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My Combobulated Has Been Dissed

Yes, I am somewhat discombobulated. By which I mean thrown for several loops, knocked for six, disconcerted, and generally twitterpated.

This is what happens when you spend an evening at the emergency room discovering the joys of a whole new type of allergy you’ve never met before. Hello food allergies, goodbye happy careless eating and all that fun stuff.

I’m no stranger to seasonal allergies where pollen invades the sinuses and tries to turn them into a kind of biological version of pack ice all the way down (we won’t go into details about the itchy eyes and on the bad days the itch inside the ear canal), but I’ve never had problems with food before.

Until the Husband tried some jackfruit at the supermarket, liked it, and brought some home for both of us to try.

I liked it too – rather mild, slightly sweet, with a texture that reminded me a bit of pineapple only a bit waxier and not nearly as prone to dripping juice anywhere.

Then the back of my mouth and tongue started to itch. Followed by what felt like a sore throat but not quite. At that point I put the fruit away, not that I’d eaten much of it, and started drinking more water in the hope that I’d flush whatever the heck was going on out of my system.

The hope lasted until breathing started to be difficult, right alongside what felt like my lungs tightening and a seriously nasty case of indigestion and/or heartburn. At its worst I was wondering why some bastard tried to set my esophagus on fire. And how the heck they got in there to start the bloody fire in the first place.

That was about when I suggested to the Husband that a visit to the local emergency room was in order.

We got there, I got the fast-lane version of triage (they do not screw around when you arrive with breathing issues), got several vials of blood taken and a battery of other tests along with double antihistamine by IV (Pepcid and Benadryl, if you’re wondering. Apparently they hit different histamine receptors) along with a steroid. By the time they let me out I was half asleep (Benadryl, the knockout drug) and three-quarters zombie.

I’m still on the prescriptions they gave me to make sure I don’t have another attack – the steroid is on a tapering dose – and tomorrow (as I write, which is actually today when this post goes live) I’m seeing my regular doctor for the mandated follow up to check for any other issues. The two days of zombified Kate that followed the ER visit are best left undescribed, not least because they’re boring.

So much for my plans. Between the Attack of the Jackfruit and the cats taking up competitive power puking (I think Bugger-cat might be winning on surface area and splash effect alone) nothing I’d intended to do got done.

 

55 Comments
  1. As I recall, jackfruit pieces need to be washed of the sticky stuff that sort of holds it together, and the inner coating around the seeds. I’m explaining rather badly because as far as I know, the yellow parts of the fruit has always been washed after being separated; some folks use cold water and rub on the flesh, some use hot. The sticky sort of ‘waxy glue’ is known to be an irritant (which is also a bit hard to get off of one’s hands for some people.) I know my mom and I have a reaction if fresh jackfruit hasn’t been properly washed.

    You might be fine with canned jackfruit (found in a lot of Asian groceries) if you’re willing to try it again, but it may just be that you are also allergic to the fruit full stop. =/ Glad to hear you’re okay though, Kate!

    Oh, and if you are ever in the position of being offered Filipino (or, for the matter, South-East Asian) desserts, ask if there’s jackfruit in the dish first. A number of common sweet snacks – banana turon (think lumpia, but with banana and brown sugar) has jackfruit in it, and a sticky rice and coconut milk sweet stew (ginataang bilo-bilo) often has jackfruit as well.

    August 16, 2018
    • Synova #

      Huh. You’d think that someone would label stuff that is known to need special preparation.

      Still, if it were mild irritation I might wash it and try it again, but a trip to the emergency room and I sure wouldn’t.

      Are there other fruits like that or related to it? It might be best to avoid those as well.

      Oh, and saddest thing… I developed an allergy to those yummy yellow mangos. It took a while but I finally ate too many and now I just go straight to a rash on my face if I eat one of them and I can’t just wait for it to go away without drugs because it won’t. No emergency room visits though!

      August 16, 2018
      • Confutus #

        I spent a couple of years in Bolivia where mangos grow on trees. I liked them until one day I picked one that was over-ripe. I haven’t been able to look a mango in the face ever since.

        August 16, 2018
      • OH MAN I would be so unhappy if I got allergies to mangoes. I feel for you. They’re my favorite fruit.

        I don’t know if it’s a related fruit, but there’s a similar fruit called lanzones that look like white leathery grapes with white meat that tastes like candy inside. The fruit has sections of flesh, the larger with seeds inside. While the meat has no risk, the skin of the fruit sometimes has a sort of sticky white substance that oozes out from the broken skin. Sensitive as I am to contact allergies, I don’t react to it, but I’ve heard some folks do (itching on point of contact, mostly) and it’s at it’s worst a diluted Elmer’s glue in feel. The folks I know who are allergic to the white stuff can eat the flesh just fine though… they just have someone else peel the things.

        I cannot attest to the durian fruit though. I’ve never been able to make myself eat the things, because of the smell.

        August 16, 2018
        • TonyT #

          Lanzones aren’t related to jackfruit, they’re in the Mahogany family.
          http://www.clovegarden.com/ingred/mh_mahog.html

          August 17, 2018
          • Right now, I wish these fruits were available for me to eat. I’m having a serious “I want home comfort foods’ craving, and it includes fruits.

            Mangoes are about the only thing I can get here in Australia to ease that fruit craving, but it’s not in season (The Kensington breed of mangoes taste very much like the mangoes of home, but do not resemble them) and frozen does not taste right to me.

            August 17, 2018
            • TonyT #

              Forgot to mention earlier, but, yes, Filipino mangoes are the BEST, but have been hard to find here recently (and the same type of mangoes grown in Mexico just don’t taste the same). For papaya, Hawaiian are the best I’ve tasted.

              August 17, 2018
              • Yeah, Kensington mangoes are a very acceptable alternative to Filipino mangoes =9 So if you ever go to Australia during mango season, that’s the one I recommend. There’s another, but the name is a designation, like c6(more numbers).

                Mexican mangoes are very fiberous and tedious to eat.

                August 17, 2018
    • TonyT #

      Hmmm, Jackfruit is a member of the mulberry family. IIRC, the sticky stuff is somewhat similar to latex.

      And your turon is cultural appropriation! Turron is a Spanish desert!!

      (On the serious side, it’s fun to see how foods change as they travel. Spanish turron is traditionally made with almonds and such. Spanish horchata is made from chufa (aka tiger) nuts, and is IMHO is much better (and in any case, more unique) that Mexican horchata made from rice. Spanish chorizo is a hard sausage, much different than Mexican chorizo. And I always enjoy visiting Asian bakeries to see how they re-interpret baked goods).

      August 16, 2018
      • TonyT #

        Link to mulberry family:
        https://www.clovegarden.com/ingred/mb_mulberry.html

        August 16, 2018
      • Mike Houst #

        Oy Ve! Might want to check that you’re not allergic to latex now too.

        August 16, 2018
      • *snaps fingers* That’s what it is! Latex! (I’ve heard some of the older folks refer to the sticky white stuff as goma, rubber.)

        You should see what we Pinoys do with the food we cheerfully culturally appropriate, since y’know, we’re historically a maritime and trade crossroads. Lumpia shanghai, milk candy, we have little boat-shaped tarts made with cashews, our chorizo is longganisa, made garlicky and sweet, or vinegary and garlicky… The meat dishes really show the Spanish side of things. =)

        I noticed that cakes in Asia tend to favor fluffier versions of their Western counterparts, like we seem to prefer angel food and light sponges over heavy mud cakes and such. The mocha cake I make has no resemblance to a Western coffee cake, being essentially a coffee flavored sponge with coffee buttercream.

        August 16, 2018
        • TonyT #

          Around here we have Filipino bakeries (Goldilocks, Red Ribbon) and grocery stores (Seafood City, etc) too. I’ve seen (and probably eaten) logganisa, but around here linguica is more popular; the SF Bay Area has had a large Portuguese population (especially in San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Newark, and Santa Clara) since in the 1880’s or so, primarily from the Azores. Filippinos came later.

          August 17, 2018
    • Kate Paulk #

      I’m actually kind of pissed off because I liked the stuff, but after the ER visit, I’m not about to try it again.

      The follow up with the regular doctor didn’t find any problems, so I’ve been advised to always have Benadryl on hand and finish out the ER prescriptions. And of course, watch out for anything else that decides to give me issues.

      August 16, 2018
      • Yeah, I can understand. I have the odd allergy-to-fruit reactions too, passionfruit and kiwi, I have to keep mentioning since they’re favorites here in Australian desserts.

        The food allergy I’m very weird about is eggplant. I didn’t find out I was allergic until I tried eating eggplant that had only been cut up into sticks then fried. Up until then, I’d been happily devouring tortang talong – eggplant omelet whose procedure goes ‘toast the eggplant over an open flame, then shred with a fork, dip in scrambled egg, and fry, serve with hot steamed rice and ketchup.’ Cooking eggplant twice in that manner seems to render whatever is the allergen dead. So I’m very sad because I absolutely adore ratatouille, and I remember the day I found out I was allergic to once-cooked eggplant. I actually cried at how unfair it was.

        REALLY LOVE EGGPLANT. So I can relate to the being pissed part.

        My mom has a very persistent allergy for pineapple too; she’s tried desentisizing herself to it but it didn’t work ever. She says she liked the taste a lot so it’s an allergy she wishes she didn’t have, but oh well.

        It’s not the only unusual allergy I know of though. I have a friend in England who says he can eat cheese just fine, ditto milk and yogurt – but the moment it’s cooked; say in pizza, put on bread and toasted, or lasagna and casserole dishes, baked cheesecake, in soups or stews, he has ‘projectile vomiting problems.’ Eat a soft, or hard cheese, he’s fine. Ditto if he has a pot of yogurt, or drinks milk.

        August 16, 2018
  2. Kord #

    Good thing you were quick. And it wasn’t something even worse and even faster.
    You might want to have an autoinjector for sudden onsets. It might be something quite different but with similar properties that sets you off the next time, now that your body “know” what to reach to. Take care. We prefer you as healthy as possible.

    August 16, 2018
    • Kate Paulk #

      Thanks. It’s not a happy thought that I could wind up acquiring more food allergies because of this. As if I didn’t have enough problems.

      August 16, 2018
  3. After a rather spectacular reaction to a piece of Mango, I carried habitually Benadryl around with me for years. Luckily, someone had some and the Mango incident didn’t end in an ER visit, but my SSGT (Marines) was all set to take me when my tongue stopped swelling and started shrinking again. Poor guy was worried he might have killed one of his troups with a piece of tropical fruit.

    I’m also allergic to cats, who seem to have an unnatural attraction to me, so carrying the Benadryl has come in handy on more than a few occasions over the years.

    While my kids were smaller, I also carried the children’s version of Benadryl, and whenever we would come across a new food they hadn’t tried, I would remind them to let me know if their mouth started itching or they had trouble breathing. Happily, the children’s Benadryl ended up being completely unnecessary, because neither kid ever had any issues. You should see taste testers freak out when they hear it though… “WHAT? She might be ALLERGIC and you are still letting her try!?” Well, yea. If I wouldn’t let them try anything they MIGHT be allergic to, what would they eat? You HAVE to try new stuff. It just pays to be prepared just in case, especially when the family has a history of food allergies.

    August 16, 2018
    • Stuart, cats have a superpower of knowing who in any group has cat allergies. And then they swarm the sufferer. I think they still havn’t forgiven humans for demoting them from deities to Hausmeister.

      August 16, 2018
      • Zsuzsa #

        I had a math professor in college who believed that cats were evangelists. In any group, they pick out the unbelievers and come over to share with you the Gospel of Cat. They do not acknowledge the existence of allergies that might prevent you from converting.

        August 16, 2018
      • Luke #

        Well, we needed something to protect us from the pixies.

        August 16, 2018
      • I am well aware of this proclivity as I have been the “favorite” person to a number of cats over the years.

        Years ago, I house-sat for a good friend and just gave in and bought latex gloves because cat-petting duty was declared (with rather loud mrowling fanfare) by their very fluffy cat. Sadly, the gloves only helped marginally, I probably would have been better off with some kind of air filter.

        August 16, 2018
    • CACS #

      Poor guy was worried he might have killed one of his troops with a piece of tropical fruit.

      Something completely different of a spin on the Monty Python Self Defense Against Fresh Fruit routine.

      August 16, 2018
    • Kate Paulk #

      Well, how *else* are they going to find out if they’re allergic – or not – to something?

      Idjits. If you don’t take risks, you don’t live. Being sensibly prepared for the risks you’re taking is just good planning.

      August 16, 2018
  4. There’s an ingredient in a herbed tea I like that makes my throat swell a little. I limit myself to two cups, with a glass of water in between. Since the ingredients list is “and spices,” I’m not certain what I’m reacting to.

    August 16, 2018
    • I was mildly allergic to tomatoes at one time, but I LOVE me some fresh tomato! One year my father, who I swear has both green thumbs and must have some extra secret green thumbs hidden somewhere, grew some tomatoes that were BIG AS MY HEAD! (totally not exaggerating… mostly) Eating the resulting giant tomato sandwich got a little dicey when nearly everything from my waist up turned red and started itching… a little bit… but it went away… eventually LOL!

      After that, I had to cut WAY back on tomatoes for a while, then gradually increased my intake over a few years. Now, I can eat all I want without any symptoms at all.

      So, maybe there is hope if you love that tea… 🙂

      August 16, 2018
  5. BobtheRegisterredFool #

    I had an animosity towards fruits and vegetables for years before I realized that food allergies may be playing a role.

    Period One: I don’t have allergies, I don’t know why I have so much trouble sometimes.
    Period Two: Okay, I have quite severe, near crippling allergies that simply aren’t obvious, but those are just environmental, right?
    Period Three: Okay, the food is obviously also an issue.

    August 16, 2018
  6. Feel better, Kate.

    Allergies suck! I’ve only been mildly affected so far. Starting in grade school alfalfa (especially when being harvested) would plug up my nose. Now I’m on Zyrtec from late spring through late fall. About 5 years ago my Dad was drinking Earl Grey tea one night and started turning red, itchy tongue and face started swelling. So my parents gave me all their Earl Grey tea. About a year ago I started having the same symptoms. No more Earl Grey for this boy. It’s weird how you can go decades using something and then all of a sudden it’s a problem.

    August 16, 2018
    • TRX #

      > Zyrtec

      If you’re regularly on antihistamines, keep a watch out for unexplained depression.

      August 16, 2018
      • Holly #

        I have a kid who is allergic to a third of the pollens.

        That’s extremly helpful, TRX. I figured allergies interfering with doing stuff was depressing, but there may be more to it.

        Every year a different drug as his immune system gets desensitized to the med, not the pollens. Silly body tricks.

        August 16, 2018
      • This is interesting. Many years ago I was taking Seldane to treat seasonal allergies. It worked better than any over the counter antihistamine and it did not have me walking around in an antihistamine fog. I decided to try it as a preventative. One day at work I went from “I’m okay” to depressed (with the physical symptoms I sometimes get) within minutes. I suspected that it might have been the Seldane and stopped taking it. Allergies flared up but my mood stabilized. Given a choice, I’d rather deal with sinus allergies than the depression. Seldane was pulled from US markets not too long after that.

        For years I have believed that the Seldane was the cause of that abrupt mood shift, but can find nothing to support that belief.

        August 16, 2018
      • Thanks. Didn’t know that before. So far I haven’t had that. I never get too up or too down. My wife suffers from depression and anxiety, also runs in her family. I’ll have her mention it to her doctor next time she goes.

        August 16, 2018
    • Kate Paulk #

      I hear you with the seasonal allergies. I usually take zyrtec through oak pollen time and get off it as soon as I can. Depression… well, I deal with that courtesy being narcoleptic and chronically sleep-deprived, so it’s not like antihistamines are going to change things too much there.

      Personally, I’ll take being somewhat impaired by meds and able to function over being unmedicated and non-functional.

      August 16, 2018
      • Jackfruit might have some of the same stuff as birch pollen….

        But yeah, probably the latex and saponins.

        August 16, 2018
    • That’s how allergies work. You generally have to be exposed to the allergen a few times before reacting. It’s very rare for someone to have a reaction the first time.

      August 17, 2018
  7. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

    Take Care!

    August 16, 2018
  8. That sounded deeply unpleasant. Glad to hear they sorted you out.

    August 16, 2018
  9. Food issues suck! I’ve had an allergy/intolerance (the doctors can’t agree on which it is) to garlic since I was little. Kept getting sick and we couldn’t figure out why, so Mom — who was raised by an Italian mother — would toss a clove of garlic into my chicken soup to boost my immune system. Turns out she was slowly poisoning me without meaning to.

    August 16, 2018
    • My mother has garlic problems also. My condolences, it is sometimes hard to find places to go out to eat because so many places put garlic in EVERYTHING.

      August 16, 2018
  10. TRX #

    > food allergies

    Welcome to the club! Now how to we get out of here?!

    August 16, 2018
    • Kate Paulk #

      Alas, feet-first in a box is usually the only option. Best way I’ve found to deal is to kick ass all the way.

      August 16, 2018
    • Mary #

      Avoid the food.

      My younger sister developed an allergy to peanuts and soy when she was a pre-schooler. Now she no longer tests as allergic.

      August 17, 2018
  11. Draven #

    yeah, pineapple makes my tongue swell up, and i’ve developed a bunch of reactions to food…

    August 16, 2018
    • Kate Paulk #

      It’s decidedly not fun. You have my sympathies.

      August 16, 2018
  12. My sympathies! I haven’t (yet) developed any food allergies more serious than “mildly itchy mouth” but if it otherwise has fur or feathers or is green and growing, I’m allergic to it in some degree. (Though I’m grateful I traded my once-violent allergy to cats for a violent allergy to horses instead. I’d far rather have a cat at this point.)

    I take benadryl every night year-round, but had to take SIX the other night because Idiot Neighbor was apparently burning something especially horrible in his trash, and suddenly I could barely breathe. :/ So yeah, the ultra-zombie effect sucks (as did the hangover yesterday, which lasted until 2pm), but at least I could breathe, and didn’t end up having to go to the emergency room. (The nearest one is an hour away. The preferred one is an hour and a half. Sigh.)

    August 16, 2018
    • Kate Paulk #

      Ugh. Yeah. We’re about 20 minutes from the nearest ER, so it’s not too horrible. But dealing with Idiot Neighbors does not make the suffering easier.

      August 16, 2018
  13. Food allergies. *Snarl, whimper, smash things.* Once you find one, you usually find others, so beware.

    And second the warning on regular antihistamines influencing depression. But not being able to sleep due to allergies will definitely cause depression, so.

    (I read all ingredients. Always. Nothing like suddenly having a reaction to familiar fruit punch and then finding out they changed the recipe to include pomegranates….)

    August 16, 2018
    • Kate Paulk #

      We eat a lot of fresh stuff, not least because we avoid corn syrup and that stuff is in *everything*. But I’m keeping an eye on how I react to everything I eat.

      August 16, 2018
  14. Luke #

    Glad you’re doing better.
    Anaphylactic shock is no joke.

    August 16, 2018
  15. ashkalar #

    I’m glad you got through this episode in relatively good shape! I’ve seen fresh jackfruit at the store, but never been tempted to try it. I will check next time to see if there are any warnings or cards displayed explaining how to prepare it. (Although how many people actually read the preparation information on new foods, especially if they just tried a sample, presumable correctly washed, etc., at the store?) I’m thinking that if there isn’t any visible notice the store might have a liability issue if the “sticky stuff” is a known irritant. In places where the fruit is a novelty, who would know they need to wash the cut pieces? We don’t wash apple slices or fresh pineapple chunks.

    A quick search for “jackfruit allergy” turned up a number of hits. The main culprit appears to be latex sensitivity, but there is another protein that might be involved in some cases. This episode has probably sensitized your system so be alert to future reaction to fruits/veggies you haven’t had past problems with. *sigh* Having Benadryl readily available is a good idea, also.

    August 16, 2018
    • Kate Paulk #

      I’m watching closely and have the Benadryl at hand in case there’s a need.

      What I’d really like to do is get hold of whoever supplied this dodgy lemon of a body and… *inform* them of my displeasure.

      August 16, 2018
  16. The Internet warned me about the outside of raw alligator pears, but Wikipedia took it out because it wasn’t relevant. After all, it only bothers most people… Worse than poison ivy….

    August 16, 2018
    • mrsizer #

      “alligator pear”? Never heard of it. Looked it up. Apparently, it is an avocado. Where are you?

      August 17, 2018

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