I asked for iced cubes and threw one into my mouth. It eased my throat a little. A big chunk of phlegm formed and I quickly spat it out. But that was just the beginning. I didn’t get any better. 

Please, help me, I don’t know what is happening to me”, I managed to holler to my family in the living room. And because I sat by the window, everyone felt I could be reacting to dust being whisked in by a windy weather that had blown a little earlier. So, I jumped up and rushed to the bathroom to bathe.

The small distance to the bathroom seemed unending. My two palms and the soles of my feet had doubled in size. They were suddenly so big I kept asking: “What’s this everyone? ” “Why is this happening to me”. Being a person not given to fear; that Tuesday night, I was.

So, I begged my last daughter to please come with me to the bathroom. In there, I saw nothing. Everywhere had become darkened, yet, there was electricity supply. My last daughter had by now helped me to mix warm-salty water which had been a great remedy in calming allergic reaction that had to do with body itching.

 I could only scoop the first bowl of warm water on my body; and that was it. I couldn’t raise a second. I went down and sat on bathroom floor. I then managed to take a second. I asked my daughter if she was still there. She said ‘yes’. I told her: “Precious, I need you to help me. I can’t help myself”.

She laughed and asked: “Mom is it up to that? ” That was all I heard. The next thing, my second daughter came into the bathroom and took me out. Then, I opened my eyes and asked: “Omolola, what is happening to me? ” She said she doesn’t know but we can pray and JESUS will take absolute control.

Gently but still wet, she took me by the hand to my room and asked me to lie down. But I managed to tell her I would like to pray as she had advised. I struggled my now extremely shaky and light legs to kneel by my bedside. I remembered I called on JESUS to please help me as I don’t understand what was happening.

Yet, the itchiness had aggravated, I had difficulty in breathing and I was terribly wheezing. I couldn’t cry so just kept saying: “LORD, please help me. If this is my end, please, help me LORD! ”

But my second daughter insisted I must lie down. So, she came to pull on my legs to straighten me on the bed, prayed with me and promised to check back in a short while. To her, I must have been overtly exhausted from the tasking of my brains editing a script. To that, I had responded that worst should have been happening to all editors in the world overseeing manifold scripts each day of their lives.

From that point, whatever my condition was began to transcend from being mild to a potentially life-threatening reaction. All this while, I knew nothing about the seriousness of what I was going through.

Purchase of Avocados

Saturday, March 16, I had gotten some fresh Avocados from a trip to Amambara Community in Anambra State from Friday to Sunday. They were very fresh and too inviting to be resisted. Only that, I was unaware that avocados and myself are total strange fellows.

I left them in an open tray to ripe. After the trip, I decided to rest on Monday and work at home. About 2:00pm on Tuesday, Ikeja Electric had restored our light, I needed to go to the corridor to turn on the power switch. So, I noticed that one avocado had softened and ripened. I then peeled one and mildly salted and savoured it.

All was fine, nothing went wrong. Hours later, after dinner, I saw that two more avocados had ripened. So, I began pestering my family that they should all eat avocados rather than allow them to waste and get thrown away. But there was general resistance with each saying, truly, they had seen avocados but never had the need to taste them.

So, I went on Google and typed: “Health benefits of avocados” and read out to the family. They all chorused “Okay o, cut the avocados and let’s have a bite each.” That was about 9:21pm. I walked a brother who paid us a visit to our gate. I remember telling him: “My head feels heavy.” Then, I quickly dismissed the thought excusing it that it was because I had been back and forth to my laptop since light was restored and I needed to wrap up on the particular script I was working on. So, he left. I spread out my two arms in the cool night air as I walked back into my living room.

Then I told myself as I returned to my laptop: “Joke, you must getta outa here by 11:00pm on the hour!” I had barely settled to it when I got hit by sudden bout of cough, catarrh & itchy eyes, ears simultaneously.

With the itching, now intensely all over my body, swollen palms and feet soles, I almost ran mentally insane with extreme uneasiness. I was breathing through my mouth and nose.

At that point, my last daughter, who by divine intervention, forgot to earlier serve me a portion of the avocado shared for that night just said: “Avocado is the latest thing Mom just ate. Given her hyper-allergic nature, could that be the cause of this wahala now?” I wouldn’t recall if I was able to give a response.

And, I died…

Back to my bed as my daughter had earlier taken me, I was unable to remain lying down. I just couldn’t explain how I was feeling. I became extremely weak, dizzy and could not see a thing. I don’t know how long this lasted. It was now past 11.00pm as she said she checked the time on her phone. She was also feeling sleepy and set her alarm to 2.30am in the hope that I would have stabilized.

Barely 10.00minutes on bed, she said she felt a very strong urge to go check up on me. Reluctantly, she did. On getting to my room, she said she saw a woman trying to get up but falling back on her back as I could barely lift my head.

She said she quickly increased her pace and asked me what I wanted. She said I wheezily told her to take me to the rest room. But rather than stand upright; I went down on my hands and knees crawling to the convenience because my legs couldn’t carry me. However, when I got to the threshold of my room, she then tried to pull me up because she had really been paralysed by fear at this point. But as I cooperated with her in my sub-conscious state and stood upright, she said I landed back on the tiled floor with a heavy thud. The only thing she could quickly do was to pull my head away from hitting the edge of the wall close by.

With her eyes on me, she saw that the ‘Pupil’ -the black circular opening in the iris that lets light in; had gone off completely. And then, ‘Sclera’ -the white of my eye; had turned totally red and blood shot. She said I lost it. I passed out. But as she saw her mother withering like a vegetable; she suddenly shrieked: “JESUS, no please! Mom, please don’t die!!! ”

At that point, my elder daughter, who was visiting with us and had gone to bed earlier, jumped up from her sleep and ran to the scene. On seeing me, she wasted no time in lifting me up. As she did, they said a gush of faeces flushed from my bum and splashed everywhere. And that I was stone cold and stiff bodied. Nothing at this point could bend in my body.

They said that looking at themselves, they both thought, “Mom is dead? ”

So, my first daughter, as she began praying, asked my second daughter to call on the pastors she could get. She also called on nearby brother informing him of the crisis in our home. I was lifeless. I was helpless. I didn’t have any inkling of what was going on with my lifeless life. They said as I was lifted onto the toilet seat, I didn’t last a second. I glided off. I got to the toilet floor and that they all chorused: JESUS! JESUS!! JESUS!!! Please, come and help us LORD!!! Then, my first daughter also began to pour water on my body from my head.

Still she carried me, cleaned me up, and practically backed me back to my room, laid me on the bed, started calling all my names, shouting me to come back to my body and all sorts. I knew nothing.

So, one of my pastors called advised them to call for help in our on-your-own (OYO) styled estate. Eventually, she could only call a pleasant woman we all call: “Mommy Pharmacist”; a proudly retired Naval pharmacist. The very agile woman, a widow going on 70 years of age in July 2019, said she had forgotten to tune her phone into silent that night and couldn’t phantom why. On the third ring-through, she came by to see her phone at the charging point in the living room and saw it was from my line. Expecting me to be the caller, she rather heard my daughter weeping: “Grandma, please ma, come and help see our Mom, she’s dead!”

She said she retorted “Dead? ” And then, calmed my daughter, went to her bedside and prayed: JESUS, only You know that this will happen and I will be called out to serve You through your daughter’s life at this odd hour; please, protect and see me through.” So, telling my daughter to stand by the gate, she left her own home in House 20 to mine in House 8.

Well, she came and met my first daughter doing Cardiopulmonary resuscitation while at the same time my last daughter was order to keep massaging my two dead cold feet. They said my mouth had collapsed and they had to tuck in something to keep it wide. My two eyes were just left opened, red and starkly bloodshot. I laid lifeless.

The woman came, because she was unprepared for the gravity of what she met, and as a pharmacist, she said the situation could have been from something that shocked my system. She however told them that it would be risky to carry my body roughly at that period of the night since they were all women. She took over the heart resuscitation from my daughter, did the emergency procedure more professionally and better to restore my spontaneous blood circulation and breathing. At this point, everyone felt I was in a cardiac arrest.  

And then, by 3.10am because my second daughter was being followed up with calls from the two people she had called; she saw that my eyes calmed a bit and told everyone to look at me. So, Mommy Pharmacist ordered them to stop pushing or jacking me from that point on. She told them to only keep doing the gentle physiotherapy that would continue to keep my body warm. My children obeyed. After a while, my first and last daughter walked her back home and she assured them everything was fine. They returned home, I remained lying there on the bed, still but now warm, as I was told.

My second daughter, who kept on working with time said that at exactly 3.40am, I opened my eyes at once. I kept gazing but saw nothing. Each of them kept shouting: “Mom, did you see me?” They called me by all the names they could recall, I answered no one.

Eventually, because my first daughter had an early morning appointment, my second daughter, encouraged her to go to bed that she would continue to keep watch. After much persuasion, she did. But in less than 10.00 minutes; she was back to my room. She said I came to touch her by the leg and told her to ‘come’. Jumping up, she said she ordered: “Mom, go back to your body now in JESUS’ name. We’re not letting you go anywhere.”

She then returned to my room with her pillow and the vigil continued. I was like that till morning. By the time, I began to gain my self-consciousness; I knew I heard voices and felt the need to check.

I lifted my head and saw the way I was. I saw my second daughter in my room and asked her, “Why did you sleep in my room? ” I saw all my other daughters standing by with my granddaughters all looking at me and I asked “Why are they all crowding the room looking as if something terrible went wrong?”

They all just chorused: “Thank you JESUS! Hallelujah! ” With all my heart, I just wondered what all that was about. So, for those who had to go to work and school, they bid me bye that they had to go out and left. As I laid back, I kept hearing voices. I wondered why they were still in the living room only to try to get up from the bed and fell back on my hands and knees.

My second daughter was with some brethren who had come very early that morning to offer some assistance. I crawled to the living room and blacked out again.

I was told they began to pray, and left me on the floor for about another hour to rest. Waking up, I requested to go to the loo; I was assisted. On returning to the sitting room, I was made to sit on the sofa and forced to eat a slice of bread with a cup of milo which ordinarily is not a delicacy to me.

While on that, I was prepared to be taken to the hospital. And a very kind-hearted brother and pastor cancelled his own schedule as he drove me, my second daughter and son, who had to quickly rush in from his house early that morning to the hospital.

Doctor’s office

I was taken to a private hospital in Baruwa area of Lagos called Healing Virtue. There were three doctors on duty as we were made to understand. After the usual basics of BP, weight measures and pulse, were administered; I was quickly directed to the doctor’s office. He welcomed us with a smile and told me to gently sit on a chair. I told him I cannot explain better other than I was by my laptop and felt some odd reactions and that was all I could personally recall.

So, my second daughter told him the entire encounter. He then checked me, opened my lower eyes and said: “You look like someone in a shock”. But first, let me ask you Ma, “was there anything you ate that you had not eaten in a long time if exposed to?”

I said yes doctor, “I ate avocadoes yesterday afternoon.” He asked me how long ago it was I took it but I could not readily answer. So, he said he would not jump into scary conclusions and recommended that the well-equipped hospital lab do a quick lab test. They took my blood sample and after some waiting period returned and gave him the result on a white piece of paper.

He said: “I haven’t read what is here, but I am suspecting you suffered from allergy shock which is no doubt a very severe condition.” I calmly asked him if I could check it on Google, and he gave his consent. So, I opened my search engine.

Allergy shock kills 100 thousand Nigerians yearly

OBVIOUSLY, we didn’t know what was in the paper. But the doctor, who doesn’t want his name in prints because I had my profession written on the hospital card said: “Yep, I thought as much.  You had avocado allergy’ that triggered the ‘allergy shock’. But thank GOD, you are kept alive”.

I looked at him bewildered. He said: “Thankfully, yes. Lots of people don’t survive it.

My quick read on shows that: “An oral avocado allergy is triggered when you eat avocado and your body treats the food as an invader, alerting your immune system. Your body reacts with mild to severe allergy symptoms, such as itching of your lips, mouth, and throat. You could have an oral avocado allergy if you’re also allergic to birch pollen.”

It says further that: “It might not be as common as an allergy to peanuts or shellfish, but you can be allergic to avocados. In fact, you can be allergic to avocados in not just one, but two ways: you might have an oral allergy to avocados, or you might have a latex allergy.”

Latex allergy, also called anaphylaxis, is a rare but severe allergic reaction. It can occur suddenly, worsen quickly and can be deadly. It is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure to something you’re allergic to, such as peanuts or bee stings.

Combined website information says that: “For some people with severe allergies, when they’re exposed to something they’re allergic to, they may experience a potentially life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. As a result, their immune system releases chemicals that flood the body. This can lead to anaphylactic shock. 

This severe reaction happens when an over-release of chemicals puts the person into shock. Allergies to food, insect stings, medications and latex are most frequently associated with anaphylaxis.

More shocking, “there are more than 100 thousand cases per year in Nigeria.” The reaction can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure to an allergen. And its symptoms include a skin rash, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing and shock as I experienced.

And “If not treated right away, usually with adrenalin, it can result in unconsciousness or death,” the information notes.

By this time, I was weak and really in tears but the doctor calmed me and assured me that the worst was over. He noted that it was rare for me to have come out of it with little or no medication.

He corroborated what the internet information said that when a person’s body goes into anaphylactic shock, the blood pressure suddenly drops narrowing the airways and, possibly blocking normal breathing. He adds that because it is easily rarely given due attention in Nigeria, it is easily mistaken for a heart attack.

He stressed however that, it is a medical condition that must be medically diagnosis and its treatment medically prescribed.

Further reading revealed that while it is very rare in people of ages 0-18; it is common in people between ages of 19 and over 60 which constitute the larger number

By-and-large, anaphylaxis is severe reaction happens when an over-release of chemicals puts the person into shock. It is a dangerous condition that if it isn’t treated immediately, it can result in serious complications and even be fatal.

For the next three days, I was placed on some injections and other medications. Further tests conducted and results obtained. I was asked to keep off work for the next 72 hours to get my body back. Which I adhered to. The inner shaking in my body stopped Friday night.

I wept from till Tuesday to Thursday as I imagined every eulogy or condemnations that would have been crafted if I had gone. I can only thank GOD that I am alive to tell this story.

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