Planes, Trains and Automobiles: The Search for Stevia

The much desired element!

The much desired element!

Last weekend I was scheduled to work on Saturday evening, and unfortunately the 4th of July reduced flight schedule meant there were no direct flights between home and work at all on Friday or Saturday. Further challenging my commute to work is the fact that the few multi-stop flights available on Saturday were full to capacity, which means that, as a non-revenue passenger on standby, I would not be able to get on those planes.

That meant flying up to work on Friday night, then sitting around the airport doing nothing until 6:00 p.m. on Saturday…a really sucky idea I wasn’t looking forward to.

I entertained the thought of having Darrel bring Zac and fly to work with me, hanging out as long as possible before the two of them flew home on Saturday (leaving Jed alone with Grandma and PopPop for some fun), but that got nixed because Darrel has been working on a Major Project at work that was misbehaving, and if he needed to work he absolutely had to do it right then; being on an airplane and out of pocket would not be good for his job right now.

Then I decided to check on flights out of Tulsa, and wouldn’t you know it? Saturday morning was wide open out of Tulsa to Chicago, and Chicago looked pretty good to get to my domicile by noon. That way I’d only have to twiddle my thumbs in the airport for 6 hours, not 20.

So at 2:30 a.m. Saturday Darrel and I loaded my bags and the kids up in the car and hit the road. I nursed Zac along the way, and two and a half hours later we arrived at Tulsa International Airport. I gathered my bags, kissed my men good-bye, and hustled in to go through security.

Approximately one minute after I’d left the checkpoint on the departure side of security, I had a stomach dropping realization: I’d left my bottle of stevia in the car!

There was no time to race back out and get it from Darrel; even if I had time to come back through security again, Darrel and the boys were long gone.

It might not seem like such a big deal, leaving a bottle of stevia in the car, but there is so little I indulge in that is sweet and tasty; my decaf tea with stevia sweetener is sort of my only real “treat”.

This sucked horribly and I was at a loss. I tried to think of what I could possibly use as an alternate sweetener on the road, and thought I remembered reading that sugar was protein free and therefore safe…but wasn’t sure I was remembering properly!

So I quick posted on the FPIES Facebook group asking about sugar and by the time I landed in Chicago I had a ton of responses.

Yes, sugar is protein-free and therefore should be safe for FPIES kiddos. However, sugar can be processed with corn products at times, so if you are corn-sensitive you should limit your sugar consumption to certain safe brands (Domino’s was recommended highly – in the bag only, though).

OK, well, one problem: at that point I was dependent on whatever sugar I could find on the airplane or at airport restaurants! Very hard to track down safe sugar when you have no idea where it comes from!

I entertained the thought that I could just use whatever sugar I could find and hope it didn’t cause Zac to react, but the poor child is in the middle of another major FPIES reaction right now (he ate who-knows-what on Thursday night, causing bloody diapers on Friday) and I’m desperate to get him to baseline so we can resume the lamb trial. I really didn’t want to risk an unknown sugar on him at this point.

I tried to drink my tea without stevia, but it tasted horrible! I thought about being a martyr and sacrificing for the cause, but that had as much appeal as a root canal – I have given up EVERYTHING in my diet for Zac! If there was any way I could find a safe sweetener to use I fully intended to do so!

Suddenly, as my flight from Chicago was about to leave I had a brainstorm: surely there had to be a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s in Manhattan, right? Maybe they carried my stevia! Not for nothin’ did I live in New Jersey for over 3 years in my early 20’s and spend as many waking moments as I could in Manhattan – I know how to get around this area quite well!

The minute I landed in Newark I was on the phone with both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, both of whom informed me that they did not carry my brand of stevia. So I googled “where to buy KAL stevia” and kept getting results from The Vitamin Shoppe (dot) com.

I didn’t have time for a dot com! I needed a brick and mortar store – pronto!

After searching fruitlessly for several minutes I had a strange inkling that I just had to investigate: hadn’t I seen The Vitamin Shoppe in real life at some point in time – or was I remembering wrong?

Back to google and BAM! I remembered correctly! There are several brick and mortar Vitamin Shoppes in Manhattan!

So I called the one closest to Penn Station and after a quick inventory check, they reported that they had FOUR bottles of my stevia in stock…would I like them to hold one for me?

Yes, please!


My saviors!

My saviors!

So I raced to the crew room, pumped, changed clothes, stashed my bags in our bag storage room, asked a supervisor to hold on to my hanging uniform and headed for the AirTrain.

I took the AirTrain to the Newark Liberty International Airport train station on New Jersey Transit…

took NJ Transit to New York Penn Station…

I love Penn Station! Boy do I have stories about this place!

I love Penn Station! Boy do I have stories about this place!

walked two blocks south to the subway station I needed…

I love the tile work in the Subways in New York!

I love the tile work in the Subways in New York! And this isn’t even one of the prettiest ones!

hopped the N train…

Catching the train...

Catching the train…

went four stops, and came up on 8th and NYU. Right there, across the street was The Vitamin Shoppe!

In less than 5 minutes I was back at the subway station at 8th and NYU, waiting for a train to take me back uptown.

Stevia safely in my purse, I headed back uptown...

Stevia safely in my purse, I headed back uptown…

Reverse the process completely and 2 hours and 15 minutes after leaving Newark Airport I was back – with stevia in hand!

I had enough time to pump, change back into my uniform, eat dinner, and check in for work. Then I flew to Austin, Texas for the night.

What. A. Day!

The lengths I will go to stay with this diet for Zac don’t even amaze me any longer. It’s become so habitual I can’t even imagine eating something unsafe for him.

And I certainly learned how important stevia is for me! Had I realized I’d forgotten carrots, I would have been “Oh well, I’ll survive without them!” But stevia? Oh, no! I had to embark on a whirlwind Manhattan adventure (after an already exhausting travel day) to ensure I had stevia with me!

Why yes, I do think I’m a little bit nuts…why do you ask?

One nice thing about this experience is that I got to go back to Manhattan. It’s been a long while since I’ve been in Manhattan and I had almost forgotten: I LOVE NY!

I love the way the subway stations have such beautiful numbering along the walls.

I love the way Penn Station underground is like a mini-city all on its own.

I love the way you can turn a corner and see a building so architecturally gorgeous you want to stare it for ages.

I love the vibrancy and energy of Manhattan, the swirling mass of people, the friendliness of New Yorkers (yes, they are actually very friendly!), and the way life presses on you and through you everywhere you go. The street vendor food smells, the uprush of air from sidewalk grates, the horns honking and chatter of people…it all just envelopes you and makes you a part of life.

I love Manhattan so very much, and my Great Stevia Search reminded me: I must take my family to NY. I can’t wait to see Manhattan through the eyes of my men!

And when I do? I’ll remember to bring my stevia! (Though at least now I know where to buy more if I forget.)

How far have you gone to stay on a TED for your little ones? Do you think Manhattan is awesome, too?

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2 Responses to Planes, Trains and Automobiles: The Search for Stevia

  1. Roger Huber says:

    I’m sorry you left your Stevia in the car but, once again, you’ve amazed me with your amazing energy and resourcefulness. You’ve always had that ability and it’s gotten you out of a lot of sticky situations. I agree with you about NYC and the people. They really are helpful and friendly……in their own way. They often don’t have or take the time for idle chit-chat and just get right to the point. Most find that rude and abrupt but it’s just the life style in the really big city!

    When did you find time for pictures? LOL


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