Friday, September 28, 2007

Now hear this! So very blog-worthy...

Patients of the world, unite!
What an awful experience I had this week, my allergic readers, and I'm sharing it with you to hopefully empower you to...well, who am I kidding? I'm sharing it to vent and because now I find it funny. A couple of days ago, not so funny!
A whole bunch of people in my life (work, friends, family) have had colds in the last week or so, most recently NAH. I don't begrudge him that. Unfortunately, at this time of year, I have trouble with my very temperamental seasonal asthma. For YEARS I went to the doctor, got diagnosed with bronchitis and put on a ton of medication. The fabulous allergist I went to a few years back showed me how, with the right combo of asthma meds, I didn't need an antibiotic and could nip the horrible barking cough in the bud. It was simple. Ready? When I got the cold, I started on asthma medication....and its worked for the last three years. The cold stayed a cold.
Tuesday I woke up with a nasty cold, and called my new doctor (a GP in my new location, whom I've seen twice in the past year, but neither time for illness). They brought me in immediately, and then it proceeded to go downhill. It is important to state that my whole purpose in going to the doctor was that I didn't feel well and I know I needed a new inhaler. Fairly simple, right?
The visit went something like this
Him: Describe your symptoms
Me: I have shortness of breath, it burns when I breathe, I feel like there's a small baby elephant sitting on my chest and this tends to happen to me every October when I get a cold, it bothers my asthma.
Him: None of those are symptoms of asthma.
HELLO??? Anyone??? Seriously???!!! go read what says...
Him: Obviously you have lifted something heavy and strained your chest cavity. (I start to shake my head) Don't shake your head at me! You don't even know what I'm, as i was saying, you've strained your chest cavity lifting something heavy, and your arms should hurt too, do they hurt?
Me: No (you have to know me at this point, but lifting the groceries are a big deal. hah)
He doesn't believe me, so he taps on my arms and then says "Do you have a sinus infection?"
Me: (very politely because at this point I'm so appalled I don't know what to say) I don't know, THAT'S WHY I'M HERE...
He goes on to explain that this is obviously not asthma, (all those doctors all my life must have been wrong), and if I'm in denial about having lifted something heavy then obviously I have blood clots in my lungs and should have a nuclear scan to determine this....
I'm sorry? A nuclear scan? For seasonal asthma? I'm a fairly healthy young woman with a history of SEVERE asthma. My symptoms fit, I know what's wrong, and all I want is an inhaler! Anybody home?
But it gets better.....
Him: I'm going to write you a prescription for an antibiotic. Can't hurt. Whether or not you have a sinus infection it can only help (??? seriously !!! Important to note, he never checked)
I gathered up my courage and proceeded to ask if I could have a referral to my allergist, should this get worse, because they have my case history and a successful track record for treating me. He agrees, but not without this parting shot: "If you get worse, you go straight to the emergency room, not to an allergist (said as derisively and dripping with sarcasm as is humanly possible)
So dear readers, it was a terrible doctors appointment. I went and all I got was treated badly. I came home, found my old asthma medicine, and started treating myself and resting. I'm doing better, thank you, but why go through that, EVER? I discovered a doctor who in his life has never treated an asthmatic...fantastic luck, no?

I need a new doctor...oh, and I cancelled the damn nuclear scan. What a week!
To all allergic patients and asthmatic patients, actually to any patient...don't let yourself be belittled when you know something is wrong.
All for now, enjoy your weekend!
your Allergic Diner

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tomato-free, by request....

Good morning, and happy Monday everyone! NAH and I had a nice weekend, we spent the holiday with my allergic parents at the shore. I was treated to two, lovely, allergy-proof meals.
The first meal, the large meal we eat on Friday evenings, was made completely lactose-free thanks to the allergic mom. I was able to eat turkey, stuffing, potatoes and applesauce, and simply skip the gravy. Score one for mom, she didn't have to make separate meals and everything was delicious. Even better? NAH and I weren't allowed to help with the cleanup (the best gift they could have given us).
Saturday's meal was more interesting. They requested that the platter they'd ordered be tomato-free, and that the tomatoes could simply be on a side plate. Not only did the chef who made the platter comply, there was a note attached that said "used separate serving pieces to handle tomatoes, whole platter had no contact." I was astounded and quite pleased. My guess would be that the chef has a child with allergies.
It's always nice going home again, and this weekend wasn't any exception.
~your Allergic Diner

Friday, September 21, 2007

Please, clean your house before you show it. Seriously!

So non-allergic husband and I have decided to take our hard-earned savings (seriously, I've been brown bagging my lunch for so many years I've lost count) and purchase ourselves a home. It's a buyers market, right? Here's a few things I'm learning on my quest to be a homeowner.

1 - People are disgustingly filthy.
2 - People don't clean up after their pets
3 - People at some point in time truly believed that hunter green, fuschia, teal, purple and ivory all could live together in harmony in the same wallpaper. Those people should be shot. I've never seen anything quite so obnoxious - it looked like Crayola threw up in a room,and there were not one but several homes with this color combo!

Anyhow, I'm digressing as usual. You might be wondering how I can tie this househunting into an allergy blog, so please re-read numbers one and two. I have an allergy to some dogs (fairly mild and almost never causes problems other than the sniffles) and ALL cats (less mild, but only bothers me when the cat is in my lap).
I went to several homes where there were pets. Not a problem, walked in, said hello to the cat in residence, looked around the house, took the listing sheet, and off I went.....
However, there was one home that I consider blog-worthy, for the sole reason that it combines all three points on the above list. I walked into this house, and my nose turned pink, I went to the upstairs and couldn't breathe, and by the time I left I was experiencing the beginning of the blowfish syndrome I had spoken of in an earlier posting. Swollen head, red nose, itchy throat, red eyes, etc....
Turns out that these people had cat urine all over their carpets and didn't bother to have the carpets professionally cleaned (or at the very least, to pull up the disgusting carpets). Add to that the giant dog hair all over the place (non-allergic husband saw the cage, which explained the hair), and the fact that the house was not what you would call clean, and we both ran screaming.

There was an upside to my allergic house hunting experience. I got to take a lovely nap induced by two-benadryl and a hot cup of tea.
Yours in allergies,
Allergic Diner
Oh...important to note that the cat-pee soaked house was listing in excess of $400,000....(??)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

T.G.I. Friday's, their service goes above and beyond the food!

Happy Wednesday everyone! I want to relay a story to you today. This was not my personal allergic dining experience, but that of a coworker. I was so impressed with the way a very famous company handled a bad experience of one of their customers, I asked and received permission to blog about her experience.
My coworker "M" (obviously not her real name, but how great would that be? Like the Bond movies...)recently found out she has allergies. She went to dinner at T.G.I. Friday's and had a fish dish there with a very spicy sauce. She didn't feel very well later that evening, but didn't think much of it and went to bed. In the morning she woke up with one eye swollen so severely that it had swollen shut, and she had hives on her face and neck. Rather than freak out, M remembered talking to me about allergies, sent her fiancee to the drugstore for the wonderful Benadryl, and got her doctor on the phone. She was fine in about 5-6 hours, and the doctor cleared her but suggested she talk to T.G.I. Friday's about what the ingredients in the dish were.
M spoke to me about my struggle to get the salad dressing information from Friendly's (still no word...and it's been MONTHS, I should probably pester them again), and her concern that Friday's would respond the same way. I helped her craft a letter and she sent it, fingers crossed.
To my shock and pleasant surprise, T.G.I. Friday's not only sent her a full ingredient listing for that dinner within 48 hours, but also called her to see if she was alright, and if there was anything else they could do. They even explained that if the fish was OK, but the sauce turned out to be what she was allergic to, they'd be more than happy to make the fish plain the next time she came in.
I am astounded to see that a company finally responded appropriately to an allergic reaction! T.G.I. Friday's has set a model that other restaurants should feel compelled to live up to.
On behalf of M, thank you T.G.I. Friday's! I will be enjoying a meal with you in the near future!
Your allergic diner

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We are family....

Back to food blogging we go...
Last week I was fortunate to have dinner at a family member's house I'd never been to before. She was kind enough to contact me to send her a list of my allergies so that she could make something that in her words, "wouldn't kill me." I always appreciate that.
I sent her the short list (ha). Tomatoes, avocado, bananas, cashews, pecans, macadamia nuts, walnuts, olive oil, paprika, oregano, celery, celery seed, and to please avoid anything heavily dairy. ( i left out all of the raw vs. cooked allergies I have because they're mind-boggling. I've received a couple emails as to what my allergies are. I'll give you all the list another time!)
She came through, big-time.
I was treated to a salad of three different kinds of lettuce (she kept the tomatoes, croutons, and all other accompaniments in separate bowls) with a salad dressing she had found that was a soybean oil base (balsamic vinaigrette by Cardini's? delicious and available in most grocery stores) and did not include the dreaded spices. She brushed corn oil on the grill and kept my chicken breast in a separate container so that it could not mingle with the barbecue chicken she had also prepared. She used separate tongs and kept my chicken on the opposite side of the grill. I was also given whole-wheat rolls.
It was a fantastic dinner for the sole purpose that she had not only inquired and cared enough not to poison me, but because she seemed to master what people in my life who've been dealing with this for a long time already know. She manipulated the meal so that I was eating a variation of the same thing that she was serving everybody else. A few extra serving items, and she didn't have to cook a second complete meal!
She made such a fuss over me that I was really touched. I also ate a fantastic, plain meal without any anxiety as to whether there would be an allergy attack. Non-allergic husband's family makes me feel very lucky sometimes! Thanks, non-allergic cousin :)!

Monday, September 10, 2007

8 random facts...

Ages ago Allergic Girl tagged me for something called a meme. Without explaining too much (and thereby exposing the vast gaping hole of my blogging knowledge), I am supposed to reveal 8 random facts about myself and then tag 8 other bloggers. Here goes...

1 - I am a sports fanatic. I love college football and college basketball. Non-allergic husband (NAH) and I actually split the television during football season so there aren't any arguments. I get it Saturday to watch the college games, he has it Sunday for the pros. Don't call me during March Madness, my phone is off the hook!

2 - I want to be a part of "the mob" on the television show 1 vs. 100. I think that would be great fun.

3 - On a quest to see all 50 states. 20 down, 30 to go. And yes, I've seen Alaska!

4 - My first day of college, I saw this good-looking guy wearing a t-shirt advertising my hometown newspaper. I called my mom, very excited (I went to school out of state) , and told her I would introduce myself. Non-allergic husband still has that t-shirt, I won't let him throw it out! He was from a few towns over....

5 - I think that words and language are utterly fascinating (hence the career as an editor and writer). I love word idiosyncracies, and enjoy finding typos in the newspaper. I also think that anyone who uses the term "close proximity" ought to be beaten over the head with a frying pan. I'm just saying...

6 - Peanut butter is food of the gods. The best late night snack ever, straight from the jar, eaten with a spoon. There is always peanut butter in my house.

7 - I love board games (Scrabble, chess), card games, sudoku and crossword puzzles. I can do the jumble in under 2 minutes.

8 - Mountain Dew upsets me. That color
doesn't occur in nature.

Hope you've learned a little something about me. Those are some fairly random facts. I tag:

Uh Oh, Peter's thinking again
Food Allergy Queen
My Kids' Allergies

In fact, check out their blogs in my sidebar. They're all quite good.

That's all for now. Tomorrow (or later today if boredom sets in) I shall return to food blogging with the story of a very allergy-friendly dinner I had recently.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

Ok, this is part of my vacation, though it is most certainly NOT allergy related. However, I'm going to blog about it anyway, as I was so incensed that I need a forum in which to vent. I hope you understand...
Non-allergic husband (NAH) and I were watching TV one of the nights of our vacation when we stumbled across "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" the FOX show hosted by Jeff Foxworthy. I tend to enjoy the show because as a former teacher, I have a trove of useless knowledge I can use to upstage NAH (did I just say that? oops...He's just so darn smart that every once in a while it's nice to know that I know something he doesn't!)
We were watching a cum laude graduate compete with/against the children on the show, and early on she was asked the following question in the 'Grammar' section...How many proper nouns are in the following sentence? "While in Oklahoma, Oprah met our ostrich Ozzy." Please keep in mind that the question in its entirety is viewed on a large screen. I hope that you all know the answer, but just in case, it's three. By looking at the screen, there are three words with capital letters. BIG CLUE.
However, this supposedly intelligent woman answered "well, I don't know, I think the answer's one, but if I remember my pronouns "I, he, she, it, they..." and at this point I started screaming at the television something along the lines of "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" At what point in school, dear readers, do you remember the pronouns of "I, he, she, it, they, Oprah?" I mean REALLY!!! And she persisted in this explanation while every one of the kids on the show was trying to keep from laughing. She finally decided (and was partially convinced by the host because it was so damn early in the game) to use one of her helps, only to find out that all the 5th graders had written "three" as their answer. You think? And she was shocked, but quickly recovered with, "well, that's what I was thinking..."
I was offended on several levels. I was offended as an editor, writer, and a sometimes proofreader, that no one in this country seems to be able to string sentences together properly anymore. I was offended as a teacher, because obviously this woman didn't understand a lick of grammar, and I was offended on behalf of the 5th graders who were given someone so obviously dense to compete against......

Your Allergic Diner

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Come to PA! Eat food! Do nothing!

Alright, so admittedly, being back at work and trying to plan a whole bunch of events in my personal life (yes, I have one) has usurped some of my blogging time. Where did we leave off?
Ah, the B&B in Pennsylvania.
Non allergic husband (NAH) and I stayed at the Swiss Woods Inn, in PA. When we made the reservation, via the internet of course, there was a comment/special requests section. I wrote about my allergies, and said that I would probably not be able to indulge in what was sure would be an excellent breakfast, could they please keep some toast and jam on hand for me to make my life easier?
Fast forward to the first day, and we were told breakfast was served from 8:30-9:00. We went downstairs at 8:45 to find, to my horror, that we were the last ones there and obviously everyone had understood that meant we were to be behind-in-seat at 8:30. However, the innkeeper was very gracious and she and our server went to the kitchen to find more food for myself and NAH. He got homemade potato pancakes (freshly grated potatoes mixed with spinach and pepper), freshly cooked sausage, and upside-down cinnamon raisin french toast with a carmelized glaze! He was in food heaven. I requested my toast and was told "OH! You're the one with the allergies to everything!" and then received my toast with homemade preserves (which were excellent!).
Second day - we are downstairs at 8:30 and the first ones to arrive. Fresh waffles and homemade blueberry syrup, bacon, and baked eggs are waiting for NAH. For me? Toast and Jam!
The third day was probably the most interesting. The food looked so unbelievable that I broke one of my cardinal rules. As lactose intolerant, I use the Lactaid brand enzyme pills to help me digest SOME dairy (there are things that the pills wont work for). I only take a certain amount of those pills daily, though, so I try very hard to eat things that are low in dairy. Sitting on the table was a basket of fresh baked muffins (6 different kinds- you name it, she had it), croissants, and toast, with of course, the obligatory delicious homemade preserves. Next to that was an egg strata with tomatoes and mushrooms and spinach that looked wonderful, and next to that was a homemade peach/blueberry cobbler. This cobbler was homemade in every sense of the word - the fruit was from their garden! I broke my cardinal rule that morning and used my lactaid pills, several of them, for the one bite of that cobbler my stomach would allow (cobblers tend to be VERY heavy in butter and often milk). It was the most delicious thing I'd ever eaten. I then helped myself to some toast and jam, and even treated myself to half a blueberry muffin. I finally understand why people like food so much!! Then of course, having eaten way more than my body was used to, I took a post-breakfast nap!
The B&B was beautiful, tasteful, elegant, quiet, serene, and delicious! Hopefully we can go back at some point.....
Come to PA! Do Nothing!
Thanks Swiss Woods!
Your allergic diner

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Come to Pennsylvania,do nothing!

Well, allergic readers, I am back from the best vacation ever! It was several days of nothing at a bed and breakfast in Pennsylvania that I will write about tomorrow. Several days of nothing! When in my life do I get to do several days of nothing? I'd like to make that Pennsylvania's slogan "Come to PA. Do Nothing!" It'd be a good PR campaign with the exception of the fact that people tend to think doing nothing is a negative. As one of those people who is always "on," I make great strides towards relaxing and doing nothing, and occassionally zone out in front of the television. More often than not, I'm working, cooking, cleaning, visiting family and friends or helping someone with a project...well, actually, let's just leave it at more often than not I'm working....
So "doing nothing" by me is fantastic. And it has taken YEARS, dear readers, for me to learn to do nothing. To sit for hours reading a book, or even, dare I say, take a nap? We had 4 glorious days of nothing but relaxation and quiet.

On to the food! That beautiful make-or-break crux of every vacation. On our first night there, we learned there were not very many restaurants in the area, so we went towards Lancaster in search of dinner. We attempted to get into one of the famous smorgasbords (to no avail - who waits 2 hours for food?), and ended up at Perkins. That's right, our first dinner together on vacation, up in the mountains, and there we were smack in the middle of a family-friendly restaurant. I figured, why not? No wait, simple food, and definitely fodder for my blog. I figured I had my first article, easy....except, to my shock, this will be one glowing review.
Much to my non-allergic husband's dismay, I ordered a steak at Perkins. That's right, a steak. At Perkins. Apparently that is some sort of faux pax for which I should be shot. However, the steak came cooked perfectly, to my request of "no seasoning/oil," and it was delicious! The baked potato followed my request of "plain, which means, no butter, no sour cream, no chives, and none of those god-awful preservative-filled things people call Baco's!" (Actually, for the sake of accuracy and reporting, I simply asked for the baked potato plain). The salad? No tomatoes, no evil green stalk, and the dressing was on the side. It was a perfect meal.
The kicker? The waitress gave us better directions to get us back to our B&B then we'd had on the way out and shaved 10 minutes off our drive!
Perkins was a fantastic allergy-friendly dining experience, and I highly recommend it to all!
More about the B&B and allergy stuff tomorrow,
Allergic Diner