Death by Chocolate

The last chocolate cake had turned out so well, I wanted to make another chocolate dessert! My friend was enthusiastic, her kitchen was pretty well stocked, and so off we set on a baking adventure. I aimed for something like brownies, and she tried for baked apple donuts. We made substitutions right and left. She discovered butter could be a substitute for countless things in her recipe. I’d managed to do butter on top of toast or banana bread for the last couple of weeks, and even if the week’s trial of Lactaid milk had not been a complete success, I hadn’t gone into anaphylaxis. We decided not to use milk, but figured that butter should be all right. And a little more butter never hurt a doughnut, right? Meanwhile, I was throwing banana after banana in my concoction, melting together butter and chopped sea salt dark chocolate in a bowl, and carefully mixing cornstarch and baking powder together. It was based loosely on this recipe: https://www.godairyfree.org/news/chocolate-fudge-gluten-free-brownies.

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The result looked promising.

It smelled delicious cooking.

When cut, it proved to be an oozy mass of chocolate sludge that amused everyone to no end, but it tasted good. The banana flavor was in there, along with the chocolate, and it was not much of a brownie. In retrospect, at least one of those eggs should have been substituted for a vinegar-type mix, something that would have added in some extra rising power to compensate for the dense moist mix. Still, I wasn’t the only one to have seconds of chocolate sludge.

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I started to feel bad a half hour afterwards. Then I moved to “miserable,” “sick,” and “agonizing pain” for a bit more variety. Still, there were none of the signs of my previous severe reactions — I might have been a bit red, but there were no hives or extreme flushing. I hadn’t thrown up, although I was actually rather wishing to, I felt so horrific. I could still breathe, my pulse was its normal crazy POTS self, and I wasn’t unconscious. I put up with it until I couldn’t stand it any longer, and then I took Benadryl and curled up into a ball and prayed it would stop.

It did!

Riiiight up until the middle of church the next morning. This time it was worse. I was a pale sweating mess with dark raccoon eyes when my friends found me, took me home with them, talked me through a weird shaky panic, and doped me up on a lot of Benadryl once again. I collapsed onto a bed and slept the day away. I think that most of them thought I had caught the flu, but I wasn’t so sure. It felt like an allergic reaction more than a virus, although I couldn’t articulate how it was different.

Three hours of sleep later, I was ok.

I had two more much less severe rebounds over the next day, and each time Benadryl solved the problem. I was just a zombie for 48 hours. Afterwards, when all systems were functional and my brain was back online, the “teacher” part of my brain prodded the part that was trying valiantly to forget the whole episode. BRAIN A: “And so what have you learned?” BRAIN B: “I don’t want to think about it.” A: “Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it.” B: “DON’T use cliche quotes on me!!” A: “Then don’t be a jerk about figuring out how to avoid death. What did you learn?” B: “It’s embarrassing thinking about this.” A: “It will be a lot more embarrassing if you do it twice and someone has to give you mouth to mouth. B: “…fine.”

  1. Death by Chocolate is real, man. Totally real.
  2. Allergic reactions vary according to individual, trigger, and even just because they can. It is good to know how my allergic reactions typically present, certainly! However, just because this reaction didn’t present normally for me doesn’t mean it wasn’t, in fact, a reaction, and therefore should have been treated as an allergy. It took me hours the first time before trying Benadryl, and the second time I might not have even thought of it if not for the care of my friends.
  3. I shouldn’t have assumed that because I can handle a food in a small quantity I could handle it in a much larger amount.
  4. It’s not a good idea to push limits on a (especially related) item when you’ve just pushed limits on a different allergen! I had just failed an at-home test of milk. No way it was a good time to be pushing butter.
  5. Combining possible allergens, high histamine foods, and histamine releasers — aka butter, chocolate, and banana — is Suicide Squad Stupid. And also delicious. Seriously, “brownies” are not worth 48 hours of misery, and I was only lucky that it wasn’t worse and I had friends around to take care of me during the second reaction.

If you have ever misjudged something and had a stupid food reaction, you are not alone! But please, stay safe out there — Death by Chocolate is not supposed to be literal!!

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