STU’s bubble boy: The AQ’s Alex Vietinghoff is allergic to almost everything

Alex Vietinghoff is about to eat a tasty meal. Little does he know, he'll probably have an allergic reaction. (Submitted)

I sat in the waiting room at the allergy test clinic. My left arm had a giant lump on it that was

growing. A little boy who hadn’t taken the test yet gazed at the unholy bump in horror, and said “Mommy? Is that going to happen to me?” “No.” She said, “He’s just a very allergic boy.”

A very allergic boy. My allergy doctor said the same thing. “You’re one allergic puppy. This is the biggest reaction we’ve seen all day.” He said with a smile that read “glad it isn’t me!”

That was six years ago. I found out that I’m deathly allergic to shellfish, but I also have a crew of other not-so-fatal allergies, including: Pollen, dust, mold, dander, ragweed, smoke, foods with high acidity, food colouring, raw vegetables, peanut butter, kiwi, soy, every type of apple that isn’t Macintosh, hairspray and perfume, pesticides and probably a couple more that I can’t even remember.

On the plus side, I was born with an allergy to egg whites, and that was gone.

There are some weird allergies in there, I admit. Like the raw veggies one. It’s a type of ‘Oral Allergy Syndrome’ that a lot of adults develop when they have hay-fever. Basically, there’s a chemical in the vegetables that gets killed when they’re boiled or cooked.

Now, for most of these allergies, I get a very minimal reaction. My mouth feels itchy inside, and worst case scenario; my throat will tighten a bit. Also, the skin around my mouth might get red, which my friends refer to as “juicemouth” because it looks like I spilled grape juice on my face.

These allergies don’t make my life extremely difficult. I’m actually very used to them. I only have to be really careful about my more serious allergies.

Take soy, for example. The second I drink soy milk, my throat tightens enough that I need a shot of Benadryl and then have to chug some water to flush it out of my system. Basically, I could never be a vegan.

What drove me to take this allergy test? Well besides having an itchy mouth after practically every meal, I worked at a seafood counter at the Superstore in Grade 11.

Yes, every day I would dish out scallops, steam lobster, package shrimp, and serve mussels, oysters and clams. Because I wasn’t actually eating any of them, all that would happen is that my eyes got very bloodshot. I assumed that it was due to the harsh fluorescent lighting. Eventually, noticing nobody else looked like they had pulled an all-nighter, I decided to get an allergy test. Bye-bye seafood job.

Now, every time I go to a restaurant, I tell them I’m allergic to shellfish. For fear of a lawsuit, they make sure that my plates and dishware are properly sanitized with no cross-contamination.

Every spring I take a Reactine pill first thing in the morning. But some days the pollen is so heavy in the air my eyes get blood-red and everyone thinks I’m a stoner. In Grade 9, two senior-year girls asked me if I was crying (my allergies were especially bad that day). I was about to say “Of course not!” When they asked if I needed a big hug. I said yes.

But before you make sure not to step within a five-mile radius of me for fear of giving me a one-way express ticket to the emergency room, I’d like to clear some things up. Allergy tests can be wrong. I eat a peanut butter sandwich every day. The doctor admitted that sometimes results are skewed. But I won’t ever test the other test results at home, just in case they’re right. (Which they very likely are).

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