Not-As-Needy Acres

tales from the heartland


Population 693, Nebraska, Middle America
December 28
C.O.B. (Crabby Old Bag)
Scientist, wife, mother, slave to the furry beasts that own the house where I live.


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MARCH 5, 2009 4:47PM

Luscious Fruit of Death

Rate: 12 Flag


It was a warm summer night.  Dr. Wonderful was away in Wisconsin working on parasite identification with a friend, and the darling daughter (DD – who was 10 at the time), was already in bed.  Although I was very tired from doing all of the chores on my own, I realized I hadn’t had anything to eat that evening.  That was when I realized I hadn’t yet gobbled up the pint of fresh blueberries I’d purchase at the market a few days earlier – just the ticket! 

Although I could sometimes be lazy about this step, I washed the berries thoroughly before putting them into a big bowl and covering them up with fresh, cold milk.  Cream or half & half would have been better, but this combination was yummy enough to hit the spot. 

I chowed down, brushed my teeth, and finally turned in at around 11:30pm. 

But I couldn’t sleep.  I had a niggling little cough that wouldn’t seem to go away.  I tossed and turned a while longer before I realized I recognized this feeling…this is the feeling I got when a fruit allergy was kicking in…this was NOT GOOD.   

Blueberries had never been a problem before, but once I’d hit my mid-twenties, I’d begun to develop food allergies.  First it was kiwi-fruit, then bananas, followed by cherries.  I never knew which fruit was to become the next ticking time-bomb of anaphylactic death.  Obviously, blueberries had joined the list. 

I stumbled into the bathroom, popped some Benadryl, and trotted back to bed to see what would happen.  It didn’t help that my Epi-pen was out-dated.  It didn’t help that I was home alone with a 10-year old, it didn’t help that my husband was far away.  Did I really want the EMTs to see my filthy house?  NO!  Did I want my child to wake up and find her mother purple in the face and dead in the next room?  NO!  Guess that meant I had to drive to the hospital while I could still kind of breathe. 

This is when it all got entertaining.  My throat was starting to swell – usually it was my lungs that got screwed up first – and I couldn’t speak very well or loudly.   

“DD!  Wake up – we have to go to the hospital!” 


“Get up – we have to go to the hospital!!!!”  Hack, cough, wheeze. 

So the 3/4 –asleep kid crawls into the car, and we race the 6 miles in to the hospital. 

At the ER:  “Can I help you?” 

“Allergic reaction!!!”  Gasp, cough, wheeze. 

“Well ok then, come right back!” 

They took my vitals, and immediately stuck a mask on my face to get me some oxygen and a big dose of inhalable epinephrine.  Then they tried to ask me some questions.  DD at this point finally started to realize that her mom wasn’t just crazy, but was maybe having another type of episode…it was well after midnight. 

The nurse started filling out the paperwork while I was inhaling the drugs.  When she realized I was married, she started with the real grilling:  “Where’s your husband?!” 

I got the impression that she thought I was either an abandoned woman, that my husband must have been off drinking at a bar, or perhaps was just home not caring.  I’d had the fore-thought to bring a sheet of paper with the phone number where Wonderful could be reached, and that made her feel better about things.  I learned later that this information did not help Wonderful’s health at all. 

After it appeared that my face did no longer resemble a beach-ball, and could start to carry on a conversation, they asked DD if I was looking better.  She kept shrugging her shoulders.  Once again, the nurse got the impression that I had a very non-caring family. 

More time passes.  Since I didn’t have a way home other than to drive myself, they decided I could probably make the 6 miles home and to bed.  Once again they asked DD how I looked.  Once again, the shrug.  The nurse is got very testy at this time. 

“DD – look at the clock and tell me what time it is.” I requested. 

DD states – “Mom, I don’t have my glasses – I can’t see the clock!”  Which explained why she couldn’t say how I looked – she couldn’t even see me!!!  The nurse forgave her. 

We piled into the car with a pack of drugs, made the drive home, and I collapsed into bed around 3am. 

5am the phone rang – it was Wonderful. 

“WHAT’S GOING ON?! “I heard a message on K’s machine asking for Dr. W, then saying in was about my wife!  “They didn’t leave a number, they didn’t say who they were, then I called home AND NO ONE ANSWERED!!!!” 

I explained the situation and calmed him down.  When I’d gotten home from the hospital, I hadn’t checked the answering machine – why would I at 3am?! Thus the disapproving nurse nearly gave Wonderful heart failure with her cryptic messages. 

Being wonderful, he offered to drive home immediately, but I told him to stay.  I was doing fine, and planned to avoid any future blueberry temptation. 

The moral of this story is 1) always keep your Epi-pen prescription up-to-date, and 2) keep your house clean so you won’t die of embarrassment if the ambulance has to visit!   

Ahh blueberries…I miss them still.


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So, this was your Willy Wonka moment? hee hee
Close call....were they organic blueberries??? I hear some allergies are really chemical sensitivities...not that I'd want to check! glad you made it!
I'm guessing whatever gets to me is proteinaceous only because if these fruits are cooked (banana bread, blueberry muffins...) I can eat them with no problem.
It could not be the Blueberries? I planted over 800 high-bush plants. You must have eaten one of the nasty grey stink-bugs? If I place a tangerine on the dining table, in the morning there will be a dozen, or more stink-bugs - napping on one tangerine. You are sure? okay

Did Ya munch into a Stink Bug?
I'd call Dr. Amy Tutor for help?
Ya must try a Blueberry again?
I take your word, but, Ya sure?
I love how they give blue teeth.
Brush teeth with strawberries?
Try Blueberries one more time.
Invite over Dr. Amy Tudor MD.
apologies. Buy new toothbrush?
A Stink Bugs often sit on a Brush.
I Just am teasing. I am no doctor.
Frozen berries in yogurt? O Visit?
there's a patch of wild blueberries (can i call them wild if i didn't plant them and they just showed up unannounced?) out back just off to the side of my shed..and once or twice a year - in late august..i whip up some pancake batter...then walk outside with the bowl...pick a few dozen berries and toss them right into the batter

until this post..i didn't realize how reckless i was - true i had some minor concerns about small traces of of cat pee...but bringing the berries inside and washing them seemed like WAY too much work

it still does

terrific post, though

That is so scary. Glad you got to the hospital.

That's interesting that you aren't allergic to blueberries when they are cooked. I am the same way with fresh pineapple although I just get hives around my lips, looking pretty bizarre. Cooked pineapple is fine and is one of my favorite fruits. As far as I know, that's the only food allergy I have.
Thanks for the reminder to get my Epi-pen refilled and to keep it up to date. Allergies can be just so much fun..I have skin, food, allergic to bees & wasp(basically all in the group w/stingers). I know how scary a reaction can be and how deadly they can get- It sucks..
Great and incredible story. I would go nuts if i couldn't eat blueberries they are my fav.. Thank you for sharing this.. and the reminders..
Man you were lucky you made it to the hospital. I am glad I don't have allergies they sound like they would be a pain in the ass and very scary.
Well done - both the writing and the surviving.
I'm this way with grapes and apples and walnuts. One day, they were fine. The next, impending death. Damned proteins.
Arthur, unfortunately, nary a stinkbug in sight...that would have been an easier allergy to live with!

Angus - a little cat pee is good for immunity - chow down!

Joan - be careful - you just never know when another allergy will hit!

Fireeyes - yes, please do get your Epi-pen refilled! And I love all of the fruits I've developed allergies to - so it really sucks. My daughter has taken to approving the fruit I eat. She still lets me have watermellon, peaches, and nectarines in the summer...oh, and plums too. Heavy sigh.

Cat - getting old really sucks. Sorry about the apples, grapes and walnuts. I thought I was getting allergic to pecans, but I think that was a pesticide thing.
Blueberries aren't my favorite fruit but they grow em all over the place up here, just huge, and I love to buy them at the farmer's market or a roadside stand and make a good cobbler or crumble or pie out of it. How sad to have to give that up! And they're so GOOD for you--well, apart from the almost killing you issue, that is. :)
Yeah Merwoman...details...the devil's in them!

Anytime I say I'd kill for a blueberry/kiwi/banana/cherry, my husband replies, "Yeah, but would you die for one?!!!"

Guess not.
He has a good point. :D
I hope there will never be another episode this bad for you....but if there is, I hope that your daughter will remember some of the signs and be more attentive. After several years I have my 23 year old son trained so that if I say anything remotely sounding or signaling for my "neb" (nebulizer) he dutifully and understandingly brings my nebulizer to where I am and plugs it in for me. I put my own albuterol in and turn on the noise machine. Still, nowhere near as frightening as some of the asthma attacks I had when my son was still a baby (and then I had no nebulizer).