More than “Just Allergies”

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.

Endurance Sports and Allergies

Ever wanted to participate in a triathlon, or run a marathon? Well it’s possible even with severe allergies!! My name is Sydney and I am an athlete. I may not be Olympic class or even a provincial champion, but let me assure you, I always finish.

Carrying your auto-injector at all times is very important. Even when participating in sports, accidents can happen and you need to be prepared. When you are participating in a race, it may not seem aerodynamic or convenient, but it is simply the right thing to do.

I am an avid triathlete and I will usually compete in 3 or 4 triathlons every summer season. For those unfamiliar with this fairly new and upcoming sport, it involves 3 sports done consecutively of varying distances.

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The first sport always involves swimming. It can be anywhere from 400 metres to 2 km. The next event is biking. The shortest distance starts at 20 km and the longest at 180km! The last event is a run which can vary in length. Most races will be somewhere between 5 and 10 kilometres while the longest distance happens to be 42km, or a full marathon!

There is no break in between events so you have to make sure you prepare all your equipment before the race starts, especially your auto-injector. Obviously carrying my auto-injector during the swim portion of the event is not possible, but for the bike and run portions, you have many options! My personal favorite involves putting my auto-injector in the sewn in pocket on the back of my tri-suit. For those of you new to the sport, a tri-suit looks like a one-piece girl’s swimsuit with shorts. This makes it comfortable for swimming, and it also has a padded area in the crotch to minimize discomfort on the bike. As you can see in the picture, the pocket is quite tight so you will not have to worry about anything falling out during the race. This pocket is typically used by triathletes to keep energy gels and other nutritional items while competing.

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There are many other options for carrying your auto-injector (all of which I have tried and work just fine). One is to keep it in a small pouch behind the seat of your bike where you would keep your spare tire and other necessities. The only downside to this technique is that you will have to remember to remove your auto-injector after hopping off the bike. You can also use the classic waist pouch for your auto-injector, however, I find that it tends to bounce while I run and can get quite bothersome over long distances. Sometimes I like to run with something in my hands so I have ran while carrying my auto-injector in one hand and my inhaler in the other. This is a great technique if you don’t plan on drinking from the water stations, as you can easily guess why. I certainly do wish I had 3 hands sometimes! The last option is to purchase a leg holster for your auto-injector. I would suggest putting this on as soon as you get out of the water and that way you can keep it on for the rest of the race without having to worry about switching its place.

trisuitaIf you are looking for an awesome allergy awareness-finishing picture, try holding your auto-injector up in the air while you run across the finish line! There will always be a professional photographer taking pictures of you as you cross the line, and what better way to show others that allergies don’t stop you from doing anything!