FeaturesPremiere Issue 1998 Issue

Ephinephrine

Ephinephrine

Don't leave home without it.

I have known that I have an allergy to sesame seeds since I was five. But I never imagined that 22 years later it would cause this thought to hit me in the middle of a busy intersection: "Oh my God, I'm going to die!" Obviously, I didn't die. But according to my doctor, I should have.

It all started mundanely enough. I'm five. It's snack time at kindergarten. On the menu are milk and sesame seed crackers. I partake. I throw up. Right there on the brand new, only carpeted wing of the school. There ought to be a plaque.

After that, I understandably avoided eating sesame seeds. Sometimes I had the sneaking suspicion that I suffered from Childhood Throw Up Aversion Syndrome. I really allergic to sesame seeds, or did I just think I was because I got sick on them once? There were a few other incidents - sometimes eating a particular kind of granola, cracker, or bread would leave me itchy, uncomfortable and wondering. But never anything serious.

Until one New Year's day.

I was home from college for the holidays. My best friend's parents were hosting their annual New Year's Day party, serving Middle Eastern food. I found the stuffed grape leaves, baba ganoush and hummus fascinating. I'd never tried any of them before. I particularly liked the hummus, gobbling up scoop after scoop from little pita triangles, wondering where it had been all my life. I'll tell you where - lying in wait just beyond my kindergarten classroom walls until the moment it would reveal itself as The Dip of Death. Hummus is made of tahini, a sesame seed paste. Any lingering doubts about the existence of my allergy were flushed down the toilet along with my violent reaction a half hour later.

So the diligence stepped up.

I was pretty good at avoiding sesame seeds. I had some workable strategies like the Bottom Bun Trick. Sesame seed buns only have a few seeds on the bottom part of the bun, and a few seeds never bothered me. Only things like sesame seed pastes and buns covered with sesame seeds gave me a reaction. So I would order a sandwich with bottom buns only. In college, when I walked into the sandwich shop, they would greet me, "Hey, there's the Bottom Bun Girl!"

All fine. I thought this allergy was really no big deal. Just avoid sesame seeds. I've always had plenty of airborne allergies, grass, trees, cats. Take shots, own dogs, no Big Macs. I was dealing. It was fine. Until one day..

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