I headed off to Las Vegas just over a week ago to attend WPPI – the Wedding & Portrait Photographer International conference. I decided to fly in on Saturday because it would make my flight less expensive, I could settle in to my hotel, and I would have time to attend classes and the print competition on Sunday. Or so I thought.
I arrived Saturday afternoon and once I was checked in to the Signature at the MGM, I headed to Whole Foods with Jane, Lisa & Marcia to pick up food for our rooms. Mmm… nothing like staying at a hotel that has a kitchenette so you can eat good, fresh food! After our shopping adventure, and being entertained by our cab driver who played his authentic Australian didgeridoo for us, I spent time hanging out with them and just settling in to Las Vegas. It was a nice, low key way to kick it all off. Once I learned that Jeff, my business coach, and my roommate Stephanie had both made it to the hotel, I left the east coast ladies to get some rest and went to meet up with them both at Wolfgang Puck’s for a late dinner.
We talked and enjoyed good food. Well, it seemed like good food at the moment. Stephanie had ordered creamed spinach. She decided once it arrived that she shouldn’t be eating the dairy, so I took it and ate it. It seemed innocent enough, but it wasn’t at all. It turns out that they use wheat flour to thicken the sauce in their creamed spinach. Doh!
When I first went gluten free, I could sneak in a little wheat here & there and just feel like I had a hangover the next day. Maybe a little congestion. Now? Not so much. So the hidden wheat in the creamed spinach? NOT a good thing.
I felt congested that night, but I blamed it on the smoke on the casino floor of the MGM, which is where Wolfgang Puck’s is located at. I mean, I didn’t eat any wheat – so why else would I be congested? It wasn’t until I woke up the next morning completely congested, with the sore burning throat, feeling like I had been hit by a truck, and with the all too familiar stomach pains, that I told Stephanie that I felt like I had eaten wheat – even though I was sure I had not.
Sunday was a pretty miserable day. I spent most of it in the hotel room instead of in classes or the print competition. I finally pulled it together for dinner that night and made it to dinner with the Team-X mentors and then the Team-X Soiree. By then I was just congested, but otherwise doing good. A large group of us ended the night for a late, late dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s.
This time, I asked about the creamed spinach, and the wheat was confirmed.
Monday was full of meetings (meals!) with the Team-X mentors and Jeff, the Team-Xers for lunch, and the boudoir dinner with some of my favorite ladies in the boudoir photography world. It was a good time, but by the end of the night all the talking, the smoke in the bars, and the sinus pain had me pretty worn down. I thought it couldn’t get much worse – until it did. Tuesday was miserable. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure I was running a fever by then. Wednesday & Thursday just feel like a blur – by then, the cough had started. Strange, my congestion normally just stays in my sinuses.
Thursday I was feeling better, but I knew flying home with congestion was not going to be fun. Fortunately, thanks to all my travel last year earning me Silver status on United, I got bumped up to First Class for my flight. I took decongestants to hopefully save my ears, packed some tissues, and settled in for a comfy ride. It was all good until we landed, and my ears popped — and wouldn’t clear.
Mike picked me up at the airport at midnight, and being the fabulous husband that he is he took me pretty much straight to the ER. We stopped at home long enough for me to change clothes. 8+ hours in the ER, I’m glad I was wearing something comfortable! I was finally taken to a room at 4am, seen at 5am, told that my ears looked fine, but my chest? Not so much. He could hear the wheezing when I breathed, so it was off for a chest X-ray.
I am officially battling my first round of pneumonia.
I left the ER with a shot of mega-antibiotics, a prescription for Levaquin (which is used to treat the Plague), some pain killers that I haven’t taken at all, and an Albuterol inhaler to help me breathe.
Until yesterday, 4 days later, I still had a low grade fever. I am a horrible patient when I have a fever. My normal temperature is 96.8F – not the official normal of 98.6F – so once it is even at 98.0 I’m sore and tired and miserable. Last weekend sucked between the fever, the wheezing, my sinuses, and the Cough. Oh my, the Cough hurt. (Hm. Maybe that is what the pain killers were for?)
Today was the first day that I haven’t woken up coughing. I can still hear a little of the wheeze, but it is getting better.
Traveling while sick? Ugh. No thank you. I’d rather not do that again! I feel like almost all of WPPI was in a haze. I hate that foggy feeling.
I asked the ER doctor if it was possible that this was all from the wheat. He confirmed what my Ear, Nose & Throat doctor has also told me – it was. As my ENT put it, for some people, an allergen causes inflammation throughout the entire body, and it attacks everything. It doesn’t just make you congested, but it causes muscle aches, fatigue, etc. Your entire body fights back. Add that to my history of chronic sinusitis, and yes – the wheat was the culprit. If I had not eaten it, I wouldn’t have had inflammation, my body wouldn’t have been in a weakened state fighting it, I wouldn’t have ended up with a sinus infection, and the bacteria wouldn’t have moved in to my lungs. He said that I was more than likely not contagious to anyone else, which at least made me feel a little better. I would have hated to be Patient 0 in some WPPI outbreak.
Damn wheat. Damn pneumonia.
Lesson learned – ask about wheat in any food that I eat. Anything. I’ll no longer assume things are safe!