Maya's Happy Place

A multiple food allergy kid grows up.

Intimacy and Food Allergies – Part I

NOTE: This is an older food allergy story from 2013, but a good, important one for back-to-school students and teachers alike. 
The dangers teens and older people face with food allergies are not well-documented. The media doesn’t often portray deaths from kissing or intimacy. On the rare moments they are, people wonder if they’re really true and if it really can happen.
Speaking of food allergy from kissing, I have an interesting personal
story for you, one that still haunts me to this day.
My Story

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 microphone
Singing has always been my favorite thing to do.

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. 

Most of the movie was to be filmed upstate in the benefactor’s mansion over the course of three days. 
 There would be no script, just improv. I was terrified but I went because I figured I could get a reel out of it to submit to directors and casting agents.
I made the trip to Yonkers and quickly
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. 
“Not divulging my allergy to the cast and
crew was my biggest mistake.”
man kissing woman's forehead
For someone with food allergies, kisses are just as dangerous as eating a food.

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.

Click here for Part II.

3 responses to “Intimacy and Food Allergies – Part I”

  1. Thanks for the comment you left on my blog, it means a lot 🙂 That's so horrible to think that you have to be wary of what the other person has eaten before kissing you! It's given me a whole new stand point.Personally I don't have any known food allergies so I've not experienced that before… but intimacy in general brings on my urticaria 🙁 people just don't seem to understand just how nasty skin conditions can be!

  2. You're welcome. I look forward to reading more =) Yes, its definitely a big issue for people with food allergies; so many psychological factors and ethical values at play. Food allergies are kinda like that old adage, 'you never know who your true friends are until you're at your worst' well this makes me think about my own criteria for choosing the closest people to me. Would this person visit me in the hospital? If yes, they are a true friend. Similar character traits are at play in relationships and really allow those with food allergies to know who really cares. Will they change their entire diet for you or not?I know we have closely related issues with heat urticaria, since some people prefer hot weather over cold and skin to skin contact for several minutes at a time gives me rashes as well (sweat allergy). I could go on and on lol.Thanks for stopping by =)

  3. I find that people without food allergies don't understand it. Before Christmas I had a reaction from some taco spice I had tried – it tasted great but it made my fingers swell, got hives and the skin peeled off. So comes Christmas Eve and my neighbor drops off the gift. She saw my raw fingers and asked “Did something bite you?” – she knows I have food allergies but thought the reaction was from an animal bite. I've had strange guys come up to me in public places and ask me out. I explain to them my food allergies and I don't think they get it. I asked one of the guys point blank if he'd stop eating all of the processed food and he said NO. As far as I could tell, the guy was a creep only interested in one thing (he made it very clear), but I tried to educate him anyway. I really don't see any guy willing to cook all food from scratch and live like he's in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” time period of 1750s because that's what soy requires. They like their snacks, chips, soda, crackers, candybars, meals in boxes, etc. When I talk to people, I am finding more people with food allergies. Before I found none. I also noticed the PLAIN Greek yogurt at my local Target sells out while the stuff with “natural Flavors” tends to sit there. I always thought people preferred the flavored stuff but maybe things are changing. I'm just shocked and happy I found a yogurt I can EAT. The brands are “Chobani” and “Fage”, in the big containers.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: