I think everyone can agree that Thanksgiving rarely goes as planned. Many times, there’s bad weather or traffic; other times people accidentally burn the food or there’s a little spat between overtired family members. Stuff happens! This Thanksgiving was no exception.
Wednesday night David and I drove to my parents’ house in Illinois, spent the night, and got up early the next morning to drive to my aunt and uncle’s house in Michigan. There was just a small group of us meeting there: my family (5 people), my uncle’s family (4 people), my grandparents, David, and a collection of 5 dogs. I was really excited to see everyone, as it was the first year in a few I could actually make it to our family gathering. It’s been tricky recently with the various jobs I’ve worked. I was also excited because David had not yet met my extended family.
We had a lot of fun during the day. My cousins taught us a new card game, and we went and saw the boutique where my aunt works, chatted with everyone and just generally hung out. It was really relaxing and nice!
My Fatal Mistakes
My aunt and cousins did an AMAZING job with the meal. We had a big turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans – all the things we usually have for Thanksgiving. It smelled delicious! This is where I made my first mistake. I watched the preparation of each food throughout the day, and made no comments. Then I watched as my cousin put butter and milk in the mashed potatoes. I watched as my aunt made the gravy out of flour and milk. I also watched as they put those yummy crunchy breaded onions on top of the green bean casserole.
Dairy and gluten happen to be two of the things I’m allergic to.
But I remember thinking “Eh. I cheat fairly often and it’s been alright. I’ll just take the time to eat slowly. I’ll just feel a bit uncomfortable when the meal is over. That’s nothing new for a Thanksgiving meal anyway. No big deal!”
It was a big deal.
I filled up my plate with all those yummy foods and sat down at the table. I took two baby bites of turkey to start. They were kind of difficult to swallow but went down fine with some water. At this point, conversation had started at the table and the focus had turned to me. Like the idiot I am, I stopped paying attention to my food to talk to my family. At this point, I took a very normal sized bite of turkey, and that was the end.
I spent the next hour holed up in the bathroom trying to unstick the turkey from my throat. It was extremely stuck and nothing I usually did to unstick food was working. I tried swallowing little sips of water, big swallows of water, jumping up and down, eating TUMS, and massaging my throat. All that came out of this was me throwing up water and saliva that was accumulating in my esophagus. I eventually resorted to my fool-proof strategy of making myself throw up. This didn’t work either. The only thing that came up was more water.
At some point during all this my cousin came to check on me, as did my mom and David. I finally let David in and he sat with me trying to keep me calm and help me try different strategies to unstick the turkey. At some point, he finally said that we needed to go to the emergency room because nothing was working. I REALLY did not want to, but he was right.
When I came out of the bathroom I was completely mortified and embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone’s fun to stop and I hate when people make a big deal out of my food issues. When people do this, it only makes me anxious and ultimately makes the problem worse. My family was great though. They didn’t ask many questions and just told me to feel better which was the best and only thing they could have done at that point.
My mom and David took me to the emergency room which was only about 10 minutes from the house. Once we got there, we didn’t sit in the waiting room which was miraculous, they just showed us straight back to a room. The doctor was in there pretty quickly and started talking about the different steps they would take to unstick the turkey. I’m not gonna lie – it all sounded awful. There was talk of an IV and muscle relaxants and anti-nausea meds. If that didn’t work they were going to call in a gastroenterologist to remove it manually.
The first step was to just sip on a soda to try and force the turkey down. The doctor went to go find a soda and in the meantime I couldn’t control my saliva production, so I was spitting into a bucket. After about 20 minutes of sitting and waiting I threw up. Long and violently. But one of the first things to come up was that chunk of turkey.
After that I was just annoyed for a while. I already wasn’t being super nice to my mom or David but I was super peeved that I hadn’t just thrown up a half hour before that despite my best efforts. I really did give it my all at home, but it just happened naturally in the ER. Soon I started to feel better and just relieved that everything was ok and I didn’t need to have an IV, meds, or a gastroenterologist visit.
I have a throat condition called eosinophilic esophagitis, or EoE. I knew this before this whole fiasco. Basically, EoE happens when my esophagus gets inflamed with white blood cells after eating food I’m allergic to. For me this happens to be all things fun: coffee, dairy, gluten and yeast. The white blood cells cause my esophagus to constrict and acid from my stomach to splash up into it. It’s really uncomfortable, but until Thanksgiving, I had dealt with it ok.
I cheated every once and awhile which made things a bit difficult, but I had never been to the ER over it. That has all changed now though, because I WILL NEVER EAT THINGS I SHOULDN’T EVER AGAIN. Like, ever. There is no way I will end up back in the emergency room over this stuff, especially considering it’s completely avoidable.
The doctor I had in the ER actually happened to have EoE too. She gave me a prescription for a newer medication that she uses occasionally. She also had some really good advice about finding good gastro and allergen doctors (something I have yet to really do despite it being really important. Oops.)
Rest of the Weekend
The rest of the weekend went very smoothly! We went black Friday shopping and made it back to my parents’ house on Friday night. We went and got ice cream (dairy and gluten free of course) and visited my sister at work. Saturday, we hung out and watched the Gopher vs. Badger football game, (I don’t want to talk about the score…) and later that night David and I drove back up to Minnesota.
Overall, I would say I had a great weekend! I got to see family I hadn’t seen in too long, got to love and spend time with them, and they all got to meet David. It was a good time! My only wish is that it could have been longer and that my other uncle’s family could have made it too. I look at the ER visit as an unfortunate two-hour blip in the weekend. I should have been nicer to my mom and David during said unfortunately blip, and I still wish it hadn’t happened, but it was much-needed wake-up call to the severity of my condition. In the future I’ll definitely be more careful with my diet. No more emergency room visits on Thanksgiving for me!