story for you, one that still haunts me to this day.
In about 2005, I was going from audition to audition, trying out for Broadway plays and films. I was not new to the audition scene. In my teens, I was auditioning for Broadway musicals and recording contracts while taking singing lessons. In 1996 I was cast on Amateur Night at Showtime at the Apollo and sang, “I Will Always Love You.”
A Mistake Takes Center Stage
Fast forward eight years and I landed extra work in an Indian music video, appeared as an extra in urban feature film and appeared as an extra in a Bollywood movie. Soon after, I nabbed the female lead in a short romantic film. My leading man happened to also be the director.
befriended the cast and crew for this 30 minute short which would be submitted
to numerous film festivals. Mike, the director, was good
looking, Italian and ambitious. I had huge reservations about him since he also
seemed like a player, but the attention was flattering, and his sense of humor was
hard to resist. We were from two different worlds, him a sporty, urban jock engrossed in rap and hip hop; I, a deep-thinking
artist with life and death struggles he’d never known and probably never would.
crew was my biggest mistake.”
Food Allergy Symptoms Begin
On the schedule for the second day was a jacuzzi scene as well as a couple kissing scenes, so flirtation between Mike and I was at its peak. We snuck
kisses around 5PM for practice when nobody was looking. Big mistake.
Several hours later, food allergy reaction symptoms appeared and I started itching really badly. Blotches appeared all over my face, arms and neck. The telltale array of tiny goosebumps that signify a bad reaction were peaked all over my arms. Mike jokingly referred to me as, “The Itchy and Scratchy Show,” not realizing how serious this allergic reaction could be. My lips were slightly swelling, but the splotchy, raised rashes showed through any attempt I made to cover them with makeup.
I had pizza for lunch, so I took an Atarax thinking it was a bad cross-contamination issue from soy allergy. Six hours into extreme hives, wheezing, sweating, swollen and raw open skin, violent scratching with bleeding cuts all over my arms along with eight Benadryls in a ten hour timespan that I realized this had to be more than just a soy allergy reaction. I needed to go all the way back to Long Island for Prednisone or to the nearest hospital. I was worried about accidental antihistamine overdose and not just the allergic reaction.
So I asked, “Mike, did you eat anything today with peanuts in it?” to which he replied, “I had a Snickers bar during lunch….why?”
That answer threw my already spiked stress levels into a tailspin; could I be having anaphylactic shock from his saliva from five hours earlier? Very likely. Just when I thought the antihistamines were starting to work, the waves of hives would appear all along my arms. I had no health insurance. The last thing I wanted to do is go to the hospital about a half hour away and bring my family more debt due to my shenanigans. They would be so mad at me for not having all of my medications with me. I downed glass after glass of water, hoping in vain to flush the allergen proteins out of my system.
Things go From Bad to Worse
For the most part, the few people on set who knew what was going on were extremely supportive, but berating me with question after question about my food allergies was making things worse. Mike was smoking outside every five minutes. He was useless for support and bitter.
I’d ruined his chance at stardom, of creating this masterpiece he planned on networking to a big named celebrity with ‘The Godfather’ claims to fame. If he took me back to Long Island, it would severely cut into the time he had setup, the non-paid actors would leave (and possibly not come back) along with the paid crew and his budget.
I was suffering, barely awake from the antihistamines coursing through my veins, at a loss of what to do. Since severe allergic reactions are so unpredictable, I knew I was teetering on the edge of anaphylactic shock and since a hospital could monitor me, a visit could save my life.
Finally, after a half-asleep moody conversation on my part from the effects of eight Benadryl and allergic brain fog, Mike agreed to drive me home. They had to wrap the movie and the crew said they could edit what they had into a short. I had had enough and I had to think about me.
The verdict was that he would drive me home and if I felt the wheezing start up again or other symptoms of anaphylactic shock, he would drive me to the hospital.
Ironically, in my bedroom drawer in Long Island, I knew I had Prednisone
sitting there in case of a severe reaction, along with my Epi-Pen.
I never saw that movie and don’t care to; it was a bad dream and a hard lesson. He never sent it to me.
People rarely discuss this topic on dating with food allergies even though it is a prominent part of any food allergy sufferers life. I hope with my story, you will see not only how dangerous innocent ‘puppy love’ can become but all the psychological ramifications and topics that this brings up. It brings up the factor of trust and how quickly you learn how much people care or not. It brings up deep-rooted fears in the person with food allergies and anxiety that not many people understand. The fears and anxieties of dating with food allergies are not issues the average person deals with and very few will ‘put up’ with it but in the end, food allergies tell you the truth about people and what true love really is.