A Miami Mishap
It’s been two years since my first major anaphylactic incident. While I learned so much from that experience, I am still being reminded each day the seriousness of my food allergies. Last week I was in Miami for a film festival and I had done all the right things leading up to the trip. I made a list of restaurants, studied their menus, made some phone calls, etc. Easy, right? Not so much.
On the day of the biggest event of the week, my friends and I were craving Mexican food. Typically, this is pretty safe for me and I tend to stick to veggie-based dishes so there’s no room for error. So, my friends and I picked a highly rated Mexican restaurant in South Beach. We got there and I immediately dove into the chips and salsa. We went over the menu (which had no warnings) and made our selections. I ordered fajitas and my friends ordered burritos. Please note: we were told that one of the burritos on the menu used an almond-based mole sauce, but they didn’t order that one.
As soon as the food came, they dug in. I was making my fajitas when my friend took a bite into his plate-sized burrito covered in sauce. He quickly alerted us to the fact that his burrito tasted like nuts. Why are there nuts in this burrito?! I immediately put my fork down and called the waiter over. Honestly, I have never dealt with a waiter who cared less than this waiter. We had to ask multiple times for him to go and talk to the chef about my food. As soon as he came back, he said, “Your fajita is fine. We use corn oil for that. We make our chips in peanut oil.” It was at this moment that I panicked and extreme anxiety began to set in. I have a severe peanut allergy and I had eaten about 25 chips. Although I wasn’t feeling any symptoms, I immediately told my friends we needed to go to the nearest hospital just in case.
As soon as we arrived, they took my vitals, which were normal. Still no symptoms. Blood was drawn and an IV was set up so that if I felt any symptoms, they could immediately administer Benadryl. Luckily for me, nothing happened! We waited at the hospital for about two hours and no symptoms developed so I was discharged.
I have decided that this experience is another reminder for me to ALWAYS ask questions and never get too comfortable. Even if I feel sure. Even if I go there a lot. Even if there are no warnings on the menu. Even if I don’t see my allergens on the menu. When you have food allergies, always ask before you eat anything at a restaurant. You can never be too careful.
After some research, I learned that peanut allergies do not always equal an allergy to peanut oil, but most allergists advise avoiding it as I have always tried to do.