"Sounds Like a Good Lunch"

This is, after all, "a tale of lunch and graduate school," but you don't always get an illustrated tale.

Today, you have no photo, and that is because I ate a sandwich on a gurney behind a curtain and the end of a hallway of the student health clinic. If I'd had my camera with me, I would have shared a picture of it with you, perhaps, if I had my camera with me; heaven knows taking pictures of my sandwich, chips, and carton of milk would have helped my five hours there pass a little less slowly.

It seems I am allergic to something. Probably not food. I woke up this morning essentially going into full anaphylaxis. I drove to the clinic immediately (where I got pretty immediate attention--the doctor didn't even ask my name until after I'd taken a cocktail of antihistamines and got an ephinephrine shot), and received a scolding about driving myself under those conditions. Like I can afford the co-pay for an ambulance ride on the student health plan? Let alone an ER visit--I shudder to think. (But they had a point.)

Trying to determine the cause of my swollen lips and eyelid and closing airway, the doctor asked what I had for dinner--no, nothing there--and what about lunch yesterday?

So I told her what I ate for lunch yesterday. She and the nurse said maybe the restaurant used peanut oil. "No, I made it myself."

"You made that? Yourself?"

And she didn't even see the picture! Hmm. It's so normal to me I don't think about how it sounds to other people, out in the world, eating their packaged sandwiches--yes. I made it myself. It took me all of a few minutes, given that I made the ricotta dip ahead of time and preparation consisted of this:

Pull fresh produce from fridge
Wash fresh produce; set on towels to dry
Peel mango, cut off respectable hunk, slice up into sticks
Put silicone cup in dish
Pull dip and beets out of fridge
Drop a few spoonfuls of dip into cup
Arrange veggies in cups
Put mango sticks in cup
Have momentary blank about what main dish should be; remember I purchased flour tortillas recently
Wash lettuce (pepper was already washed because I used it the day before)
Slice lettuce and pepper strips
Spread hummus on flour tortilla
Place lettuce and pepper strips on hummus
Garnish with sun dried tomato
Cut roll
Photograph (obviously this step is skippable)
Close box

It takes me longer than that to figure out what to order if I eat out.

In any case, I can tell you two things:

A) Anaphylaxis is bad
B) The treatment for anaphylaxis is also very unpleasant--if you can imagine what it's like to be hopped up and sleepy at the same time--heart racing from the adrenaline/extremely groggy from a high dose of Benadryl

But I'm home now, away from the gurney. We've really more or less ruled out food, but I'll see an allergist soon to be sure. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. If there is one thing I'd rather not have to have put on my plate now (pun slightly intended), it's a food allergy--because out of everything I ate, they're threatening to pin it on the mango. NO!!!

Meanwhile, on the graduate school side of things, the doctor and nurse had this exchange:

Nurse (to me): "You are very pale, but your hands are warm. Are you always this pale?"

Doctor: "She's a graduate student."

Nurse: "Oh." (In a tone that suggests that explains everything.)


  1. I'm really glad you're okay and hoping that mango isn't the culprit. Thank you for sharing the story - it's amazing how once you go bento, restaurant lunches no longer hold an appeal and how a purchased sandwich lunch just seems so grey.

    1. I was really grateful for the sandwich a friend brought me (or else I would have been there all day with no food!). And it was pretty good, too--it even had roasted bell pepper on it, and it was a whole wheat roll. It definitely did seem grey eating it on a gurney, though.

  2. Glad to hear you're OK - allergies can definitely show up with no warning! A couple of years ago I suddenly developed a bad allergy to chocolate. Six months later it disappeared. Same thing happened with my sister's kid and peanuts. So even if they figure out what caused the attack, it doesn't necessarily mean it's a life sentence. The human body has a remarkable ability to heal itself.


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