My name is Mathew and I am allergic to all tree nuts and peanuts. Recently I was hosting an event that I was planning on presenting at, but my time to speak was preceded by a trip to the emergency room.
I have never had an anaphylactic reaction but I do know my allergy to nuts is severe enough that ingesting small amounts of the allergen may trigger a life-threatening reaction. The event I hosted included a variety of food options that at first glance contained no nuts of any sort. On the tables there were vegetarian and non-vegetarian pizzas as well as meat and cheese trays.
Leading up to the presentation, I was somewhat nervous and wasvery focused on what I was going to say. I was somewhat hungry but I avoided food, not because of the risk of allergens, because I was very focused on my presentation. One of the people working with me handed me a slice of vegetarian pizza. I would normally ask a server, manager or owner about nuts but instead I quickly ate it and continued to work on the points I wanted to hit in my presentation. This may have been the first time I have ever forgot to ask about nuts because I was so focused on something else. Pizza, especially in a restaurant compared to a fast food chain, is a dish that one must always be careful with because of the potential for there to be nuts in pesto.
Within a minute of finishing the pizza I felt tingling in the sides of my mouth, throat and lips. The feeling was very similar to what one would feel when they are getting their mouth frozen at the dentist. The cause quickly dawned on me. There must have been pesto on the pizza. I quickly told one of my fellow organizers that I was sure I was having a reaction and would likely have to leave for the hospital. I then found theowner to ask about nuts. The owner confirmed that therewere nuts in the pesto that was on the pizza I ate but a very minute amount. Although the reaction was not progressing very fast, I quickly had one of my co-workers drive me to the hospital emergency room because this is an experience that I have never had and did not want to take any chances.
On my way I called my family to tell them where I was going and they said they would meet me there. Once I arrived at the hospital, I told the emergency staff of the situation and they assessed my status. I did not need immediate assistance but it was important that if I did, I was in a place that would be able to handle the reaction quickly. I had my auto-injector with me and I was ready to use it, but luckily it was not needed. The reaction did not progress any further than the minor swelling which eventually subsided after being given an antihistamine. I was grateful of my co-worker for getting me there quickly, as well as my family for coming to make sure that I was okay.
I learned a valuable lesson that day: it is critical to always ask the staff about the food you are eating at their restaurant. This is a priority above all else.
Hi, my name is Bailey and I am allergic to peanuts, nuts, and chickpeas. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you a personal story that highlights the importance of spreading awareness about anaphylaxis and how it is so much more than “just allergies.”
I am a competitive volleyball player and have travelled to numerous tournaments over the past five years. One time I was at a local volleyball tournament and all of a sudden I began to feel nauseous in between games; a symptom I usually have when I inhale, or come into contact with peanut butter. Not wanting to make a huge scene, I simply told my mom that I didn’t feel well. Although I didn’t directly tell her that I thought my allergies were bothering me, she was able to tell by how uncomfortable I was that it was more than just “not feeling well.”
She was suspicious whether there may have been any of my allergy triggers around, so she made her way to the canteen at the tournament to see if they were selling something that contained my allergens. Sure enough, the canteen was selling peanut butter cookies. My mother politely explained to the woman working at the canteen that I am at-risk for anaphylaxis with allergies to peanut butter and asked if they could please stop selling the cookies.
The woman unfortunately told her that they could not stop because the cookies were selling very well and were bringing in good money for the volleyball club that was hosting the tournament. My mother, who was slightly taken back by the woman’s response, explained in further detail to her that my peanut allergy is potentially life threatening and asked again to please stop selling the cookies. The woman once again refused.
Ultimately, the woman working the canteen still refused to stop selling these cookies. I was lucky that my symptoms did not progress, but it really became apparent to me how important spreading awareness about anaphylaxis truly is. I now make an effort to have my voice heard when it comes to my own allergies, and I believe that if everyone impacted by anaphylaxis spoke up about how severe an allergic reaction can be, the more people would realize that making a few extra dollars for a volleyball club fundraiser isn’t worth the risk.
Developing allergies later in life can be a difficult adjustment, but it’s doable!
Most people are diagnosed with allergies at a very young age, but for some people they are developed unexpectedly later in life. I was diagnosed at age thirteen with allergies to strawberries, pineapple, cashew and coconut. These were foods that I had eaten all my life and had never imagined I would be allergic to. Before I even had time to process this new change in my life, I was thrown into a world of auto-injectors, reading food labels and everything else that comes along with having food allergies.
I will admit that at age thirteen and going into high school, I was not interested in being different than my peers. I was in denial about having allergies and didn’t want to accept the fact that this was just something I had to deal with. I felt alone and didn’t realize that there were so many other people going through the same things. In the beginning, I often left my auto-injectors at home because I just wouldn’t take responsibility and face the fact that I had allergies. But, what I didn’t realize was that there is a whole community of people who have allergies and have been through the same things. Through research and support from my friends and family, I was able to adapt to having allergies. At first I though my life would completely change and I wouldn’t be able to do the same things as I had before, but with a little effort and determination I can! My life is just like everyone else’s, I have a job, I am going to go to university, and I am social with friends and much more!
Always remember that you are not alone! The best thing you can do when you are first diagnosed with allergies is to find support. Look online to see if your city has a support group where you can meet other people who are experiencing the same things. Joining Anaphylaxis Canada’s Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) has really helped me to meet people and share my experiences. Another great tip is to express how you are feeling and turn your negative situations into positive ones by helping others! Start a blog about your life with allergies and let others know any tips or tricks you have for living with allergies! Developing allergies when your older can be tricky at first, but it makes you a lot stronger! Always stay positive and remember that there are people who understand and support you.
Join Anaphylaxis Canada’s Youth Advisory Panel to meet other youth with food allergies.