Original image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Herman Saksono
A couple of weeks ago, I posted a fun, lighthearted account of my discovery of three grave plots available to me. Though I've only used a little over 1/4 of my measuring cup of life, it was my plan to get right on the task of choosing one of those plots. As I pointed out, "...to assume one as puny as I will live to be 100 is humorously presumptuous. I mean, it's quite possible that I will happen upon a doughnut-throwing contest, open-mouthed, and meet a glutenous doom well before my time."
Well, on Thursday night, I did almost meet a glutenous doom. But not via a tasty doughnut. Oh no. I nearly met my end by way of the rather bland, but potent chow mein noodle. Made of little more than fried wheat, chow mein noodles are basically small strands of death. They come in various guises, but in this instance, the little buggers were masked behind the friendly title of "chicken salad."
Allow me to set the stage. About three times a year, I am invited to a small, Union Parish Baptist church to sing at their monthly singing service. A potluck dinner inevitably follows. (It is a Baptist church, after all.)
I hesitantly began searching for something to eat that wouldn't do too much damage, and finally spotted something with a seeming bit of promise. I asked the lady standing behind it what it was. "Chicken salad." Now, the only thing I've ever had to watch out for in chicken salad is the occasional tree nut. I gave the stuff a quick glance, and decided it was harmless enough.
I sat down with my scoop of chicken salad and took a bite. My first thought was something along the lines of, "Bleh! This is the worst chicken salad I've ever tasted. Oh, well." I took a second bite, thinking, "This tastes so strange." The third bite was halfway to my mouth when an all too familiar sensation began in my lips and on my skin.
I excused myself to retrieve Benadryl from my diaper bag. I took two, then returned. I was feeling very annoyed at this point because I knew I would be ill for days over the worst chicken salad I had yet encountered. I sat back down. My grandmother and her friend looked at my skin and freaked out a little. I had a nice rash forming. I started digging through the chicken salad in an attempt to identify the culprit. Finally, I happened upon tiny noodles that had been chopped and softened by the juices in the salad. I was livid.
"Who puts noodles in chicken salad?" I whispered to my Nona.
She shook her head. "I don't know, but it's not even good." So it wasn't just me.
After a couple more minutes passed, I realized I wasn't feeling better but worse. Surprised, I left to take another Benadryl. I gave this capsule another few minutes, but my symptoms didn't improve. I told Nona that I was leaving, and she insisted upon driving me home.
We had not fully left the parking lot of the church when I felt my chest begin to get even tighter. I had never experienced such a thing after taking THREE Benadryl. I wasn't frightened, but I reached for my Epi pen, muttering to Nona about how this was going to be a long night. As most of you know, I have an acute fear of needles, so I had to count to three aloud before I was able to jab the thing into my thigh. But the point is that I did it. I called Brandon who was at home, and told him to get ready to leave, we had to go to the ER. He was annoyed, but not yet overly worried.
When I arrived home, I prepped a bottle for Micah, knowing he would be hungry and assuming I should not nurse. I also packed an overnight bag for him just in case he would have to stay with my mom. Brandon took Nona home and put Daisy in her pen. We were calm and methodical. Half an hour passed before we were on the road.
Brandon drove quickly with his hazard lights on while I fed my hungry boy. He took it like a champ. Five minutes from the hospital, we turned onto an entrance to the interstate when I felt tight in my chest again. But the entrance was closed.
I said to Brandon, "Don't freak out. I have to use the other one." Brandon said a few choice words, made an illegal U-turn, hopped the median, and sped across the Louisville bridge.
We arrived at the ER. I could barely stand, but the receptionist asked me to fill out an information sheet. I couldn't write, so I gave her my license and sat. They then took me to triage where they asked a series of questions which were rather annoying to a person struggling to breathe because she ate two bites of a bad chicken salad. Fortunately, the second Epi did the trick because it was another half hour before I saw the doctor.
The doctor entered the room at a lope. When he spoke, his voice reminded me of Kermit the Frog. I concluded he was having a nice night in the ER because he also possessed Kermit's "always look on the bright side of life" attitude. He asked me what happened. I told him. He said, "The second shot probably wasn't necessary. The tightening in your chest was probably from the first shot."
I wanted to say, "Look here, Kermy--I know what happened, I know what I felt, and I don't have a habit of stabbing myself for fun!" Instead, I said nothing.
He declared me free from swelling at that point, ordered yet a shot of Decadron (another shot!--yay....), and a pack of steroids to take at home. I was free to go.
Fortunately for me, the deadly attributes of chow mein noodles were overcome by the life-saving ones of the Epi pen. I could've been in trouble had I not had them. I may have even needed one of those grave plots, but I never thought about that in the middle of the crisis. I just did what had to be done, and I'm glad to know I can handle something like that.
I scared my poor husband, and I can't nurse until Wednesday evening, but everything is alright now. I'm still irritated, still unwell, but I'm fine. The moral of the story? Don't trust potluck chicken salad, and don't joke about glutenous dooms.