jetsetgreen

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How Eggs Became My Enemy


It started about six months ago, but maybe even before that.

I cook almost every day and bake often, so I crack a lot of eggs. Months ago I noticed that my eyes would swell up and itch after I cooked, just like the allergic reaction I have to animals. After trying to figure out the common denominator, I zeroed in on the whites of eggs. If I had even a trace of egg white on my fingers and touched my eyes, they’d itch, water, go red, and start to swell closed. The yolk had no effect on me.

One day I separated some eggs and forgot I had a cut on my finger. My left index finger swelled like a sausage in a too-small casing. Could I really be allergic to eggs? I could eat eggs in things and I had no problems, so it wasn’t a true egg allergy. If I took Benedryl, the symptoms would go away (clearly a histamine issue.) I happened to mention that eating fried eggs gives me heartburn to a friend--I mentioned it like it was a normal thing to happen. Only I guess that’s not normal.

It’s not normal for an egg to cause your body pain when you eat it. It’s not normal for your mouth to go tingly and your tongue to go a little numb.

Which is ridiculous, because eggs are delicious. Is there anything as wonderful as a perfectly cooked egg? Soft-boiled, once over easy, the runny yolk and whites with crispy edges, soft and buttery scrambled, a rolled omelet with delicate herbs? No! Nothing is as delightful as the perfect egg!

I tried to live in denial but the rent was too steep.
A couple weeks ago I was making a flan, like you do; it’s just custard: eggs, egg yolks, cream/milk, sugar. I had some leftover custard that wouldn’t fit in the pan so I poured it in a cup. I added some fresh grated nutmeg and a drop of rum flavor--egg nog! I drank that sucker; it was so perfectly yummy. Even as I finished that small ¾ of a cup, I remembered that it had egg white. Oh no. Oh no. OH NO. Kids, the pain that followed: the cramping, the nerves firing, the feeling that I would lose it, and I did. That nog went through me like a train through Kansas. I think the only comparison is lactose intolerance. Oh, my lactose intolerant friends, I am so sorry! I have felt your pain! I am now empathetic!

I even tried fresh eggs from friends’ hens, to find they’re just as painful as the Omega-3 Oakdells I buy from Costco.

After a little more research I figured out that I have an egg white intolerance. It’s not an egg allergy because I most likely will not go into anaphylactic shock if I eat some egg. I can eat eggs that are well cooked, like in cakes. But I can’t eat an egg. This is terrible. And weird. What if I have to go vegan now?

(I am not going vegan.)

24 comments:

A Few Tacos Shy... said...

My husband Scott developed an egg allergy about 5 years ago. He can eat them as long as they are cooked all the way. Be careful because the allergy may turn into an anaphylactic situation down the road (Scott's did) and never get a flu shot!

soybeanlover said...

Think of it as a cooking challenge to find eggless recipes, and make them delicious. My first child would break out in hives if he ate anything processed near eggs for his first two years. There are some prescription meds made from albumin too that you need to be careful of.

Dalene said...

This truly pains me. It seems so unfair of the universe to inflict such an affliction upon She Who Makes and Bakes Most Fabulously.

Barb @ getupandplay said...

What a bummer!

Lindsey Johnson said...

That sucks. I am going vegan again in January because I'm not sure what bugs my GI tract, etc. But I feel for you. Eggs are delicious, especially when in the company of sugar and heavy cream.

Celeste said...

Dude that sucks. I'm the same way with chocolate, and I'll tell you what, I still wouldn't trade you, thats how good eggs are.
Sorry, probably not helping.

Tyla said...

Well, that stinks! The next time I eat an egg I will do so in your honor, Azucar.

NatTheFatRat said...

so... NOT related to pregnancy. bummer. when i was in my first trimester a plate of scrambled eggs with a slice of melted gouda on top was all that i wanted, ever.

NatTheFatRat said...

OH! you have to test this out with some synthetic egg white dealies, you know what i'm talking about? now that i'm commenting twice i'll tell you about how i had an allergic reaction to crab once and when i asked my doctor if i could be allergic to shellfish (the rest of our crustacean friends i can eat just fine, oh, except lobster), he said "go eat some more and see what happens," which i thought was highly inconsiderate considering his hippocratic oath or whatever.

Jenny said...

SO SAD! I've missed you at costoco, BTW

Baby Hudson has egg white and peanut allergies and they are not anaphyalaxis (?) allergies, its a gastrointestinal/eczema allergy.

If we bake yolks he seems to be mostly ok. I thought my pediatrician said if can't 'turn into' the swelling up and dying allergy, but I could have also just made that up.

whitneyingram said...

This is a true blue tragedy.

Eggs are my snack. This morning, I sat on the counter with two eggs over easy over buttered toast and it was the most delightful way to start my day. I don't know what I would eat for breakfast and afternoon snack if I couldn't have eggs.

My deepest, heart-felt sympathies.

craftyashley said...

I'm that way about melons. I tried to just cut some cantaloupe up for my kids and my arms broke out into hives. Then my throat starting closing up after eating some watermelon. Dang. I didn't know your mouth wasn't supposed to get all scratchy tingly after eating melons!

Annette Lyon said...

Filing this one under "never heard of that before--so sorry!"

AzĂșcar said...

Annette, that's why I wrote this. I couldn't find a first person perspective on egg white intolerance. The most helpful thing I've found is a paragraph on Wikipedia--not the most expansive story. Maybe this will reach people who are looking for an answer.

Whitney, I know. Sigh. Eggs are the perfect food, the most tasty snack. Can't do. Tragic!

Queen Scarlett said...

I am so miserable for you. I am in love with eggs, done anyway...anytime. Will this intolerance go away?

Jen, RN said...

That's awful! I have the same problem with corn and anything that contains cornstarch, corn syrup, etc. Really knocks a lot out of the diet. I feel your pain.

Helene said...

Oh no!! :(

Can it be pregnancy related and hopefully will go away after?
(probably a dumb question since I have zip knowledge in that area)

Th. said...

.

What about meringues?

AzĂșcar said...

Helene, the intolerance pre-dates the pregnancy, although you never know with the way bodies change after babies.

Th. They're out. I can't eat Italian meringues, or other lightly cooked meringue. I have yet to try a macaron or pavlova (thoroughly cooked.)

But believe me, I'll probably try.

Anonymous said...

It stinks. My friend's daughter has the identical problem. She can get the flu mist, but not the shot.

It's hard when you enjoy something so much and it suddenly becomes taboo for health reasons. We had to cut gluten 3 years ago when the hubs became gluten-intolerant. Same symptoms as your eggs. Really terrible, when you forget, but you learn not to.

Anonymous said...

celiac disease here. plus pistachios, oats, barley, honey, vinegar and other odd food allergies. gotta say. . . . . anyone who gets a flu shot is weirder than ANY food allergy. flu shots are dangerous for ANYONE. do the research folks.

Marie {Make and Takes} said...

What?! That sounds crazy. And to have just discovered this?! Well, at least you still have cake!! :)

The Atomic Mom said...

I haven't commented here for a while. By the way, congrats on your pregnancy. :)

Food allergies can develop later in life. (I'm finding that pecans and I no longer agree) I have a food allergic child (peanuts here), but the basic principles are the same. It's a misconception that you will have an anaphalixtic reaction when you are allergic to something. Most of the time, for most people it's hives, swelling, itchy eyes etc. However, it's best to avoid whatever you are allergic to, the next reaction can be a serious one. There are lots of resources out there. I suggest you try FAAN.org. It's the Food Allergy and Anaphlaxis Network's website. They are one of the best places to jump off to find resources for whatever allergy you have. Eggs are one of the "Big 8". There is also a cookbook you might want to investigate, called "Sophie Safe Cooking" a mother wrote it for her daughter Sophie who was allergic to pretty much everything.

Whatever you do, however, never use an egg substitute like Egg Beaters. That's all egg whites. Good luck :)

alarconvictor said...

My wife and I got such a kick out of your delightful expressions on such a not-so-delightful subject. Now we're aware we BOTH probably have an egg intolerance. Thanks!