My apple allergy

When I was a kid, I was allergic to apples.

As a baby, I’d cry and cry and cry through the night. And my parents didn’t know why. They tried to figure out what my problem was, like whether or not I was allergic to something, but who ever thinks to check for an apple allergy?

Eventually, though, it came out. After weening me down to a diet of nothing but apples, apple sauce, and apple juice, they figured it out. “It’s the apples.”

So then I grew up apple-less.

If you’ve never been allergic to apples, it’s tough to imagine just how many children’s food products contain apples. First, you have to cut out most juices, especially the natural, 100% juice kind. In most cases, if the juice is mixed at all, like not just straight orange juice, it will include apple juice. It’s a cheap sweetener.

After that, you have to worry about all the jelly, gummy stuff, like Jell-O, Gummy Bears, Gummy Worms, Fruit Rings, Fruit Rollups, and all that other stuff like that. It’s junk food but surprisingly common for a friend’s mom to hand out at snacks on a picnic or whatever.

But that’s not all. You have to worry about random Pop Tarts, some kinds of pies, Fig Newtons, basically anything that could possibly have fruit in it could also have apples.

And if something contained apples, even a smallish amount, I’d react. Of all things, my foot and leg, the ankle area, would start hurting. Weird, right?

I remember nights spent rubbing my leg back and forth on a bed, trying to alleviate the pain. My mom would give me Benadryl. That helped a little, at least helped me sleep. There wasn’t much else we could do. Thankfully, it would be gone by morning.

Until one day when I was a teenager and accidentally ate something with apples. I ate it, realized later, and expected to react. But I didn’t. No pain. No rubbing my leg on the bed. No Benadryl.

So slowly, slowly, I tried introducing apples into my diet. And slowly, slowly, I found that I’m no longer allergic to them. I drank juices with small percentages of apple juice in them, and they didn’t bother me. I tried some of that gummy stuff – first a little, then a lot – and it didn’t bother me. I worked my way up to apple sauce and apple butter. They still didn’t bother me, whole apples even.

In fact, half an hour before I turned 20 years old, while I was technically still a teenager, I devoured an entire apple pie, just for the fun and challenge of it, that and to somehow show those apples I’m not allergic to them anymore.