In support of FAAM, share your epi knowledge!

Hi! My name is Nicole, and I’m allergic to fish, crustaceans, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, peas and beans.

In honour of Food Allergy Awareness Month, I started to think about what people should be more “aware of” when it comes to allergies… Hmm. I realized that people ask me about my epinephrine auto-injector  a lot!

Below are some of the common questions I am asked and my answers.

Removing teh cap from an EpiPen training device

Order EpiPen training materials from http://www.EpiPen.ca

Have you ever had to use an auto-injector?
I have personally never been injected, but I have had to use an auto-injector on someone else. Have you ever used one?

Does it hurt?
I don’t know, because I have never used it, but I think that when the time comes I would welcome using it as opposed to suffering with symptoms.

Removing the cap from a Twinject training device

Order Twinject training materials from http://www.Twinject.ca

(According to our Teen Panelists at the Winnipeg Conference, it doesn’t hurt!)

How do you use it?
This differs on whether you carry an EpiPen© or Twinject© auto-injector. You can visit either one of their websites for detailed instructions. You can also download instructions with an Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan  from Anaphylaxis Canada’s “Resources” section.

Removing needle from Twinject training device

Order Twinject training materials from http://www.Twinject.ca

Where do you keep it?
It depends where I am and what I am doing. Usually it is in my purse, but sometimes it is in my backpack or pocket. Where do you keep yours?

Do you always take it everywhere you go?
Yes, I take it absolutely everywhere I go! If I ever forget it, I start to feel really anxious, because I know that my safety net isn’t there. If that happens, I return home to get it!


FINALLY…

There are two things that I really want to emphasize about epinephrine auto-injectors:

1)  TRAIN!

Train yourself and others on how to properly use the auto-injector that you carry.  Friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, family members, teachers, coaches, tutors and other people you spend time with should know how to keep you safe in the event of an emergency. You can order free training materials from www.EpiPen.ca or www.Twinject.ca.

2)      DON’T HESITATE!

If you or someone you are with show signs of an allergic reaction, don’t hesitate – use the epinephrine auto-injector! It is better to be safe than sorry, and for most people, there are few health risks associated with using it. On the other hand, if you don’t use it right away, you are at greater risk for potentially life-threatening symptoms.

So for this month, I challenge you to think about something that you want others to know about your allergies and try your best to educate them!

Stay safe and enjoy the sunshine!

Nicole

Food Allergy Awareness Month, tip of the day – If you’re experiencing a severe allergic reaction, you may not be able to give yourself an epinephrine auto-injector. To prepare for that situation, show others how to to use your auto-injector – and let them practice with a training device! For more information about Food Allergy Awareness Month, visit www.whyriskit.ca.

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Eating in New Orleans

Hi! My name is Nicole, and I’m allergic to fish, crustaceans, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, peas and beans.

This winter holiday I went on a cruise that left from New Orleans, Louisiana. For those of you who don’t know much about New Orleans, it is a city that is filled with amazing music, delicious food, football fanatics, and people who love to celebrate life and party. When I was there, I did typical ‘tourist’ things, such as stroll down Bourbon Street, ride the St. Charles Trolley, and visit the St. Louis Cathedral (the oldest cathedral in North America).

All of these activities worked up quite an appetite within me. New Orleans has a reputation for its Creole cuisine, including things such as jambalaya, gumbo and other new dishes that I had never heard of before. There was even alligator meat for sale!

A menu board listing blood marys, gumbo, and fried gator

Most of these dishes contain seafood, like shrimp or crawfish, and to my surprise the few restaurants I entered used peanut oil. The menus were challenging – but I actually had incredibly positive dining experiences. Here’s why:

1)      I talked with locals!
In my experience, many of the locals in New Orleans were incredibly friendly! They were very eager to assist me and provide me with their favourite menu items from specific restaurants, along with directions for getting there. Strangely enough, I actually met a woman who had food allergies herself, and she was able to guide me to a place that could accommodate me very easily.

2)      Language!
I only speak English, and I was very thankful to meet locals in New Orleans who were fluent in English and able to understand my requests.

3)      Restaurant Staff!
I made sure to speak to the manager, wait staff, and those preparing my food about my allergies. They were very helpful, telling me how my meal would be prepared and what they could do to minimize the risk of cross-contamination.

4)      Be Prepared!
Although I was fortunate enough to have positive dining experiences, I had my auto-injector on me at all times, just in case. I also asked my hotel concierge to identify the location of a hospital on a city map, so I would be prepared in the event of an emergency.

Overall, New Orleans was a really intriguing and culturally rich place to visit. However, I must admit that at first I did experience a bit of anxiety. It was not easy to enter a city that is known for culinary dishes that I am allergic to – but I was able to implement strategies that led to a positive experience. I would encourage others like me not to let their allergies hold them back. Dining abroad can be challenging, but there are ways to cope and ensure you have a fun and safe experience!