Type I Hypersensitivity

November 6, 2018

I had another allergic reaction, once again after specifically inquiring  about a dish’s peanut content. I noticed suspiciously peanut-like “macadamia nut” pieces that tasted an awful lot like peanuts to my companion, but after being assured they were not peanuts, the first bite determined that was a lie. Perhaps it was the sauce? I haven’t seen poke with peanut sauce before but hey, there’s always a first time.

One might think it would be obvious that someone asking about a a food ingredient due to a peanut allergy would be interested to know if some other component of the dish was, say, peanut. I’m beginning to wonder if restauranteurs in San Diego know what peanuts are.

Regardless, having been reassured that there were no peanuts, I took a big, delicious bite, telling my friend, “I would know by now if there was…” Which is precisely when I began noticing the reaction. It was fast and bad. I didn’t have my EpiPen with me because of style: my messenger bag is breaking down, starting with the zippers. Instead, I slammed two diphenhydramine and excused myself to the bathroom to throw up while we waited for the check.

Flashback: one month ago

I did an elective rotation in Allergy and Immunology, in part due to self-interested curiosity. One of the many fantastic attending physicians I worked with was Dr. Stephanie Leonard, who specializes in food allergies, and has a peanut allergy herself (one of the many cool things she’s involved in is a research study about de-sensitizing kids to peanuts). She was incredibly patient, giving me the chance to ask years’ worth of allergy questions. It turns out items like peanuts, peas, and lentils are more closely related in their antigenicity than their classification taxonomy, a factoid that finally explains my off-limits list

As allergy kindred spirits, we talked about some of our recent dining mishaps. I told her the story of my first week in San Diego, innocently admitting that I have never used my EpiPen, only diphenhydramine. Her subsequent scolding was swift and culminated in me getting four new EpiPens (actually a different type of epinephrine autoinjector, but same idea).

Back home and throwing up several more times in the bathroom, I heard Dr. Leonard scolding me in my mind. Already flushed with shame from ruining dinner (and, I suppose, that whole anaphylaxis thing), I found an EpiPen. Ever the scientist, I did use one that was three years expired. Jabbed it into my thigh…click…count ten seconds…withdraw. I noticed that somehow I had managed to bend the needle while it was in my leg. A drop of blood pooled from the injection site as I waited. It grew larger and began to run. And, miraculously, my symptoms started to subside: the constricting airway, vomiting, cramping, and prickling of early hives all faded away. 

About ninety minutes later, we got Wendy’s.

Note: Type 1 hypersensitivity is an immune system response that involves an immediate allergic reaction provoked by exposure to a specific antigen, such as a peanut. It’s also the process involved in milder allergies, like hay fever. 

Homemade Pesto

May 16, 2012

For all those “not impressed” by my earlier efforts, this is made with pan-roasted garlic, red peppers, parmesan and ricotta cheeses, and fresh herbs.

Yesterday’s Dinner

February 9, 2012

Michael, your artichokes are ready!Today’s dinner, not so interesting. But yesterday, I tried out a homemade seasoning mixture on some mini steaks and cooked artichokes for the first time (served with lemon butter sauce, of course). The seasoning needs work but it all turned out better than I expected. Plus Rachel’s Facebook status about it got a bunch of likes.

Prevening Boulders

November 27, 2011

It was supposed to be more of an afternoon trip, but by the time we got people together and made the drive out to Joshua Tree, it was more like prevening. In the past I have duct taped the knees of my ripped jeans for adventures such as these, but this time I was convinced to skip that particular ritual. The rocks are rough enough to provide a good grip, but they can be painful when skin is pressed into it by body weight. My knee made its displeasure with the outcome known in the form of several scrapes. Going forward, I’m likely to repair those pants, hot pink duct tape or not.

Despite the memes’ passé status, being ancient history in internet time, we found a few good places to take planking and owling shots. Rachel, being a free spirit, insisted on climbing different rocks than the rest of us, then circled back and climbed our rocks too (her muscles punished her for the extra effort in the following days). One of the highlights of the trip was taking some great midair shots. I squeezed myself into a space beneath two large rocks and, since I left the SLR at home, tried to time the point-and-shoot camera just right. Thanks to our late start, the day concluded with the sun setting over the tops of the rocks, immediately decreasing the ambient temperature and reminding us that it was time to return home.

Perhaps to nullify the exercise, that evening we made ice cream sandwiches, layering a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie, creamy vanilla ice cream, and a chocolate chip cookie to craft an ultimate treat. No pictures of those–they disappeared too fast.

Why yes, I (attempt to) cook

October 13, 2011


I’ve been wanting to try making this for a while, and finally made myself do it tonight (also, my vegetables were going bad). Dinner is super late, but I think it was worth it. I made a few mistakes, with some of the vegetables being a bit too crunchy; however, it’s a recipe I think I’ll make again.

Rachel is sick so she got soup tonight, making my own opinion the only one I have to go on. I think the flavor is actually pleasantly reminiscent of the Spunky Vegetable Pizza I used to make as a kid. Which, now that I think about it, doesn’t bode well for Rachel liking it…

Burrito Envy

October 1, 2011

I’ve been craving a burrito for weeks. My friend Caitlyn goes to Chipotle for a burrito nearly every day for lunch (between 10 and 11 AM Eastern, or around when I’m leaving for the lab), leaving me with burrito foodlust and a packed turkey sandwich for my own noonday meal. This was heightened when the Producteev crew (Judi, Mark, Farhana, and Tushar) had a burrito lunch in the office and bragged about it all over Twitter.

Since then my unslaked desire for meat, rice, and vegetables wrapped in a tortilla has been a bit of a running joke amongst many of my online buddies. They decided I needed to make a video of myself eating a burrito when I finally had one, but that day did not come. After a while it had built up to the point that I couldn’t eat just any burrito, it had to be a fantastic one. I started passing up burrito opportunities so I could hold out for a burrito worthy of the event.

This week, Rachel and I went to Chipotle at last. I got a chicken burrito with rice, black beans, onions, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and hot salsa. You know it’s going to be good when they can barely keep the tortilla closed.

That burrito tasted incredible.

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