I have a lot of allergies – seriously a lot. I have what is called Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS), which is characterized by several foods in the same plant family, or with similar pollen, all causing allergic reactions upon consumption. My list of foods to steer clear of is a long one, and I had to colour code it to better help friends and family understand the severity of the reactions I’ll have if I come in contact with those foods.
Almonds, sage, cardamom, rosemary, nutmeg (uncooked), soy, legumes (except green beans and chickpeas), all nuts, all melons, apples (except gala), roses, artichokes, peaches (unless peeled), apricots, nectarines, oranges (except mandarin), birch, pine, grass, alcohol, the sun.
The red items on the list can cause anaphylaxis if I touch or eat them. This applies also if someone ate an almond, or used a hand lotion with almond oil in it, and then touched me. I can not be in contact with these foods under any circumstances, and will require my epi-pen if I do somehow find myself in contact with them.
The orange items are foods that make me ill if I consume them. for instance soy causes me unbearable stomach pain and gives me unbelievable headaches. However, nuts, also in this category, will make my mouth burn, and have the potential to cause anaphylaxis, but only if consumed.
The yellow items cause me to have hives, and lots of them! My hay fever is quite bad in the spring due to birch pollen, people mowing their lawns and kicking up all the snow mould and grass clippings, as well as the increase in sunshine. The sun is more of an ‘I’m Irish and really pale’ thing I’m sure, but the puffy red welts, extreme hives, and occasionally broken capillaries under my skin tell me that one deserves to be on the list.
All of this said, I really hate having allergies. Not only are they an inconvenience to me, but I find myself afraid to go out for dinner, or have anyone cook for me. I feel like a huge burden that everyone has to wait on, and that very thought makes me uncomfortable. It’s something that I’m working on, and having people around who reassure me that they would rather be too cautious than accidentally kill me is helpful. Despite all of my allergies, I’ve managed to become quite a good cook, and experiment widely with different flavours and spices.
I suppose all of these allergies have taught me what it means to accommodate people. Now I need to learn how to have others care for me, and let them do so.