So now I’m severely allergic to shrimp

A year or so ago I helped Char finish off some noodles from a thai takeout place. The dish had shrimp it, but I don’t like shrimp so I didn’t eat any. Right after dinner, I noticed my lower lip had puffed up to twice its normal size. I’ve never been allergic to anything, but this was clearly a reaction so I decided to lay off the shrimp.

Last night, Char and I had salmon, and three hours later I noticed my eyelids were starting to swell. I was confused and tried a cold pack, but when that didn’t work I decided to sleep it off. But then I had trouble sleeping, so at 1:30 I checked the mirror. This is pretty much what I saw:

My face last night, pretty much

OK so it wasn’t quite that bad, but the skin around my eyes was extremely puffed up, swelling one eye somewhat shot. So, I woke up Char, and we were off to the emergency room.

The doctor agreed that this was probably an allergic reaction, and that my body has now, thanks to the earlier shrimp incident, produced masses of wonderful shrimp-killing antibodies that are just looking for something shrimpy to destroy. Although I didn’t actually have shrimp last night, I probably got exposed through the salmon, most likely by the guy at Whole Foods not changing his gloves before serving me. (Whole foods had a huge display of shrimp skewers, so it’s likely he’d been skewering shrimp before I go there.)

So now, it’s not just a matter of avoiding shrimp. Now I have to be the dork who demands extra assurance that my seafood hasn’t been anywhere near shrimp. As of now, I’m not allergic to anything else that I know of — I had had scallops the night before without incident. But given the severity of the reaction, it’s not improbable that the allergy could spread to other shellfish. Sigh.

6 thoughts on “So now I’m severely allergic to shrimp”

  1. My mom used to enjoy shrimp her entire life until one night in her mid-twenties, she had some and basically couldn't breathe. After not dying, she learned she had not only developed a severe allergy to shrimp but lobster as well. I don't know if yours is that severe (although if your face turned into that after salmon that merely came in contact with shrimp, I'd be inclined to say "yes") but a smart move would be to get an epi-pen from your doctor. You never know, it could save your life.

  2. I got your epi-pen prescription right here. No really, I have one next to me. Yes, luckily I didn't have any airway issues... this time. But next time it could be ever worse, so yeah, precautions.

  3. Suck! I didn't think about the whole cross-contamination issue. I wonder if that will end up being a probably with certain types of Asian take-out.

    Also kind of interesting because I'm not aware of anyone else in our family with food allergies. I've always been blase about allergies for that reason. (Though these days I get seafood maybe once or twice a year and shellfish even more rarely. I've also always hated shrimp, even the faintest taste, so I've not been exposed to that much at all.)

  4. Keep that epi-pen prescription with you from now on! And keep vigilant. Better dorky than dead.

    The only food-allergic person in my family (that I know of) is, or rather was, my uncle Clay--one of your Grandma Mac's two brothers--who seemed to be allergic to a lot of things, including some common foods. As a result his whole diet was kind of strange. For example for breakfast he would eat Cheerios with OJ because he was lactose-intolerant. It is easier to live without shellfish than milk, I guess.

  5. We heard about your “reaction” at breakfast today at your folks. Really quite scary. (In her later years, my Mom was allergic to almost everything, but especially lobster and shrimp. My sister always carries her epi-pen because she’s allergic to bee stings.) I hope you will see an allergist. I did a few years’ back. I found out that I’m not allergic to foods (thank god), but I am to contact allergens (mainly textile dye, nickel and hair dye [hence, my gray hair]). Let us know how you are doing.

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