Just when you think you have it all under control, life throws you a curve ball.
My recent zinger really threw me for a loop. On a recent trip to Connecticut, I was just delighted to belatedly celebrate my birthday with a soul sister at an exquisite local farm-to-table restaurant; however, my enthusiasm overshadowed my good judgment when I either A) disregarded my instinct to have the crushed pumpkin seeds left off of the mouth-watering sea trout dish I could hardly wait to try, or B) took a bite of chocolate garnishing the chocolate peanut butter gelato. Ugh, just when I thought I was done having reactions, this mysterious menace left my face a hot, inflamed tomato. Why this oh-so-delightful new face pigment couldn’t have found a home in only my legs, so that I could have easily concealed it with pants or a cute maxi is beyond me!
After all these years of learning the in’s and outs, of formally studying coping and avoidance techniques in a slew of various situations, of finally feeling like I had a grasp on this nonsense, I thought I had my reactions all figured out! Oof, how much I am still learning!
It was a truly humbling experience to not only been knocked off my safe buoy in the sea of anaphylactic up’s and down’s, but in such a visibly & unattractive manner. I truly felt like the Hunchback of Notre Dame! (So much so that I insisted we not take any pictures to document the flare-up… sorry, guys, but no visuals of the “incident.”)
Backsliding to Benadryl is bound to happen. Almost like a metaphor for life, we will inevitably be caught off guard. From time to time, we will find ourselves physically compromised and feel vulnerable as a result.
A few important things to remember:
- ALWAYS be prepared
Carry Benadryl, an epipen, a snack bar, whatever you need to carry to keep your personal anti-allergy arsenal fully stocked. Think ahead, plan ahead, and pack your purse.
- Make sure those around you know your triggers and will support you
Thankfully, my dinner date has known me my whole life and has been there for previous reactions. She recognized the symptoms and was sensitive to how I needed to handle. She kept an eye on me and asked me throughout the evening if I was doing ok and if I needed anything. That kind of support helped me stay calm and feel comforted – a HUGE help in the throes of backsliding.
- Don’t beat yourself up
It was hard for me to quiet the gut response, “I should have known better.” Eh, shoulda, coulda, woulda as they say. I did the best I could with the situation, thinking all was safe on the plate, and yes, I made a mistake, but I handled the unfortunate consequence effectively because I had packed my trusty antihistamines. Next time, I’ll know. Speak kindly to yourself as you care for yourself in the recovery of any reaction. The chemicals and adrenaline are pumping to help you survive, and the last thing your physical body needs is introducing the stress hormones that result when we beat ourselves up.
- Give yourself time to bounce back
Again, the chemical response that ensues after your body combats the histamine response has physical and emotional effects that last beyond that 2-20 minute reaction time. Take it easy the next couple of hours or days. Listen to what your body needs and honor those messages. If we don’t take care of our bodies, where will we live? Check in with yourself and take care of you.
Here’s to fewer Benadryl-Epinephrine aperitifs!