Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Discouraging Days

I've had a less than inspired day.  I'm a bit down in the dumps.  I am very excited to be in the UK, but as I am still flatless- to say I am still without a kitchen.  Having a very sensitive and allergic body, I cook most of the food I consume.  I control the process from start to finish and can make absolute sure that the food I'm eating is safe for me.  When I eat out, I ask the questions you are supposed to ask.  I tell the waiter to tell the chef my allergic needs, and usually, I'm fine.  But I can't eat out too much.  My body doesn't like it.  My body doesn't understand it.  And even though you can be the most cautious, open person about your allergies, it becomes clear that sometimes people don't listen to you.  

Bottom line:  There are days when I think I'm taking two steps forward in this allergy-laden world, only to find I'm taking two steps back again.

In the past few days, to put it lightly, I've become a wreck.  I've been eating take-out meals for 3 weeks now.  Being on a low-oxalate diet, I keep the amazing GF goods I discussed to a major low.  I need to save my moderate oxalate starches up for dinner (a mealtime which doesn't seem to occur without some starch.) This has more or less left me at the mercy of the court.  I do my best; waiters and managers and hostesses seem to understand my requests and place my food orders with care. Or sometimes, they have a prepared rice salad or plain iceberg lettuce salad at the market across the street and I can breathe easy for one night.  But those options aren't always in stock, and you can't eat the same thing 3 times a day for 3 weeks.  Well, I can't. But at what price does variety come at?

Last night I went to a Middle Eastern restaurant. All I wanted was meat.  That's it.  It's the safest thing for me to eat and when its roasted in its own juices with some spice, there's nothing to worry about.  I said to the gentleman who I ordered from that I had many allergies.  I asked him what was in everything, right down to what kind of lettuce was used in the salad (iceberg is basically the only low-oxalate option.)  I stressed to him that I CANNOT eat bread.  No bread.  "No bread?" he asks.  No bread; I'm allergic.  "Okay, no bread."  Nothing with flour.  "Nothing with flour, okay."

I walked with my little dinner in a box back to my hotel room- a twenty minute walk.  I was tired, pissed off from a recent conversation I'd had with the cable company back home, angry that health insurance doesn't seem to really help with or cover anyone with chronic health problems, and I was so hungry.  I open my little box, fork in hand, and I see- OH NO YOU DIDN'T!!!!!!!!!!!!  A giant pita covered my ENTIRE order of plain meat and salad.  What part of the conversation that I had with the above guy do you think he misunderstood?

Then I had to do something I absolutely loathe:  I had to throw it out.  I hate wasting food. Someone, somewhere can always use food, and here I am pitching it.  Trust me, I would have gladly given it to anyone in need had there been someone out and nearby my hotel. And yes, perhaps I should have gone back out and walked the twenty minutes to the restaurant that it would take and had them make the stupid dish again, but as I said... tired and pissed off.  I went across the street and found one small yogurt that I wasn't allergic to but I wasn't supposed to eat for other reasons.  I knew I was going to be mildly sick, but I couldn't go to bed hungry.  I chose sick over starvation.  That has become my option at 3 weeks.

So over these weeks, I've been getting sicker, moodier, more fatigued, and generally discouraged.  No matter how safe a food may seem, something is still making my body react.  I am sure cross contamination has to be the culprit here, but stopping short of demanding to see the kitchen in a restaurant, all I can do is trust the manager, waitstaff or host I'm communicating with.

There's no real point to me sharing my frustration with you when I honestly do believe allergic people can function safely in this world most of the time.  I'm in a weird exception to the rule situation, and I know I'll be fine when I'm not eating out all the time.  It's totally not my intention to discourage any other allergics either.  I just know that there is a world where we could function better together.  Where we could eat out for 3 weeks and not be sick.  I'd just like to be living in that world now.  

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