No, I’m not pregnant.

I had a severe allergic reaction on Saturday night. The kind where I was struggling to breathe, couldn’t get a good deep breath without extreme effort.  My chest was tight, I was coughing and I nearly made a trip to the emergency room.

I’ve had an allergic reaction like this before, to medication.  I knew a bit about what was going on, took a couple of Benadryl, and decided that I was  not in imminent danger of death.  So I stayed home, wheezed through the night, and decided Sunday morning to visit the urgent care center near me because really, my symptoms were not much better.

The culprit appears to be either histamines or sulfites in wine.  Although given the reaction I had and that it built up from a minor annoyance with some wines to a full blown reaction on Saturday, sulfites appear to be the more likely cause.  There’s also a chance that I’ve evolved into someone who suffers from alcohol intolerance, although that doesn’t seem as likely.

Considering that it is now Monday and I’m still suffering lingering effects, it is safe to say that for the foreseeable future, I am a non-drinker.  Why? Because in everything I’ve read from reputable sources, sulfites are in most alcoholic beverages.  While red wines have the most, on Saturday, I was drinking a light white. And I didn’t have much. Sulfites are a natural byproduct of the fermentation process in wine and beer.  But many liquors use them, too, as a flavor and/or color preservative.  Clear liquors may be ok, but frankly, I’m scared to try any of them right now.

So this is interesting.  I rarely eat desserts. As long as chips are not in my house, I’m fine staying away from them.  My wine or cocktails have been my little indulgence.  But since this incident, I’ve not been at all tempted to pour a glass of anything other than water or a Coke Zero (I allow myself, at most, one a day in normal circumstances).  I didn’t even have coffee yesterday, and I couldn’t make it through two cups today. In all fairness, though, I think that was because they never restocked the coffee supply at work today, and therefore, I wasn’t able to make the coffee I like the best.

Still, the cocktail is a feature at most events in my social calendar.  It will be interesting to be the one who is sipping the sparkling water with lime. With people I don’t know well, will they assume there’s a drinking problem? Will people even notice? Will I be bored at the tipsy conversations going on around me if I’m not sipping on something myself?  Will that one person who always drinks too much annoy me even more, now? Or will I find it calming?

So yes, I’m giving up a bit of entertainment. At the same time, I’ll be giving up so many empty calories.  And I hope, once this ridiculous coughing stops, the gym will be more appealing as a stress reliever since pouring a nice glass of wine won’t really be an option.

I want to make sure sulfites or something in the alcohol is the cause.  I’m planning to change nothing else in my diet, and make sure this doesn’t happen again. I want to make sure nothing else is wrong. And if I can never have a drink again, well. I’m sure I’ll miss it a bit. I do like them and it would be hypocritical to say otherwise.  But I’d rather be the non-drinker than go through that feeling again of not being able to get a breath, to feel the panic rise up as I struggle for air. To wonder if I’m taking too big a risk by not going directly to the hospital.

As is typical of me, I’m looking for the good things here.  I’ve already mentioned the empty calories I’ll be saying goodbye to.  There’s also the lower tabs at restaurants and the grocery store, without these items on the list. I don’t drink every day, but I still think I’ll get better sleep and more mental clarity giving it up totally.

On the other hand, it also means I get to find a new indulgence.  Suggestions?