  I have terrible anxiety in cars to begin with and sitting that long is difficult.  

Parties cost a lot of money.  I can't guarantee that the venue will allow me to bring my own food and that whatever they are cooking won't set off an attack.  Having an attack in front of people is upsetting to me and to everyone else.  Calling ambulances is no fun.

My niece's Sweet 16 is coming up.  We will be in a private room and I'm told the buffet is being served in a separate room.  It's close to my house and close to the hospitals.  I will attempt to attend and pray nothing causes me to leave in an ambulance.

I will have my EpiPens ready, as I always do, just in case something sets off an attack be it food, smells or chemicals.


Many people will answer their phone at 7 p.m. and be thrilled that a friend is extending an invitation last minute.  I'm not one of them.  It's much easier and safer for me to have guests come to me. A friend called before the holidays and invited me to an impromptu get together.  I had to turn her down because I was laying in a hospital bed in the ER suffering from an allergy attack. Had I not been in the hospital, I wouldn't have accepted anyway.

It's way too stressful and anxiety-filled for me to go to people's homes.  I need to ask what they plan on serving.  What was recently cooked.  I  need to ask if they used any chemicals; bleach can send me to the ER via ambulance.
I can't eat or drink anything.  I have to bring my own food and water bottles, therefore, I have to cook for myself before going.  I do that before going to my immediate family, which isn't without problems, even though they try hard.

Public Places

Public places bring on terrible anxiety.  Every time I needed to go to the hospital for my treatments I'd be on edge.  I would see the janitor with the cleaning cart and have to request they not spray bleach.

One day, after treatment, I had a doctor's appointment in the same town.  My husband and I went into the cafeteria to kill time.  I brought my own food.  There was no kitchen there, so I thought I'd be ok. I didn't realize there was a microwave.  Someone made popcorn.  Luckily, I didn't wind up in the ER of the hospital.  I had to immediately leave; my nose swelled, my throat, face and lips were swelling.

The first time I realized it had gotten that bad was when we went to a matinee.  Someone sat near me with a bowl of hot popcorn.  I had to leave without seeing the end of the movie.

I got better then worse in the ER

I went to the ER  because I couldn't breath due to a liquid drain unclogger. They immediately took blood, did a chest xray, EKG, and started an IV.  I had taken Benadryl prior to arrival, They also gave me steroids and Benadryl through the IV.  I was there several hours and had started to feel a little better.  And then.... the person in the cot next to me, only separated by a curtain, went home.

Staff came to clean up from that patient. They sprayed bleach.  My attack started all over again only worse.  I'm not even safe in the ER. The place where they are supposed to save a life, put mine in danger.

Leave comments below.  How do you deal with restaurants, parties, invites and public places? 
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