Have allergies? So do I.

I am deathly allergic to ALL tree nuts.

Don’t be fooled, this does not include peanuts. They grow in the ground.

I am also allergic to seed oils and sunflower seeds. When fall season comes around, I can’t stop sneezing and I have an intolerance for lactose and fatty oils.

The more people I meet, the more I realize how much of a problem allergies really are. I’ve met very few people with allergies as severe as mine, but they do drastically change that person’s lifestyle.

I first learned of my allergy the hard way at the age of five. My mom was on the phone, but my tummy rumbled something fierce. I kept pulling on her, expecting her to give me food, but she just shooed me away.

So I went into the kitchen and found something I could just pull out of the container: pecan cookies. I ate one and half before my throat started feeling rather tight. I kept swallowing, but my throat didn’t clear. I ran to my mom and tried to talk, but my throat was so constricted that I could not even speak. My mom still thought I was pestering her for food, so she shooed me away again. I kept pulling and when she finally looked she panicked and called 911.

We had no idea what was happening to me. I couldn’t breathe and I didn’t know why. The firefighters got there and immediately identified it as an allergic reaction. They gave me Benadryl and soon my throat cleared up. I could breathe, but it still hurt.

I feel this way every time I eat or breathe around a nut. I later learned this reaction was called Anaphylaxis.

When a person develops Anaphylaxis, their body incorrectly identifies a food or pollen as a threat to the body and releases histamines to try to correct it.

Not everyone experiences the same things when they go through anaphylaxis, but here is the list of symptoms, which develop within seconds. The x’s mean I experience this with each allergic reaction.

Symptoms develop quickly, often within seconds or minutes. They may include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormal (high-pitched) breathing sounds (X)
  • Anxiety (X)
  • Chest discomfort or tightness (X)
  • Cough (X)
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing (X)
  • Difficulty swallowing (X)
  • Dizziness or light-headedness (X)
  • Hives, itchiness (especially in my throat)
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Palpitations (X)
  • Skin redness (X)
  • Slurred speech (X)
  • Swelling of the face, eyes, or tongue (X)
  • Unconsciousness (I don’t think this has happened yet, thank goodness)Up until very recently, I’ve dealt with this allergy by immediately taking Benadryl and then sleeping off the reaction. Each time it happens, it interrupts my life until I can control the reaction and deal with the side effects of the medicine.

    However, each time I have a reaction, my allergy gets more severe. Lately I have to carry an epi-pen on my person at all times.

    Only last week did I actually have to use my epi-pen. And then, not even four days later, I had another reaction. I think I’m still recovering from the trauma.

    Let me backtrack. An epi-pen has a dose of epinephrine that you inject into your thigh when you experience anaphylaxis.  This shoots adrenaline through your body and the symptoms reverse.

    Last week I went to Westminster’s Annual Scholarship Luncheon.They had nuts in the salad and in the pie. I asked for a salad without nuts, but the entire gymnasium had salads with nuts. And if that wasn’t bad enough, they didn’t tell me that the pie had nuts in it also. Both exposures combined to a reaction so powerful that I had no choice but to self-administer the epi-pen.

    My throat immediately loosened and I felt better, until the adrenaline hit my entire system. For the rest of the day, my heart raced and I couldn’t focus. I wonder if I drove anyone crazy in The Forum (student newspaper) that day.

    I have to read labels studiously and if there are nuts in the room I have to leave or risk going into anaphylaxis. I don’t like admitting this or asking for help when it happens, but I have to.

    Or I’ll die.

    While I have other minor allergies, they are nowhere near as severe or limiting. I’ve taken up enough space here. Tell about your allergies. When did you first discover them and how have they changed your life?

Infographic things to include:
-who can get SNAP. This proves against illegal immigrants
-People who get SNAP don’t work/welfare
-Hunger isn’t a problem in my community (empty food pantry)
-economic boost/waste of tax dollars
-food stamps rife with fraud and abuse
-eligibility, the process of getting and receiving food stamps

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