Let me take you on a quick trip down immunology lane. (Very quick, and very ignorantly. I haven't come close to finishing my Biology degree, but I love to read, and if I ever had to research anything just for fun, it'd be immunology. Immunology, and theology.) So let's start with this:
Darn. Every. Tick. To. HADES.
Take all these guys:
And give them to this guy:
And then I'll be all:
IT'S MY BIRTHDAY.
Honestly, I laughed so hard at the :16 mark, I spit my tea out of my nose AND EYEBALLS. Truly. Is there anything funnier than Kronk?
A few weeks ago (12 weeks, isn't that cray!?), while I was enjoying my 39th week of pregnancy, I took my eldest peanut to one of my favorite happy-places, Johnson's Farm. I sat under zero trees, walked through zero woods, and watched my kid have a blast on the plastic splash-pad. Upon returning home, I felt a bug bite me behind the knee. I searched for the offender, couldn't see anything, and went on my way. Five minutes later, I felt another bite an inch over from the first one, and while scratching, I found what felt like a teeny tiny scab. This scab would not come off, no matter how hard I scratched, so I took a closer look, which was very difficult considering it was behind my knee. I peeled the sucker off and to my dismay, it was hanging onto me by a "hook". A blasted tick fang hook. This tick was smaller than the tip of a sliver of thumbnail, so I knew it was a larvae. It was not black, so I knew it wasn't a deer tick. What larval ticks bite? Lone. Star. Mother. Farming. Ticks.
The Lone Star Tick is distinguished amongst its nasty deer-loving peers in that it does not cause Lyme's Disease, although it can give you STARI, which still sucks.
|You' nasty, tick.|
No. This dastardly fiend has been giving folks above and below the Mason-Dixon line a run for their BBQ-loving money by causing an allergy to Galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose, otherwise known as Alpha-Gal. This is a sugar (not a protein, as is the case in most allergies) found in the breakdown of meat. This manifests itself in fun forms such as anaphylaxis or generalized GI upset, not in the usual 2-45 minute timeframe after ingestion, but 3-6 hours later, so as to thoroughly confuse you as to what on earth you are allergic to. I had originally read about this last summer, in this CNN article, and then promptly forgot about it.
When, shortly after birth, I began to notice a reaction anytime after eating red meat, that stupid article was the first thing that flashed to my mind. I ignored my symptoms for a few weeks, then scheduled an appointment with my allergist so as to avoid dying or something less inconvenient. We did the skin tests, which showed a mild allergy to beef, pork, and lamb, along with my usual sunflower seed welt as big as my head, and my fall pollen buddies. He did a blood test to see what my IgE count would be; normal levels for Alpha-Gal are anything < 0.3, or undetectable. Mine came back at a 7.0. Well, nuts.
This means for the near future, all beef, pork, lamb, and their associated dairy products are out. The meat I can handle, but dairy? That one takes the cake (ba dum dum!). Do you know how hard it is to find anything not prepared by your own hands without some form of dairy in it? Sidenote, maybe that's why God gave me a love of cooking and baking some years ago, to prep me for the time when I'd have to cook my own food. Maybe!
Anyway, I shed exactly two tears over this, then brushed my shoulders off because I have no time to feel sorry for my sweet-blooded self, and there are plenty of folks in worse positions. And thank God for poultry, because those hens are quickly becoming my BFFs for life. There is a glass of whole milk waiting for me at the end of the tunnel hopefully - one of my doc's patients with an IgE of 12.0 outgrew her allergy after 6 months of total abstinence from meats and dairy. When she retested, her levels came back undetectable and she now enjoys normal food on the reg. That original CNN article gave a timeline of 3-5 years, so I'm taking this 6 months example in faith and counting down the days like it's Christmas time. Except that instead of snow, I'll be rolling in piles of Locatelli.And that's more than you ever wanted to know about the tick that bit my knee.
Until next time,
Your favorite tale-teller.