Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sputter and a Thud

All my life, the one thing I have never been troubled with is allergies.

On just about any day during the last 45 years, if you were to have asked me how I was doing, I could easily have answered without any hesitation: "Well, I'm not suffering from allergies, that much I know!"

Oh, sure, on the rare occasion I might experience a fluke reaction to something or other.

Like that time, twenty years ago, when My Lovely Fiancee and I were at Sunday brunch with her parents. There I was, minding my own business, feasting off a plate mounded high with buffet delicacies, when suddenly my skin puffed up, red patches flared and vanished and flared again on some very inconvenient parts of my anatomy, and my throat closed up so tight I could barely draw a breath. Let me tell you, nothing puts a damper on a fancy buffet faster than the unexpected sensation you might not survive to digest it.

Whenever hives have hassled me, it's been impossible to tell what might have been the cause. But lately, over the past three weeks, I have experienced a lingering constriction of the throat that my doctor assures me is the result of a mid-life food allergy. After a week of abstaining from most everything one possibly could be allergic to, it's time to start investigating the usual suspects.


I've eaten my weight, and probably your weight, too, in peanuts, almonds, cashews and walnuts. Peanut butter and almond butter, both the hippie tree-hugging natural varieties and the good old chemicalized mega-processed kinds, are no strangers to my diet. I fully understand some people can't get within 60 yards of a shelled nut without a HazMat suit and an EpiPen, but I am not one of those people. I could strip naked, slather myself in peanut butter and frolic through plantation fields in Georgia without fear of contracting a single itch. A little chafing, perhaps, but no itching.

Dairy, then?

Same story with dairy. Considering the quantities of milk and cheese I've consumed in my lifetime, there are probably hundreds of cows laying low, like mob informants in the witness protection program, deathly afraid of being hooked back up to the milking machines. If it turns out I am allergic to dairy, I'll bet the daily quota per cow at every farm across the nation gets cut by a third.

Then there's things like gluten and grains. I don't even want to go there. No bread? That's just cruel and unusual, especially at a time in my life when I've finally learned how to make a perfect pizza dough.

So, now begins a period of trial and error, during which I slowly reintroduce those items I have been avoiding. Take tonight, for instance. A slice of pizza will no doubt test the potential dangers of cheese, tomatoes, yeast, flour, oregano and basil. Okay, maybe four slices.

If you hear a muffled sputtering for air and a loud thud, you'll know half a pizza wasn't a very good idea. Kind of makes me wonder where I might have left that EpiPen.

© 2013 Mark Feggeler


  1. Good luck with the pizza! I've been experiencing mid-life food allergies myself so please keep us posted!

  2. Thanks! So far, so good. Now to try a big old glass of milk!