Please don’t feed the POTSie

Or let your dog or cat rub against my leg.

Or lend me your wool-blend sweater.

I’ve got allergies, everyone.

What is an allergy? According to Wikipedia, it is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system.

Did you know that 80% of your immune system is believed to be located in your digestive tract?

Remember how your digestion is an automatic process, and is therefore ruled by your autonomic nervous system?

That phrase sounds familiar. Why does it sound familiar? Oh right, because I’ve told you already that my autonomic nervous system is broken. (See What’s POTS?)

See where I’m going with this?

If your autonomic nervous system is broken (wonky, variable, improperly functioning…), it will affect your autonomic processes like digestion (which will become broken, wonky, variable, and improperly functioning). If your digestion is impaired, you can bet that your immune system will be too.

It is not hyperbolic of me to say I have a reactive system. As in, I will have a reaction to that yummy looking shrimp cocktail, that beautiful cashmere sweater, or to your super friendly kitty cat’s pleas for attention.

So please get them away from me Right Now!

I mainly have sensitivities, which are the non-life threatening cousin of allergies. Personally, I use the two words interchangeably. I know this makes some people cranky-sorry anaphylactic folks!- because a sensitivity is not considered a “true allergy” by the medical community.

If something triggers a reaction- itching, hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, gastrointestinal distress of any kind, causes a migraine, etc.- I call it an allergy.

Want to know why?

Because very few people take the term sensitivities seriously. At the very least it’s annoying, and at the very worst, it can be dangerous as Susie Q didn’t mention that the secret ingredient in her mashed potatoes is rosemary, because 1) it’s a secret and 2) you’re only sensitive to it, so you can have a little bit, right?

Wrong!

Cue the tingling of my lips, the discomfort in my digestion. Sure I am still breathing and no one is stabbing me in my fleshy bits with an Epi-Pen, but it has made me not feel well. Very suddenly and intensely.

I do not appreciate your lack of concern for my well being, Susie Q.

Having reactions to foods, materials, chemicals, scents and some animals can be really isolating. It’s bad enough that they make you feel crummy (Why do you hate me when I love you so much, dairy products??) but it can also create an uncomfortable wedge socially.

For instance, I really don’t eat in restaurants. I know of only a few “safe” places, but even then, mistakes can happen. Picking out the broccoli (strangely, my most severe allergy) from the salad I ordered does not make it better. That plate is contaminated and I ain’t eatin’ from it. #SorryI’mNotSorry I don’t go to coffee houses, as I am intolerant (another way of saying sensitive without saying allergy) of caffeine. I bring my own food to the movie theater (Shh! Don’t tell!). No one will ever be able to buy me a drink at a bar because checking to make sure that that alcohol wasn’t grain-distilled takes too long (plus I don’t drink because of my meds anyway). Right there, I’ve knocked out the most popular first date destination options. Good thing none of those medical students have asked me out yet (See Don’t you want to buy me dinner first? June)…

Food is very social, and often a way of showing someone you care. Nothing is worse than when someone brings me something with the happy declaration “It’s gluten-free so you can eat it!” and I have to be like “That’s so great, but does it have nuts, dairy, or soy in it?” while cringing. Because they don’t know, there’s no ingredient list, and most likely the people at the bakery/grocery store/wherever don’t know either. But it’s gluten-free! So you can eat it!

Um…no…but thanks! Thanks so much, it was really sweet of you to think of me!

(If you really, really want to bring me a food present, it would be friendliest to ask first. This may defeat the purpose of your Surprise! But I choose being healthy and therefore happy over being surprised any day. Plus this way you won’t be disappointed and I won’t feel guilty.)

On a related note, it is not that I don’t think that Fido is the cutest, wutest, widdle doggie in the whole wide world, yes he is! It’s that if I pet him, most likely my hand will break out in hives. Even if I go to the bathroom to wash my hands right after, chances are you will have fancy rosemary-basil soap, which will make my hands swell even more. Plus you wash your bath towels in lavender scented detergent, so even just rinsing with water won’t work because I have to dry my hands somewhere. So then I will just stand there, hands red and puffy, trying not to cry (or maybe that’s just my eyes watering because you have a cat too), because NO WHERE IN YOUR HOUSE IS SAFE FOR ME.

So let’s save our relationship and just hang out at my house, with my dog (I am not allergic to bichons, poodles, malteses, shih tzus, or wheaton terriers. Please don’t ask me why, it’s just how it is, they are different, ok? I have nothing against your overly friendly golden retriever. It’s not personal, promise.), where we can eat my food while watching Netflix under my blankets that have been washed in my fragrance-free detergent. Sound good?

I did not set out to be this high maintenance. I really didn’t.

It just kind of happened.

At least I’m not as bad as this guy:

"I'm allergic to ice."

 

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