A sign of a meal gone wrong is when at least one person at the table ends up in the ER.
Everything was going along pretty well. I had some pre-marinated chicken breasts from Trader Joes on the grill, along with some flour tortillas (wrapped in foil with some water to make them steam up a bit). I even had a ripe avocado that I picked up for almost nothing at a Chinese grocery store in Jackson Heights. Then I had this idea, borrowed from our neighbor Michelle. The Girl and I had enjoyed a “taco night” at her house recently and she made some Spanish rice. Great!
I sautéed some onion and green pepper in butter along with the rice and added some chili powder, ground coriander and ground cumin. Then I added a combo of canned tomatoes (Fancy S&W brand), the juice from the can, and some water to round it out. I let that cook for 20 minutes. Some of the tomato juice got on my hand and stung like mad. It was all red, and it didn’t stop hurting until a few minutes after I had scrubbed and rinsed it off.
The meal was pretty good. The meat was tender, spicy and juicy (note to self: refill the canister on the grill; the chicken got done just in time for the gas to run out). The avocado was smooth and decadent, tangy from lime. And the rice was so good that I ate all of mine and then what Es left on her plate. Somewhere in that time my voice started to give out. I had started the day with a scratchy throat, but it was getting worse—fast. I was able to breathe fine, but I my voice was a rasp.
Water didn’t help. My throat felt raw and tight. Thinking I was having an allergic reaction I took some Benedryl. Nothing happened. Next I went to my friend (the internet), cruising around for information about allergies, throat-constricting, tomatoes. I found out that five years ago a woman in the UK died from opening up a can of tomatoes for a Bolognese.
So I called my GP, who uncharacteristically called me back within a minute. He told me to take another 25mg of Benedryl and that if I wasn’t better in 20 minutes to go to the emergency room.
I kept hoping that suddenly it would clear up, but no.
I called our neighbors to have them take The Girl while The Husband drove me to the ER, and they were so nice that they stayed here with her! I didn’t want to go all the way to Columbia Presbyterian, so we went to the Westchester Medical Center. It was about 8:30 pm.
The triage nurse established that my breathing was fine, and so we had to wait…and wait. About an hour later they called me in, and another nurse told me to change to an exam robe and wait in a curtained cubicle for the doc. Next door, beyond the curtain a poor guy was suffering from a partially amputated finger (cooking accident?). He was getting shots of lydacaine, which were supposed to burn like hell. I didn’t even hear the guy wince.
Then this really tentative guy in a white coat, must have been 14 if a day, enters my curtained space. It seemed as if it must be his first rotation ever because his confidence was nil. He kept asking me the same questions over and over again. “What did you eat?” “What allergies do you have?” I joked that even though I sounded like a heavy smoker that I never smoke anything. “How much do you smoke?” he wanted to clarify.
So after that there was more waiting to do. Another hour ticked by, and all I could think of was poor Michelle hanging out at our house. At least she didn’t have to hear a commentary about how well the finger was being sewn up behind curtain number two. I had to put my fingers in my ears to keep from squirming.
Next came the big guy, the main man, the doctor in charge. He was tall, bald, and had the kind of suntan that shows how big his sunglasses are. There was nothing iffy about this guy. Much more macho Dr. Romano than sensitive and handsome Doug Ross. He was here on business, ready to make a quick diagnosis and move on to more important matters. My voice, at this point, was getting better, just a hint of Brenda Vaccaro about it. I answered the same questions over again. He ruled out allergic reaction (no swelling) and gave me a pepcid. I was glad not to need an epi shot, but come on, a pepcid? Such a let down.
Again we waited while the prescriptions and the discharge papers were prepared (and the guy next door continued to be sewn up). He was given delauden, so maybe he was in a happier place than the brightly lit curtained cubicle.
We finally got home at about 11:30. I was exhausted. Evan was exhausted. Michelle was exhausted.
The rest of the tomatoes are in a jar in the fridge. I think I’m going to throw them out.