9:15 am: I drive to muffin bakery to buy gluten-free muffin a few people told me they saw there.
9:20 am: I enter bakery and ask for gluten-free muffin. There are none in the case that is full of regular muffins. Guy behind counter goes to check in back. I see him ask someone something and then take a blueberry muffin off of a rack. He hands it to me. I ask, “You’re sure this is gluten-free?” He replies, “Oh yeah, we have a totally separate gluten-free mix.” I hesitate, thinking I should ask about cross-contamination, but don’t. (Mistake.)
9:25 am: I eat muffin while driving to San Francisco. It’s not very good. I don’t eat it all.
10:00 am: I begin consulting session at Whole Foods in San Francisco (a child has just been diagnosed with gluten, dairy and egg allergy and the family needs help.)
11:30 am: I am burping and starting to feel a little weak. I pretend to the client that I am fine.
11:40 am: I am nauseous. I open a bag of Rice Thins and eat a little bit of one. It doesn’t help. Now I tell the client that I am not feeling well and explain that I think I ate some gluten. (She didn’t know the lesson would include seeing first-hand what can happen if one eats gluten!)
11:55 pm: I am walking as fast as I can to the Whole Foods bathroom. I get there. I vomit several times. I feel a little better. I have other gastrointestinal things going on too.
12:05 pm: I emerge from bathroom looking like hell I’m sure. I find client, apologize and pretend that I am now fine. We finish consulting session (thank god it was time to be over anyway) even though it is difficult for me to even talk as I am still nauseous.
12:20 pm: I am driving through Pacific Heights in San Francisco — huge mansions all around. I spin the car into a parking space, throw open the door and vomit into the street. Lovely.
12:30 pm: I am driving over the Golden Gate Bridge to go home, hoping I can make it across without throwing up — there is nowhere to pull over on the bridge. Deep breaths, air-conditioning on full blast, thinking happy, do-not-puke thoughts.
12:50 pm: I don’t make it home in time. Close, but I have to make an illegal turn to whip my car into a bank parking lot where I can vomit in the bushes.
1:00 pm: I am home. I have major gastrointestinal distress. I am weak. My arm and leg muscles are cramping. I crawl into bed.
2:15 pm: I want to stay in bed, but I have to pick up my girls from school. I can barely make it down my stairs, sliding down on my bottom. My body feels like jelly and is a little tingly. I sit on the stairs. I lay on the stairs. I force myself to the bathroom. More gastrointestinal stress. I am a little better.
2:50 pm: I go back into the bakery that sold me the muffin. I ask, “Is it possible that you gave me the wrong muffin this morning?” and I tell the guy what happened. Wide-eyed, he calls over someone in charge and he reassures me that it was a gluten-free muffin. I ask about cross-contamination (as I should have done in the beginning), and he tells me that they use the same trays as the regular muffins. “We can’t prevent cross-contamination,” he tell me. “No,” I think, “You won’t.” But I don’t have the energy to engage in that conversation right now.
3:00 pm: It’s over. I am weak, but no more nausea or other symptoms.
4:00 pm: I am able to eat. My energy is picking up. I am feeling almost normal but for the waves of weakness in my legs that continue throughout the evening.
I continue to to be amazed at the violent reaction I had, the worst I have ever had since being gluten-free over 7 years. How much gluten did I consume — a few crumbs leftover in the tray from another batch of muffins? I will never know.