Sharing stories, knowledge, and rants about living with metal allergies.

I Hate Nickel


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Red Wine and Cigarettes

This weekend my husband took me on a date.  There’s a great steakhouse at one of the local Indian casinos, so we headed out for a fabulous night of good food and gambling.

Now, two of the items that someone with a nickel allergy should avoid are wine and beer.  Wine and beer don’t necessarily have a high nickel content, but they’ve been known to cause irritation in nickel allergy sufferers.  I don’t drink beer, so that’s easy, but I do enjoy the occasional glass of good wine.  I usually drink white wine when I do, and happily this hasn’t caused any problems for me so far. 

Something else that someone with a nickel allergy should avoid are cigarettes.  I think we can all agree that cigarettes are bad for everyone’s health, but cigarette smoke contains nickel.  I am therefore, literally, allergic to cigarettes.  I don’t smoke, so again, this one’s usually easy for me.

So this leads me back to the story at hand…

My husband took me out to a nice steakhouse for dinner.  Red wine is almost always paired with a steak, so when I ordered my super–delicious New York Strip Steak at the restaurant, I also ordered a glass of merlot.  Then, perhaps getting a little carried away, I ordered a delectable salad starter, choosing to ignore that lettuce is high in nickel content and not something I should have! 

Why did I do this?  Because I have no will-power!  Plus, it’s just plain hard!  Keeping track of what foods are good for me and what foods are bad for me is exhausting.  I would have been mortified to sit down at this nice, upscale restaurant and pick apart the menu, demanding the chef include or not include items.  Instead, I ordered what I wanted, saved myself the embarrassment, and gave no thought to the consequences to my low-nickel diet.

I might have been okay if the evening had stopped at this point, but after dinner we ventured out into the casino.  Unfortunately, what do you always find at casinos besides slot machines, bingo, and old people?  Smokers.  Lots and lots of smokers.  Casinos allow smoking indoors, so the place always smells like one giant burning cigarette.  Everywhere the haze of smoke drifts lazily up to the ceiling. 

I had two glasses of merlot with dinner, and when we left the restaurant I had a good, pleasant buzz from the alcohol.  I wasn’t concerned about getting drunk, since I had also just eaten a giant meal with those two glasses of wine.  Out in the casino, I ordered one more glass, to sip while we gambled on penny slots.

It only took us about an hour to lose $20 on the penny slots, and by this time, I’m not feeling well.  I’m stumbling and I’m dizzy and I’m nauseous.  We go outside to get some air, and I can hardly hold myself up; I have to hold on to the bed of the truck for balance.  I’m fairly certain I’m going to be sick, so my worried husband puts me in the truck and we head home. 

Just like that.  One minute I’m gambling away at the slots, the next minute, I almost collapse.  The ride home was horrible – an eternity concentrating really hard on not throwing up in my own truck.  (Puking out a door on the freeway did not sound like my idea of fun).   I was completely befuddled about my condition… three glasses of wine over four hours with a huge meal should never have put me in this condition!  Tipsy, yes.  Giggly, yes.  Hammered and nauseous like I had just downed a bottle of tequila, no!

Once we got home, I was straight away to the bathroom, and I’m embarrassed to say, everything came up.  No more wine, no more steak dinner.  I brushed my teeth, drank some water, and crawled into bed to die.

The next morning, I was exhausted, queasy, and itchy.  I was itchy on my scalp, itchy on my legs and arms, itchy in my ears!  Luckily, a day of watching football from the couch was the only thing on the agenda, so I drank a lot of Gatorade and tried to enjoy the down-time. 

What a crazy night, eh?  Still befuddled by what happened, I wonder how did I get that wrecked after only three glasses of wine?  I’m not a heavy drinker, but I’ve never been a light-weight, so it just doesn’t make sense.  I look up the alcohol content of the merlot, and it was strong, but it was still just a wine.  I’ve had 70-proof scotch not get me that messed up!  Eventually, my husband asks me if there is nickel in red wine.  I remember it’s on the list of things to avoid.  I remember breathing in cigarette smoke all night.  I wonder…

Could it have been my nickel allergy?  Did I overload myself with nickel to the point that it triggered a strong physical reaction again?  When I had the braces in that contained nickel, the emergency room visits were always preceded by violent nausea.  Could it be that the red wine combined with four hours of cigarette smoke was too much for my body to handle?  Unfortunately, the only way to find out would be to repeat the process, as an experiment.  Unfortunately, that’s one experiment I don’t think I can put myself though again! 

For now, I think I’ll just decisively avoid red wine and smoke-filled rooms.