Allergic Catastrophe

Oh Thanksgiving!  We celebrated it on Saturday because in Turkey we don’t get the day off. (It is an American holiday after all.) We had a fantastic holiday except for the fact I thought I was going to pass out from pain starting at 4 am Saturday morning.  It was extremely fortuitous that I had prepared the majority of the food before Saturday because otherwise I would have had to cancel.  Cooking a large dinner for 16 people while you are fighting the urge to throw up from the pain is less than ideal.

In case I have not mentioned it before, I am allergic to walnuts and hazelnuts.  My reactions have become stronger and more severe since I moved to Turkey and have had more accidental ingestions.  Allergies are not understood the same way here as they are in the US because people here rarely have allergies.

For example, last year someone in my husband’s family, at whose home we had eaten very regularly, cooked with hazelnut oil in the food for six months.  They knew I was allergic and would even make me special desserts when the recipes called for hazelnut or walnuts.  I was incredibly ill for those six months and had to be hospitalized.  I thought my IBS had transformed into colitis.  I only found out my nut allergy triggers colitis when I saw them use the oil from a labeled can and they admitted they had been cooking with the oil since I moved to the country.  It turned out I do not have a chronic illness, and as soon as the oil was out of my system, I was absolutely fine.

Friday night, I was at a banquet dinner for work and apparently they used nut oil in one of the sauces.  Cue incredible gastro-intestinal pain.  It started Saturday and continued into Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and subsided Wednesday evening.  Whew!   Yesterday I was able to discontinue the exclusive kefir and low-fat yogurt diet and eat some rice.

While I feel lucky that my allergic reaction is not life threatening, it does affect my quality of life, as I was ill and miserable for at least five days.  After the original illness it does take another few days for my system to go back to normal.  It has been a full week as of today and I am fine as long as I eat lightly, and only low fat, easy to digest food.

I am pretty vigilant about food when I eat out and cannot control the ingredients myself.  I have not actually had an accidental exposure to nuts since the original incident one a year ago.  As a saftey precaution I do not think I will be attending large banquet dinners where I cannot control my food choices or talk to the chef about ingredients.

I do always try to look at the positive side of things.  While the whole situation was horrific it has provided me with a perfect excuse to avoid work dinners!

My breasts are communal.

Breasts in a way are fairly public sphere.  I mean, they are out there, some more than others.  They are constantly being appraised and viewed.  When I used to nanny I found that small children view them as comfort objects or alternatively, as balance handles.  It is also fairly common, when trying on clothes to have your breasts touched in some way when the fit is being altered.  And this is the case which I will address today.

I went shopping with Bülent and his mother.  There was a store with buy one get one free sale, so I swooped in there like cotton was going off the market.  I found two lovely dresses.  I was in the dressing room deciding which size I needed while Bülent and his mom waited outside to see the selection.  So I come out, and they both love the dress.  His mother starts to fuss over the fit, apparently it was sitting too low.  In the effort to alter the fit she was adjusting the bodice and occasionally touching my breasts in a business like manner.  Anyone who has been fussed over for fit knows what I am talking about, the casual, non-sexual brush and poke.  I did not even notice it, I was paying attention to the dress.  But Bülent did.  And the look on his face was priceless.  Apparently it never occurred to him that his mother would be handling what he considers his personal play toys.  As if he wasn’t scandalized enough, she didn’t like they way the dress looked on my breasts and starts asking him if I was wearing a bra.  (I wasn’t.)  When she figured that out, she said, “Oh, have her wear a bra with the dress, it will lift the breasts right up”…and started to demonstrate.  And she has a formidable bosom.

It was at this time I told Bülent to meet me at the cash register because I wasn’t sure if he was going to start crying or go catatonic.  He was pretty uncomfortable.  I thought it was hilarious and she had missed the entire by-play and thought nothing of it.   Later I intensified his discomfort by telling him about how she had already seen my breasts another time when we were trying on clothes.

He is still recovering.