Thursday, February 19, 2009

Laziness & Exhaustion (Especially For My Other Allergic Reactors)


My biggest problem with going out to eat is getting lazy and not wanting to make a big deal about my allergies. I often go with dishes I have had at that restaurant before, and ask the server to double check that nothing has changed. It gets exhausting having to ask each time I eat somewhere what is in everything. Don’t get lazy though! It is always important to ask. If people in the restaurant give me a hard time, I go to a different one. There have been a few times where I haven’t felt confident in the wait staff, and that is not a good feeling. Trying the food you order and feeling unsure about it is not worth it. If the server did not leave you with a confident feeling that they knew what they were talking about, don’t eat until you feel confident that it is okay.  The best way to do this is ask for the manager, or go right up to the kitchen and ask to speak with the chef.  I have done both many times. BE ASSERTIVE! Trust me. It is much better to get the "okay" from the people who are actually supervising and cooking the meals!    

Whenever I try food for the first time, I sometimes think I am getting a reaction, like an itchy throat, or my mouth will get dry and I will cough a bit. Then my heart beat starts jumping up through my throat because I have made myself so concerned that I may be allergic to this food, that I think I am getting a reaction, even though I am not! That reaction is all in my head, but sometimes it is unavoidable!  I find the best way to try to have these moments of panic pass, is to take some deep breaths, ask again if I feel apprehensive, and try a tiny bit on my hand, then lip.  I would only ever try the food, if I knew it was okay.  If there are ever any unclear ingredients, I will not eat.  


It really is exhausting! I think that is the best way to describe it. When I am traveling, that is when my allergies become the most tiresome. Every meal becomes a bit less enjoyable, just knowing it will be a process to eat. There is no great advice for the exhaustion, besides saying I understand, and having patience is important. It is a part of traveling, and a part of the unknown, but everything else about traveling makes this part worth it to me.

When I was young it was the most difficult to understand. People usually get grouchy when they are hungry and over-tired. Unfortunately, us lucky allergic reactors, get the joy of having extended periods of time where we may not find food we can eat. This is something that happens when I travel. It may be hours before I come across some food that I can eat. It is difficult, and I have definitely had my mini temper tantrums in my mind because I am so hungry! I deal though. I wait it out, pretend I am not bothered by the fact that it has been eight hours and I have not found one thing that seems safe enough to eat! What can I do? I try to prepare by bringing food with me, but honestly there is only so much I can carry, and I can try to be prepared, but it does not always work out. So I wait…until finally we arrive somewhere… and I see… fruit, or something packaged where I understand the ingredients!

It makes you very tough. You have to be your own biggest fan, and tell yourself how great you are being, because often as you get older, you are not with people who could ever possibly understand. If you are lucky you find friends and travel companions who are sympathetic, but you have to be your own advocate. Only people with allergies can really understand the difficulty and frustration of sitting on a plane for fourteen hours and not eating anything. It tries on your patience, and you want to scream from hunger pains and the growling lion inside your stomach, forcing the person next to you to look over at you and wonder why you are not eating because your stomach is so loud!

Don’t be afraid to dream big about the places you want to go and the adventures you want to have, because you can still do it. Knowledge and strength are both important aspects in believing that you can. You need the knowledge to know how to take care of yourself in case of an emergency, and you need the strength to believe in yourself and your abilities to handle a situation!

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