The Magic of Fainting Spells (Or How I Found Out I’m Allergic to Gluten!)

Many months of my early teen years were spent in the company of a friend named Accutane. While I’d hardly go within a mile of it now, the drug did indeed change my skin type from oily, acne-prone madness, to clear as a whistle. I also got the advantage of less oily hair, but the disadvantage of sunburn.

Getting a prescription for Accutane was quite the trial.

Ipledgeprogram.com_screenshot1. I had to enroll in the iPledge program, studying a fun, bright yellow binder and taking online quizzes about pregnancy prevention and what terrible things could happen with Accutane.

2. I had to go on birth control. (Looking back, that’s when I gained a significant bit of weight relative to my body frame.)

3. I had to get monthly blood tests to assure I was not dying from the drug.

All of this backstory is just to say there was a point where getting my blood drawn didn’t bother me one bit. In fact, it made me feel courageous, with no actual bravery required. (“Oh, take as much as you need doctor!”)

Fast forward to sophomore year of college at the campus health center, recently after going low-carb (the first step in my ultimate road to Paleo).  They wanted to do a blood test. I remembered my Accutane days. “Oh, surely! I love these! #brave

So I sat in the cramped chair and the nurse began drawing blood… and drawing blood. The usual.

She then looked at me funny and asked if I wanted a glass of water.

“No, I’m fine!” I smiled.

I then heard faint symphony music playing. I was at the beach! How nice!

Wait. Beach? What….

A mumble of frantic voices.

“Pull the curtain!” 

Oh my goodness. I wasn’t at the beach. I was at the USC Health Center. I was dying. I knew it. I never trusted “college doctors.” I was literally about to die in the USC Health Center. Oh what a world!

Needless to say I did not die. I had simply fainted. They took me to another room, and I cried my eyes out. They tried to get me to drink apple juice and I refused. (“I can’t eat sugar!”) If you’ve never fainted, or almost fainted, it’s quite a terrifying experience. The body just kind of…shuts down. Since then, I avoided getting my blood taken at all costs. It was not a feeling I particularly wanted to revisit.

Melanie Avalon All I need

The first thing I did after graduating USC was play a dead girl in the film “All I Need.” A girl’s got to start somewhere….

So I was a little nervous a month ago when my dermatologist wanted to test me for allergies, as I’ve started experiencing allergy-based dermatitis (highly frustrating). I explained at great lengths to the nurse how “I faint. I just FAINT,” before lying on the table like I was signing a death wish. She laughed at me, told me I was fine, and to simply tell her about my life. So I just started talking and talking – not thinking about the process. And I survived! 

I went to the reception area, filled with pride that I was standing.… and fainted.

It happens.

Everything was completely worth it though, because I got a full allergy panel! It was seriously like Christmas. Blood panel results = yes please. I found out I am NOT allergic to cats like I always though (Misty! You could have been sleeping in my bed all along!), and I AM allergic to basically every grass on the planet. Knew it. #thesouth

But the gem? I’M ALLERGIC TO WHEAT. (Ie: Gluten). This literally made my week. (A gluten allergy is worse than gluten-sensitvity, as it contains an additional immune reaction in addition to digestive issues.)

“I’m allergic to gluten !!!” I proclaimed on the phone to my mother, out of pure incandescent joy. Why? Although I already don’t eat grains, I now have a “legitimate” excuse to decline the bread basket.

And I always felt like I was lying when I’d say, “No thank you: I’m allergic.”

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