Crested Butte, The ASSASSIN-WICH and I Made It Out ALIVE!

View from my room...

View from my room…

Last weekend I taught at the Crested Butte Writing Conference in Colorado. Amazing conference with fantastic presenters (highly recommend) and though it was memorable and magical…I thought it would KILL me.

It Didn’t Begin Well…

I am NOT a fan of early morning flights. Even though I had everything packed and ready to go, I wake up WHEN?

3:00 a.m.

…and CANNOT get back to sleep.

So I get up, do some work and have plenty of time to get to the airport. I figure, “Eh *waves hand* I’m not presenting today, so I will just go to bed early.”

I finally get to Gunnison, Colorado, my ride picks me and the other presenters up. She’s already scouted out a restaurant that had gluten-free and dairy-free food. YAY, ME!

The Assassin-wich

Whenever I go to different regions, I make it a point to try what’s local. I ordered the Trout BLT with the GF bun. I made it a point to dramatically tell my waiter how horrifically allergic I am to dairy and gluten.

“Oh, yes, yes, I checked. The coleslaw is fine for you to eat.”

It wasn’t.

The Assassin-wich

The Assassin-wich

Soon after lunch I felt like hell, but assumed it had more to do with being up since three that morning and traveling all day than anything else. Maybe it was because I was such a high altitude and it was altitude sickness.

Helping is Hurting

Soon after lunch, we go to the Ladies’ Room and the editor from Harper Collins picks the stall with no toilet paper. After I made her listen to my pitch….


No, I grab some paper and bend down to hand it to her and WHAM! There was a stupid, weird, makes-no-sense extension of the counter and I whacked my forehead HARD.

Yes, I am klutzy, but give me a break, I was sleep-deprived, at high altitude, and had just been poisoned (though at this point I didn’t know it). Wasn’t on my game.

So, by dinner time I am feeling pretty bad, but I washed my face, redid my makeup and went down. The only thing gluten and dairy-free is the steamed zucchini. Yay. Well, beggars can’t be choosers. I talked and had people laughing and once it was over?

I crawled back to my condo and held to my promise and go to be early. 10:30 (that’s early for a conference)…

….only to awaken at midnight violently ill.

Zucchini of DOOM

I was sick all…night…long. I knew it! That zucchini had butter. Never trust a squishy veggie!

It’s Never Been So Hard to Put On Makeup

I was shaking so badly from being sick for (by that time) 7 hours and sleep deprived that I’m a little surprised my makeup didn’t turn out more like this…

Image via Flikr Creative Commons courtesy of Blah Blah Photos Blah

Image via Flikr Creative Commons courtesy of Blah Blah Photos Blah

So 8:00 a.m., I walk down the mountain (in dress shoes), carrying my computer bag. At breakfast, I wolf down some bacon because it was the only thing I could trust. I start chugging water, because I am dehydrated and…?

STILL sick.

I keep having to chat and smile and then sweetly and politely excuse myself so I can run to the closest bathroom…and thank GOD I carried makeup and a toothbrush. I attend every session I can because 1) I want to support other speakers, 2) I am eager to learn and 3) there was NO WAY I was going to make it UP the mountain to my room without, um, dying.

I tell one of the Crested Butte writers that I’ve had terrible Zucchini Poisoning, but that I will be fine. Just triple-check the future meals, please. They feel terribly guilty, but I assure them that Hey, I have food allergies and it happens.

In the meantime, I go to the hotel store and buy two large bottles of Gatorade and a packet of electrolytes and vitamins that are supposed to help with altitude sickness), and it only cost me a mere $17. Hotels *rolls eyes*

I chug all of it because it is now 11 a.m. and….I am STILL getting sick. I present in 2 hours.

Bonding with teen writers, LOL....

Bonding with teen writers to take my mind off…wanting to DIE.

Safe Zone

I excuse myself early because I am sure the Zucchini of Doom is what poisoned me. So, I go back to that restaurant from the previous day, because “they were careful and knew how important it was to not contaminate food.”

I go to order the same thing, but the waitress stops me. “The coleslaw has dairy, and so does that dressing for your salad.”


I get sick if something with dairy brushes like zephyr near my food. I ate a half a cup of coleslaw and a half a dairy-infested salad.

How was I still ALIVE?

Sarah makes sure I get a meal I can eat without dying and I tip her 40%. Then I ask to speak to the manager and politely explain that dead patrons make lousy return customers. Then I excuse myself…

Because, yes, I am STILL SICK. By this point? 12 hours.

Um, We Thought You Weren’t Coming

So I put on my game face and head to the main lunch. I’m not eating but I can still be there to do my job. I have a table with my name and people who want to talk to me…and it’s full.

We thought you weren’t coming. They said you were sick.

I found it funny that it was my designated table and I was the only one without a seat. But they scooch me in and soon I have everyone talking and laughing. Outside Kristen is funny and helpful. Inside Kristen wants to use the 10% off the ski-lift coupon so she can throw herself off the top of Crested Butte.

The Crested Butte writers felt better because I told them it was the restaurant and not the Zucchini of Doom that poisoned me. That seemed to make them relax. I can see how trying to kill your speakers could look bad.

Game, ON!

I was blessed that an hour before I presented I stopped getting sick. With GF, dairy-free food in my stomach and enough Gatorade to supply a lacrosse team, I was good to go and gave it my best. I presented for a little over an hour and no one would have known I was sick.

SCORE! *fist pump*

The Reward

I struggle back up the mountain to my condo. I needed time to rest and regroup. That evening, I was rewarded for my diligence. I had THE BEST GF, Diary-Free Pizza ON THE PLANET at a place called, The Secret Stash. It was so good, I bought another one to bring back to the condo with me. $60 worth of pizza, I didn’t care. I needed safe food.

Angels sing!

Angels sing!

The French Tried to Kill Me, but FAILED

Of course, the next night we go to a French food restaurant. I go through all the Please, please please NO gluten or dairy and I get THIS…


Ah, but I am smarter now. I spot the deadly mashed potatoes lurking beneath my pork loin.


The rest of the conference went great, even though I was seriously puny and had knot on my head (this explains so much, right?). I am a bit sad I got so sick because I was too weak to do any of the hiking or fun stuff we had coupons for. But, I did get to help and serve a lot of writers and that’s what I love most anyway.

The Lesson

Why do I tell this story? First of all because it’s kind of tragic-funny. I am a person who honors my commitments to the point of lunacy, but…

Mostly I want you guys to know I pale in comparison to what other writers are willing to do for their craft. I’ve known writers who kept writing even though they were facing a double-mastectomy or going through chemo. One writer kept writing even as she cared for her husband who was undergoing chemo for brain cancer.

I’m friends with a big name author who kept writing even after three deaths in one year (two were this writers’ parents). Life will still be here. We get sick, we face hardship but we need to press on and, more importantly? LAUGH. Keep a sense of humor. Everything passes, but the writing will remain and often the thing we love (writing) can help us get through tough times. If I didn’t LOVE serving writers so much, I NEVER could have maintained my game face.


So what about you guys? Do you have food allergies and faced down the Assassin-wich? Did you learn to press on even when life threw you a hardball…in the FACE?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of June, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of June I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!


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  1. You just inspired me. I am an author; I make my living writing about Afro-Cuban folklore. I have been taking care of someone with stage IV ovarian cancer, and my ink-well has been dry for 4 months now. If you and others can do it, I can do it. Today, in spite of the burdens I carry, I WILL write, even if only for an hour.

    Thank you for this blog.

  2. Oh no! Why do conferences never seem to have food you can eat, Kristen? I’m fairly sure this isn’t the first time you’ve told a story like this after coming back from somewhere … O.o

    On the bright side, yay for bonding with teen writers! We’re great at distracting people from imminent death / despair. Honest. 🙂

    1. Actually this is only the second time and I have been to A LOT of conferences. But? It happens and I SO LOVED hanging out with the teens. We all liked the same things and I am pretty sure I quit growing up by 17, LOL.

      1. I think I stopped when I was 7… 😉

  3. Pizza is always from heaven lol

  4. It was good reading this…I think I’ll quit beating myself up so much about taking a writing break. I just discovered writing the beginning of last year and love it. Happened to discover it amist the calamity of my life, so what makes it different now? I don’t know. Maybe I do, being a full time caregiver for my husband now. I haven’t stopped. I’m still writing, just not as much and not sending much of it out. The past few years have been so traumatic…stepson died on hospice, brief separation, teenager with issues, husband’s worsening health, and add in my own health issues. Ok, need to cut myself a break and be glad for breathing. I’ll just write when I can and the notion strikes me. 🙂

  5. Wow Kristen — I’m so sorry. I have a son with a peanut -nut allergy and its anaphylactic….so I totally get it. With him I can’t have mistakes. And nobody really believes you… its not a quick fix. I hear all the time– ” well don’t you have a epi-pen”. Ummm yeah. But its horrifyjng and then if on the airplane they’ll have to bring the plane down after i use it……travel gives me a ton of anxiety…just wrote about that myself this week as we just came home from Montana. Anyway– kudos to you that you soldiered on… are inspiring and I love your posts

    1. Kind of surprised me to see them serving peanuts on the plane.

      1. yeah! some still do! we have to only fly airlines where they are not served, and then cross our fingers nobody around us starts munching on them. Anxiety level is high any time someone w/allergies has to eat out or near others…

  6. I don’t have either allergy, but I can’t understand what’s so hard about (the servers) fielding out gluten and dairy. Okay. Gluten is harder, because it sneaks up in EVERYTHING, but still, it should be widely known that butter starts out as milk. I had no idea the dangerous path you walked. Thank goodness for that waitress. You rock, and once again you remind me of the definition of fortitude. 🙂

  7. You are an inspiration!

    • Jennifer Cole on June 26, 2013 at 9:08 am
    • Reply

    I loved your blog today. It was inspirational in it’s characteristic zany way. Who knew that surviving an allergic meal could be the stepping point to inspiration, but it is.

    As a new author, I struggle with a variety of things. But I still have to keep pressing on because the preservers are the ones who finish.

    I wasn’t food poisoned but a family member made a dessert that knocked me for a loop. I was so out of it that I missed church the next day. I survived on Vernos and chips for the whole day until about eight o’clock that night when my stomach stopped it’s protest from the day before. By that time, I didn’t want to eat anyway.

    Ah well. I survived. Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2013 13:48:22 +0000 To:

  8. Eating out is always a craps shoot with food allergies. When I travel, I have to pack my own breakfast, because the only restaurant item I can order is fruit. I’m a little worried about language barriers on my next trip abroad – after all, the lady at the chocolate place in Belgium assured me there were no nuts in the truffles, because apparently hazelnut paste doesn’t count!

    Good on you for toughing it out, Kristen! You’re a trooper.

    1. Oh I love it when you tell them you are allergic to gluten. Then they ask, “What’s that?” You tell them wheat and they come out with toast on your breakfast. “But it isn’t wheat, it’s WHITE bread.” *head desk*

    • lchardesty on June 26, 2013 at 9:11 am
    • Reply

    Oh my. I so feel your pain. Food allergies and travel are no fun. I have a gluten allergy, so I totally understand. Good for you for overcoming it all!!!

  9. Great story!
    I loved that you stayed because the thought of climbing back up the mountain was worse. I so know that feeling.
    Glad you’re feeling better 🙂

  10. I can empathize, Kristen. I’m living the gluten-free and corn-free life. Eating out can be a real challenge.

    I’m overcoming some setbacks too. Finally, I’m finding my writing voice and increasing word count on a daily basis. Why oh why did I let the ugly overtake the element of my life that makes my spirit soar when I write?

    You were one of the pieces that helped me glue things back together. You continue to educate and inspire me on all levels. Thank you!

    1. Awwwww *bear HUG* I am so happy to hear that. THANK YOU.

    • Lanette Kauten on June 26, 2013 at 9:16 am
    • Reply

    I’m sorry you went through all of that. How horrible for you. Glad you’re feeling better.

    As to your question this story’s a doozy. 3 1/2 years ago I was diagnosed with Hep C, which is common among dialysis patients, and I worked as a researcher in a dialysis clinic. A year later, after I left the clinic for a safe office job, I started on a regimen of interferon (the same chemo drug Sam Walton was on) and ribavirin. I passed out after conducting a training session at work (thankfully, the training was done at St. Paul hospital, which meant a short trip to the ER), I was frequently confused, I had very low stamina, and the ribavirin made my eyes so blurry I had difficulty seeing the computer screen in order to do my work. But when I wasn’t at work or passed out on the couch, I wrote and critiqued many stories and chapters for my crit partners. Eventually, I quit that job because I couldn’t handle treatments and working full time, and I’m drug and virus free now.

  11. Is Crested Butte anywhere near Denver? I’ve got a gluten “allergy” (it’s really more of autoimmune) too and would love to try that pizza. I’m going out there next month (for the first time in my life) to visit family. But we’ll be traveling around, exploring for the week too.

    I totally sympathize with how sick you were. Completely not fun. But that’s awesome that you were able to push through it! 😀

      • Jennifer Rose on June 26, 2013 at 9:53 am
      • Reply

      Hi! No, Crested Butte is a 5 hour drive away from Denver (including brief stops, and periodic slow drivers). If it were closer, I’d skip away there every chance I got!

      1. But the pizza is worth the drive. SERIOUSLY.

        1. Hmm, maybe I can talk the family in to an extended road trip. It’s very difficult to find decent gluten-free pizza. 😉

  12. That sucks. So with you. I have a sulphite allergy. Won’t kill me but makes life absolutely miserable and my sensitivity is heightened when I’m in a public setting. I lose weight at every writer’s conference I go to because I’m afraid to eat anything. Marcy hordes fruit for me 😀 lol

  13. I feel your pain. and giggles. Every time I go to Colorado I get sick. I can’t take the altitude or the dry air. Give me Florida humidity. Last time I was in Colorado was for the 2012 Pikes Peak Writers Conference. I was so sick I missed the main speaker, Donald Maas that I was dying (literally) to hear.

      • Lanette Kauten on June 26, 2013 at 9:49 am
      • Reply

      Donald Maas is coming to DFW Writers’ Conference next year, and it’s flat here, so no altitude problems.

  14. Kristen, I’m so glad you’re feeling better. I share your pain – I’m pretty much allergic to the planet. What makes it so (painfully) amusing is that I crave every food that I’m allergic to.

    • Jennifer Rose on June 26, 2013 at 9:50 am
    • Reply

    I’m so sorry that you were sick – though, as one of the lucky ones at your lunch table, you hid your sickness well! Unfortunately, I can sympathize with you around being sick during the Crested Butte Writer’s Conference. Last year, I ended up throwing up ALL night, every 30 minutes, so that on Saturday, I was falling asleep in the sessions, which culminated with a migraine. I wanted to die, but I was having so much fun learning at the same time! Oh the glory of our complicated digestive systems.

    I’m super-happy that you were able to present, because I learned SO much from you and you changed my mind about blogging, AND I’m enjoying your book so far. Hopefully our paths will cross again some day…but with no dairy or gluten. (*says, as sips coffee with cream*). 🙂

  15. You not only gave it your best, you exceeded it. NO ONE would have known, and you were an inspiration! Thanks for your time and efforts in what must have been a very uncomfortable (painful?) situation.

    1. Meeting you and a lot of the others was more than worth the pain. Y’all made it SO enjoyable and made me forget that I wanted to kill myself, LOL.

  16. I am an artist as well as an author. Over the past eight years, and during and after all kinds of nightmarish events, it is the creative process that has been a dear friend, getting me through stuff that I don’t wish to share or anywhere.

    Humor helps immensely through it all.

    As for your conference, talk about a bowl full of irony – a Harper Collins editor in a crisis because she can’t cover her ass in a paperless environment!

    As for putting my name in a hat, please don’t. That’s not how I want to be discovered.

    Thanks again for doing all that you do.

    1. BEST LINE EVER! “….a Harper Collins editor in a crisis because she can’t cover her ass in a paperless environment!”

  17. I get migraines from MSG. When I go to most Chinese restaurants (which is rarely now) I tell them not to put MSG on anything. But I come back with soy sauce on everything. Uh, soy sauce contains msg! I’ve learned to ask up front if any food has soy sauce on it. You learn to adapt. Sorry you got so sick. I relate.

  18. Bless your heart, Kristen. You’re a strong woman.

    1. Or awfully dang stupid, LOL. *HUGS*

  19. Kristen, I will never look at my excuses the same again. You certainly can make a bad situation a funny tale!

  20. Hey Kristen, I have found that ever since 2008 when I began writing seriously, I have had health issues. I’ve had three surgeries, one was for a 20 pound ovarian tumor that turned out NOT to be cancer, so that was a blessing. I suffer from allergies too, but not so much food related. I exercise, try to eat healthy and lost 45 pounds and I still had to start taking high blood pressure meds, found out my cholesterol was high too and I need a “special diet”. Now I have an allergic rash on my face, chest, and back I can’t seem to get rid of. But through it all, I’ve kept writing. My first book “Nightmares” was published by a small press, MuseItUp Publishing and was released May 8, 2013. I’m glad I didn’t let my health rule or it never would have happened!

      • Lanette Kauten on June 26, 2013 at 10:27 am
      • Reply

      Yay! Good for you. That’s an inspiring story.

    • Stacey Wilk on June 26, 2013 at 10:18 am
    • Reply

    You are my hero. I had the stomach bug this past winter and nothing, not even my kids so thank God for my husband, was getting me off the bathroom floor.

    • JoAnne Lucas on June 26, 2013 at 10:25 am
    • Reply

    Being violently dairy intolerant, I can relate. Trust no one has become my motto at conferences and dinners when it comes to ordering food. “That’s just a turkey wrap, no butter. Whoops, there was sour cream mixed in the cranberry spread. Sorry ’bout that.” It pretty much makes me a plain salad with oil & vinegar on the side type of diner.
    Humor and enough toilet paper will get you through. Thanks for sharing.
    JoAnne Lucs

  21. Wow, that sounds awful. There is nothing worse than being sleep deprived and sick when you have a schedule to keep. But I’m glad you started to feel better in the end. Way to pull through. I don’t know how you do it.

    But I know what you mean about keeping at it. I think sometimes it really does help. My father just passed away, too– this past fall. I took a break for a few months, of course, but I’m pushing through better than I ever thought I could now. Life does go on and my love for writing will never stop.

    • Lucy Lit on June 26, 2013 at 10:30 am
    • Reply

    Timely post on many fronts! Both carrying on in the face of life’s adversities and personal health issues. I’m highly sensitive to glutamates (wa-y-y-y beyond the typical MSG problem – they’re in everything!) and all artificial sweeteners. Conferences are a pain trying to stay alive and not get sick. You get the medal for perseverance!

  22. On your worst day you gave a more engaging and informational class than any of the others. Thank you so much for persevering. I have a whole new outlook on blogging and other social media and a plan to make it work for me. Made the whole conference worth while. Thank you again

    1. Ohhhh, thanks. I was worried I sucked. But I did give it my best.

  23. Kristen, your posts are always so entertaining. I hope to one day get the chance to hear you speak at a conference. The writing is compulsive for me. I get up and try to write at least 1k each day or feel guilty if I don’t. I agree with you that it helps with life’s adversities and issues. Keeps me centered when things crop up to bother me. Thanks for sharing and keep blogging. We’ll be here to read!

  24. I have numerous issues with foods but they are more in the ‘sensitivity’ rather than true ‘allergy’ category, so when lightning strikes I survive without too much suffering. It stinks, though, when servers don’t take us seriously enough to actually make sure they give you the correct answer. That has happened to me, too.

  25. Oh…. Kristen…..
    Exactly why I am taking a big box of larabars and other food with me when I go to Realm Makers.

    1. I can’t eat Larabars. Allergic to cashews. Yes, I live in a bubble.

  26. I knew you had gluten allergies but didn’t know you have dairy as well. My husband is the same so I’m very familiar with the difficulties of eating out. I wish they didn’t stack food. We had a mashed potato incident as well. Add to the allergies that he’s blind so I’m the one picking over the food. When I miss we both suffer. He’s like you. Carries on regardless.

  27. Ah, yes. this sounds so familiar. I am wheat-free, and now that I’ve been diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease, I must forego salt, alcohol, and caffeine (including chocolate). So I’m getting pretty grumpy about the food thing. But the alternative is to live with the world spinning out of control, tinnitus roaring that would put a tornado to shame, and a bucket permanently attached as a bib. But Im still writing.

  28. Oh, and I’m going to Squaw Valley Writers Conference in two weeks. I’ve been told they can do gluten-free, but can’t really take into account all the other restrictions. We’ll see how it goes. I’ve put in for a single condo so I can make my own food and hog my own bathroom if it comes to that. Cheers!

    • jenniferjakes on June 26, 2013 at 11:42 am
    • Reply

    You were truly a trooper — and since my daughter has the same food allergies I was having the total mom moment for you (altho I stopped myself at following you to the bathroom to ask if you were still alive *my daughter doesn’t like when I do that* ). However I will say by the last night (yes 48 hrs of Kristin on the brink of death) I’m so glad you felt better and could go out with us!! So much fun. And girl, you can dance 🙂 Just sayin…………

  29. I am sorry you were so sick…

  30. I’m glad you are feeling better, Food poisoning sucks.

    No food issues. However, a writer’s conference I was at last weekend in Minneapolis got hit with hurricane force winds and rain that tore down trees and knocked out power to the hotel. No AC, no hot showers, no cold drinks, and no lights, yet the conference went on as planned. It went from being a Fantasy conference to a Dark Fantasy Conference. 😉 Thankfully there were several restaurants nearby that had power so we could at least get something to eat.

  31. We should start a club! You get to be the president and I’ll bring the allergy free refreshments! I am lactose intolerant to the extreme and must put my health in the hands of the wait staff all the time. I don’t how you find anything to eat with glutten problems too. I have learned that unless I am fairly sure food is safe, I order a salad with ham and egg and ask for vinegar and oil for the dressing. Then I chow down on a dairy free protein bar or a tablespoon of peanut butter when I get back to my room. I agree–things could be so much worse. I’ll keep going and do without eating anything if it means I can hear a great speaker or help someone else with their writing. I am adding your link to my blog.

  32. Celiac. Evil gluten. And mold, which I’m finding out can act like gluten does for me and dairy does for you. I’m glad you managed to hang in there and enjoy the conference, despite your misery. Been there, feel for ya!

  33. Oh man! What a bummer!
    Sorry your trip to Colorado was so dreadful!
    I never go anywhere without Tagamet or Immodium. I have fragile insides as well. I feel like Meg Ryan in French Kiss when I have the wrong combo…

  34. I love that you can share with a sense of humor. Life is so much better when we can laugh. That’s been my newly aquired mantra. Beside that-crying gives me headaches. Bleh!

  35. Oh Kristen I feel your pain. I’m GF and DF and also allergic to (ready for this list?): chili peppers (also includes siricha and most mild salsas/guacamoles), jalepeno peppers, any other hot pepper you can think of, dragonfruit, kiwi, kumquat, mango, guava, papaya.
    And others.

    There is always a new culprit to be discovered. At restaurants I tend to add “If this even comes close to any one of those foods I will have to go to the hospital” which adds some fear. I don’t even use the word allergic… just DEATHLY allergic.

    Once I had a mexican restaurant I was at for a friends birthday refuse to serve me food (I praised them endlessly for this). They couldn’t be confident that nothing had touched a jalepeno or chili pepper and gave me a glass of free wine since I was there for a friends party. I tipped them over the top.

    I hesitate to travel though… since its so hard for me to eat!

  36. Oh Kristen I feel your pain. I’m GF and DF and also allergic to (ready for this list?): chili peppers (also includes siricha and most mild salsas/guacamoles), jalepeno peppers, any other hot pepper you can think of, dragonfruit, kiwi, kumquat, mango, guava, papaya.
    And others.

    There is always a new culprit to be discovered. At restaurants I tend to add “If this even comes close to any one of those foods I will have to go to the hospital” which adds some fear. I don’t even use the word allergic… just DEATHLY allergic.

    Once I had a mexican restaurant I was at for a friends birthday refuse to serve me food (I praised them endlessly for this). They couldn’t be confident that nothing had touched a jalepeno or chili pepper and gave me a glass of free wine since I was there for a friends party. I tipped them over the top.

    I hesitate to travel though… since its so hard for me to eat!

    There is always a new culprit to be discovered. At restaurants I tend to add “If this even comes close to any one of those foods I will have to go to the hospital” which adds some fear. I don’t even use the word allergic… just DEATHLY allergic.

    Once I had a mexican restaurant I was at for a friends birthday refuse to serve me food (I praised them endlessly for this). They couldn’t be confident that nothing had touched a jalepeno or chili pepper and gave me a glass of free wine since I was there for a friends party. I tipped them over the top.

    I hesitate to travel though… since its so hard for me to eat!

  37. Oh my heavens, that server tried to kill you with neglect! Good thing the second server was more on the ball.
    I can’t imagine worrying about what’s lurking in your food–friends with allergies have led me to look more closely at food labels–and dairy and gluten show up in the oddest places.
    So very glad you survived!

  38. Wow, what an awful food experience. You made the best of it, though. 🙂

  39. Yeah, I can’t have gluten or dairy, or eggs or chicken.I did mostly fine at the LA SCBWI conference last year because they’re across from a big mall that included a reliable Mexican grill and a good grocery store. But the ONE MEAL that the conference provided to me, in spite of so many emails back and forth and everything I could do, was a disaster. I ended up with a plate of steamed veg (which was fine) but no protein until a waiter snuck into their cafe and brought me some turkey lunch meat. Grateful to have something to eat before I had to make my plane, but instead of enjoying the speakers at the lunch, my time was spent begging for food. I’m pretty paranoid about where I go to conferences, because I”m neither coherent or pleasant to be around when I’m really hungry. Or when I’ve gotten sick from food.

  40. Couldn’t stop reading the most an interesting, but sad (really felt for you) account of your trip. I admire your tenacity. Great comments too.

  41. Wow that is quite the ordeal. Happy to hear you are feeling better. I have no allergies like that thankfully.

  42. Glad you made it out alive! You really are a trooper. Yes, I totally get (perpetrate) the persistence / fulfilling one’s obligations-unto-the-point-of-death – it’s just a matter of honor sometimes … and you know, a stubborn nature (yep, got one of those myself). Fortunately, I do not suffer from allergies, but my husband does, from lactose intolerance to general travel-intolerance (he’s really sensitive to the differences in water, no matter how clean, just because it’s different than at home. So, I’ve been along for the “ride” with him when disaster strikes. Me, I just get sick before flights. Not sure if it’s actual food poisoning or just paranoia. Being nauseated on a 9+ hour flight from Canada to Mexico after being sick all night … it kind of takes the fun out of the first few days of the holiday.

    Hope your future trips are a bit less adventuresome, so you can, you know, enjoy them more. 🙂

  43. I’m sorry to hear that you were so sick but thanks for sharing b/c reading this post made me snort! You are too funny!
    “Outside Kristen is funny and helpful. Inside Kristen wants to use the 10% off the ski-lift coupon so she can throw herself off the top of Crested Butte.” 😉

  44. Kristen, you’ve given me laughter-induced stomach cramps ! (…I feel a tiny bit cruel.) Knocking your head while handing paper under a cubicle to a Harper Collins editor, that’s Class.

  45. Reblogged this on sharpewright and commented:
    Tragicomic tale of author Kristen Lamb’s desperation as she prepares to present at a conference despite being violently ill. Was it the town water? The Zucchini of Doom? Or the salad dressing?

    Kristen writes: “I am a person who honors my commitments to the point of lunacy, but…
    Mostly I want you guys to know I pale in comparison to what other writers are willing to do for their craft”.

  46. LOVED the post, Kristen. If you can laugh at yourself, there’s nothing you can’t get through. Our sense of humor and our passion for writing can see us through anything.

  47. Yikes, that’s crazy. You remind me of Marlene Dietrich she pressed on on stage with a broken leg still smiling. Just trying to write in the kids hols is enough of a challenge for me.

  48. Damn, you’re tough.

  49. An editor from Harper Collins? For several years now I have been plotting and planning on how to go to North London just to sit in at their regular seminars for writers to meet an Editor from Harper Collins – a drop by to say hi. The extra effort, I might not need an agent. A writing conference with a view of Colorado Mountains sounds exciting like going to Portland, Maine to write a novel. Beer Battered Fish and Chips with the best British ale, which is used to batter the fish; I do not know if I am allergic to it. But I would like to try it. The British ale would be manufactured with barley.

  50. Mother of Gluten!

    That was one heck of a story. You know Kristen, I still want to get you on Australian soil *sigh* my campaign continues on deaf ears here though. I will never give up!

    Well done on getting through all of that. It must be incredibly tough needing to watch everything you eat and then paying an epic price if something goes wrong.

    Well done on being an absolute PRO. Any chance of a video of your conference/speech? I’d love to hear it.

  51. I feel for you, Kristen! I’ve had tooooo many food and environmental allergies that it would take a whole page or two to list them all. My naturopath was able to clear list of them for me, but a few (like wheat) remain deadly.

    • Denise McInerney on June 26, 2013 at 6:10 pm
    • Reply

    Kristen, so very sorry to hear what happened to you! Awful to be sick when you are presenting, been there, got the t-shirts! I once got food poisoning from a lovely dinner organized by my hosts prior to my high-energy Improv for Writers workshop in a different state. Hit me so suddenly, had to cling to podium (which I never use) to keep upright. Left the room twice while participants were doing exercises to go throw up, then came back and kept going, argh. Don’t remember 2-hr drive home in dark. At another conference, I accidentally ingested half a raspberry (my only food allergy) in a salad the night before yet another Improv workshop and was sick all night, then made it thru the session next day on sheer willpower/acting training. (I would say ‘on adrenaline’ but had pretty much zero by that point.)

    Allergies are so tricky. Last week we hosted relatives including my 13-yr old niece, recently diagnosed as highly allergic to wheat, dairy & eggs. I called restaurants to see if they practiced non-contamination kitchen techniques; she had recently become ill for a week after a restaurant’s employees, unbeknownst to management, toasted buns on the dedicated meat grill! When we arrived, we spoke to the hostess, the server (who proudly gave our niece their gluten-free menu) and then the manager, who came to our table to review her order as a matter of company policy, which made us feel very secure. He told us she couldn’t have the mashed potatoes she’d ordered as a side (even tho the server had insisted they were safe) because they couldn’t be made without milk and he suggested an alternative. When our dinner arrived, her plate was piled high with mashed potatoes dripping with butter, pooling around her $26 filet! We sent it back for a new one–it came back quickly, clearly the very same filet but with most of the potatoes wiped off, though there was still a bit clinging to the beef. Kudos to the restaurant for good intentions, but you have to be ever vigilant! Hugs to you and hope you’re feeling better now.

    1. They are still so clueless about how serious food allergies are. Wait until they kill someone and get their tails sued off, then they might wake up.

    • malindalou on June 26, 2013 at 7:18 pm
    • Reply

    I am thankful for you that you were able to avoid the ER. And you are a better woman than me. I would totally be outting those restaurants on my blog.

    I’ve heard Crested Butte is gorgeous from a cousin who vacationed there.

    • lexacain on June 26, 2013 at 7:26 pm
    • Reply

    The trip sounds like my worst nightmare. I don’t know how you did it. As for writers who soldier on through family deaths and terrible disease, I doubt any writer on their deathbed will look back on their lives and say, “I wish I’d spent more time writing.”

    1. But the writing is what allows us TO soldier on. I know that when we found out my husband was being deployed to Afghanistan, when my grandmother was diagnosed with dementia, when I had to sit with my favorite aunt who was dying, when my son was terribly injured, writing helped keep me sane. It was an emotional outlet that allowed me to keep focus and serve those I love.

  52. Bless your heart!! I have severe reactions to onions so I am constantly asking for ‘no onions please’. They are in everything!! I can usually smell them before I taste them…and if I taste them, it’s on like donkey-kong (another southern saying, sorry). Crested Butte is such a beautiful place -sorry you didn’t get to enjoy it more. Hope your stomach is much happier!

  53. wow – you are tough. I am lucky I do not suffer from severe allergies, but I’m a wimp. Really makes me realize that my excuse for not writing because “it’s too sunny out” and “I’m a vampire” and “the sun is a creative-sucking syringe”…might be exaggerated. Sun is ablazing, and I’m off to write. Thanks, K!

  54. I’m so sorry that you went through all of that! I wish I had your backbone, but my achilles heel right now are my migraines. When they hit, it’s all over for me and there isn’t anything that I can do except crawl into a really dark room and wait for it all to pass. I wish I could write through this, but I’m working on the power of positive thinking (because nothing else is working) and maybe that will work out!

  55. Hi Kristen. Sorry to hear yo had such a trying time, i would love to go to a writing conference. Any guide to where online to look for one in my region?

    1. Tweet a request on #MyWANA and I am sure plenty of writers will be there to guide you.

  56. I love Colorado, and especially the Crested Butte area. (aka Crusty Butt. Oy!) What a wonderful place to spend some time writing!

  57. Talk about timing. The last two days (heck, three years) have been particularly hard, and keeping a positive, uplifting attitude is rough right now. This morning, I woke from a terrifying nightmare to read an email with bad news in it. Then I read stuff online that makes me mad/sad, and I’m an emotional wreck. I do have gluten and dairy intolerances, but I’m so poor I have to eat at home all the time, so restaurant problems are rarely mine.

    Thanks for some extra inspiration to press on and through, Kristen. *hugs*

  58. Hugs, Kristen!! As someone with food allergies myself (oranges, I know, weird.), I can sympathize. Often times, especially at holidays, people are just “dying” for me to try their creations which leads to a trip to the hospital, with grotesque swelling and my being unable to breathe.

  59. “I’m friends with a big name author who kept writing even after three deaths in one year (two were this writers’ parents). Life will still be here. We get sick, we face hardship but we need to press on and, more importantly? LAUGH. Keep a sense of humor. Everything passes, but the writing will remain and often the thing we love (writing) can help us get through tough times. If I didn’t LOVE serving writers so much, I NEVER could have maintained my game face.”

    – For this, you have just made an entry into my top 5 favorite writers on the planet. Congo…and keep up the good work. Be safe!!

    • Catherine N. on June 27, 2013 at 6:06 pm
    • Reply

    Gluten-free here. If I travel, I go with emergency food…. (and be careful of “baked” potatoes, they are sometimes reheated in the deep fryer). That sounds like so many restaurant experiences I have had. “I can’t eat gluten”, “We have farro” I’m sorry, that is wheat. Try again.

  60. Reblogged this on Darswords and commented:
    Food allergies/chemo keep on writing!

  61. What a terrific example of carrying on in adversity! I’m glad you were able to pull it off, not only for yourself but for the others who wanted to be a part of what was going on and for those who were there for you.

  62. I’m not allergies to dairy or gluten, but it does make me feel sick and tired. This article was great! I always look forward to your posts!

    • Andi Chernushin on July 3, 2013 at 8:48 am
    • Reply

    Kristin – I was at the conference and would have never known you were so sick. I am so sorry the restaurants here poisoned you! Secret Stash is amazing though! I did not have the chance to talk to you, but I thought your presentations were amazing and filled with great information. I’m a former book rep (HarperCollins, Chronicle Books and Ingram) and have started my own publishing services company (that is why when ever you asked about writing I never had my hand raised). Again, sympathies that you were sick. I have had to attend many sales conferences when I wished I could crawl back to my room and just die.

  63. This is a very interesting blog post Kristen. Since I am not allergic to anything – in particular not anything that’s eatable, I can only try to understand the danger for allergic people!
    I’m lucky – I can eat whatever I want (unless I don’t like it – which happens too often in my Mom’s opinion) – and that means: I might not be allergic to anything – but picky as a little girl. *sigh*
    But thanks for sharing this! I learnt something!!

  1. […] Crested Butte, The ASSASSIN-WICH and I Made It Out ALIVE!. […]

  2. […] As I am learning to be a blogger I’ve been looking for other bloggers to see how they do it. Below is a book that I found about writing by Kristen Lamb. I just started following her blog. I’m excited to learn more. Her latest blog was about a writing conference in Colorado and her encounter with some sneaky food. Check it out! […]

  3. […] used to be a trooper (like Kristen Lamb – whom I can only admire for pushing through adversity in her situation). But, unfortunately, […]

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