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:
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.