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Food Is My Enemy (Part Two)

(Part One is HERE)

Well, where do I begin? I received a phone call yesterday at work. That went a little something like this:

ME: “Meleah Hawthorne, May I help you?”

Receptionist from Doctors Office: [and I am quoting word.for.word.] “Hello, Meleah? Your blood test results are in. There are severe abnormalities. The doctor needs to see you right away to discuss the results. How fast can you get here?”

[insert long pause and rational thinking a major internal panic attack]

ME: “I am at work right now, Um, wait…I don’t get out of the office until 4:30…I work an hour away from your office.”

[I was stunned. The words ‘severe abnormalities’ rang in my ears.]

R: “Please hold.”

[insert elevator music, a mental state of distress, and thoughts like What.The.Fuck.]

R: “The doctor will stay late to accommodate your schedule, he really needs to see you; can you get here by 6:15pm?”

ME: “Yes.”

R: “Great, we will see you then.”

Click.

Then. I remained completely calm went full forced drama queen and started F-R-E-A-K-I-N-G out.

I could not work. I could not pay attention. I could not focus. My mind was racing in 25,789,641,532 directions. All I could hear in my head was the receptionists voice, over and over…

‘The doctor needs to see you right away.’ [ Right.Away. ? ] ‘Severe abnormalities.’ [What does that even mean?] ‘The doctor will stay late to accommodate your schedule; he really needs to see you.’ [ I must be really special That CAN NOT be a good thing!]

I sat at my desk wondering what the hell could be wrong with me now? [Why is it that when I am faced with uncertainty I go directly to the negative?] I called my mother, who called my father, who called me. Emails were sent out. Other calls were made. My whole family went on red alert.

[I am not a lone drama queen.]

After my boss somehow caught wind of the phone call I received, he approached my desk and told me to “Go.” “Now.” ….”Leave.Get to your doctors office and find out what is wrong.”

I don’t really remember driving on the NJTPK. I remember that she was unusually forgiving with traffic as I made my way past each exit.

I spent the drive contemplating imagining all of the worst case scenarios. I have always had an over-active imagination. I can scare myself to the point of no return. Since I don’t know too much about blood diseases or disorders, ignorant and terrified, I went down that dangerous path of “What If’s”, accompanied with a slice of hysteria.

What if it’s Leukemia, or Cancer, or AIDS, Or… Or…Or…

I called the receptionist to let her know that I was able to leave my office early, thus I was already on my way. Her reply, “Good, its better that you come now.”

It’s better that I come now?

[insert every conceivable fear multiplied by seventeen million]

In a last ditch effort to remain calm; I called one of my closest friends BFD. Thankfully, he managed to provide some sort of distraction. He stayed on the phone with me for the longest 45 minute drive of my life.

Yes, I was that asshole on my cell phone, while driving, and, blindly changing lanes this afternoon. [sorry.other.drivers.]

By a sheer miracle, I arrived at my doctors office without causing any accidents or veering off into oncoming traffic. I was also smelling of roses dripping with sweat.

I did not even have to wait in the waiting room. I was brought right into the examination room.

Of course, I thought, I was the center of the universe this could not be a good sign either.

When? Have you ever been to the doctors office and didn’t have to wait? For a specialist.

I glanced at the desk and saw my chart already opened and the paperwork spread out. I had to look. I saw a long list of foods with the words Abnormal and Class next to them.

Two seconds later the doctor entered the room. I jumped onto the exam table, crinkling the sanitary paper. Pretending like I hadn’t just been rifling through my chart.

Doctor: “Hi Meleah. How are you?”

Me: “Nervous.”

Doctor: “Don’t be nervous. Everything is fine.”

Me: “Fine?”

Doctor: “Okay, it looks like you have a very. VERY. Low. White Blood Cell Count. [he paused] And, you certainly have anemia. [second pause, scribbled notes in my chart]. I am going to have to send you for more test. A full CBC. (Complete Blood Count). I also want to run some tests for your liver because of the amount of medications you are currently taking.”

Me: “What does all of that mean?”

Doctor: “A low white blood cell count means that your immune system can’t fight off infections like healthy people can. There may be something more, or, there may be nothing. [please be NOTHING.] That’s why we will run more tests. These are normal tests. I am surprised your GI Doctor hasn’t ordered some of these.”

Me: “I have been getting the feeling that he is not such a great GI Doctor for awhile now.”

Doctor: “Let me refer you to another GI Doctor. One that I know and trust.”

Me: “Oh. Kay.”

[an exchange of business cards and information about how Crohn’s and Food Allergies go hand in hand. Followed by all kinds of boring medical jargon and a long conversation about how food is digested and the reactions my body has to it.]

Doctor: “Now, let’s look at these food allergies. Wow. You have quite a few.”

[Insert Drum Roll]

In addition to strawberries and mustard, which I knew about years ago, I would now like to welcome to my family of foods to fear as follows:

[FYI: The higher the Class, the more severe the Allergy. Classes are 0-6 (6 being the highest) Most people are Classes 1 and 2.]

Broccoli – Class 3
Corn (and all corn products) – Class 3
Orange – Class 3
Chocolate [WHY!] – Class 2
Tomato [But I am Italian!] – Class 4
Almond – Class 4
Oat – Class 3
Peanut – Class 4
Pecan Nut – Class 3
Potato [potato?] – Class 3
Rye – Class 4
SoyBean – Class 3
Wheat – Class 4
Walnut – Class 3
Malt [?] – Class 3
Hazlenut [even flavored coffee] – Class 4
Gluten – Class 2

Brazil Nut – Class 3

I had NO IDEA that Wheat and Gluten were DIFFERENT. Did any of you?

The wheat and gluten didn’t surprise or upset me, because with Celiac I cant eat them anyway. I have since adjusted to that. [Even though I REALLY miss sandwiches. And bread. In general.]

But some of these? Are you kidding me? There is some kind of nut or corn, or wheat, potato, or coco extracts in almost E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.

So, my doctor also referred a nutritionist to help develop a food specific diet for me. I don’t have the time to research every single label or every single website. I already spend way too much time on the internet. I want a professional to clearly draw a plan. A map. A guide. A menu.

I have been given a shopping list [not for shoes…booo] for supplements and vitamins because my body is severely lacking: Zinc, Iron, Potassium, B-12 and Vitamin D.

I am scheduled for more blood work. We need more specifics on that whole super low white blood cell count. And, more possible food allergies. Fuck. Me. I am not in the clear…yet.

The term ‘Severe Abnormalities’ has been translated to mean: subject to the Food Allergies, NOT the blood work. Right. Um…I think? That receptionist really needs to work on her delivery skills.

I have made a phone call for the new GI Doctor to work with this doctor.

I have been given a NEW SCRIPT called GastroCrom: (2 capsules of liquid must be mixed with an 8 oz. glass of water / 4 x a day). Every. Day.

Yep. More meds. More side effects.

*sigh*

(Hey….at least its not Leukemia or Cancer, or AIDS…Or…Or…Or)

Before I left, the doctor informed me that stress is one of the biggest triggers for all of my medical conditions. Then he asked me a question. “What are two things that cause the most stress in your life?” And, what could I do to eliminate them.

My answer? Easy.
1. My Job
2. My bills.

Yeh, sure. I could quit my job and move back home, into my parent’s house????

On the bright side I can eat all the fish I want. I can eat fish until I give myself Mercury poisoning.

My son, who is the greatest kid ever, did two things to brighten my mood.

1. He said (jokingly) “The next time some one asks me…Hey, how is your mom?… I am going to say, she can’t even eat a Milk Dud, how the fuck do you think she is doing?”
2. He also made a sign and hung it on the refrigerator door next to the long ass list of food allergy results. Just in case I happen to forget.
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The new (3 page) list of food I must avoid eating, is going to take awhile to get used to. I have to keep the list in my purse (along with my Epi-Pen) until they are committed to memory. I have a lot of reading, research and labels to inspect.

In all honesty, in a way, I am almost glad I had that original reaction the way I did. I would have never found or went to this doctor. I feel like after all of these months and months and months of being sick…. that I am FINALLY on the right track to getting things under control?

Fingers. Crossed.

*Complete list of food allergies located below*

_my-allergies-to-food-.pdf

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  • Wow Meleah, I found myself getting worried as your post went on! I am so sorry and yes, that receptionist needs to go through what she caused you to go through. Hang in there!!!!

    And how awesome is your son to do what he did!!!!!!

  • What the ever loving hell…malt? As in malt beverages? As in BEER? That is a major food group in my life.

    Here’s to hoping things will get better – and fast.

  • Meleah

    MICHAEL C: I have the best son. That receptionist needs to be FIRED. and um, this really fucking blows.
    —–
    NG: Yes, I am allergic to BEER. Fuck.

  • First of all – you’re reaction to the phone call is EXACTLY how I react. “oh God – how long do i have?” I don’t know how you even managed to drive over there.
    Secondly – Sometimes I think the receptionists get their kicks by freaking patients out.
    Third – you have a great kid.
    Fourth – I’d love to know what you actually CAN eat.

  • Meleah

    DAWN: Thank you.! I feel less CRAZY knowing that someone else would have FLIPPED out the same way!. Yeah, Um.. I DONT KNOW what I will eat. I didnt eat yet today because I am so limited and I dont have access to full working kitchen in my office to whip up a plain baked turkey or some plain grilled shrimp.

  • DUDE. I told you to switch GI docs MONTHS ago. You should listen to your Leslie. πŸ˜‰ and I also told you your allergist would become your FAVORITE doctor. Mine is. Was I right? I love you Melz.

    OH – be careful about supplements – they have corn, etc. These people make vegan supplements without corn, wheat, gluten, soy, shellfish, nuts, etc: http://devanutrition.com – I take them b/c of my shellfish allergy.

  • At least you’ve still got sushi. πŸ™‚

  • Meleah

    LESLIE: I know. I changed GI DOCTORS. The dietitian will have the complete list of my allergies so she will know what I can / CANNOT have as far as supplements.
    ——
    JASON: Damn Right.

  • Well, first of all, I’m so glad you have been so proactive since the allergic reaction. Of course, how could you not be, right? Also, as far as the fish, chunk light tuna is WAAAY better than albacore – in fact, just steer clear of albacore. You want wild salmon, not farm raised.

    I’m so worried about you. I asked a friend of mine who has a lot of food allergies for her advice, and mentioned that you have Crohn’s and Celiac. She said her sister has really severe Crohn’s so she will call her and they’ll put their heads together for any advice and get back to me.

    I’ll email you with what I find out. Provided I can get my email to function properly for any consistent period of time! Ugh!! Take care, Sweetie. I’ll be in touch.

  • xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxxooxxoxoxoxoxoxo

  • Meleah

    HOLLYGL: Thank you so much. I really appreciate that. Can you believe I cant eat POTATOES? Thats RIDICULOUS.
    —-
    LESLIE: Right back at’cha

  • I’m not reading the comments so I can comment openly.

    OMG…I woulda went postal on the receptionist. She severely needs improvement on her delivery and choice of vocabulary. biotch! Call the receptionist up and tell her, “About my bill, there’s severe abnormailities in my bank account. You’ll have to wait your turn until I figure them out.”

    Maybe you should visit Mountaineer Musing on my blogroll. You two have quite a bit in common.

    Your son is the greatest…mine ties with him though so we’ll just say mines the greatest in the Midwest, k? lol Kids know…and we sometimes have to lean on them for morale support. I’ve leaned on mine quite abit this year.

    You are the bravest person I know Meleah. Not only do you forge ahead but you make the time to post about it and while we read it, its light-hearted. You are amazing…can I adopt you as a sister?

    Ok…I’m gonna go read those comments now.

  • Meleah

    DAZED: I almost wrote that IN THE POST…”can I bill her for wasting my work hours and causing emotional distress/ cardiac arrest”… HA (great minds….)

    I will definitely check that blogger out!

    Our kids ARE BOTH THE BEST KIDS EVER. It is Amazing how much support they are.

    Its HARD to write light and happy when what I am really feeling is FAR from that.

    Yes you can adopt me. A

    I sure hope that when (or if ) I ever find a man he sees me the way you have described above.

  • brookestone

    girl, i printed out your list and will be working on this until sunday. i’ll meet you guys at 10 at 5 cypress and we’ll go over a menu for at least a few days’ worth of food. don’t worry, you’ll find strange and wonderful alternatives to the food you’ve grown close to. maybe we can even turn your food plan into a book for others with similar allergies!!! rock on!!

  • Meleah

    BROOKESTONE: Yes! My Chef! My Love! My MANIC counter-part! Wheee! I will see you then baby!

  • I think on my way out of th eoffice I wouldve been tempted to smack the receptionist and say “Great!”….
    Receptionist should be fined for using the words Great and good when having to make such calls….cripes.
    I am allergy to apples, pears, plums, raw pees, raw carrots…yeah fun.
    I knew the whole wheat and gluten for one my mom was on some diet and that what was she was to avoid…and two, the whole restrictor tude I got towards food…
    Crohn is in my family and I can find out info for ya too…
    And thank you for sharing this and writing it so well, that I felt like I was right there!
    Keep us posted!
    I will have you in my thoughts while I meditate tonight…send ya some good healthy vibes πŸ˜‰

  • “Ò€œWhat are two things that cause the most stress in your life?Ò€ And, what could I do to eliminate them.”

    Seems like your allergies belong in that list of stressful things.

    That is a lot of food types; seems like it would be a shorter list of the things you’re not allergic to.
    Hope there is some way they can alleviate some of those, if possible.

  • I usually just lurk, but today I had to leave a comment. I am sorry you got such a scare. That receptionist needs to learn how to phrase her words correctly. You could have had a car accident. Like you, I would have freaked out and my mind would have gone to worst case scenario immediately.

    What a challenge you have in terms of your diet. Not being able to eat chocolate sucks big time. It’s a good thing you have someone like your son in your corner. He sounds like a great kid.

  • Oh, absolutely Holy Fuck and shit!
    (sorry..)
    I cannot believe this!! It is the most horrible, horrible news.
    Meleah darling, poor poor darling…

    Can you drink wine?
    I didn’t see wine on that horrid list.
    I hope so, because I would like to come over and help you drown your sorrows, darling. Epi Pen at the ready!!!

    You are in my thoughts xxx
    and I am sending you healing rays of light from across the oceans,
    along with love and kisses of course,
    xoxoxoxoxo

  • Hey Meleah. I feel really awful that you had to go through the stupid receptionist’s scare and even worse for all the food you have to avoid. I marvel at your bravery and your strength. You’re one courageous soul.
    I hope the alternatives you find for these as you plan your diet are far more kickass and you fall in love with them.
    You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Dan

    I have my fingers crossed too my friend! But God … could they have scared you more? “Severe abnormalities”! What the hell is wrong with doctors?? Geez!

  • jesus h christ… what can you eat??? how do you do it… i would go f’ing crazy,, as i don’t think much about food,.,, i just eat whatever i have when i get hungry.. oh you poor baby,,, i cannot even imagine what that must be like…

  • I know this all sucks. I’d say something like it’s these life experiences that make us better and make us who we are, but you probably don’t want to hear that. I know I didn’t every time something medically goes all crappy on my head.

    We’ll just have to find something or someone to laugh at. I’ll start looking for it!
    πŸ˜‰

  • I just realized who we can laugh at! That Miss America contestant who gave the ridiculously dumb answer about Geography! I’m hoping you feel just a little better now!!

  • Meleah, I seriously think the receptionist a few screws short of Friday! What the heck was she trying to do to you? I was freaking out just reading your post, I can’t even begin to imagine how you felt.

    Btw, what can you actually eat? From that list, looks like you’re running out of options … LOL! Don’t fret it girl, things will be okay soon.

  • When they put oxygen on the list, then I will worry. In the meantime, I know you are such an awesome and strong person. I truly appreciate the fact that you share your story with us. I have a theory that the longer the post, the fewer comments you will have. But, as a testament to your strength and your humor and your writing, I devoured every word…twice. Not to mention that you have had a billion comments so far. You have so many people out there that genuinely give a shit.

    If you need us, you know where to find us. Just reach out.

    Just Me, Dan

  • Beth

    How horrible! I too, would freak out, in fact, the few times I have ever received a phone call somewhat like that, I have forced the doctor to talk to me on the phone because I absolutely cannot be held in suspense waiting to meet face to face. I have fluctuating blood pressure and when I get really really stressed, it goes sky high. I get really really stressed whenever I go to a doctor so they only have high readings for me. I hate doctors. I have not been to one in 8 years! You should have discussed the receptionist with the doctor, she shouldn’t be allowed to do that to anyone else. That type of message from her would probably have caused me to have a stroke. As an aside, I am so sorry to hear about your newest food problems and thank god it wasn’t some incurable horrible disease.

  • HUGS HUGS HUGS HUGS

  • Matt Talbott

    Research time… Low white blood cell count indicative of liver cirrhosis… Possible cause of liver cirrhosis… Alcoholism… Go seek out Matt Talbott… He’s Irish (or was)… Time to buy a shiny, new silver trinket to hang around your neck… Life style changes are wonderful…
    Matt Talbott

  • Meleah

    WOW … I HAVE SO MANY PEOPLE TO ANSWER…. HERE GOES!

    JOD{I}: Any good thoughts / vibes sent my way are WELCOMED. Thank you. Its nice to have some one here who really understands. (with your own personal experiences).
    —–

    BOB G: Welcome to my head. Thanks for the well wishes.
    —–

    INGRID: You can ALWAYS comment in here! That receptionist should be fired! I miss chocolate already.
    —–

    MINX: I need some WINE now more than EVER, or to be spoiled with some of your indulgences, and of course your company xxoo
    —–

    RANDOM-AMBER: Thanks doll. That means alot to me.
    —–

    DAN: I have no idea what was UP with that lady. Thanks
    —–

    PAISLEY: This SUCKS…..This SUCKS…..
    —–

    MICHAELC: You always make me laugh. Your blog is one of my few pleasures!
    —–

    NICK: Thank you. I can eat FISH. I can eat fish until I get Mercury poisoning.
    ——

    DAN LEONE: Right?! When oxygen and WATER become a problem I will have to move into one of those bubbles. Thank you so much for your support (and for reading my blog)
    —–

    BETH: I wish I could go 8 years without having to go to a DOCTOR. I have to go every 8 days (at least it seems that way) …. Eventually I will figure out how / what to eat. Thanks for taking the time to read / comment on my blog. Nice to *meet* you.
    —–

    SG: Girl, love you too…. just keep up with your blog so I have somewhere to go that makes me laugh and feel better! xxoo
    ——
    MATT: Um, I don’t have liver cirrhosis, I take in excess of 22 pills (medications) for Crohns disease and allergies. My liver MAY BE in danger because of the PILLS. Maybe? you should READ my blog or get to “know” me before you go handing out medical or any other advice to me, or anyone else you don’t know.

  • FV

    I’ve tried very hard not to let it get to me Mel, I’ve read everyone’s comments and I’m still speechless. Life sucks! and there is nothing I can do for you πŸ™
    Having a limited food intake can really screw up everything., I am so so sorry Mel. Hang in there my friend. Luv ya always! πŸ™‚ FV

  • Your son is a sharp lad. He’s going to go places, I tell you!

    I would be freaking out if I got a call like that. Uou handled it well considering what they said. That is really scary stuff. I would go through a whole list of terrible things in my head too. When I was getting the panic attacks I had a whole list of things I thought I had and felt death was moments away. It was not and I’m sure there is a proper and treatable diagnosis coming very soon. I’m sure it will not be as bad as it sounds and it may be much ado about nothing. Shame about the tomato thing and being Italian. That’s not fair.

  • And one more thing….why do those knuckle heads have your age listed as 52 in the PDF? If so, what’s your secret for staying so youthful and radient? πŸ™‚

    Someone should pay for that error!

  • Meleah – glad to know this is manageable, but sorry too – because it doesn’t sound easy! You don’t have to respond. Just be as well as you can be!

  • I cannot imagine how you even begin to cope with being told you are allergic to all those foods. You must be exhausted just trying to take it all in yet you tell your story with such a wonderful sense of humor. You are an inspiration!

  • Meleah

    RICARDO: Yes he is. I am very LUCKY to have my son., He is AMAZING. I have no idea whats up with that TYPE-O, but they WILL here about that AND they will hear about that damn receptionist!

    —–

    MICKI: I will be manageable, it is just going to take some practice and a lot of getting used to new foods / ideas / menus ect. But change can be a GOOD thing!
    ——

    SELMA: I HAVE to joke / laugh / make light of this, otherwise I could end up in a really dark place, and I cant do that to myself!

  • Lis

    How awesome is your kid! Man, that list of allergies is even longer than my credit card bill! Hang in there, babe, give yourself a big hug from me.

  • Meleah

    LIS: Thanks doll. My kid ROCKS. ROCKS.

    Please. The allergies are RIDICULOUS. … But.. I HAVE HOPE. (working on update for yall)

  • If these clowns can’t get your age right then how can you have faith that these doctors will give a proper diagnosis? Seek a second opinion!

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